How Desperate is Donald Trump Right Now? He’s Turning to ‘God’ for Help

This week has served up some of the most damning evidence of presidential malfeasance since Donald Trump was elected. He just returned from a catastrophically embarrassing European junket where he was politically and personally isolated. Then his ethically-challenged son confessed to various election-related crimes, including collusion with Russia. Reports from inside the White House paint a picture of panic and bitter internal acrimony.

Donald Trump

How bad is it? On Monday Trump summoned a passel of Christian pastors to the Oval Office to engage in an emergency exorcism. Or maybe it was just a prayer session. Who can tell them apart? As CNN reported it:

“President Donald Trump, who has remained out of public view since returning from Europe late Saturday, welcomed evangelical leaders into the Oval Office on Monday for a prayer session. Photos posted by some of the invitees show the group surrounding Trump and laying their hands on his shoulders as his head is bent in prayer.”

CNN quoted Liberty University’s Pastor Johnnie Moore saying “We similarly prayed for President Obama but it’s different with President Trump.” Presumably the distinction is that they were praying for the welfare of Trump, but for the condemnation of Obama. In fact, in 2010 Moore was part of a radical Christianist plot to remove Obama from office.

In addition to this ritual invocation, right-wing Christo-pundit Pat Robertson just announced a big media get. He interviewed Trump today at the White House for the 700 Club on his Christian Broadcasting Network. It’s one of the only interviews Trump has given in months that wasn’t on Fox News. The interview will air on Thursday, but the tone was already set in the announcement posting:

“President Trump differentiated his administration from Putin’s, saying he’s working for America’s best interests while Putin is fighting for Russia. And Trump thinks Putin would probably have been happier with Hillary Clinton in the White House because he’s building the U.S. military and working to export U.S. energy, which Russia opposes.”

Robertson didn’t mention anything about the recent confession that Don Trump, Jr. had a secret meeting with Russian operatives. Consequently, he didn’t address the admission that Russia was seeking to help Trump by delivering dirt on Clinton. That directly contradicts Trump’s baseless assertion that Vladimir Putin preferred Clinton.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
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It’s not especially surprising that this overtly religious grandstanding is occurring at the most precarious position for Trump to date. And no one should be foolish enough to think it’s because of Trump’s devout faith in God to deliver him from evil. This is a desperate and transparent outreach to the segment of the electorate that is most devoted to him. He is shoring up his cult-like base in advance of tribulations to come. But he’s making a big mistake if he thinks that God, or his self-appointed Earthly shills, can deliver him the salvation he seeks. His sins are against the laws of Man/Woman and the Constitution, not God. And his judges will be his fellow citizens.

Fox News Steps Up Their Anti-Media Matters Campaign

For much of this week Fox News has been engaged in a scorched earth campaign to smear the reputation of Media Matters timed to the release of a new book from the watchdog group (The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine). They have blanketed their news properties with stories sourced from The Daily Caller (TDC), which is run, coincidentally, by Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson. Never mind that TDC’s “investigation” has uncovered nothing of significance and almost everything it has published was either old news published elsewhere, or laughably obvious and not news at all (i.e. the latest installment that jolts its readers with the surprise revelation that Media Matters receives funding from progressive donors. Shocking, I know). To date Fox has featured the story twelve times on its Fox Nation web site and at least as many times on the Fox News Channel. And all of that “news” activity occurred in just three days. You’d think this was the equivalent of the Berlin Wall coming down.

On Thursday the story made the leap online from Fox Nation to the mothership,

This promotion took the form of three articles on the same day – one in the opinion section and two categorized as “Politics.” The subject matter for the articles covered two angles that any enterprising journalist would regard as evocative of nothing but boredom. All of the articles failed to produce anything that could be considered newsworthy, and even fell short of the tabloid appeal that Fox usually exploits so well.

First up was an article reporting that Media Matters had received a $50,000 grant to scrutinize religious media. Fox framed this as some sort of attack on religion, a topic it has been hammering on recently anyway. However, the work done by Media Matters in this area has focused exclusively on religious broadcasters who feature news as a part of their programming. For example, Pat Robertson’s 700 Club. Robertson is a veteran of political activism and even ran for the GOP nomination for president. His program routinely discusses political issues and has its own news segments. The story, as reported by TDC and Fox, contained no examples of any work done by Media Matters that was critical of religious content from Robertson or any other religious broadcaster. Media Matters has remained true to their mission of monitoring bias in the news, regardless of the venue on which it appears and TDC produced nothing to show otherwise.

Secondly, there as article on that sought to manufacture some controversy over an allegation that “Media Matters Took Gun-Control Money While Boss Paid A Bodyguard…Packin’ Heat.” The first point that should be recognized is that TDC has produced no evidence whatsoever that this allegation is true. It was made by a single anonymous source and is uncorroborated by any other documentary proof. But even if we accept the allegation hypothetically, so what? Advocates of gun control, contrary to the frantic hyperbole of right-ringers, are not opposed to the existence of guns. They are, as the label makes clear, advocates of “controlling” access to weapons so that they are not easily available to people who would use them to commit crimes or harm others. A gun in the possession of a bodyguard is entirely appropriate and would not be objected to by gun control advocates or the pro-gun-control Media Matters donor.

So once again, Fox News has succeeded only in pumping up their highly coordinated and self-serving campaign to misinform their audience about Media Matters and to damage their reputation. And this campaign is all taking place the week prior to the release of a book by Media Matters that pulls the curtain aside to reveal the makings of The Fox Effect. I’m sure that the timing of the Fox smear is totally unrelated to the book’s release.

Junk News Gets FCC Seal Of Approval

Junk NewsTelevision news has taken criticism from every direction imaginable. It is accused of being too far left, or too far right, or too shallow, or too consumed with profit, etc.

Now the Federal Communications Commission has settled the argument. Television news is too newsy. The FCC’s latest satire-defying ruling has declared that the gossip-mongers at TMZ, and the God-casters at Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, are “bona fide” news providers. In arriving at that ruling, the Commissioners had to conclude that there would be no overt political partisanship in the news content from these parties.

The significance of this ruling is that the broadcast licensees of these programs will not have to comply with political equal-time requirements. In the case of TMZ, the licensees are the stations in the Fox Television Station group owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The 700 Club, of course, is openly partisan and is controlled and hosted by a former Republican candidate for president. So obviously the FCC found that there was no risk of political favoritism from these notorious right-wing entities.

Perhaps the most embarrassing revelation in this story is that the FCC justified the ruling by citing Entertainment Tonight as a precedent. Apparently the standard for newscaster bona fides is that they cover:

“…some area of current events, in a manner similar to more traditional newscasts.”

More traditional newscasts like Entertainment Tonight? This is the modern media measure for newsworthiness. And this why the legacy news networks have all taken to emulating ET. It is why Lindsay Lohan leads the evening news broadcast even when soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq. It is why Rev. Wright dominates the news cycle even when the economy falters and thousands of Americans are losing their homes to foreclosure.

It may seem ludicrous that the FCC would grant newscaster status to TMZ and the 700 Club, but the real joke is that, by contemporary standards, they deserve it.