Oblivious GOP Guest Tells Fox News that ‘Democrats Must Stop Calling Opponents Criminals’

Hypocrisy is a common symptom of political pundits and politicians on both sides of the aisle. But there are times when the hypocrisy of starkly partisan shills goes completely off the rails. This is often seen on Fox News, the natural habitat of partisan hypocrites.

Fox News, Ari Fleischer

On Friday’s episode of Outnumbered, the featured “One Lucky Guy” (as they call their rotating guests) was former George W. Bush press secretary, Ari Fleischer. They were discussing the just filed lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee charging that the Russians, Wikileaks, and Donald Trump conspired to disrupt the 2016 presidential election. Near the end of the segment Fleischer decides to get all principled with a general denunciation of criminalizing politics:

Ari Fleischer: “Let me elevate all of this. This country has got to stop accusing its opponents of being criminals. I defended Barack Obama when Donald Trump said that he was illegitimate and born in Kenya. I don’t like saying the people you oppose on ideology are illegitimate. And now the Democrats are doing it to Donald Trump. The country has got to stop this.
Marie Harf: That’s just exactly what Donald Trump did. He’s still calling for his opponents to be jailed. So it’s not just Democrats who are doing it. It starts at the top.

First of all, there is no proof that he actually did defend Obama on the birther lies. In fact, in a tweet he declined to seek an apology from Trump for those conspiracy theories, and then tried to blame them on Hillary Clinton, which was a right-wing lie.

Fox News headlined this exchange on their website as “Democrats Must Stop Calling Opponents Criminals.” They linked to the video of the segment (posted below) to support their blatantly biased assertion that it is Democrats who are responsible for these rhetorical offenses. However, as Harf managed to squeeze in at the end of the segment, there is someone else who may bear some of the responsibility:

Just thought that we should set the record straight. And while we’re at it, the allegations against Trump are not the work of partisan Democrats. He is being investigated by a special counsel (Robert Mueller), a Republican who was appointed by a Republican Deputy Attorney General, who was appointed by Trump and works for the Republican Attorney General. And virtually all of the witnesses in the Russian probe are also Republicans. So there’s that.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

LOCK HER UP: Fox News Stands Alone With Praise For Aspiring Dictator Donald Trump

The second presidential debate is now a part of history, and that’s not just a figure of speech. In a campaign that has set ugly precedents and breached common standards of decency from its inception, Donald Trump has once again lowered the bar. He has let his inner dictator emerge in full view of millions of viewers and citizens.

Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

During a debate wherein Trump engaged in free-range falsification of reality, there was one moment that stood out. It was an exchange in which Trump took the extraordinary position that as president he would instruct his Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP: “I didn’t think I’d say this but I’m going to say it, and I hate to say it, but if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.
CLINTON: It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country.
TRUMP: Because you’d be in jail.

The “situation” to which Trump referred has to do with Clinton’s emails and the private server she used. Never mind that an extensive investigation was already completed by the FBI. While they found some room for criticism, they concluded that there were no actionable violations of the law.

Trump, however, doesn’t care about the law as evidenced by his prejudgment to jail Clinton before any investigation or trial. It’s a position that stands in stark contrast to every legal precept in a democracy. Former Attorney General Eric Holder noted that in a statement saying “In the USA we do not threaten to jail political opponents.” George Bush’s press secretary Ari Fleischer agreed saying that “Winning candidates don’t threaten to put opponents in jail. […] Trump is wrong on this.”

For the most part the media recognized the aberrant legal analysis that Trump was proposing. Like much of what he says on any subject, he demonstrated his pitiful lack of knowledge or even basic understanding. Here are a few examples of how the press views Trump’s ludicrous threat.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: We got an excellent moment right now to discuss something I’ve never heard in any of these debates before between two presidential candidates […] One candidate says not only is he going to put forward a special prosecutor to investigate his rival, but he’s going to put her in jail if he’s elected president of the United States. That’s pretty extraordinary.

DANA BASH, CNN: What makes this country different from countries with dictators in Africa or Stalin or Hitler or any of those countries with dictators and totalitarian leaders is that when they took over, they put their opponents in jail.

JOY REID, MSNBC: We need to not speed past the point that an American candidate for president threatened to jail his political opponent. […] This happens in Malaysia, this happens in Uganda. This does not happen in the United States of America.

VAN JONES, CNN: A line was crossed that I don’t know has been crossed in my lifetime, maybe ever. He threatened to jail his opponent. […] He threatened to jail Hillary Clinton if he became president of the United States. That is something that I think is a new low in American democracy.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Donald Trump also said, in one of the most provocative comments of the evening, he said that if he was president, he would jail his political opponent. He would put Hillary Clinton in jail. That is the sort of thing that we usually decry in other countries, in authoritarian countries.

PAUL KRUGMAN: Let’s be clear: a candidate for president promised to put his opponent in jail if he wins. Everything else is secondary.

JAKE HOROWITZ, MIC: A few politicians who have jailed their political opponents: Putin, Erdogan, Chavez, Mugabe, Pinochet. Noriega.

DAVID FRUM, speechwriter for George Bush: Who would consent to serve as Attorney General to a president who believed he could direct prosecutions of his political opponents?

By contrast, Fox News presented a somewhat different perspective. Their primetime star Bill O’Reilly gushed that “That’s the smartest thing he did all night because that, just that, coalesced his base back together.” And contributor Scott Brown said that “It was the line of obviously, I think, the election, the debate process. […] it was a home run. I thought he won the debate.” Nowhere on the “fair and balanced” Fox News was there a contrary opinion like that expressed by Clinton’s campaign spokesman Brian Fallon:

“That is the comment of a dictator that you expect to hear in a banana republic — the idea of jailing your political opponents.”

And that pretty much sums it up. Trump has presented himself as a narcissistic authoritarian from the outset of his campaign. His racist proposals to ban immigrants on the basis of religion; his incitement of violence toward protesters; his proclamations that “I alone” can defeat ISIS, or reform the tax code, or repeal ObamaCare, or end street violence. These are all indications of Trump’s belief that as president he can act unilaterally and impose his will the nation. And let’s not forget his open hostility to the media upon whom he promised to seek revenge.

These are the thoughts and actions of a budding tyrant. Anyone who can contemplate putting Trump at the head of the U.S. government and military is playing with fire. Trump has shown us who he is, and it’s a frightening picture of autocratic oppression. If he were to become president, Hillary Clinton would not be the only opponent he would throw in his gulag. Guantanamo would be packed with his critics and any random liberals who offend him.

Progressive Media vs. Freedom’s Watch

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy™ is revving up its media machine in response to news that Democrats intend to run a campaign for president against Republican John McCain. What gall! Unable to tolerate such impudence, Republicans, and their patrons in the press, are brewing a full-scale whine with a pungent aroma of fear and a nose for hypocrisy.

The object of their dread is the announcement of a new fund created in part to counter the media’s love affair with McCain. Progressive Media USA (PMUSA) was revealed in an article by Politico and described thusly:

“Wealthy Democrats are preparing a four-month, $40 million media campaign centered on attacks on Sen. John McCain. And it will be led by David Brock, the former investigative reporter who first gained fame in the 1990s as a right-wing, anti-Clinton journalist.”

As evidence of the trepidation with which the GOPress has received this news, here is a sampling of the headlines generated since the story broke this afternoon:

Politico: David Brock, Dems plan $40M hit on McCain
Fox News: Dems Plan $40 Million Anti-McCain Ad Blitz
USA Today: “$40M hit” to be aimed at McCain
UPI: Democrats planning for new McCain attacks
CBS News: Democrats Plan $40M Hit On McCain

Without exception, the headline writers all adopt a negative tone that focuses on the group’s alleged mission to attack McCain, despite the fact that the group’s organizers have laid out a much broader, issues-oriented agenda.

Bill O’Reilly joined the chorus by devoting a major chunk of his program to the story including his Talking Points Memo, an interview with Politico reporter Jim VandeHei, and an extended segment with Stepford Pundit Laura Ingraham. His long-time obsession with Brock and PMUSA backer George Soros explodes all over the screen. He repeatedly calls Brock, president of Media Matters, a “vile assassin” and, when VandeHei suggests that the right has similar groups, O’Reilly says that he’s not aware of any (more on this lie below). He pretends to ask VandeHei to provide more info, but then just continues his non-stop ranting without providing an opportunity to do so. In the course of his coverage O’Reilly describes the Soros/Media Matters connection as…

“…the most frightening thing I have ever seen in American politics.”

Really? More frightening than the election debacle of 2000? More frightening than Watergate? More frightening than the McCarthy Hearings? More frightening than the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King? Does O’Reilly really believe that an organization that demands honesty from the media is evil, as he says on the Factor? Does he really fear a wealthy individual who has given hundreds of millions of dollars to promote democracy around the world? More likely he is afraid of being repeatedly shown to be a lying gasbag who is more aligned with theo-corporatism than traditional American liberty.

Earlier in the day, Election HQ on Fox News brought in Republican propagandist Frank Luntz (who is identified only as a pollster without affiliation) to offer his analysis. Luntz argued vociferously that any move by Democrats to attack McCain would fail. He looked straight into the camera to make an impassioned plea that they abandon such plans or suffer at the polls. It was heartwarming to see Luntz display such empathy for his Democratic rivals. Who knew that he was so concerned about the electoral welfare of the party he has fought against his entire career.

The most stunning assertion by Luntz in this interview was his response to a surprisingly reasonable question from Megyn Kelly. She asked Luntz whether the Democrats’ plan was an appropriate reaction to all the favorable press McCain receives. Luntz seemed astonished that Kelly would suggest such nonsense. He disputed her premise and went further to declare that it was Barack Obama who was the press darling. He actually said aloud that:

“The most negative story that they can use on Obama is that he can’t bowl. Give me a break.”

Apparently Luntz has been a coma for the past few months. If the idiocy of this comment were able to generate light, you would be able to see it from space. Anyone with a television has seen the attacks on Obama that range from accusations that he is a Muslim to casting doubt on his patriotism to belittling his experience. And always, always his association with Rev Wright, criticisms of whom could populate their very own cable network. In fact, the segment immediately following Luntz’s interview with Kelly was yet another story about Rev. Wright.

Amidst this conflagration of outrage over the Democrats’ desire to actually mount a campaign, the media is missing a minor development that just might have some relevance to the stories they are advancing. They might want to look into the fact that Republicans are also engaging in this thing called politics. Last year a group of Republican insiders corralled their biggest donors and created Freedom’s Watch (FW). The New York Times trumpeted their arrival:

“Founded this summer by a dozen wealthy conservatives, the nonprofit group is set apart from most advocacy groups by the immense wealth of its core group of benefactors, its intention to far outspend its rivals and its ambition to pursue a wide-ranging agenda.”

At its launch the group announced that they intend to raise $200 million – five times the goal proposed by PMUSA. FW was co-founded by former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who is now its spokes-liar. FW’s new chief is Carl Forti, a former communications director at the National Republican Congressional Committee, and known for his unscrupulous dishonesty. FW is well off and well connected. And unlike PMUSA, its management is directly tied to Party operatives. Even Bill O’Reilly, who said he was unaware of any such organizations, was, in fact, well aware of FW. He interviewed its founding president Bradley Blakeman just four months ago.

Now the media is aghast at the thought that Democrats are coming to the field prepared to play. But not one of them has reported that the Republicans started this conflict, seeded it with more money, and even now are using it to escalate the propaganda war. Email from the McCain campaign has already gone out pleading with supporters to dig deeper.

“We need to be able to answer whatever smear campaigns the liberal left throws at us. Please help as we combat this base demagoguery with a donation of $50, $100, $250 or even $1000 today.”

It will be interesting to see if any of our observers in the 4th estate ever bother to fairly present the facts in this matter, or even to put it into context. But given the way they’ve misrepresented it thus far, I wouldn’t hold out much hope.

Update: In response to Obama’s request that third party groups not produce anti-McCain ads, Progressive Media USA has become Progressive Accountability. The new group will conduct research and tracking of the McCain campaign, but will not produce ads.

Idiots At The New York Post

Does anybody at the New York Post read the New York Post?

This weekend Rupert Murdoch’s Post published the results of a survey that found that…

“Sixty-two percent of those polled thought it was “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that federal officials turned a blind eye to specific warnings of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.”

Accompanying that statistic was this blaring headline:

But just eight months after the World Trade Center attacks, the Post printed on their front page a story declaring that “Bush Knew” about warnings directed at U.S. civil aviation.

The following day White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters that Bush had indeed received…

“…vague warnings from intelligence agencies about possible hijackings last summer…”

Despite that admission, Fleischer called the headline “irresponsible” and “a poster child for bad journalism.”

So after publishing an article that alleged that federal officials knew about, but did not respond to, warnings about terrorist attacks, the Post now calls Americans who are aware of that fact “idiots.” Of course the real idiots are the editors at the Post who don’t even know what their own paper reports. But it’s even worse than that. After the “Bush Knew” issue hit the streets, Post editor Col Allen defended the headline saying…

“I reject the notion that the headline suggests that Bush knew about 9/11. . . . ‘9/11 bombshell’ was there to tell people this was a story about terror.”

Oh really? What was “Bush Knew” there to tell people if it wasn’t to suggest that Bush knew? Apparently, even when someone at the Post reads the Post they can’t understand what it’s saying – even its editor.