A Brutal AP Fact Check Exposes Trump’s Intellectual Laziness and Hostility Toward the Truth

If there is anything that we’ve learned from Donald Trump’s first two years in the White House it’s that he is utterly uninterested in educating himself about the issues a president is required to know. Even worse, he has a stifling aversion to the truth and will callously lie to advance whatever message he’s pushing at the moment.

Donald Trump

The Associated Press took inventory of some of the President’s recent public remarks and compared them to reality. The result is a pathetic and troubling expose of a man completely unfit to lead a remedial scout troop, much less the most powerful nation on the planet.

The AP described Trump’s failings as a “slippery grasp of science as well as trade policy.” But their observations go way beyond that, covering most of the subjects that will eventually touch every American’s life. What follows are a few choice selections from the article that illustrate just how dangerous Trump’s willful ignorance is:

TRUMP: “Billions of Dollars are pouring into the coffers of the U.S.A. because of the Tariffs being charged to China, and there is a long way to go. If companies don’t want to pay Tariffs, build in the U.S.A. Otherwise, lets just make our Country richer than ever before.”
THE FACTS: That’s not how it works. Yes, money from tariffs is going into the federal treasury, but it’s coming from U.S. businesses, not from overseas. Tariffs are paid by the importer, not the exporter or government in another country. Beyond that, tariffs paid by U.S. companies tend to result in higher prices for consumers. So a tariff is a transfer of wealth from business to government, and sometimes from consumers to government as well. It is not a foreign payment to the U.S.

TRUMP: (On the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement): “The USMCA is the largest, most significant, modern and balanced trade agreement in history. All of our countries will benefit greatly. It is probably the largest trade deal ever made, also. ”
THE FACTS: It’s not the largest trade deal ever made. It covers the same three countries as its predecessor, NAFTA.

TRUMP: “Our steel industry a year ago was dead, and now it’s one of the most vibrant anywhere in the world. Big Steel is opening and renovating plants all over the country.”
THE FACTS: Construction spending on factories has yet to take off significantly after having been in decline between 2016 and much of 2018. […] A year ago, the steel industry employed 141,200 people, says the Labor Department. Now, 145,100. That’s a gain of 3,900 jobs during a period when the overall economy added 2.5 million jobs.

TRUMP: “You look at our air and our water and it’s right now at a record clean.”
THE FACTS: Last year had the most unhealthy soot days since 2011. The number of days with unhealthy smog levels was down from 2016, but higher than 2015, 2014 and 2013.

TRUMP: (On the confrontation between migrants trying to rush into the U.S. and authorities who used tear gas to drive them back): “Three Border Patrol people yesterday were very badly hurt, getting hit with rocks and stones.”
THE FACTS: This didn’t happen, according to the account by the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan. He said there were no “reported serious injuries on either side of the border.”

TRUMP: (Retweet): “Illegals can get up to $3,874 a month under Federal Assistance program. Our social security checks are on average $1200 a month.”
THE FACTS: Wrong country, wrong numbers, wrong description of legal status of the recipients. The $3,874 refers to a payment made in Canada, not the U.S., to a legally admitted family of refugees.

TRUMP: “Obama had a separation policy; we all had the same policy. I tried to do it differently, but Obama had a separation policy. But people don’t like to talk about that.”
THE FACTS: Obama did not have a separation policy. The Trump administration didn’t, explicitly, either, but that was the effect of his zero tolerance policy, which meant that anyone caught crossing the border illegally was to be criminally prosecuted, even if they had few or no previous offences. The policy meant adults were taken to court for criminal proceedings and their children were separated.

The AP article (posted on the Fox Business website) goes into greater detail and has some additional examples of Trump’s lies. However, this is a representative sampling of how little regard Trump has for conveying facts to his dimwitted cult followers. It’s this sort of dishonesty that makes it difficult for average Americans to engage in rational discourse with Trump supporters. His glassy-eyed disciples live in a world of make believe that turns them into regurgitation machines for his deliberate falsehoods. And that blind devotion to Trump’s manufactured unreality poses serious risks for the future of the country – and the world. Which makes it incumbent on the rest of us to redouble our efforts to correct the record and spread knowledge.

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

In Defense of Fox News (?): Trust in Media Graphic Was Early, Not Censored

There is no question that Fox News is the most brazenly biased right-wing distorter of reality that has even been broadcast. It’s executives, hosts, and contributors are almost entirely devoted to disseminating conservative propaganda, much of it dictated by Donald Trump’s White House. Even worse, Trump’s positions are often dictated by Fox News.

Fox News Lies

That said, there has been a story circulating around the InterTubes that is just plain wrong. It asserts that Howard Kurtz, host of Fox’s MediaBuzz, was surprised by a graphic that showed Fox News as being the least trusted cable news network, and that he called for it to taken down in order to suppress that anti-Fox information. There is a lot wrong with that assertion.

First of all, there was a graphic that appeared during Kurtz’s program that was out of place. Kurtz did ask that it be taken down. But that’s only because it was out of sequence. When that part of the discussion came up a couple of minutes later, he showed that graphic again at the proper time. There was no attempt to censor it. (See video below).

Also, the argument that this graphic was taken down because it showed Fox News as trusted less than MSNBC and CNN is not accurate. The Monmouth University survey that was the basis for the graphic’s data did not compare the networks’ trustworthiness. It compared whether respondents trusted Trump or the media more. That’s actually worse from Trump’s perspective. Although that misreading is largely the fault of Fox News. The graphic needs to be read left to right, not top down. By highlighting the column instead of the rows Fox invited the misinterpretations. As News Corpse previously wrote about this poll:

“Like other polls before it, Monmouth found that Americans trust the media more than they do Donald Trump. That’s gotta sting the President who has been striving furiously to turn the nation against the press. The detail shows that 48 percent of Americans trust CNN more than Trump (35% trust Trump more). Forty-five percent trust MSNBC more than Trump (32% for Trump). Even 30 percent trust Fox News more than Trump (20% for Trump). Although the Fox numbers also show that a plurality of 37 percent trust both equally. This affirms that Trump’s base is still immovably stuck in the low thirties.”

The original story asserting that Fox News was embarrassed by an errant graphic and deep-sixed it appears to have been published by the Associated Press. They have since corrected their story. But it’s important that the record be correct in the progressive media so as to preserve our moral claim to being reality-based. There are more than enough legitimate examples of Fox News lying. And the findings in the poll are bad enough for Trump that they don’t need to be muddied up with misunderstandings.

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

Trump is Frantically Looking to Hire Fox News People to Staff His Flailing Press Office

The controversy over Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey continues to unfold. And the President insists on making matters worse with comments that are implicit admissions of impeachable offenses. For instance, Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that he asked Comey if he was a subject of an FBI investigation. He also asked Comey to pledge an oath of loyalty and threatened him with releasing secret tape recordings. All of these could be regarded as ethical breaches sufficient to warrant an impeachment inquiry.

Donald Trump Sean Spicer

While the core story is as disturbing as anything that’s come out of Washington in decades, there are spin-offs that are equally unsettling. Among them are recent reports concerning the toxic status of Trump’s White House Press Office. Sean Spicer and company have been taking a severe beating over their inability to communicate a consistent, coherent message. They have lost credibility among their peers and, apparently, their bosses as well. On Friday Jeanine Pirro of Fox News asked Trump if Spicer’s job was secure. He pointedly declined to give a straight answer.

Trump is so upset that he actually proposed eliminating the daily press briefings and communicating via Twitter. He also suggested that he might just hold weekly press conferences by himself. An article in the Associated Press noted that Trump “increasingly sees himself as the White House’s only effective spokesperson.” While the absence of regular press avails would ordinarily be an unprecedented insult to the public trust, in the case of this White House it hardly matters. Very little of substance, or truth, is derived from their daily get-togethers.

Now there are reports that Trump is sending out feelers to reshape his press operation more to his liking. In the same AP article there was a line that revealed where Trump’s thinking is headed for the near future:

“Trump is mulling expanding the communications team and has eyed hiring producers from Fox News, according to one White House official.”

That should fix everything. When your press office isn’t lying well enough, get yourself some professionals to do it. For the record, Trump has already tapped Fox News for several administration appointments. Former Foxies on the White House payroll currently include K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, Sebastion Gorka, Heather Nauert, Richard Grennell, and Jonathan Wachtel. There has never been an administration that was so packed with people from a major news enterprise. And now that’s going to get even worse.

Among the rumored changes is one that predicts the departure of Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Trump insiders are telling the media that Trump “wants Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle to take his place.” Guilfoyle was an attorney who is currently a co-host of Fox’s right-wing gab-fest, The Five. She has never been a journalist and has no experience in press relations. That surely won’t bother Trump who regards inexperience as an asset. Trump may also appreciate Guilfoyle’s admiration for Vladimir Putin, who she thought would be a better president than Barack Obama. And if you don’t believe the anonymous sources speculating about Guilfoyle, the story broke two days earlier on Alex Jones’ Infowars. So that should settle it.

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

By bringing in Fox News producers and presenters, the White House press office would take on a new identity as an overtly partisan purveyor of propaganda. So one might ask, what’s the difference? Well, it would also cement Trump’s image as a TV character who relies on the fakery of entertainment values over honest journalism. And it would reinforce the relationship between Trump and Fox, which is already a marriage of political convenience and ideology. But most of all, it would abandon any hope of securing the respect of the American public or the world at large. It would turn the press office into a punchline. And considering that the Trump administration is already a bad joke, they don’t really have that far to go.

RIGGING THE DEBATES: Media Admit They Are ‘Setting A Low Bar’ For Dumbass Donald Trump

As the campaign season enters its final stretch the most impactful remaining scheduled events are the candidate debates. The first one is less than three weeks away (September 26). This will be the first time that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will confront each other face to face.

Donald Trump

One thing the media has no problem with is endless speculation about the outcomes of future events. Consequently, there is no shortage of analysis of how they expect the candidates to perform. The expectations game in the media, however, is always being prodded by the candidates in order to shape the public perception after the fact. By lowering expectations the candidate can claim victory by simply not blurting out obscenities or drooling.

To that end, Donald Trump is getting a significant boost from the media who are already staking their position on the inferiority of Trump. Ordinarily that would appear to be a realistic assessment. Trump is obviously ill-equipped to debate Hillary Clinton. He is woefully ignorant of domestic policy and world affairs. Match that with his inability to articulate a coherent solution to any problem. The result is a candidate who represents a truly dangerous prospect for national leadership. On the other hand Clinton has a profound depth of knowledge related to the specific prerequisites for governing.

However, in the debate expectations game Trump has the advantage because no one thinks he can compete effectively with Clinton. Unless, that is, you believe that childish insults and deliberate lies are valid methods of scoring points. And the media is taking the lead in propagating Trump’s shortcomings. Some prominent members of the allegedly liberal press are admitting that they have lowered the bar for Trump’s performance. Here are examples from CNN, the New York Times, and the Associated Press:

Dana Bash, CNN: I think the stakes are much higher in this debate and all the debates for Hillary Clinton because the expectations are higher for her because she’s a seasoned politician. She’s a seasoned debater. You know, yes we saw Donald Trump in the primaries debate for the first time, but he is a first-time politician. So um, for lots of reasons. Maybe it’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. The onus is on her.

Maggie Haberman, New York Times: What hurts Hillary Clinton is the bar has been lowered for Trump repeatedly because he keeps getting graded on a curve as her supporters would say and which I think you’ve seen. The question is does he merely pass and have that recorded as, yes, he did very well.

Julie Pace, Associated Press: By virtue of her long political resume, Hillary Clinton will enter her highly anticipated fall debates with Donald Trump facing the same kind of heightened expectations that often saddle an incumbent president. Trump, as the political newcomer, will be more of a wild card with a lower bar to clear.

So poor Donald Trump is such a buffoon that needs to be given “special” consideration. The golf resort baron has a debate handicap that’s higher than his IQ (which isn’t saying much). Never mind that he will tell you he has a tremendous brain and knows more than anybody about anything. He boasted that he won all twelve of the GOP primary debates. And he only participated in eleven of them. His opponents included several people highly regarded for their debating skills. The sharp tongued Chris Christie, senate whiz kid Marco Rubio, and Princeton’s North Amer­i­can Debat­ing Cham­pi­on of 1992, Ted Cruz.

Still, the media is portraying Trump as a child with a learning disability being forced to compete with Albert Einstein. It’s a flagrantly dishonest assessment that tilts the balance in his favor. It also trivializes the presidency by pretending that Trump’s intellectual inadequacy isn’t an obstacle to serving. And they are only doing it to make more of a horse race out of the election. When the race is tighter people are more engaged, which translates into more viewers and higher ratings. So if one candidate needs a (bone)head start, they’ll give it to him.

Donald Trump has been whining about the debates from the start of his campaign. He complained about the moderators, the length of time, and the participants. After winning the GOP nomination he complained that the general election debate dates were unacceptable and that he wouldn’t participate unless he approved of the moderators. His animosity toward the press is legendary. He blacklisted many news organizations (i.e. Washington Post, Univision, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and more), prohibiting them from covering his events. Although he just announced that he would end his practice of blacklisting saying “I figure they can’t treat me any worse!”

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

Americans are going to make an important decision in November. Their only criteria should be whether the candidate is qualified to do the job and represents their interests. Being an idiot does not grant you special privileges or a leg up to the White House. If only one candidate can engage in a substantive discussion, then she deserves to win.

Not So Breitbart: Left Media in Full Civil War Over Fact Checkers?

The BreitBrats are at it again. They continue to embarrass themselves with hypocritical articles that lack substance or reason. However, they do provide an abundant source of unintentional humor.

The latest episode features a column by the Editor-At-Large for Breitbart News, Ben Shapiro, with the outrageously hyperbolic title “Left Media in Full Civil War Over Fact Checkers.” The entirety of his outrage is based on the criticism of a single article by the Associated Press that purports to fact-check Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

The AP’s article deserved the criticism it received. It’s analysis was strikingly biased and avoided the most elementary criteria for judging the factual basis of its subject. For instance, the AP highlighted a portion of Clinton’s speech where he correctly quoted a Romney aide saying that “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

Mitt Romney

The quote was accurate, in context, and documented. The AP’s response…

THE FACTS: Clinton, who famously finger-wagged a denial on national television about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky and was subsequently impeached in the House on a perjury charge, has had his own uncomfortable moments over telling the truth.

What the hell did that have to with Clinton’s remark? What bearing did it have on whether or not Clinton’s statement was factual? Obviously, none at all. And it was the criticism of this article by the AP that brought BreitBrat Ben to the boiling point, accusing the left of engaging in a “civil war” with nothing more than this one article as evidence. Ironically, Breitbart News has been conducting their own war against fact checkers, whom they regard as a “liberal” media plot. And I have evidence. Here are a few recent columns from the BreitBrats:

  • AP Publishes Laughably Unserious Fact-Check Of Clinton’s Speech
  • When Not Outright Lying, Fact-Checkers Make Fools of Themselves
  • Media Launches Preemptive ‘Fact-Check’ Strike on Romney Speech
  • Era of Media Fact Checkers Intimidating Republicans Is Over
  • WaPo’s Glenn Kessler Has Fact-Checking Tantrum Over ‘You Didn’t Build That’
  • Romney to Media Fact-Checkers: Drop Dead

Note that the first article above lambastes the very same AP fact-check that Shapiro is now bashing liberals for criticizing. Breitbart’s Editor John Nolte is apparently among the liberals who are at war. Except that Nolte’s war is with his own dementia. He actually believes that the AP published an “intentionally ridiculous” fact-check in order to help President Obama:

“From where I sit, the corrupt AP intentionally manufactured a ridiculous fact check so they could be on record fact-checking Clinton while at the same time doing zero harm to him and by extension Barack Obama.”

That’s in keeping with his previous paranoid delusions about fact-checkers being a liberal plot. Nolte and Shapiro are so obsessed with their assault on truth-telling that it has clouded their ability to even remember what they wrote a week or two ago. Even worse, in Shapiro’s article asserting that liberals are at war with fact-checkers, he unleashes a litany of attacks against them himself. So he can’t even recall his delusions from one paragraph to the next.

Last month I posted an article with the headline “Is Breitbart News Really A Parody Site Attempting To Make Conservatives Look Stupid?” That question sounds less and less rhetorical every day.

Fox Nation Affirms Commitment To Fake News

In an affirmation of their opposition to truthful reporting, Fox Nation posted an article to complain that other news providers have the audacity to strive for truthfulness. The headline on Fox Nation said…

AP Orders Staff to Stop Using Phrase ‘Ground Zero Mosque’.

The Fox Nationalists linked to a memo from Tom Kent, AP’s Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production, that said in part…

“We should continue to avoid the phrase ‘ground zero mosque’ or ‘mosque at ground zero’ on all platforms. (We’ve very rarely used this wording, except in slugs, though we sometimes see other news sources using the term.) The site of the proposed Islamic center and mosque is not at ground zero, but two blocks away in a busy commercial area. We should continue to say it’s ‘near’ ground zero, or two blocks away.”

Oh my heavens. AP is ordering their staff to publish accurate accounts of news events. What are these totalitarian, lamestream, fascists trying to do? Do they want to infect the media with honesty and factual analysis? Don’t they know that there is no place for facts in the press as envisioned by Fox News? AP is suggesting that reporters instead use far-fetched phrases like “mosque near ground zero.” It’s a travesty!

Fox News is not going to take this laying down. They have made their reputation (and their fortune) on misrepresenting the truth and misleading their readers and viewers. They have worked hard to advance the cause of propaganda and remain committed to their mission of turning as much of the public as possible into ignorant, rightist zombies. And they aren’t about to let a decades old upstart like the AP interfere with their plans to pervert reality and drive Republican talking points.

Fox News will continue to lie about the non-mosque that is not at ground zero, and they will promote this non-story incessantly to the exclusion of irrelevancies like the economy, jobs, Iraq, Afghanistan, Climate Change, health care, etc. In fact, stay tuned for a special edition of Sean Hannity’s program tonight on the “Mosque at Ground Zero,” proving that Fox News isn’t afraid to call it what it isn’t.

Bonus Fox Nation Fakery: Photo-ops, Fundraisers, and Vacations: Is That All This Pres. Does?

Never mind that Fox has repeatedly castigated President Obama for doing too much. They have regaled against him for addressing reforms of health care, Wall Street, and environmental policy. They attack him for his initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan. They complain that he has taken on Gay marriage and civil rights. According to Fox this is the busiest president in generations. That is until he takes a vacation and then that’s all he does. Well, if that’s all he does then I suppose that Fox and their right wing constituents will stop complaining about all the harm being done by the projects that he apparently isn’t working on.

AP Seeks Bailout From Shepard Fairey

Obama HopeIn the course of last year’s presidential campaign it was impossible to avoid an image that became irreversibly associated with Barack Obama. The work by Shepard Fairey was everywhere, distributed by the artist, the campaign, and by millions of individuals who, with Fairey’s consent, downloaded and printed the “HOPE” poster and plastered it on every available wall.

Apparently, it was impossible to avoid by everyone except the Associated Press, who seem to have just found out about it and are now seeking credit and compensation. They claim the work was derived from their copyrighted photo. In fact, Fairey admits that the photo was used as the source for his work. The question is whether it was “fair use.”

Now, there are plenty of people who would criticize Fairey for his tendency to take inspiration from the work of other artists. But in this case, the claim is beyond absurd. The derivative work was plainly an artistic representation of the original and was executed as constitutionally protected, free, political speech. And, according to Fairey, it was entirely non-commercial, with proceeds going to the Obama campaign.

This action by the AP is certain to further tarnish the reputation of the Conventional Media that is already suffering from a deficit of respect. You would have to wonder why they waited until after the campaign; after the image was globally recognized; after its inclusion in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery; for the AP to assert its claim. Are they merely hoping to benefit from the success of the image that was achieved without any effort on their part? Are they so hard-up for cash that they have taken to suing artists to keep their struggling enterprise afloat?

Surely the AP’s legal team is aware that they will have to show that they suffered financial harm in order to claim damages. That will be a hard case to make since, more likely, Fairey’s work has enhanced the value of the AP photo beyond anything they could have accomplished on their own.

McCain NOPEBut the big question here is: Why won’t anyone sue ME? I’ve been working my ass off promoting a variation on Fairey’s theme directed at John McCain. It is derivative of both Fairey’s art and a photo (of which I no longer know the source) that was probably copyrighted, so I have a double infringement liability. Fairey is already a wealthy artist whose work is published, collected, and displayed in galleries and museums. I, on the other hand, am trying to scrape up rent money and put my artwork on bus stop benches or telephone poles or anywhere else it can be seen. I need the fucking publicity!

It must be great to be AP and let somebody else, in fact, millions of somebody elses, do their work for them and then collect after the fact.