Thanks Trump! The Pumpkinhead President Scares Fox News Ratings Into an Abyss

The month of October has been a frightening experience for Donald Trump. His Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, admitted on national TV that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. His personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, had a nervous breakdown on Fox News. He was forced to reverse an idiotic plan to host the 2020 G7 summit at his Doral golf resort in Miami. And his one bit of good news – the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – produced a paltry two point bounce in a poll by his favorite, ultra-biased pollster, Rasmussen. Scary, huh?

Donald Trump, Fox News, Halloween

Trump was so terrified throughout the month that he fear-posted 104 panic-tweets attacking the fearsome chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. And as if the Offender-in-Chief doesn’t already have enough reasons to soil his trousers, the Trump-fluffing “news” network that he relies on to prop him up with worshipful propaganda, Fox News, fell on some hard times as well. The ratings for October reveal that impeachment has been good news for both America and Fox’s chief competitor, MSNBC.

The total day ratings for Fox News declined by a whopping 27 percent in the all-important 25-54 demographic, compared to October of 2018. In the same period MSNBC rose 12 percent. MSNBC also increased total prime time viewers 25 percent, and prime time demo viewers 16 percent.

This growth was driven by impressive gains by The Rachel Maddow Show, which was the #1 cable news program for the month among adults 25-54. Her show was up 13 percent, while Fox News’ Hannity declined 21 percent in that time slot. In total viewers Maddow was up 22 percent, compared to Fox’s 2 percent drop. She beat her direct competition, Sean Hannity, as well as Fox’s other prime time stars, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.

These gains were also present in other MSNBC programs. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell was up 20 percent (Fox News dropped 22 percent). The 11th Hour with Brian Williams finished #1 in the 11 p.m. hour, up 25 percent (Fox News declined 31 percent). The Beat with Ari Melber delivered the network’s most-watched month ever in the 6 p.m. time period, up 34 percent (Fox News down 12 percent). Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace was #1 in total viewers, up 13 percent (Fox News dropped 27 percent). All In with Chris Hayes was up 24 percent (Fox News was down 19 percent). Even the weekend had great news with total day gains of 10 percent (Fox News dips of 32 percent).

There could be several explanations for this powerful performance by MSNBC and the simultaneous collapse of Fox News. Trump’s impeachment might have stirred more interest by progressive news consumers to tune in more. At the same time, it might have discouraged conservatives from watching the news at all. But there’s another possible factor that drove Fox’s viewers away: Donald Trump. He spent a fair amount of time bashing his own own best media outlet and even telling his followers to turn off Fox.

For instance, after a Fox poll showed him losing to Biden, Trump tweeted that “I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll. Whoever their Pollster is, they suck.” And then there was the time he tweeted that “@FoxNews doesn’t deliver for US anymore. It is so different than it used to be.” And not mincing words, Trump told his Deplorables that “We have to start looking for a new News Outlet. Fox isn’t working for us anymore!”

It’s hard to determine whether Trump’s Fox bashing had any real impact on their ratings. But it isn’t hard to see that he is a fickle and vengeful narcissist who demands 100 percent adoration at all times, lest you be cast into the corn fields, aka TrumpScorn. However, it is more likely that television audiences were simply more interested in getting honest presentations of the news by real journalists instead of slobbering, glassy-eyed sycophants. And since a majority of Americans favor Trump being impeached and removed from office (even in that Fox News poll), even the opinion side of MSNBC would figure to be more popular.

If Trump has anything going for him at this time, it’s the “bloody highway crash” appeal that might cause viewers to tune to Fox in order to see exactly how his mental breakdown will unfold in real time. Sure, it’s morbid and gruesome, but hell, it’s Halloween. Everybody may just be in a weird mood.

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

Fox News Flat Out Lies that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Compared Climate Change to 9/11

It’s never exactly breaking to news to report that Fox News has broadcast something that is blatantly contrary to reality. In fact, it would be easier to point out when they say something that’s even marginally true. Nevertheless, it’s important to set the record straight lest we allow their lies to linger and get a foothold on the weaker minds that populate their audience of Deplorables.

Fox News, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

On Saturday morning, Donald Trump’s favorite breakfast club, Fox and Friends, put together a segment that was obviously intended to deceive. The target of their dishonesty was a familiar one: Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), for whom they have developed a perverse obsession. The subject of the segment was emblazoned on their chyron which read “Ocasio-Cortez Compares Climate Change to 9/11.” There’s just one little problem with that. AOC never did anything of the kind.

The “Curvy Couch” potatoes began the segment with a clip (video below) of AOC making a point about the of the Trump administration’s utterly incompetent response to the tragic hurricane in Puerto Rico. She said that:

“On the events on September 11, 2001, thousands of Americans died in the largest terror attack on US soil. Our national response was war in one, then eventually two countries. Three thousand Americans died in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria. Where is our response?”

So AOC did make some mention of 9/11, but it had nothing to do with climate change. And it wasn’t even a comparison to the devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico. She was only observing that this country can devote resources to a disaster when it has the will to do so. She was comparing the response, not the event. But the hosts of Fox and Friends were more committed to attacking AOC than to reporting what she actually said. Not that she didn’t address climate change in the hour long town hall she did with Chris Hayes of MSNBC. She did, and in a very profound and compelling manner. But Fox News never played that part:

“Our greatest existential threat is climate change. And to get us out of this situation – to revamp our economy, to create dignified jobs for working Americans, to guarantee healthcare, and elevate our educational opportunities and attainment – we will have to mobilize our entire economy around saving ourselves and taking care of this planet.”

The producers of this Fox program also appended a bit of video to the end of their clip that was unrelated to the rest of it. It showed her commenting about the critics of the “Green New Deal,” saying that she “didn’t expect them to make total fools of themselves.” That comment was actually a response to a video montage of Republicans and Fox News shills (which is redundant, I know) attacking her. And after maligning and misrepresenting her for the whole piece, the Fox hosts suggested that she should come on their show. Yeah, right. At least Fox didn’t compare her to Hitler and Stalin like it did a couple of months ago.

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

Frightened Fox News Pulls ‘Impeach Trump’ Ad After Trump and Viewers Complain

The cable news network that once promised to be “fair and balanced” has demonstrated again that it was never either. Which may be why they ditched that slogan earlier this year. Friday it was revealed that Fox News breached a contract with billionaire activist Tom Steyer to air a commercial advocating the “Need to Impeach” Donald Trump. Steyer had bought airtime on Fox News and the ad did air at least once on Fox and Friends.

Donald Trump Impeach

However, since then Fox News decided to yank the ad despite the fact that the time had already been paid for. They didn’t give Steyer any reason for breaching their contract. They didn’t even tell him they had done so. When Fox News was asked to explain why they pulled they ads they gave a surprisingly inappropriate response:

Jack Abernethy, Fox News co-president: Due to the strong negative reaction to their ad by our viewers, we could not in good conscience take their money.

If that’s true, it is an extraordinary development. It may be the first time that a television network made a programming decision for advertisements based on viewer response. Maybe the TV audience could speak up and get those disgusting cartoon bears that are obsessed with which toilet paper they wipe their cartoon butts with off the air.

More likely, Fox News axed these ads because the content was contrary to their political biases. The propaganda ministry at the network just could not abide an advertisement that made a strong case for removing Trump from office. Add to that the fact that Trump himself had registered his own complaint via Twitter saying:

Steyer appeared on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes on Friday when the subject of the ad came up (video below). He told Hayes about Fox’s action and explicitly called out the network for kowtowing to Trump. Steyer also had his attorneys contact Fox News to seek answers as to why they would unilaterally terminate the contract. The letter they wrote said in part that:

“Fox News abruptly pulled the advertisement without explanation (the ‘Cancellation’). We write to protest this baseless and unethical decision. The Cancellation is not only a breach of your agreement with Mr. Steyer – it is also a profound failure of journalistic integrity, a suppression of constitutionally protected speech, and likely a consequence of inexcusable political pressure.”

There are some good reasons for networks to decline to air certain ads. For instance, if the content is provably false, or if it is deliberately harmful or libelous. Political disagreement is not among the legitimate reasons. That would be censorship. Particularly if the President had a role in the decision.

However, the reasons that Fox News would have are easier to predict. They surely would not want to expose their viewers to this sort of information. And they wouldn’t want to piss off their prime benefactor in the White House. But the excuse that they felt guilty about taking Steyer’s money is patently absurd. That sort of argument would lead to rejecting any ads from Democratic candidates. Their predominantly Republican audience wouldn’t like those either. But maybe that’s precisely the ultra-partisan, spin doctoring that Fox News is aiming for.

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

John Kerry Rips Donald Trump’s ‘Unbelievable Contemptuous Ignorance’ On Climate Change

The Republican Party long ago committed itself to a position on climate change that is at odds with reality. The question is settled with 97 percent of the scientists who study the subject agreeing that climate change is occurring and that it is caused by human activities. But that hasn’t stopped faith-based GOP politicians, with help from the Fox News propaganda machine, from rejecting the voluminous data validating the unprecedented scientific consensus.

John Kerry

Leading the brigade of science deniers is the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump. In a widely ridiculed comment he called climate change a hoax that “was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” He advocates anti-environment policies such as eliminating regulations on energy exploration and production, opening up federal lands to oil drilling, and building the KeystoneXL pipeline. He promises to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which he thought was called the Department of Environmental (DEP?). And most recently he said that he would rip up the United Nations’ historic Paris climate agreement that currently has 177 signatories.

Responding to Trump’s attack on the Paris accords, Secretary of State John Kerry was interviewed on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes (video below). He did not mince words when asked about Trump’s hostility toward the international effort to mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change:

“Ripping up the climate agreement that was reached in Paris would be reckless, counterproductive, self-destructive. It would be an act of extraordinary danger to our country because of the path it would put us on both in terms of our global leadership on the issue as well as the actual policies we need to implement and it would in the end be an act of ignorance, of utter unbelievable contemptuous ignorance to get rid of something that the world has worked for since 1992 in Rio.”

Kerry didn’t stop there. He addressed the fact that each of the past years and decades marked record highs in global warming and were each hotter than those that preceded them, poignantly noting that “Somewhere people ought to be catching on to what is happening.” Along with the obvious and harmful impact of rising temperatures and sea levels, there is an alarming threat to national security. Kerry summarized this threat saying:

“Refugees that are being created in various parts of the world as a result of lack of water, or fights over food, or the fact that they have to move from where they live today. To talk about casually, without even understanding the work that has gone into it or the rationale for it, ripping it up would be one of the most reckless irresponsible, historically wrong acts I can think of.”

Conservative opponents of environmental reforms frequently try to belittle proponents as prioritizing climate change over terrorism. Of course, there is no reason why both issues cannot be tackled simultaneously. More to the point though, climate change actually is a more ominous threat that has the potential to instigate bloody wars and wipe out billions of people. Terrorism is unquestionably a tragic reality that requires a determined effort to defeat, but it does not approach the scale of climate change for global disaster. This was realized by no less a figure of right-wing stature than former George W. Bush defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. The Rolling Stone published a comprehensive examination of “The Pentagon & Climate Change: How Deniers Put National Security at Risk,” that cited Rumsfeld:

“In 2003, under Donald Rumsfeld, former President George W. Bush’s defense secretary, the Pentagon published a report titled ‘An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.’ Commissioned by Andrew Marshall, who is sometimes jokingly referred to within the Pentagon as Yoda — and who was a favorite of Rumsfeld’s — the report warned that threats to global stability posed by rapid warming vastly eclipse that of terrorism.”

OK? So now the climate-hoaxers cannot simply blame Obama and his socialist cabal of Sharia lawyers for inventing the crisis. Sources as deeply ingrained in the rightist dregs of warhawk free-marketism as Rumsfeld and Bush warned of the very same threat. In fact, four of the past Secretaries of Defense (Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta, Robert Gates, and Rumsfeld) all subscribed to the policy that Climate Change is one of America’s top strategic risks. And three of the four are Republicans.

That leaves Donald Trump and his ilk to be the standard bearers of an utterly delusional rejection of the dangers that face a planet that is rapidly heating up, both in terms of temperature and hostility. Kerry characterized Trump’s denialism perfectly by labeling it reckless and ignorant. Unfortunately the Republican Party is now Trump’s plaything and they can be expected to wholly embrace his ignorance with enthusiasm and obedient blindness.

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

Perverted Priorities: The Editorial Hypocrisy Of Fox News

In recent days Fox News has ramped up coverage of the Philadelphia trial of an abortion doctor accused of numerous horrific crimes. To be clear, the spike in coverage was not about the underlying facts of the case or the suffering of the patients. It was about Fox’s contention that the prosecution has been ignored by a liberal press corps for political reasons.

Fox News - Gosnell

First of all, we need to set aside the false notion that the media has any incentive to suppress reporting on this case due to a liberal bias. The alleged criminal acts committed by this doctor run counter to the values of the pro-choice community whose position is that restrictions on safe and legal reproductive services are what is responsible for creating the conditions from which rogue clinics like this one emerge in the first place.

However, for Fox to get huffy about a media blackout orchestrated by liberals stretches the boundaries of hypocrisy. On numerous segments in the past week Fox has castigated other media outlets for not having covered this trial. The problem with that complaint is that Fox hasn’t covered it either. Nevertheless, Bret Baier hosted a segment of his “Special Report” wherein he read off a list of the offenders in the press who have ignored this story. Conspicuously absent from the list was Fox News. If Fox had indeed reported the story, they would certainly have included the number of times on their graphic to shame their competitors. They left themselves off because their performance was no different than the rest.

In another example of Fox’s self-serving spin, they posted a photo of the seating area in the courtroom that was reserved for the media. The fact that there was no one sitting there was evidence to Fox that the press was negligent and biased. However, also revealed by the photo was that no one from Fox News was sitting there either. They presumably thought that that little detail would just slip by unnoticed by their viewers (and they were probably right. Their viewers are not known for their intellectual prowess).

Clearly Fox’s editorial decision-making is drenched with bias and self-promotion. We can easily ascertain what is important to the network by their programming choices, and apparently the Philly doctor’s trial was not important to Fox. So what was important?

Fox’s closest competitor in the ratings is MSNBC. In the months following the election MSNBC has demonstrated surprising growth while Fox has lost audience share, slipping to levels it has not seen since 2001 (although still maintaining its lead). Consequently, Fox has resumed their onslaught against MSNBC which they escalate whenever they feel threatened.

The latest attack by Fox deals with a promo that MSNBC ran in support of their weekend anchor Melissa Harris-Perry. The promo features Harris-Perry delivering an uncontroversial commentary about the value of society investing in education and child welfare. To Fox, that commonly held principle of a unified family of American citizens was tantamount to Maoist socialism. Fox blanketed their airwaves with exasperated outrage day and night over this 30 second ad. In fact, as reported by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Fox committed more than 15 times the airtime to MSNBC’s promo than MSNBC did.

MSNBC Promo

In conclusion, an analysis of the distribution of time allocated to content tells us that Fox is obviously more concerned about how MSNBC advertises its own programs than they are about heinous criminal activity. And when their attention is drawn to the heinous crimes, they only seem to care about how other media reports it (ignoring their own failures), and not the crime itself or the victims. Remember this the next time you hear Fox complaining about not being taken seriously as credible journalists.

MSNBC Moving Ed Schultz To The Weekend – Chris Hayes Gets His Spot In Primetime

On last night’s broadcast of the The Ed Show, Ed Schultz announced that he would be taking his program to a new weekend slot beginning in April. Thursday will be his last broadcast in primetime. His statement came at the end of the program and said in part…

Schultz: “I raised my hand for this assignment for a number of personal and professional reasons. My fight on ‘The Ed Show’ has been for the workers and the middle class. This new time slot will give me the opportunity to produce and focus on stories that I care about and are important to American families and American workers.”

His statement implies that the move was his choice. However, there are some conflicting accounts of this and a report in the New York Times last November speculated that Schultz’s time slot might be offered to MSNBC contributor and frequent fill-in host, Ezra Klein.

As it turns out, it will be Chris Hayes taking over Schultz’s time period. Hayes is editor-at-large for the highly respected Nation magazine and is currently a host of a weekend morning program on MSNBC, “UP with Chris Hayes.” His selection affirms the appeal he has generated on his show and as a guest host for Rachel Maddow and others.

While the change for Schultz appears to be a demotion from primetime to the weekend ghetto, the details of the move may suggest some benefits. His new show will air on both Saturday and Sunday from 5:00 to 7:00pm. This means that his new show will be twice as long as the old one. You can do a lot more in a two hour format if you’re creative with segments, field production, and guests. And he will end up having nearly as much weekly time as he had before the move.

Cable News RatingsSchultz’s ratings were growing at a steady pace, although he was no match for Fox’s number one program, The O’Reilly Factor. At the end of last year he posted a 54% gain compared to O’Reilly’s 22% decline. Then again in January he scored a plus 23% to O’Reilly’s minus 25%, as Fox sunk to a twelve year low.

Last year I proposed some programming changes for MSNBC that would assist them in taking advantage of their post-election ratings surge. One of those was to give Schultz the Hardball repeat at 7:00pm and find another host to put up against O’Reilly and anchor the primetime block. Hayes was a possibility at the time, but not my choice. He is a smart and engaging host, but not the sort of personality that could compete with O’Reilly. If MSNBC is interested in taking the leap from contender to champ they need to take some risks.

One possibility would have been to develop a non-conventional format with a team of hosts. My suggestion was John Fugelsang and Joy Reid. They could produce a show that incorporated serious policy discussion along with a sense of humor and a nod to popular culture. That might have been an effective way to counter-program Fox and set up the evening’s later programs with something lighter and more broadly appealing. Perhaps MSNBC will consider such a program to replace Hayes on weekend mornings where they may be more comfortable experimenting.

As with everything in the television business, time will tell. MSNBC has been enjoying substantial gains lately, while Fox News has been suffering severe losses. Whether these trends will continue long enough for the networks to swap places in the standings remains to be seen. And CNN isn’t standing still either with their new boss, Jeff Zucker, whose influence is already being felt in significant ways. The end result is that 2013 is bound to be a year wherein the cable news business suffers the ancient Chinese curse of “living in interesting times.”

Banksters Plotting A Propaganda Offensive Against Occupy Wall Street

Chris Hayes has acquired a memo from a well-connected group of Washington lobbyists to the American Bankers Association. The memo proposes launching a comprehensive campaign against the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement with an $850,000 budget and an intent to “undermine their credibility.” Hayes begins his expose saying that…

“Speaker Boehner’s lobbying buddies are proposing a hit job on Occupy Wall Street. […] The former Boehner aides, who now lobby for Wall Street, sketched out a strategy for deploying proxies to shill for Wall Street and against Occupy without the public knowing.”

The lobbyists’ memo (pdf) goes into detail as to how they would deliver on their promise to suppress the impact of OWS and to punish their defenders whether they be Democrats or Republicans. In fact, the lobbyists are particularly worried about GOP defectors:

“Leading Democratic strategists have begun to openly discuss the benefits of embracing the growing and increasingly organized Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement to prevent Republican gains in Congress and the White House this year […] However, the bigger concern should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies – and might start running against them too.”

That’s a revealing admission that the OWS message has a much broader appeal than is generally acknowledged. It is not insignificant that when Speaker Boehner was confronted with the allegation that Republicans are the champions of Big Business, rather than proudly embrace his constituency, Boehner attempted to shift the criticism to President Obama by asserting that the President’s campaign was the biggest recipient of Wall Street donations. Obama has indeed received a considerable sum from the sector, but most of his contributions are from small donors. And since the Obama administration has been an advocate of financial reform and regulation, and created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau despite industry opposition, it could be said that the Banksters didn’t get much for their money. Further affirming the mass popularity of the OWS message, the memo continues…

“Well-known Wall Street companies stand at the nexus of where OWS protestors and the Tea Party overlap on angered populism. Both the radical left and the radical right are channeling broader frustration about the state of the economy and share a mutual frustration over TARP and other perceived bailouts. This combination has the potential to be explosive later in the year when media reports cover the next round of bonuses and contrast it with stories of millions of Americans making do with less this holiday season.”

The biggest nightmare of this crowd is that OWS and the Tea Party will unite against the One Percenters. An notice that the lobbyists are not concerned with the actual suffering of “millions of Americans making do with less this holiday season,” only the wrenching perception of that fact when juxtaposed with the extravagance and greed of the Wall Streeters whose holidays will be abundantly joyful. That’s why the lobbyists and their Bankster clients need to demonize OWS as lazy, dirty, violent, unfocused, etc. But the lobbyists’ memo appears to recognize that that tactic has not worked:

“It may be easy to dismiss OWS as a ragtag group of protestors but they have demonstrated that they should be treated more like an organized competitor who is very nimble and capable of working the media, coordinating third party support and engaging officeholders to do their bidding.”

Indeed, it is easy to use puerile insults to dismiss OWS, a role that Fox News has embraced with relish. But we are beginning to see the shift from ridicule to respect as the Banksters realize that this movement is competent, committed and has the support of the public. So the response from the lobbyists is to smear the group’s members and spread lies about its composition. The memo even reprises the false assertion that George Soros, a favorite villain of the right, is funding OWS. Then it continues to propose an analysis of OWS’ “extremist leaders” to construct “negative narratives for high-impact media placement,” otherwise known as propaganda.

Finally, the memo outlines an electoral strategy that targets races in battleground states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Mexico, Nevada, and North Carolina. These are all states that Obama won in 2008. In addition to this effort, they offer to “provide cover for political figures who defend the industry.” It’s a full service operation, after all. Watch the video from UP w/Chris Hayes here: