UNFIT: Trump Okays Strike on Iran Without a Casualty Assessment, and Other Unpresidential Acts

There has been frequent speculation about the shaky temperament of Donald Trump and his mental unfitness for the office of the presidency. This has been observed in his pathological lying, infantile name-calling, nerve-rattling ignorance, affinity for murderous dictators, aversion to American intelligence agencies, and brazen disrespect for the law.

Donald Trump

Nevertheless, Trump continues to provide more evidence of how pitifully incompetent and unprepared he is for the duty he’s assumed. The latest demonstration of that is his response to the charge that Iran shot down an American drone. His first comment on the matter was (naturally) a threatening tweet that said only that “Iran made a very big mistake!” However, he followed that up by suggesting that he literally believes that what Iran did was accidental. Which makes his decision to strike back with military force (for an accident?) somewhat peculiar. But no more peculiar than his reversal of that decision, which he explained in another series of tweets. Let’s examine this tweetstorm:


Obama did not “give” money to Iran. Trump is referring to money that was Iran’s to begin with. It had been frozen in foreign accounts. Obama’s deal released the funds upon completion of the nuclear agreement. Also, Obama did not give Iran a “free path to nuclear weapons.” He secured a decades-long prohibition of further development of their nuclear capabilities which at the time were within a year of completing a functional weapon. Trump’s knee-jerk blaming of Obama is ironic considering that Trump had falsely accused him of plotting to attack Iran nine times before he was president.

Trump complaining about the nuclear agreement with Iran not being ratified by Congress is laughable considering his proclivity for executive orders and appointments of numerous “acting” cabinet officials (ominously including Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security, and U.N. Ambassador) who have never been confirmed by the Senate. And Trump’s claim that Iran is now “Bust!” doesn’t jibe with reality. There’s no evidence that their military capabilities have been reduced in any way.


This first tweet contains several notable rhetorical errors. First of all, all drones are unmanned. Secondly, “International Waters” is not a pronoun. Third, it’s “locked and loaded” not “cocked.” Fourth, it’s “sites,” not “sights.”

More importantly, if it’s true that Trump approved a military strike, but only asked for a casualty assessment ten minutes before it began, he is even more disengaged and incompetent as Commander-in-Chief than we thought. However, casualty assessments are routinely given during mission briefings, and reports say this one was no exception. So Trump is likely lying about when he learned of the potential fatalities. Even Chris Wallace of Fox News was curious why Trump didn’t ask that question sooner, prompting him to wonder if Trump “has the stomach to launch this kind of attack.”

Trump often says that he has “rebuilt” the military which he describes disparagingly as having been “depleted.” In doing so, he is insulting every American officer and soldier who served prior to his election. Never mind the fact that his demeaning assertion is wholly unfounded.

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

Taken in total, these tweets are nothing more than Trump seeking to excuse his inadequacies, assign blame to others, and exalt himself as a national savior. They do nothing to advance a solution to rising tensions in the Middle East (which he has exacerbated), or to protect America’s interests. Like just about everything else he does, it was focused solely on glorifying himself and canonizing the image that he wants others to have of him. Unfortunately for Trump, that will only work on the glassy-eyed Deplorables that make up his cult following.

Fox News Riles Big Baby Trump By Hosting Buttigieg Town Hall Rather than More Trump-Fluffing

For anyone who isn’t yet convinced that Fox News is a wholly owned subsidiary of Trump Cult Enterprises (or maybe vice versa), Donald Trump has helped to affirm this fact himself. In a pair of tweets that reveal just how tightly integrated they are, the reality TV president made it clear that there should be no wavering on Fox’s mission to prop up all things Trump. And that also means shunning non-Trump news.

Fox News Friends

When Pete Buttigieg agreed to appear on Fox News for a town hall, he articulated his justifications for doing so. They were essentially the same as those by other Democrats who mistakenly believe that there is some merit to lending their credibility to a propaganda outfit that hasn’t earned it and doesn’t deserve it. In short, they argue that they need to reach out to Fox’s viewers. But there are other venues to communicate with any Fox viewer who isn’t devoutly pro-Trump. And those who are need not be bothered with. In the meantime, it’s counterproductive to help Fox earn more respect and revenue with which they will trash Democrats.

Nevertheless, Buttigieg showed up for the town hall ready to address what was expected to be an unfriendly encounter. Surprisingly, the audience was fairly receptive to his remarks. In particular they applauded vigorously when he said of Trump’s vile and infantile antics that “It is the nature of grotesque things that you can’t look away.” He also enjoyed a standing ovation at the end that caught anchor Chris Wallace off guard.

But Trump’s reaction to this program was somewhat different. He angrily tweeted that it’s:

Trump is giving away the propaganda game here. He is complaining that Fox News had the audacity to cover someone running for president other than the officially designated candidate of the Fox Nationalist Party. He did exactly the same thing following the Bernie Sanders town hall on Fox. According to Trump, just giving a Democrat one hour out of twenty-four is evidence that the network is “moving to the wrong side.” Even that phrasing indicates Trump’s impression is that Fox News is on his side and against his enemies.

Trump segues from that nonsense to taking a swipe at Wallace who he says “never speaks well of me.” Setting aside the fact that that’s patently false, a more interesting fact is that Trump is so scared of Wallace that he’s never granted him an interview as President. Which is ironic since the rightists in Fox World are always accusing Democrats of fearing Fox. The truth is just the opposite. Media Matters has done the research and found that Democrats appear on Fox News far more often than Republicans appear on CNN or MSNBC.

So what did Buttigieg gain by submitting to Fox? He earned a rebuke from Fox for having done so. The following morning the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends tore into Buttigieg for speaking candidly about what happens “when you see what goes on with some opinion hosts on this network.” He elaborated saying…

“I mean when you’ve got Tucker Carlson saying that immigrants make America dirty, when you’ve got Laura Ingraham comparing detention centers and children in cages to summer camps, then there is a reason why anybody has to swallow hard and think twice before participating in this media ecosystem.”

That drew the ire of Fox’s Brian Kilmeade who went on an extended rant where in warned prospective Fox guests that they shouldn’t show up if they intend to speak their minds and tell the truth:

“Don’t hop on our channel and continue to put down the other hosts on the channel. If you feel that negative about it, don’t come.”

Perhaps Fox News should publish a guidebook outlining what is and isn’t allowed to be said on their network. Because if you say anything the least bit critical you’re scolded and maligned for having “absolutely no courage” despite your presence in their studio. Then, for good measure, Kilmeade went on to lie about Trump’s tax cuts which Buttigieg correctly said benefited the wealthy. Kilmeade disputed that saying that the cuts were aimed at corporations (Is that better, or even different?) and that “the smallest tax cut was for those who pay the most.”

All of these lies and insults took place the morning after the Buttigieg town hall. They were done without giving Buttigieg an opportunity to respond. There was no Democratic voice on to set the Foxies straight. And the Buttigieg bashing continued on Fox News throughout the rest of the morning broadcasts and surely continued for the remainder of the day.

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

So how exactly did the hour that Buttigieg got justify the countless hours of attacks and lies? The lesson from both Sanders and Buttigieg is that doing these Fox town halls only sets you up for attacks without providing any benefit whatsoever. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris have stated publicly that they will not be submitting to Fox. The rest of the Democratic field should take heed and do the same.

Trump’s Lies About China Paying Tariffs Gets Fact-Checked Live – On Fox News!

America is currently suffering through a historically unique period wherein it is being misled on a daily basis by both it’s president and the State TV network (aka Fox News) that is propping him up. Donald Trump has been documented to have told more than 10,000 lies since his inauguration. And the pace of those falsehoods is increasing as he gets ever more desperate due to the unfolding web of criminality that he is frantically trying to cover up.

Donald Trump

The risk this poses for the country is significant. Trump doesn’t care how dishonest his impotent rants are, so long as they provide a distraction from his impending legal jeopardy. And he doesn’t even care if they introduce threats of war or other serious harm to the nation – and the world. Representative of that reckless disregard for the welfare millions is an entirely manufactured economic crisis that Trump has latched onto with fanatical fury. His shameless ignorance of economic and fiscal affairs is the real crisis that America faces.

Last week Trump threatened China with increased tariffs if they didn’t capitulate to demands that Trump seems obsessed with but refuses to specify. He tweeted repeatedly that China would suffer if they didn’t comply, throwing the stock market into a tizzy that produced a 600 point drop. Trump believes (or pretends to) that the tariffs he seeks to impose would be paid by China. Probably around the same time that Mexico pays for his idiotic border/vanity wall. He even said that the tariffs would be more financially advantageous than actual trade with China.

Every economist with a pulse knows that tariffs are not paid by countries. They are paid by the importing businesses (i.e. U.S. companies), and those costs are generally passed on to U.S. consumers. It’s a de facto tax that would burden every American family. Nevertheless, Trump tweeted or retweeted his ignorant assertions twenty-six times just in the past week. He is apparently impervious to the facts and logic associated with this (or any) issue.

On Sunday morning Trump’s stubbornness was brought into the spotlight by his favorite “news” network Fox News. His Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, was interviewed by Chris Wallace, when the subject of tariffs came up. Kudlow tried to obediently tow the Trump line, but his embarrassing failure to do so resulted in this exchange (video below):

Wallace: It’s not China that pays tariffs. It’s the American importers, the American companies that pay what is, in effect, a tax increase, and oftentimes passes it on to U.S. consumers.
Kudlow: Fair enough. In fact, both sides will pay. Both sides will pay in these things.
Wallace: But the tariffs on goods coming into the country, the Chinese aren’t paying.
Kudlow: No but the Chinese will suffer GDP losses and so forth, with respect to a diminishing export market and goods that they may need…
Wallace: I understand that. But the President says that China pays the tariffs. They may suffer consequences, but it’s U.S. businesses and U.S. consumers who pay, correct?
Kudlow: Yes, to some extent. I don’t disagree with that. Again, both sides will suffer on this.

First of all, as Wallace pointed out, whether or not China suffers GDP losses is a completely different question than who pays the tariffs. And Trump said explicitly that China’s “massive payments go directly to the Treasury of the U.S.” That’s a lie that even Kudlow couldn’t support. Trump also said that “Tariffs will make our Country MUCH STRONGER, not weaker.” Which Kudlow unequivocally contradicted by saying that “both sides will suffer on this.”

That last comment should ring in the ears of all Americans. Trump’s chief economic advisor admitted on national television that Trump is causing the U.S. to suffer. Many Americans already know that. Particularly the farmers who have already been hurt so badly by Trump’s tariffs that he had to promise them a bailout paid for by every other American.

And you can add to the list of sufferers all of those impacted by Trump’s sabotage of ObamaCare; those dealing with the effects of natural disasters, especially in Puerto Rico; those whose wages have been stagnant for years as Trump’s Republican Nationalist Party opposed increasing the minimum wage; and those residing on a planet that is rapidly deteriorating due to deliberate abuse in pursuit of profit. When it comes to making other people suffer, Donald Trump can finally take credit for really being the best at something.

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

Fox News is Referenced in the Mueller Report Four Times, and Each Makes Trump Look Worse

With the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report by Donald Trump’s plant in the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr, there is going to be a flurry of furious spinning by Trump’s devoted martinets in the right-wing press. Trump himself will continue his frantic robo-rant of “no collusion, no obstruction,” as he has been doing for months.

Fox News, Robert Mueller

Naturally, Fox News will assume its predictable role as the main line of defense for Trump. They will focus exclusively on any positive angles among the vague interpretations of Mueller’s report offered by Barr or other Republican partisans. And they will brazenly ignore anything in the report that is remotely detrimental to Trump, of which there is a significant amount. Even Chris Wallace of Fox News noted that “There is a lot of stuff in here that is damaging to the president, politically embarrassing to the president.”

However, Fox News itself had a place in the Mueller report with four references to Trump’s State TV affiliate. The following passages from the report illustrate just how deeply integrated Fox is with Trump and his associates. For instance:

Page 70:

“That night, the White House Press Office called the Department of Justice and said the White House wanted to put out a statement saying that it was Rosenstein’s idea to fire Comey. Rosenstein told other DOJ officials that he would not participate in putting out a ‘false story.’ The President then called Rosenstein directly and said he was watching Fox News, that the coverage had been great, and that he wanted Rosenstein to do a press conference. Rosenstein responded that this was not a good idea because if the press asked him, he would tell the truth that Comey’s firing was not his idea.”

What we have here is Trump keeping tabs on the investigation by watching Fox News, and then trying to get Deputy AG Rosenstein to lie for him about FBI Director James Comey’s firing. That’s obstruction of justice right there. The fact that Rosenstein refused doesn’t make Trump’s attempt any less illegal. And then there’s this:

Page 99:

“[Reince] Priebus recalled learning about the June 9 meeting from Fox News host Sean Hannity in late June 2017. Priebus notified one of the President’s personal attorneys, who told Priebus he was already working on it. By late June, several advisors recalled receiving media inquiries that could relate to the June 9 meeting.”

It’s rather remarkable that Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, found out about the infamous Trump Tower meeting (with Don Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and some Russian operatives) only by watching Fox News. That’s how out-of-the-loop Trump’s closest White House aide was, but also how integral Fox News is to Trump’s affairs. And that’s not all:

Page 126:

“In a Fox News interview on August 22, 2018, the President said: ‘[Cohen] makes a better deal when he uses me, like everybody else. And one of the reasons l respect Paul Manafort so much is he went through that trial-you know they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping. The President said that flipping was ‘not fair’ and ‘almost ought to be outlawed.'”

In this “interview” with the unabashedly pro-Trump “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends, Trump is laying the groundwork for threats directed at his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, while simultaneously praising his more loyal campaign chairman, Manafort. This is a fairly clumsy attempt at witness tampering. Which he did some more of here:

Page 151:

“In January 2019, after the media reported that Cohen would provide public testimony in a congressional hearing, the President made additional public comments suggesting that Cohen’s family members had committed crimes. In an interview on Fox on January 12, 2019, the President was asked whether he was worried about Cohen’s testimony and responded:

‘[I]n order to get his sentence reduced, [Cohen] says “I have an idea, I’ll ah, tell-I’ll give you some information on the president.” Well, there is no information. But he should give information maybe on his father-in-law because that’s the one that people want to look at because where does that money-that’s the money in the family.'”

Trump made these accusations during an interview with his adoring acolyte, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. They were directed against Cohen’s family as a flagrant attempt to scare him into keeping his mouth shut.

It’s hard to see why Mueller didn’t think he had sufficient evidence to indict Trump, or at least to recommend that Congress take up an inquiry that could lead to impeachment. And as guilty as Trump now appears to be, it’s plain that Fox News was a willing accomplice every step of the way. It is not insignificant that Fox was referenced four times in the report. They were further included in twenty-seven footnotes. No other national news network was referenced in the body of the report even once. What does that tell you?

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

To Sarah Sanders: If Congress is Too Dumb to Understand Trump’s Taxes, Releasing Them Can’t Hurt

Donald Trump’s media relations have been a case study in both a totalitarian hostility toward the free press and a narcissist’s obsession for attention and adulation. He has repeatedly referred to the media in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people,” while lashing out personally at journalists and networks that he doesn’t think are sufficiently adoring.

Donald Trump

Trump’s White House has all but abandoned the daily press briefings that every other president in modern times has held. But he continues to send his press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, out to the same TV news networks that he maligns. While there she does nothing but disseminate flagrant lies, packaged propaganda, and irrational defenses of her bosses many offensive utterances. Case in point: Sanders went on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace to try to shore another bad week for Trump. When the subject turned to the President’s stubborn refusal to release his tax returns, Sanders let this bull fly (video below):

“Frankly, Chris, I don’t think Congress – particularly not this group of congressmen and women – are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that President Trump’s taxes will be.”

Seriously? Trump’s first responses to this question were promises that he would release his taxes and would be happy and proud to do so. That later shifted to a lie about being audited, which he said prevented him from releasing his returns. It doesn’t. Most recently he has just declared that he isn’t going to do it under any circumstances. Which should cause any thoughtful citizen to wonder why he’s lied for so long and what terrible things he is trying to hide?

But for Sanders to make such a vicious ad hominem attack on the entire institution of Congress only escalates the suspicions that Americans should have. After all, it is the job of Congress to conduct oversight on matters like this, and many members have professional experience and training in economics. The insult by Sanders is just a lame attempt to avoid the real issues that concern Trump’s corruption and nefarious business relations that may include Russians.

If Sanders thinks Congress is too dumb to comprehend Trump’s taxes, why does the White House she represents think they are capable of developing a new healthcare plan; or ratifying international treaties; or passing Trump’s Tax Scam; or regulating everything from energy to banks to defense policy? Her scattershot slander only reinforces this administration’s aversion to the American ideal of democratic self-rule. According to Trump World, we’re all too stupid to be allowed any such privilege.

However, if Sanders really believes what she’s saying, then why would she have any objection to Trump’s taxes being released right now? After all, Congress won’t be able to understand them, so what’s the harm? In reality, this is just another example of projection by Trump and company. This is a man so inept that he bankrupted four casinos. He is the one who is so painfully idiotic that he can’t comprehend even simple matters, particularly about the economy. Take for instance his Sunday morning tweet about the Federal Reserve Board:

None of that is true. It’s pure fantasy to suggest that the Dow would be 10,000 points higher, even if the Fed did what Trump wants. But they can’t do it because lowering interests rates when the economy is already overheated would result in inflation and a massive stock selloff as investors sell equities and shift into bonds. What’s more, if a recession should result (a real probability), there would be no way to mitigate its harm by lowering interest rates further. It’s a recipe for a depression. But that’s where this administration is determined to take us. They just hope it occurs after a Democrat is elected next year so they have someone else to blame.

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

Semper WTFi? Trump Tells Fox News that He Only Supports the Military if They Bow Down to Him

This has been a busy Sunday for Donald Trump. When he wasn’t posting flagrant propaganda videos of himself disrespecting California fire victims, he was excitedly planted in front of his television so that he could fire off rapid responses to the insolence directed at him by those pesky Democrats and wayward Republicans. So naturally he lashed out the imaginary “caravan” of criminal invaders marching toward the U.S. border. He posted an infantile tweet that referred to Rep. Adam Schiff and Adam “Schitt.” And he promoted his latest appearance on State TV (aka Fox News) with Chris Wallace.

Bill McRaven, Donald Trump

There was a lot of blathering idiocy throughout the interview, and it can be viewed in conveniently sectioned off pieces here. But one area of particular interest was when Wallace sought Trump’s reaction to remarks made by retired Admiral William McRaven. Trump twice interrupted Wallace as he tried to ask the question regarding McRaven saying that Trump’s attacks on the press are “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.” Eventually Wallace got the question out and it resulted in this disturbing exchange (video below):

Wallace: Bill McRaven. Retired admiral. Thirty-seven years. Former head of Special Operations…
Trump: Hillary Clinton fan.
Wallace: Special operations…
Trump: Excuse me. Hillary Clinton fan.
Wallace: …who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden, says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.
Trump: Okay. He’s a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer. And frankly, wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?

Holy Shiitake Mushrooms. Trump actually has the gall to disparage a Navy Seal with more than three decades of service to his country, and whose leadership helped bring down two of America’s most virulent foes. And Trump’s reason for slamming McRaven was that he allegedly supported a couple of Democrats (aka Americans). What’s more, Trump’s insult went off the deep end by belittling McRaven’s accomplishments because they hadn’t happened sooner. For the record, George W. Bush had eight years to deal with bin Laden. Under Obama, bin Laden was dead in two years. And that was while Obama was also dealing with Bush’s Great Recession. Trump, on the other hand, evaded military service entirely via five questionable deferments. He has no moral standing to criticize McRaven, Obama, Clinton, or anyone else.

It’s also worth noting that Trump is lying again. McRaven was not a supporter of Clinton or Obama. He never endorsed either and he served presidents of both parties. However, he was on the Trump transition team’s short list for a top national security post. Which makes his slander all the more repulsive.

This ought to be a wake up call for every member of the military, every veteran, and every American who supports them, that Trump has zero respect for their service or commitment to duty. Unless, that is, they are also slavishly adoring of him personally. Anyone who demonstrates independent thought or otherwise veers from total devotion to Trump is discarded and treated like traitors no matter how impressive or patriotic their past. Trump will turn on you if you fail to worship him sufficiently. And that’s not patriotism, it’s malignant narcissism with tyrannical tendencies.

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

Et Tu Fox News? Will Trump Be Asked About the Acosta Ruling and Fox’s Support for CNN?

Last week, in fit of rage, Donald Trump revoked the White House pass for CNN’s presidential correspondent, Jim Acosta, Subsequently, CNN filed a lawsuit to against to get Acosta’s rights restored. Nearly everyone in the journalism community supported CNN, including Fox News. Although their support at the management level was contradicted by most of their on-air hosts and contributors.

Donald Trump Fox News

Friday morning the court (with a Trump-appointed judge) issued a preliminary injunction ordering Trump to restore Acosta’s press pass because his due process rights were violated. A final ruling on the matter is expected soon. However, there is a presumption that Acosta’s First Amendment rights were also violated because due process is a constitutional provision for the protection of underlying rights.

In any case, the White House is now legally mandated to permit Acosta to cover the President and his press briefings. That is likely to add to Trump’s severe anxiety and depression, as has been reported in recent days. From the midterm election shellacking he took, to special counsel Robert Mueller’s impending report and possible indictments, Trump is in a foul mood. And being forced to play nice with Acosta, who he just singled out as an “enemy of the people,” isn’t going to cheer him up.

What might make Trump feel a little better is a friendly visit with his favorite “news” network, Fox News. He is generally in a more relaxed frame of mind when being questioned by the State TV reporters that he knows won’t challenge him. So Trump has squeezed an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday into his schedule. Wallace, however, is often not as accommodating – or worshipful – as Foxies like Sean Hannity (who Trump just mocked for his fatuous adoration and dumb questions). So Trump may be surprised with a few inquiries that attempt to scratch below the surface.

There are plenty of subjects for Wallace to explore that have been neglected by Trump’s recent interviews with sycophants like Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller. This will be Trump’s first one-on-one since the election. It will be an opportunity to catch up on recent developments concerning the Mueller probe. Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions – and the possibly unlawful appointment of Matt Whitaker as acting Attorney General – have not been discussed in detail. On the latter issue, it will be interesting to see if Wallace asks him to address his statements to the Daily Caller that his promotion of Whitaker was tied to his desire to terminate the Mueller investigation.

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

But one of the most interesting lines of questioning would be about Trump’s reaction to the Acosta court ruling and Fox News’ support for CNN. Will Trump now lump Fox into the basket of media organizations that he believes are the people’s enemies? Will he attack the judge that he appointed? Will he double down on his anti-free press rhetoric? Will he reiterate his opinion that he has the right to pick and choose who can cover him? And finally, will Wallace actually ask any of these questions? Tune in on Sunday for the big show.

Fox News Anchor Scolds His Fox News Colleagues for ‘Bashing the Media’

There’s a peculiar thing about Donald Trump’s campaign against the First Amendment and freedom of the press. That’s how much he actually relies on the press to spew his propaganda and lies. Without the media broadcasting his hate speech who would know about it?

Fox News Chris Wallace Sean Hannity

To be sure, he has Fox News, the PR division of the Trump administration. And for some reason they are always left out of any criticism that the President has of the “mainstream” media, despite being the top rated cable news network. For the most part, Fox News is a willing accomplice in the murder of the media. They lay it on more thickly than any other network. And they never seem to grasp the irony that they are demeaning the news business that they pretend to be a part of.

Apparently that obliviousness has finally worn through to at least one member of the Fox team. Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, addressed this issue in an interview with ABC News and was not shy about expressing that “It bothers me.”

“I don’t like them bashing the media, because oftentimes what they’re bashing is stuff that we on the news side are doing. I don’t think they recognize that they have a role at Fox News and we have a role at Fox News. I don’t know what’s in their head. I just think it’s bad form.”

Make no mistake, he’s talking about his fellow Foxies Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and the vegetative Trump bots of Fox and Friends – among others. Wallace seems to recognize that their knee-jerk assaults on any less than flattering coverage of their Orange Messiah isn’t in the best interest of journalism. And the manner in which he dresses them down is a scathing rebuke. Although he may be pulling punches by assuming that there’s “something” in their heads.

ABC News noted the obvious in their commentary, writing that Fox News is “the preferred network for conservatives.” And they cited a study by Media Matters that revealed the depth of Fox’s bias. For instance, Sean Hannity “criticized the press in 90 percent of his monologues from May 15 to Sept. 1.” And that he “used the term ‘fake news’ 67 times.” But something else stood out that makes the glaring prejudices of Fox even more appalling:

“As president, Trump has given interviews to Fox News more than any other outlet, but he has favored Hannity and other supportive hosts like Jeanine Pirro and Jesse Watters. News anchors Wallace, Bret Baier and Shepard Smith and chief White House correspondent John Roberts have been shut out.”

So even while Trump favors the garden variety sycophants at Fox, he is careful to narrow his exposure to only the most slobbering drool merchants at the network. He steers wide of anyone that might accidentally stumble over some honest journalistic principles. Even the Fox News version of a reporter must be avoided at all costs. Trump is only comfortable talking to mindless disciples. Lucky for him, there is no shortage of them at Fox News – or in their audience.

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

Fox News Implies That Donald Trump is Just as Batty as Kim Jong-Un. Who Can Argue With That?

On Wednesday Donald Trump laid the foundation for a nuclear confrontation with North Korea. His brimstone laden “fire and fury” speech has brought new and unnecessary tensions to an already shaky relationship. It was an inevitable escalation of craziness from a narcissistic personality with a thirty-three percent approval rating. And of course, it didn’t take long for the media pundits to weigh in with predictably inane debates.

Donald Trump Kim Jong-Un

On Fox News Thursday morning there was a particularly confounding view offered by anchor Jon Scott. He wanted to know whether there was a “double standard among the press” for their criticism of Trump’s overheated rhetoric. He was puzzled as to why Trump was being criticized but “nobody seems to care all that much about the threats coming from Kim Jong-Un.”

Let’s be clear about this. Scott is making the absurd inference that the media should treat Trump’s statements with equal significance as a certified fruitcake. On the surface, I can’t really find any fault with that. Trump is at least as batty as Kim. However, when looked at as an American president vs. Kim, the distinction ought be huge. Under ordinary circumstances the U.S. should be regarded as far more serious and conscientious than raving madmen.

Unfortunately, these are not ordinary times. Hence the critique of the press by Scott, who thinks Trump should be regarded in the same league as Kim. But Scott’s guest, fellow Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, wasn’t having it:

“Well, look, we kind of expect crazy from Kim Jong-Un. As I said, he’s the head of the ‘Hermit Kingdom. He’s a pariah for almost the entire world. So, we don’t expect him to be judged the same standard as the president. […] I certainly hope we’re not judging Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un by the same standards.”

Wallace’s perspective is surely more coherent than Scott’s. But Scott’s is more prevalent on Fox News and throughout the right-wing mediasphere. Even Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said that Trump was using “language that Kim Jong-Un would understand.” When did lowering our communications skills to the level of babbling nutcases become the goal of American diplomacy?

Wallace deserves some credit for batting down Scott’s absurd allegation of a press double standard. But he still managed to live down to Fox’s low standards for misleading reporting. Woven into his remarks was this completely false observation of the fallout from Trump’s “fire and fury” speech:

“I don’t think anybody objects to the idea that the president was tough and sent a very stern message to the North Koreans.”

Oh really? You would have to be ignoring the letter from sixty members of congress fervently objecting to Trump’s war mongering. And you would also have to have missed the objections from Democratic senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein. Not to mention Republican senators John McCain, Dan Sullivan, and Jeff Flake. Trump’s off-the-cuff bluster was widely considered to be inflammatory and counterproductive. And Wallace’s attempt to soft-peddle the backlash only keeps Fox News viewers ill-informed. But then, that’s the mission of Fox News, so Wallace and Scott are just doing their jobs.

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

Could Trump Be Prosecuted for Leaks Under New Department of Justice Directive?

The still nascent presidency of Donald Trump is rife with controversies and scandals. His financial conflicts of interests and unsavory connections to Russia have dominated his short tenure in office. Additionally, he has produced no legislative accomplishments. Most notably, the failure of his efforts to kill ObamaCare went down in flames. He has made no progress on immigration, taxes, terrorism, or his lame-brained border wall.

Rod Rosenstein Fox New

However, Trump regularly signals what issues are of most importance to him. And judging by the frequency of his tweets, it has little to do with matters critical to the nation. Rather, he is variously obsessed with either the media, last November’s election, or the torrent of White House leaks. Most experts agree that leaks occur when an organization is in disarray. But in Trump World it is blamed on a shadowy conspiracy of “deep state” saboteurs.

On yesterday’s edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (video below). Much of the segment specifically addressed the question of leaks and what the Justice Department intends to do about them. Wallace sought to follow up on remarks made last week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Those comments sparked some controversy for implying that journalists could be targeted for prosecution. Rosenstein walked that back a bit in the following exchange:

Wallace: Some of the people who engage in leaks, I don’t have to tell you, are not the members of the so-called ‘deep state’ or faceless bureaucrats inside intelligence agencies. They are White House officials. They are members of Congress. If you find any of them have committed these leaks – have disclosed classified information – will you prosecute?
Rosenstein: “What we need to look at in every leak referral we get, we look at the facts and circumstances. What was the potential harm caused by the leaks? What were the circumstances? That’s more important to us than who it is, than who is the leaker. So if we identify somebody, no matter what their position is, if they violated the law and that case warrants prosecution, we’ll prosecute them.
Wallace: Including White House officials and members of Congress?
Rosenstein: Including anybody who breaks the law.

If Rosenstein can be taken at his word, Donald Trump may be in even more trouble than previously thought. Leaks from any administration are made for a variety of reasons. It may be because someone is genuinely concerned about a course of action and has no other recourse to alter it. Sometimes a leaker is angling for position or acting out of vengeance. And sometimes leaks are deliberate attempts by the White House to disseminate information that it wants disseminated.

For example, Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s short-lived communications director, recently outed his boss as a leaker. During an interview on CNN, Scaramucci defended Trump’s reluctance to concede that the Russians were responsible for hacking during last year’s election. He even offered “evidence” by way of an anonymous insider:

“You know, somebody said to me yesterday — I won’t tell you who — that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it.”

That, of course, is grade AAA bullshit. Professional spies may be good at what they do, but they are not infallible. Scaramucci is suggesting that the Russians are so superior in their clandestine operations that their American counterparts are helpless yokels, incapable of facing off against the almighty Ruskies. But more important was what Scaramucci said next. After CNN’s Jake Tapper challenged Scaramucci’s hypocritical use of an anonymous source, the Mooch spilled the beans:

“How about it was – how about it was the President, Jake? I talked to him yesterday. He called me from Air Force One.”

So here we have a White House official admitting that the President was the source of a leak that disclosed inside information. Trump’s observations about the capabilities of Russian intelligence ought to be regarded as top secret. But this business was aired on national television at the behest of Donald Trump. On another occasion, Trump leaked classified data to Russian diplomats visiting the White House. This leak may have put intelligence assets of an ally at risk of discovery or termination.

Who knows what else the President might have leaked. Handing out information that advances the administration’s interest is an ago-old tactic. Dick Cheney did it to plant the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And Trump has his own media operation headquartered in the White House and led by Breitbart News chairman, Stephen Bannon. Remember, this is the same guy who used to call newspapers and pretend that he was a publicist working for, well, himself.

So if Trump is later found to be the source of leaks to the media, will the Department of Justice keep their word and prosecute him? That’s an open question for the time being. They have not been especially anxious to pursue criminal investigations of the President. And, of course, Trump remains poised to fire anyone he thinks is getting too close to the truth. In the end, it may only be possible to obtain justice with a truly independent counsel, or a Democratic congress. Stay tuned.

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