The GOP’s Debate Dysfunction Is A Mirror Image Of Their Governing Dysfunction

Anyone who is surprised by the clumsy efforts of Republicans to try to manage their circus of a primary hasn’t been watching what they have been doing in Congress for the past several years. Their legislative record is by far the least productive in modern times with both the fewest bills passed and the fewest hours in session. They have developed a reputation as ineffective, incompetent, and obstructionist, even failing to pass their own bills.

GOP Debate

The recent calamity surrounding their election of a new Speaker, following the wingnut driven exile of John Boehner, didn’t do much to enhance their reputation. They eventually settled for Paul Ryan, who doesn’t want the job and is despised and distrusted by their right wing “Freedom” caucus. What the Tea Party has wrought for the GOP is The Congress That Can’t Govern Straight. And not surprisingly, the resounding chaos and absence of leadership that is emblematic of the GOP’s congressional majority is precisely what is being seen in their response to what they regard as a poor debate performance.

Following the debacle at CNBC, the candidates attempted to band together to insist that reforms be made in order to avoid the messy affair that took place last week. They resolved to produce a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would include a list of demands to present to the media organizations that produce and broadcast the debates. But as soon as it began the edges started to fray leading to a complete collapse. Within days the congregation of candidates fell apart. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and John Kasich have said that they will not sign on to the draft MOU. Carly Fiorina didn’t even send a representative to the meeting. Chris Christie called out his rivals for complaining and boasted that all he needs is a stage and a podium (a line that Trump later stole, after he had already done his share of whining). Consequently, the group’s MOU appear’s to be a non-starter.

The whole process, however, was a catastrophe resulting in a set of criteria that was in no way different than what was already being done. In other words, it was a lot of frantic bluster that changed nothing. If you compare their demands to the debate agreement drawn up between the campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012, you are not going to find much difference. What’s more, nothing in the MOU would have prevented any of the things that occurred during the CNBC debate to which they so fiercely objected. So what’s the point?

Some of the candidates had suggestions for reform that never made it into the MOU. Ted Cruz expressed his desire to see the debate moderators limited to registered Republicans like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin. Because these respected journalists would bring a air of dignity and rationality to the debate. Ben Carson floated the idea of not broadcasting the debates on TV. He also lobbied for a two hour time limit with all 15 candidates in the same debate. Each would get a five minute opening and closing statement. Of course that would take two and a half hours.

Clearly these people cannot be taken seriously. It is unlikely that they even intended to pursue these debate negotiations. All they really wanted was an opportunity to bitch about the media, an easy target and a reliable applause line. But it wasn’t the media in general, just a specific subset that irks them. That would include anything in the NBC family and any network with a foreign sounding names (i.e. Telemundo). To be fair, Jeb Bush asked that Telemundo’s debate be reinstated, but Trump quickly slapped that down saying that if it was he would walk. There was one network though that got a free pass. All the parties agreed that the debate demands would not apply to Fox News because “people are afraid to make Roger [Ailes] mad.”

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

If there is one thing that is obvious about this charade, it’s that it couldn’t possibly succeed. Republicans aren’t really looking for fairness or balance in their debates. They want to turn the debate into an infomercial for the GOP. The networks could never agree to that. And with all of the infighting and conflicting priorities among the candidates it was destined to disintegrate. And like everything they have tried to do Washington, Republicans have proven once again to be bumbling fools.

Crybaby Donald Trump Calls For NBC Debate Boycott But Still Wants To Host SNL

Following the debate fiasco on CNBC, the Republican candidates announced that they would be meeting to discuss how they could could strong arm the media into producing debates that weren’t so hard on their fragile and weak-kneed candidates. They are exposing themselves as the cowards that they are and responding like bullies, as cowards often do. I wrote a more detailed analysis of this situation yesterday, but there is a new development that requires attention.

The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, announced that he would punish NBC for what took place on CNBC by suspending the agreement to have NBC host a GOP debate that was scheduled for February. It’s another act of Republican cowardice with a side of revenge. And shortly after this announcement, Donald Trump’s campaign came aboard saying that he “supports the RNC’s decision to suspend the debate on February 26th due to the total lack of substance and respect.”

What a pompous act of hypocrisy. If a “total lack of respect” is sufficient justification for the RNC to cut NBC’s debate, then it’s more than sufficient for NBC to cut Trump from hosting Saturday Night Live. Trump’s disrespect to Latinos (and so many others) is far worse than anything that happened at the CNBC debate. And now that he is attacking NBC and Telemundo, they should respond in kind. What obligation do they have to allow him to host their program while he is advocating a boycott of their network?

Donald Trump SNL

Trump should not be surprised if NBC decides to do the right thing and cancel his SNL hosting gig. After all, he is currently forbidding any reporters from Univision (another Latino news outlet) to cover his campaign events. The nonsensical reason he gives is that he is suing the network’s entertainment division because it canceled their contract to broadcast his Miss Universe pageant after he disparaged Latinos as murderers and rapists. He says it would be a “conflict of interest” – a phrase he apparently doesn’t know the meaning of – to admit Univisions’s reporters. Don’t try to figure that out, it’s the Trumpian anti-logic that he uses to justify his bigotry.

The invitation to host SNL came after NBC had broken business ties with Trump due to his “derogatory statements” about Latinos. NBC said such rhetoric was contrary to their values. Have their values changed? Is it now acceptable to do business with the same noxious blowhard who’s pushing a boycott of your network? What’s more, Latino groups are appalled that SNL would allow an overtly racist hate monger like Trump to appear as host, especially considering the fact that there are zero Latinos in the current SNL cast, and only two in the whole forty-one year history of the program. What message does the network send by embracing Trump?

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

In conclusion, if it’s OK for Trump to banish Univision’s Latino reporters from his campaign events, and to advocate a prohibition of Republican debates on NBC and Telemundo, then it is more than justified for NBC to retract their offer to let him host SNL, and they should do so immediately. [There is a petition to urge NBC to rescind the offer here.] The question is, do they have the principles and the backbone to do it, or will they kneel before The Donald in utter disgrace?

What We Learned From The GOP’s Trainwreck Debate On CNBC: Republicans Hate The ‘Liberal’ Media

In the best of circumstances, a political debate should be illuminating in a manner that allows voters to assess the fitness of candidates for public office. However, the best that can be said about the Republican primary debate on CNBC (transcript) is that it illuminated the rabid opportunism of the candidates and the penchant for provocation on the part of the moderators.

CNBC GOP Debate

While there was an attempt by the moderators to inject some substance into their questions, they inexplicably capped their queries with an inappropriate zinger that only left them wide open for criticism. For example, John Harwood constructed a perfectly legitimate question for Donald Trump that called on him to explain how his wall building, tax slashing, immigrant deporting policies could be achieved without wreaking havoc on the economy. But then Harwood finished off with “Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?” Regardless of the aptness of the imagery, the only conceivable purpose for that framing would be to give Trump something to complain about. This pretentious strategy was repeated throughout the debate.

And the complaints veritably gushed from debaters who were eager to hear some reasonable questions and avoid answering them (which they did all night). The backlash directed at the media and the moderators easily became the dominant feature of the debate, and it was almost the only thing that was discussed in the post-debate analyses. The most replayed moments included Marco Rubio tagging the mainstream media as a SuperPAC for the Democrats, and Ted Cruz lamenting that “The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media.” Consequently, the only takeaway from this debate was that Republicans hate the media, something everybody already knows.

Cruz went on to argue that the media treated Democrats differently, “fawning” over “Which of you is more handsome and wise?” That characterization of the Democratic debate is wholly inconsistent with reality. From the transcript of their CNN outing, moderator Anderson Cooper asked Democrats the following questions:

  • [To Clinton] Plenty of politicians evolve on issues, but even some Democrats believe you change your positions based on political expediency. […] Will you say anything to get elected?
  • [To Sanders] A Gallup poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House. You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?
  • [To O’Malley] Why should Americans trust you with the country when they see what’s going on in the city that you ran for more than seven years?
  • [To Clinton] Russia, they’re challenging the U.S. in Syria. According to U.S. intelligence, they’ve lied about who they’re bombing. You spearheaded the reset with Russia. Did you underestimate the Russians?

Those were not fawning, softball questions by any stretch of the imagination. But Republicans only retain information that comports with their preconceptions. Therefore, the liberal media is invariably portrayed as fiercely pro-Democrat and virulently anti-Republican. What’s more, the conservatives never apply the same standards to their benefactors at Fox News, to whom they still suck up despite the tough questioning they got when Fox hosted their debate.

One of the more shameful exchanges of the CNBC debate was when Becky Quick posed this query to Trump: “You had talked a little bit about Marco Rubio. I think you called him Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator because he was in favor of the H1B.” Trump interrupted to insist that “I never said that. I never said that.” So Quick quickly apologized. The problem is that Trump actually says exactly that on his own website. When the debate came back from a commercial, Quick noted that fact but never challenged Trump’s denial. And to make matters worse, this segment of the debate was discussed on Fox News the next day and host Jon Scott falsely asserted that it was Quick who was wrong, saying that “it seems that the research was not necessarily done.” This was after he already knew that she was correct and had cited her source during the debate.

In addition to that, the debate featured a couple of statements that were highly significant, but are not likely to garner much attention. First, Carly Fiorina said that “There is no Constitutional role for the Federal Government to be setting minimum wages.” Apparently ignorant of the Commerce Clause, Fiorina boldly came out in favor of ditching the minimum wage. Secondly, Carl Quintanilla directed a question to Trump with the preface that the site of the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon “was a gun-free zone,” Trump readily agreed. But not only is that untrue, there were actually people there with guns who did not engaged the shooter.

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

So aside from all of the misinformation, the inter-party hostilities, and the failings of the moderators, the one thing that will persist as the defining characteristic of this debate is the intense loathing that Republicans have for the media. It is that rancorous acrimony that will supplant any useful knowledge that might have been gained about the candidates. And since everyone already knew that Republicans hate the press, the whole affair was a complete waste of time.

Donald Trump Is A Punk-Slash-Ignoramous Who Fears Bernie Sanders And Debates

Billionaire crybaby Donald Trump is once again showing severe signs of his true character (or lack thereof). It has been obvious since he began his delusional campaign for the Republican nomination for president that he was an egomaniac obsessed with whining and hurling childish insults at anyone who hurt his tender feelings. Every day he embarrasses himself further with demonstrations of ignorance and conceit. And yesterday was a treasure trove of typical Trumpian nonsense.

Donald Trump

First up, Trump appeared at a rally in Virginia where he revealed just how scared he is of Bernie Sanders, and how little he knows about, well anything. He launched into a rabid tirade aimed at Sanders’ description of himself as a Democratic socialist, a term that Trump couldn’t define if his life depended on it.

Trump: “This socialist-slash-communist – OK? Nobody wants to say it. […] Nobody’s heard the term communist, but you know what, I call him a socialist-slash-communist. OK? Cause that’s what he is.

No, that’s actually not what he is. But I can form trite couplets that are far more descriptive of Trump and more accurate. For instance, Trump is a wuss-slash-narcissist, or an idiot-slash-racist, or a dad-slash-pervert, or a fatcat-slash-fascist. He seems so proud of himself for daring to call Sanders something only a total fool would think is applicable. He is, therefore, proud of his ignorance, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Trump has no idea what a communist is, but he’s pretty sure that he could build a wall to keep them from taking our jobs, raping our daughters, and sapping and impurifying all of our precious bodily fluids (h/t Dr. Strangelove).

Trump’s Sanders-phobia continued with an Instagram video wherein Trump offered the asinine and racist comparison of #BlackLivesMatter to ISIS. The video ended with a graphic reading “Bernie can’t even defend his microphone, how will he defend the country?” Trump seems to think that a confrontation with peaceful protesters advocating justice at a political rally is the same as the military battle against international terrorists. If that’s an indication of how he would respond to dissent in America, everyone should be terrified of him having any power greater than a tollbooth attendant.

Finally, Trump has been throwing another of his patented tantrums over the proposed terms of a GOP debate. He’s complaining that CNBC is stretching the debate to three hours so they can make more money. Even if that’s true, since when does a right-wing Republican object to businesses exercising their rights in a free market? He said that a three hour debate would be unfair to viewers. Does he think that just because he has to stand there the whole time that everyone watching at home is prohibited from changing the channel or walking the dog any time they want? A longer debate gives people more information, even if they view it in parts over the next few days.

Viewers are not burdened by the running time of the debate, but apparently Trump is. Clearly he doesn’t have either the energy to stand for three hours, or the intelligence to answer questions. With ten candidates on the stage three hours only provides about fifteen minutes of questions each (minus commercials and opening and closing statements). That’s not really very much time for deciding on who should become the leader of the free world. Cutting the debate to two hours leaves about nine minutes each. Trump is also insisting that opening and closing statements be part of the format because then he can deliver prepared politispeak rather than having to show that he understands any real issues.

Bonus whining: Trump has resumed his Twitter war with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. In a fevered blast of tweets he called her a liar and said that he “can’t stand to watch her” and her “two really dumb puppets,” Chris Stirewalt and Marc Thiessen. I wonder if Fox CEO Roger Ailes will take this latest assault on his network and staff laying down. He has previously shown that he is more than willing to be Trump’s bitch.

Trump’s petulant hissy fitting is at once pathetic and entertaining. It illustrates the worst aspects of the inherited wealthy elitists who presume themselves to be entitled to special privileges and unwavering attention. This video shows exactly the mindset that Trump has had his whole life:

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

What’s The Difference Between Wealthy (Koch) Republicans And (Soros) Democrats?

The billionaire Koch brothers have been corrupting democracy for decades. Their labyrinthine web of front groups toil 24/7 to distort the facts on issues like climate change, voter suppression, gun control, and taxes. And if that collection of topics sounds familiar, it’s because the Kochs almost single-handedly created the Tea Party (with PR help from Fox News) to push their views on those subjects unto a gullible sector of the American populace.

Koch Bros. Fatcat

AT&T and Verizon users: Stop funding the Tea Party.
Switch to CREDO Mobile, the progressive cell phone company, today!

One of the right’s favorite knee-jerk responses to criticisms of the Kochs is to point to wealthy Democrats who contribute to candidates and causes that lean more to the liberal side of the political spectrum and claim that the Koch’s critics are hypocrites. However, there have always been some obvious distinctions between the right and left wing upper-crusters. The false argument of equivalency falls flat when given scrutiny.

For one thing, the Republican rich can usually be found bankrolling people and projects that benefit them personally or professionally. Thus the Kochs’ fixation on opposing unions and denying climate change is closely aligned with their exploitative and polluting business interests. Well-off Dems, on the other hand, commonly finance more philanthropic endeavors (civil rights, environment, aid to the poor) that aim to improve the quality of life without necessarily enriching themselves.

It is also notable that conservatives advocate for less regulation of money in politics, creating an environment where the rich get ever more power to bend society to their will. Liberals, conversely, spend more of their cash on trying to remove money from politics. As an example, it was conservatives, including the Kochs, who pushed for Citizens United so that they could fund their self-serving projects without restrictions or even identification. But Jonathan Soros, the son of the right’s favorite wealthy liberal George Soros, created the Friends of Democracy PAC, a SuperPAC aimed at ending the influence of SuperPACs.

A new survey was just published that affirms these distinctions between the rightist rich and the lefty leisure class. Conducted by the Spectrem Group for CNBC (Wall Street’s cable news network) the Millionaire Survey “polled 514 people with investable assets of $1 million or more, which represents the top 8 percent of American households.” Among the sometimes surprising findings was that more than half of the respondents agreed that “inequality of wealth in our nation is a major problem.” Also, 64% favored higher taxes on the rich. A similar number (63%) support an increase in the minimum wage. And only 13% said that unemployment benefits should be reduced. Remember, these are all millionaires in this survey.

Digging a little deeper into these numbers, another interesting trend takes shape. It turns out that there is a marked difference in the views expressed by the millionaire class depending on their political affiliation.

“Democratic millionaires are far more supportive of taxing the rich and raising the minimum wage. Among Democratic millionaires, 78 percent support higher taxes on the wealthy, and 77 percent back a higher minimum wage. That compares with 31 percent and 38 percent, respectively, for Republicans.”

CNBC Millionaire Survey

So the breakdown reveals that it is the Democratic wealthy who are the most conscientious and concerned about their country and their fellow citizens. While the Republican rich are selfishly and characteristically concerned mainly with themselves. It’s the difference between Patriotic Millionaires and Ayn Rand sociopaths. That’s not a particularly surprising revelation, but it is nevertheless useful to see it validated by hard data.

Crazy Ann Coulter: We, Of Course, Found Weapons Of Mass Destruction In Iraq

Last night on CNBC’s “Kudlow Report,” (video below) Ann Coulter delivered another of her patented wingnut flameouts. In a discussion about the trumped up Benghazi scandal, Coulter called the media a “threat to democracy” before wandering off into a realm of such utter delusion that even Fox Nation picked up the story despite it being the work of their arch-rival NBC.

Ann Coulter

“The things that they went crazy over when Bush was president — I mean, remember that video at the White House Correspondents dinner? We, of course, found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but were not the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. He had a little video — I don’t know, like the dog looking for the weapons of mass destruction under the White House furniture. It was a silly little video. You would think someone died. Well, here in this case under Obama, four people did die.”

Let’s start with the easy part – Coulter’s absurd claim that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. That has proven false more times than anyone can count. No credible source, even on the right, is making that assertion. The most they can say is that the intelligence was wrong, but the evidence points to them fabricating and/or distorting the intelligence and giving credence to disreputable figures like the covert informant “Curveball.”

Moving on to the “silly little video,” it was not a dog that was looking for weapons. It was Bush himself, making an astonishingly insensitive joke about not finding the weapons that he used as an excuse for an invasion that cost the lives of more than 4,000 Americans and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis.

Then for Coulter to snidely dismiss the righteous anger of those who criticized Bush’s silly little video by saying “You would think someone died,” she dishonored the thousands of Americans who did in fact die due to Bush’s deceit. And she compares those 4,000+ casualties to the four people who died in Benghazi at the hands of terrorists, not the incompetence of a corrupt administration.

Neither host Larry Kudlow, nor any of the other guests, bothered to correct Coulter’s gross misrepresentations of the facts. They all sat smugly as she lied and disgraced the memory of their fellow Americans. And this wasn’t even on Fox News. It was the Kudlow Report on CNBC, but it would fit in nicely as a lead in to Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity.

The Many Faces Of The Tea Party

Malice in Wonderland - Tea PartyOn the cover of the new Weekly Standard is a caricature of two people that the magazine’s cover story regards as the banner carriers of the Tea Party movement. They are Rick Santelli, a correspondent for the cable business network CNBC, and Glenn Beck, a delusional Fox News host with a Messiah complex. The title of the cover story is The Two Faces Of The Tea Party.

The article by Matthew Continetti is an overly verbose examination of the Tea Party founding and philosophy. It employs a comparative clash between conflicting visions of the movement represented by Santelli as a sober, businesslike advocate for economic rationality, and Beck as a feverish, paranoiac warning of impending economic and social doom. The problem is that, even as Continetti defines the battle in terms of this duality, he entirely misses the real source of the Tea-volution. He insists on distilling it down to these two charactors, despite recognizing in his opening paragraph the multiple personalities residing in the body of the Tea Party:

“Is the anti-Obama, anti-big government movement simply AstroTurf fabricated by Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks? Is it a bunch of Birthers, Birchers, conspiracists, and white power misfits? Is it a strictly economic phenomenon […] Or are the Tea Partiers nothing more than indulgent Boomers […] Reagan Democrats and Perotistas?”

Continetti correctly answers his own question saying, “All of the above.” However, he then immediately retreats to present the argument as one between Santelli and Beck for the remainder of his interminably long essay. And Continetti takes sides. He characterizes Santelli and Beck in starkly different terms. Santelli is the “former businessman” who “you’d expect to find at the Rotary Club,” while Beck is the “former Top 40 DJ” who “was addicted to alcohol and drugs.”

On Santelli: They are the words of a man who is worried about America’s future, but who thinks the right mix of policy and leadership can cure the nation’s ills. They are the words of a forward-looking, optimistic, free-market populist.

On Beck: For Beck, conspiracy theories are not aberrations. They are central to his worldview. They are the natural consequence of assuming that the world hangs by a thread, and that everyone is out to get you.

As if to confirm Continetti’s portrayal of Beck as perennially victimized, Beck’s producer, Stu, posted a response that blasts the article and the magazine with both barrels. He condemned the author for his laziness and accused him of deliberately lying. But worst of all, says Stu, is that these attacks appeared in the Weekly Standard, an organ he must have presumed would always be friendly.

But Stu wasn’t finished. He helpfully published the Standard’s phone number so that readers could boycott the magazine by canceling their subscriptions. And then, in a fit of hysterical hypocrisy, Stu adds a postscript asserting that he doesn’t believe in boycotts.

The Weekly Standard (until recently owned by Rupert Murdoch) is one of the few remaining advertisers on Beck’s program. They may not take kindly to spending scarce advertising dollars on a program whose producer is encouraging people to cancel their subscriptions. Is this a trend on the part of Beck and company to insult their advertisers? Just a few weeks ago the Vermont Teddy Bear Company was blindsided by Beck bashing Mother’s Day in an intro to the company’s ad for Mother’s Day gifts.

I have to give Continetti some credit for drawing sensible distinctions between Santelli and Beck. Not that Santelli was right. He basically rallied a bunch of commodities traders to whine about financial aid for working people while supporting bailouts for their employers. But there is still a difference between his greed-infused ranting and Beck’s fear mongering.

There are many faces of the Tea Party that Continetti didn’t even mention. Nowhere in his eight page opus did he recognize Tea Party Queen, Sarah Palin, even though he is the author of a book called “The Persecution of Sarah Palin.” I think he is desperately trying to shift attention to folks he feels are reasonable and away from the Becks of the world. But Continetti’s most egregious failing was something that ought to have been pretty obvious. As the Tea Party was forming, neither Santelli nor Beck were representatives of the people. They weren’t activists or politicians or academics or citizen advocates. They were, and are, media personalities. They represent a class of elite, well-to-do broadcasters working for giant, multinational corporations.

Look back at the opening paragraph of Continetti’s article where he identified lobbyists, birthers, racists, etc., as the components of the aborning Tea Party. Notice that he left out what is arguably the most influential component of all – the media. Fox News acted as the public relations arm of the Tea Party. They hosted the early organizers and candidates. They produced lavish rallies that aired live with custom graphics and music. They dispatched their top anchors across the country to perform the duties of masters of ceremonies. They literally branded Tea Party events as Fox News productions.

The question as to what the face of the Tea Party is can be debated for hours on end. But there is one thing that is indisputable: Without the media, there would not have been any Tea Party.

Bill O’Reilly: MoveOn Forced CNBC To Hire Howard Dean

Bill O’Reilly gets funnier by the day (or scarier, depending on your perspective). His latest broadcast falsehood is that MoveOn.org has wielded its mighty power to “force” NBC/Universal CEO Jeff Zucker to hire Howard Dean as a contributor to CNBC. This display of domination was allegedly in response to conservative commentaries by CNBC’s Jim Cramer and Mark Haines.

Even if someone was stupid enough to believe that a relatively small political activist group could boss around the chief of a major entertainment and news empire, the accusation is completely without foundation. In fact, Sam Stein of the Huffington Post, who did some actual reporting, unlike O’Reilly, found that:

“…the decision to bring the recently departed DNC Chair on board, the source says, was finalized well before the current wave of CNBC-angst. So while grassroots groups have sprouted up in recent weeks petitioning the network to make wholesale changes, Dean’s hiring can’t be viewed as a direct result of public pressure.”

O’Reilly’s stupidity, however, extends even further. The source he quotes for his baseless and false allegation is Noel Sheppard. O’Reilly identifies him as the author of a column in the Washington Examiner. What O’Reilly doesn’t tell you is that Sheppard also happens to be the Associate Editor of NewsBusters, an arm of the uber-conservative Media Research Center. The MRC was just revealed to be the source for many ideologically twisted stories on Fox News, a fact that former anchor Brit Hume confessed just last week. Now O’Reilly has admitted that he too is disseminating MRC propaganda as if it were news. It should be noted that neither O’Reilly nor Sheppard produced any evidence that either MoveOn or Zucker played any role in Dean’s employment.

As if that were not enough, O’Reilly went on to disparage Dean saying that he “know[s] little about economics.” Where O’Reilly gets the gumption to knock Dean’s credentials is beyond me. Dean served as governor of the state of Vermont for twelve years. For a portion of time he was Chairman of the National Governor’s Association. Prior to that he was a Wall Street stock broker. And his father was a top executive at Dean Witter Reynolds. But O’Reilly, who expounds on economics every day is a former tabloid TV news reader. So on whose advice would you prefer to rely?

On the comedy tip, O’Reilly is even having trouble organizing his outrage. For years he has been hammering NBC and its cable units as being irredeemably compromised by wicked leftists. He reveled in characterizing them as despicable purveyors of group-think. The following quotation, however, reveals a psyche that is sorely starving for air.

“Now many on Wall Street believe Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric which owns NBC, has completely lost control of his company, including the actions of Mr. Zucker. The evidence of that is that MSNBC is supporting and promoting the same far-left loons that are hammering the sister outfit CNBC. I mean, how rich is this?”

First of all, the “many on Wall Street believe” canard is an example of a lazy intellect. O’Reilly won’t, and can’t identify these imaginary critics. Secondly, his complaint that MSNBC is critical of CNBC contradicts his contention that all NBC units think alike. Even worse, by mocking this diversity of opinion, he is implying that he would prefer it if they did think alike. Of course, he would prefer no such thing. He would simply go back to accusing them of being blindly and uniformly liberal. It’s the O’Reilly way

What’s Up With CNBC?

The cable news wars have been raging for years. But for the most part the combatants have been confined to the big three: Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. Headline News and CNBC have been regarded as niche players that weren’t really on the front lines.

All of a sudden CNBC has become the most talked about cable news network, just as the nation has inaugurated a new president and tries to weather a fierce economic storm. Much of the attention is couched in ridicule. Rick Santelli’s rant, that cast a bunch of elite commodities traders as emblematic of average Americans, was only taken seriously by the likes of Michele Malkin and her mush-brained followers. Jim Cramer was exposed as the clown that he is by a much better and more professional clown, Jon Stewart.

The backwash of this publicity parade is a boost for CNBC’s ratings and visibility. But why is it happening now?

CNBC has long been a friend to the business community. Its reporting rarely alerted viewers to imminent crises (like the the one we are enduring now) or corporate malfeasance (like Enron and Madoff). The anchors were openly chummy with CEOs, whom they courted for access, and some, like Larry Kudlow, were overtly partisan. CNBC elevated the art of bloviating by introducing the Octo-Pundit, where as many as eight self-styled experts yelled at each other from their respective video cages.

But with a lineup like Fox News and current events that favored their niche, they still needed a little extra push to get the recognition they felt they deserved. So along comes Santelli and Cramer and a concerted effort to expand their conservative profile.

Despite the blathering of Bill O’Reilly, the NBC News division has never been left wing. MSNBC was once the cable home of Michael Savage, Oliver North, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and it still features Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan. The rise of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow occurred strictly because of their success, not ideology. Nevertheless, in the past NBC has demonstrated its cowardice in the face of criticism. They are the network that canceled their own number one rated program, Phil Donahue, for fear of being tagged anti-war.

By ramping up the rightist rhetoric on CNBC, NBC News is attempting to harvest popular outrage from both ends of the political field. They can continue to throw liberals a bone with their primetime MSNBC schedule, while cozying up to their natural right wing allies on the business-oriented CNBC. And neither network will have its programming muddied with ideological balance. As an ancillary benefit, NBC will try to tamp down the criticism they receive from the right by pointing to their new heroes of ham-handed conservatism.

In the end, CNBC just hopes to siphon a few viewers away from Fox News, and to smother the new born Fox Business Network in its crib. Unfortunately, the way they have chosen to do that is to emulate the Fox model which is focused on aggressive conservatism, and hysterical, paranoid personalities. That won’t work for CNBC in the long run because Fox viewers are too cult driven. They won’t abandon the comfort of that with which they are familiar for a subsidiary of that which their Fox masters have convinced them is evil.

Now, more than ever, CNBC needs to concentrate on providing responsible financial journalism. By making themselves truly indispensable in the field for which they claim expertise, they will be far more likely to succeed and to serve the interests of their viewers.

Jon Stewart On CNBC

Further evidence that the only substantive review of the media takes place on Comedy Central. This is a must-see Daily Show clip wherein Jon Stewart mercilessly takes apart CNBC.

As a reminder, even though Stewart couldn’t name another business network (he eventually came up with Bloomberg), there is another one. And it’s much worse than CNBC.

The Fox Business Network was launched about a year and a half ago. At the time the chairman of News Corp said:

Rupert Murdoch: “…a Fox channel would be ‘more business-friendly than CNBC.’ That channel ‘leap[s] on every scandal, or what they think is a scandal.'”

Obviously Murdoch didn’t know what he was talking about. CNBC has long been a good friend to business. But FBN was created for that purpose. And, by the way, Murdoch also owns the Dow Jones index, which he acquired along with the Wall Street Journal.

Also, don’t miss Stephen Colbert’s amazing take on Glenn Beck’s asinine “War Room” (be sure to watch both videos).