WTHolyF? Fox News Hysterically Whines that CNN and MSNBC ‘All Seem to Be Opinion Shows’

Well, we are through the looking glass, folks. Of course, that’s been said so many times in the Era of Donald Trump that most of us have built up an immunity to it. But on this occasion there is real concern that the fantasy (nightmare) weavers at Fox News have abandoned any pretense of reality.

Donald Trump Fox News

In a segment on Monday night’s episode Stuart Varney’s Fox Business program, the host interviewed Fox News’ media correspondent, and host of MediaBuzz, Howard Kurtz. The discussion was a particularly obtuse analysis of the editorial positions on MSNBC and CNN. It began with Varney calling out his competition for “Anti-Trump coverage” that is “wall to wall on those two networks.” And that led to this bizarre exchange with Kurtz (video below):

Varney: What’s your judgment, Howard, when two all news networks carry one single editorial message, which is resist Trump for everything and get him out? I mean, you’re a media guy. You can’t be that pleased that two major networks are going so consistently down that opinion road.
Kurtz: I wouldn’t go quite that far. I think there are some fair reporters at both networks. But certainly when you turn on the primetime shows, and it’s getting increasingly hard during the day, they all seem to be opinion shows. I mean, you know, you’ve got these panels that are six to one anti-Trump. I mean, there’s no secret about it. That’s the way they’re being programmed.

Seriously? That’s a media analyst on Fox News, the network that is best known today as “State TV” due to its unflinchingly adoring coverage of Trump and his Republican Nationalist Party. Fox News has dedicated it’s primetime block to three of the most biased Trump-fluffers on television (Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson), Hannity even shows up to speak at Trump’s cult rallies.

As for panels that are partisanly skewed, Fox doesn’t leave that to just their primetimers. They begin with “Fox and Friends” in the morning. Then “Outnumbered” is aptly named with four (and sometimes five) right-wingers out of five co-hosts. And in the afternoon they have “The Five,” which is another four to one conservative pile-on. So Fox News actually designs their shows to have multiple wingnuts ganging up on a lonely alleged liberal. Neither MSNBC or CNN has such a program.

Kurtz did criticize Trump for advocating a boycott of CNN’s parent company, AT&T, in order to punish CNN. And even Varney acknowledged that MSNBC was doing well in the ratings prior to the release of the report by special counsel Robert Mueller. Kurtz agreed and made the point that MSNBC’s viewers might have fallen off due their disappointment that Mueller wasn’t more aggressive in his indictment of Trump. That’s actually a pretty good explanation for MSNBC’s recent ratings slump, although it’s still the second highest rated cable news network.

However, for Kurtz to stare into the camera and complain about the partisan tilt of MSNBC and CNN is hypocrisy on an Olympian scale. At least both CNN and NBC have actual news divisions that break stories and win awards. But for him to do that without even the slightest acknowledgement of Fox’s extreme political prejudices, marks him as the same sort of propagandist as Varney, Hannity, and the rest of Fox’s flunkies. If it wasn’t such a serious breach of journalistic ethics, it would make a hilarious sketch for Saturday Night Live.

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

Trump Defiles ‘Freedom of Speech’ in a Bizarre Defense of His White Nationalist Supporters

If it’s Sunday, it’s time once again for Donald Trump’s regularly scheduled Sunday Morning Tweetstorm. This is where the crybaby President of the United States of America lashes out at all of the perceived slings and arrows of outrageous paranoia. And on this episode Trump outdoes himself by fouling the foundational American principle of freedom of speech.

Donald Trump

This isn’t just another one of Trump’s reckless slurs of the press in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people.” Although he does, as usual, fling that bag of tweet-poop as part of his tedious and repetitive robo-ranting. That would be bad enough, but Trump higher, and more odious, aspirations on this occasion. So after complaining in several tweets that a story in the New York Times misreported that his “agreement” with Mexico on immigration was “fake news,” (it wasn’t), Trump unleashed this morsel of derp:

To be clear, Trump is coming to the defense of some virulently racist white nationalists (e.g. his base) who Twitter and other social media recently suspended from their platforms. The bannees include cretins like avowed neo-Nazi Paul Nehlen, conspiracy crackpot Alex Jones, hate monger Laura Loomer, hoaxster Jacob Wohl, and boss of the violent, neo fascist Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes.

Trump not only wants these abhorrent stains on society returned to Twitter, he wants them returned “without restrictions,” a privilege that no one else on Twitter enjoys. And according to Trump, not doing so would amount to a breach of their right to free speech.

Once again, Trump needs a lesson on the Constitution. The freedom of speech that is protected by the First Amendment is a prohibition imposed on the government. Private businesses can set their own rules, and do so in their terms of service. But there is a disturbing irony in Trump complaining about these repulsively violent StormTrumpers being suppressed while he is openly trying to destroy any media outlet that dares to criticize him. That is actually a breach of the First Amendment because he is the head of the government. Just last week he called for a boycott of CNN’s parent company, AT&T, in order to punish the news network for reporting on what Trump actually does and says. It is unprecedented for a U.S. president to push for a boycott of an American company with more than 250,000 employees.

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

For Trump to set himself up as a protector of free speech is patently absurd. The hallmark of his presidency is one of bullying and repression. And this isn’t the first time he’s tried to bully the social media community. He even took it upon himself to censor his critics on Twitter. Until the courts stepped in, Trump was blocking those critics from commenting on his Twitter posts. And yet, Trump has the audacity to cite freedom of speech as his reason for promoting the dissemination of vile messages of hate and violence. But then again, that’s really the only message he has.

Wannabe Dictator Trump Calls For Boycott of AT&T to ‘Do Something’ About CNN

The last time Trump left the country he breached diplomatic protocol in Japan with an infantile political attack on Joe Biden. At the same time, he took sides with Kim Jong Un, the murderous tyrant with whom he fell in love.” And now Trump is travelling abroad again, but this time, as he prepared to depart for the U.K., he managed to embarrass America before he even left by insulting the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

Donald Trump Tyrant Dictator

Having arrived in England, Trump sought to escalate his diplomatic incompetence with another attack on the U.S. media. That in itself is to be expected from the president who hates the freedoms protected by the First Amendment and regards the press as “the enemy of the people.” However, this time he is attacking American institutions from foreign soil and attempting to bully them into obedience to his will.

These comments are despicable on many levels. First of all, he is admitting that the only news source he is comfortable watching is the Trump-fluffing sycophants of Fox News. And when away from home, he desperately needs Fox to stroke his fragile ego. Furthermore, he fails to document he what describes as “all negative” with any examples. Suffice to say that any criticism of him was enough to get him to change the channel to less objectionable programming like cooking or golf.

Trump is also displaying his utter ignorance of the television business. CNN is not only enjoying their highest ratings in years, they are more profitable than ever. But no one will be surprised that Trump is either stupid or lying. That’s the new normal for the Era of Trump.

The worst part of this Twitter tirade, though, is Trump’s gleeful assault on an American business. He doesn’t care who he hurts so long as he can get vengeance for whatever slight he thinks he’s the victim of. That’s typical of his inherent weakness and narcissism. But make no mistake, his petulant whining is aimed at more than 250,000 employees of an American company. It is totally unprecedented for an U.S. president to call for a boycott of an U.S. company with tens of thousands of American workers. And his malicious smear is even worse coming from overseas.

And as if all of that weren’t bad enough, Trump’s attack is based on his displeasure with how the free press is doing their job. What he thinks is negative reporting is really just a factual representation of what he actually does and says. The media can’t help it if his words and actions are glaringly dumb and harmful. And what exactly does Trump think that AT&T should do? He insists that they should be “forced to make big changes at CNN.” But forcing the press to behave in a manner that is acceptable to political leaders is what we would expect from the fascist regimes that control their media. Which is what Trump is advocating and yearning for.

What’s more, while he whines that the world “gets a false picture of USA” from CNN, the world has actually made a deliberate choice. Fox News used to be carried in the U.K. but they discontinued their service two years ago because nobody was watching it A company spokeswoman said that…

“Fox News is focused on the US market and designed for a US audience and, accordingly, it averages only a few thousand viewers across the day in the UK. We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the UK.”

So Trump wants to boycott AT&T, hurt American workers, and dishonor the Constitution, all in an effort to bully the media into slobbering over him the way Fox News does. Never mind that the Brits have already rejected the lies and propaganda that is the hallmark of Fox’s deceitful brand of “journalism.” Like his pals Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin, Trump wants to coerce the press into acting like his own personal PR agency. And the sentiments in these tweets are direct attacks on the free press, as well as free markets. They are are antithetical to long held and cherished American principles. But then, so is almost everything Trump does and says.

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

Snowflake Trump is Morbidly Afraid of MSNBC, CNN, While Democrats Hold Town Halls on Fox News

In the week since the redacted report by special counsel Robert Mueller was released, Donald Trump has clearly demonstrated what he really thinks of it. Although he said that it “totally exonerated” him, his actions belie his words. He has done nothing but criticize it and try desperately to discredit it and its authors. That’s not what an innocent person does to a report that he believes vindicates him.

Donald Trump, Rachel Maddow, Shepard Smith, Anderson Cooper

Trump’s reaction affirms his overall state of mind, which is an all-consuming fear of what his future holds. He knows what he did and is terrified that everyone else is going to find out. Consequently, he has receded into his bunker and refuses to deal with anyone other than loyal subjects, cult rally attendees, and of course, Fox News.

This strategy of hiding under the Lincoln Bedroom bed reveals that Trump and his Deplorables still languish in a fantasy world where they believe that he is a pillar of strength. There has been relentless criticism of the Democratic Party’s decision not to allow Fox News to host a Democratic primary debate. The StormTrumpers say that Democrats must be afraid of Fox. To the contrary. They are aware that Fox News is an overtly hostile environment that only exists to denigrate them.

Nevertheless, several Democratic candidates for president have either already agreed, or are holding talks, to appear on a Fox News hosted town hall. There are big differences between town halls that are aimed a broad audience, and primary debates that are more narrowly intended for voters of that particular party. And every survey shows that there aren’t very many Democrats watching Fox News.

The list of Democrats looking at Fox town halls includes Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Eric Swalwell, Tim Ryan, John Delaney, and Michael Bennet. They would follow Bernie Sanders, who already did one and was immediately castigated by Trump for doing so. That’s a clue to what the others should expect.

What’s interesting about this is that while Republicans are quick to attack Democrats for avoiding Fox News (which obviously isn’t true), the same Republicans never bother to note that Trump is petrified of MSNBC and CNN. He has never permitted these networks to interview him as president. Trump’s abject fear is palpable. It’s why he constantly maligns the media in Stalist terms as “the enemy of the people.” He will not allow himself to be in a situation where he can’t control the dialog.

So Trump and his GOP cohorts in politics and punditry should STFU about Democrats going on Fox News. At least until Trump appears in a town hall hosted by Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, or even “Morning Psycho” Joe Scarborough. Or maybe Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, or Jake Tapper.

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

But don’t hold your breath. Trump won’t even sit for an interview with Fox’s Shepard Smith, Bret Baier, or Chris Wallace. That pleasure (?) is reserved exclusively for Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, and the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends. These are Trump’s safe spaces where he knows he won’t be challenged or met with anything other than adoring sycophancy. And the contrast between the relationship between Democrats and Fox News, to Trump’s panic-stricken dread of MSNBC or CNN, shows who the real snowflake is.

Trump ‘Congratulates’ CNN for Having Low Ratings, Even Though His Are Much Worse

Having a healthy ego is a requirement for anyone who aspires to be President of the United States. But there has never been a president with the kind of psychotically twisted self-image as Donald Trump. He has explicitly declared himself as the best in the world at whatever subject he happens to be babbling about at the time. Whether it’s taxes or war or energy or finance or women, Trump is adamant that he knows more than anybody else (see the video below). It’s rather impressive that he can be so self-aggrandizing and so wrong at the same time.

Donald Trump, Loser

So naturally Trump is obsessed with rankings and ratings and other measures of ability that he can exploit to make himself feel like he isn’t the miserable failure that he knows he is deep inside. And since he regards Fox News as an extension of himself, the cable TV ratings are a big part of Trump’s notion of self-worth. That’s why when he saw some ratings data (from the Daily Caller, the ultra-rightist website run by Fox News host Tucker Carlson) that noted the poor performance of CNN, he leaped at the chance to sarcastically congratulate the network as if these results were specifically heralding him.

Of course, anyone who follows the cable news business already knows that CNN has been lagging behind both Fox News and MSNBC. So it’s hard to figure out why Trump got so excited. But more interesting is the fact that Trump’s joy seems to ignore an important part of reality: Trump’s approval is even worse than CNN’s ratings. In fact, as disclosed in a recent poll, the American people trust CNN more than they do Trump or Fox News:

“Attacks on the ‘fake news’ media have been a staple of President Donald Trump’s messaging as both a presidential candidate and commander in chief, but new polling from Morning Consult/The Hollywood Reporter suggests that when it comes to credibility, that rhetoric really only resonates with Republicans.”

This poll shows that a majority of 53 percent regard CNN as “credible.” The same goes for another target of Trump’s, the New York Times. And all three broadcast networks came in higher than 60 percent. Fox News was below all of them at 52 percent. And that’s with 70 percent of Republicans believing it’s credible (a number that affirms the cult nature of their relationship with both Fox and Trump). Numerous other polls have been conducted on the question of trust, and in every single case the American people said that they trust the media more than they do Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump’s own ratings have achieved a dubious distinction as being lower than any president in history. So Trump is right about being the best – at least at being hated. Even the disreputable, right-wing, pro_Trump pollster, Rasmussen, has Trump down five points (to 47%) since the release of the redacted Mueller report less than a week ago. The more reliable Reuters poll shows that Trump has declined to a dismal 37 percent.

So to shore up his faltering standing with the public, Trump has spent Monday morning frantically posting clips of Fox News slobbering all over him. No less than five such clips were tweeted featuring crackpots like Lou Dobbs and Mark Levin. It’s the only way he can manage to salve his wounded and fragile ego. He is a man consumed by fear. And every tweet wherein he lambastes special counsel Robert Mueller, and the “witch hunt,” and the “Angry Democrats,” and the media, just reinforces his guilt and his desperation to suppress it.

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

Trump’s Lies are Crushed By Senate Intel Vice-Chair: ‘There’s Plenty of Evidence’ of Collusion

Donald Trump has been stuck in a frantic and tedious loop of whiny denials for the past couple years. It consists primarily of him impotently proclaiming his innocence with regard to his nefarious associations with Russian operatives in an effort to steal the 2016 presidential election. For the most part his factless proclamations have only served to make him look more guilty.

Mark Warner, CNN

Among his most persistent citations of innocence has been a repeated reference to remarks by the Republican chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr. Last September Burr told reporters that he had not seen any direct evidence of collusion or conspiracy with Russia on the part of the President. Note that he did not say it didn’t happen, only that his committee had “no hard evidence” of it. But that was enough to trigger Trump into making multiple identical tweets on the subject. It began on Sep 12, 2018, and continued on Feb 7, 2019, and Feb 8, 2019 and Feb 9, 2019 and Feb 10, 2019 and Feb 22, 2019 and Feb 25, 2019.

Some of these tweets were Trump unleashing his standard “Witch Hunt” rants, and others were retweets from the likes of Sean Hannity. But they all said exactly the same thing incorrectly quoting Sen. Burr: “No Collusion!”

Well, on Sunday morning Trump’s favorite proof that he was a squeaky clean paragon of virtue fell apart. Sen. Mark Warner, the Vice-Chair of the Intelligence Committee appeared on CNN’s State of the Union and explicitly contradicted Trump’s distorted version of events (video below). His remarks could not have been more clear:

“Anyone who says there’s no evidence of collaboration – there’s plenty of evidence. […] The notion that there’s no evidence is just factually wrong. Just in the public domain there are literally reams and reams of evidence of Russian outreach to Trump officials and clear interest from Trump officials, including the President’s own son, welcoming the opportunity to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

Warner outlined a small portion of the evidence that was just revealed during the recent House Oversight Committee’s hearing with Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. He cited three pieces of evidence from Cohen’s testimony:

“One, the fact that Donald Trump and Michael Cohen mislead the American public for months about the whole notion of trying to continue to get a Trump Tower project going in Moscow. […]

“The second is the evidence that Mr. Cohen put out that he was in the presence of Donald Trump when Roger Stone called indicating that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange from Wikileaks, indicating that Wikileaks was about to drop a bunch of very damaging information about Hillary Clinton. […]

“And finally we have this whole question wherein Mr. Trump knew about the meeting in Trump Tower that included Don Jr, Jared Kushner, the campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Clearly a meeting that was not about Russian adoption, but was about the idea of turning over dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

For good measure, Warner’s counterpart in the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, spoke on the same issues on CBS’s Face the Nation, saying that “there is both ‘direct evidence’ and ‘abundant circumstantial evidence’ of collusion with Russia.” He elaborated:

“They offer that dirt. There is an acceptance of that offer in writing from the president’s son, Don Jr., and there is overt acts in furtherance of that. That is the meeting at Trump Tower and all the lies to cover up that meeting at the Trump Tower, and apparently lies that the president participated in.”

So this should put an end to the fallacy that there is no evidence against Trump for conspiracy with Russia. Quite the opposite is true. There are mountains of evidence. And that’s even the position of the Vice-Chair of the Senate committee that Trump is so fond of citing on his own behalf. But don’t expect this to end Trump’s plaintive wailing that he’s innocent. When has reality ever interfered with his determination to disgorge obvious lies to shield himself from the consequences of his criminal behavior?

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

Trump is Silent About a Real Domestic Terrorist’s Plot to Kill Democrats and Journalists

Early Wednesday morning Donald Trump posted another tweetstorm that ranted incoherently about the media being “the enemy of the people” and wishing for them to “go bust,” putting thousands of Americans out of work and leaving only State TV outlets like Fox News to provide their lies to the nation. It was the sort of reckless tirade that can (and has) lead to bloodshed.

Trump Charlotsville

Later in the day came news that just such an unthinkable act of mass murder was foiled by law enforcement officers of the FBI and the Coast Guard. According to NBC News:

“A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant working in the nation’s capital lived a secret life as a “domestic terrorist” who aspired to mass murder and compiled a target list of prominent politicians and journalists, federal prosecutors allege in court papers.”

The suspect, Christopher Paul Hasson, was arrested on drug and gun charges, but prosecutors said that he was intent on committing a killing spree against journalists and Democratic politicians. He described himself as a “white nationalist” and searched for pro-Russian and neo-Nazi literature online. The report went on to provide details of Hasson’s proposed victims:

“Prosecutors say the list included designations they believe referred to Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Tim Kaine, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and House Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Maxine Waters, Ilhan Omar and Sheila Jackson. Also on it was former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

“Media figures on the list included [Joe] Scarborough, MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes and Ari Melber, and CNN’s Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo and Van Jones.”

This is the sort of deadly, crackpot white nationalism that comes from watching too much Fox News and listening Trump’s deranged sermons at his cult rallies. Hasson is without a doubt a domestic terrorist with a determination to carry out the most hostile version of the dystopia advocated by Trump. But Trump has said nothing about his plot or arrest. However, Trump did post a tweet announcing that he gave an order to prohibit Hoda Muthana from reentering the U.S.

Muthana is an American citizen who traveled to Syria allegedly to join ISIS. She now regrets her decision and expresses remorse for her “naive, angry, and arrogant” behavior. Whatever you may think of her, or her desire to return to her family and birthplace, Trump’s participation in the matter is absurd. This is a decision that is generally made way below the presidency. So the only imaginable purpose for Trump’s involvement is the publicity.

Nevertheless, Trump doesn’t seem the least bit interested in publicizing the arrest of a straight-up domestic terrorist whose views are aligned with his own. And he doesn’t seem to think that it might be useful to condemn such actions in order to deter others like Hasson from concocting their own plots. Trump’s banning of Muthana will have negligible impact on anything. But his silence on Hasson will be viewed as greenlighting the revolution that his Deplorables dream about.

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

Hair Trump Declares that ‘Something Has to Be Done’ About CNN Exercising Free Speech

The hostility that Donald Trump has shown for the media has been a constant dating back to his first days on the campaign trail. It only escalated as time went by and his insults became anti-constitutional assertions that the media is “the enemy of the people.” Add to that his overt threats, incitements to violence, and banning of reporters he doesn’t like, and you have the very model of a modern media oppressor.

Donald Trump, CNN

On Monday morning Trump reached another new low in his assaults on the free press. In a pair tweets the President attacked his favorite nemesis, CNN for having a “powerful voice” that is “portraying the United States in an unfair and and false way.” He tweeted that:

Make no mistake, this is a full frontal attack on the First Amendment of the Constitution. Trump has no business commenting on the ratings of a news network that covers his corrupt and criminal administration independently and accurately (FYI: CNN is enjoying some of their highest ratings in the network’s history). Especially considering that he has already tried to ban their White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, from the presidential press corps, but lost when a federal court issued a temporary restraining order to prohibit his flagrant discrimination.

However, even worse is Trump’s proposal that the United States start its own “Worldwide Network” to disseminate what can only be presumed to be Trump-fluffing propaganda. The notion that the U.S. should launch a network to compete with commercial news outlets around the world is a frightening expansion of government interfering with the press. It is the sort of state-run tripe that totalitarian regimes like that of Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kin Jong Un engage in. And note that Trump admits that his intention Is to produce only positive propaganda that portrays him as “GREAT!”

The U.S. already has government media services that distribute approved content around the world via the United States Agency for Global Media (formerly that Broadcasting Board of Governors). That agency runs the Voice of American, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, Office of Cuba Broadcasting, and other government managed broadcast operations.

But what Trump is proposing is something far more ambitious and dishonest. He wants a network that competes with commercial news enterprises like CNN, SKY News, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and more. He wants a network that will always praise him, defend him, and malign his critics. He wants constant adulation and coverage that portrays him as the returning Messiah. He wants cult worship.

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

Well, Fox News is already doing that. But setting that aside, presidential hero-worship is not the role of a government that was founded on the principles of freedom of the press. It is neither honest nor ethical. And there is no agency under federal law that could house such a media mutation. But it does display the aspirations of a wannabe dictator who is obsessed with controlling all of the media that covers him and his regime. And it is no surprise that Trump is openly advocating for something so contrary to American values. But this pathetic pandering to himself and his over-inflated ego will never fly in the U.S. Maybe Vladimir has some network space for it.

Donald Trump Issues a Flagrantly Authoritarian Decree for ‘Governing the Conduct of Journalists’

The transformation of the United States presidency into the sort of dictatorship presided over by the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un has taken a frightening leap forward. Donald Trump’s manifestly autocratic tendencies are rapidly being implemented by his administration with the willing complicity of the Republican Nationalist Party and right-wing media like Fox News.

Donald Trump, Censorship

Earlier this month Trump was so rattled by the questions of CNN’s Jim Acosta that he took the unprecedented step of banning Acosta from further press conferences. That overtly unconstitutional boot-stomping of the free press was quickly repudiated by most of the press corps, including the executive class at Fox News. Although most of the on-air Trump-fluffers at Fox continued to lambaste Acosta and his audacity for exercising freedom of the press. CNN took the White House to court and a judge appointed by Trump ordered the restoration of Acosta’s press pass.

Subsequently, the White House has now drafted a set of rules of behavior that they are imposing on the journalists covering the President. It’s an egregious breach of the American principles that have long been held by a nation that reveres the role that journalism plays in sustaining democracy. But it fits nicely into the oppressive schemes of the Trump regime. Here are the salient portions of what Trump’s Deputy Chief of Staff (and former president of Fox News), Bill shine, and Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, have cooked up for those disobedient reporters who refuse to kowtow to Dear Leader:

“We would have greatly preferred to continue hosting White House press conferences in reliance on a set of understood professional norms, and we believe the overwhelming majority of journalists covering the White House share that preference. But, given your insistence that shared practices be replaced by ‘explicit…standards,’ this letter attempts to convert into rules the widely understood practices described in our prior letter.

  1. (1) A journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists;
  2. (2) At the discretion of the President or other White House official taking questions, a follow-up question or questions may be permitted; and where a follow up has been allowed and asked, the questioner will then yield the floor;
  3. (3) “Yielding the floor” includes, when applicable, physically surrendering the microphone to White House staff for use by the next questioner.
  4. (4) Failure to abide by any of rules (1)-(3) may result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass.

“We are mindful that a more elaborate and comprehensive set of rules might need to be devised, including, for example, for journalist conduct in the open (non-press room) areas inside and outside the White House and for Air Force One.”

“The White House’s interaction with the press is, and generally should be, subject to a natural give-and-take. President Trump believes strongly in the First Amendment, and interacts with the press in just such a way. It would be a great loss for all if, instead of relying on the professionalism of White House journalists, we were compelled to devise a lengthy and detailed code of conduct for White House events.”

It is abundantly clear that the White House intends to bully reporters so that they can force them into submission. Trump is obviously scared of having an open dialog wherein reporters can ask tough questions and challenge him when he evades answering or outright lies – as he is known to do. So he is acting out with the weakness of his character to suppress the media. And it is worth noting that there are no rules for Trump or his supplicants. He can still call reporters “stupid,” “racist,” “fake,” “enemies,” etc. He can still abuse them and threaten them and interrupt them and ultimately silence them. When he claims to want “decorum” in the White House it couldn’t be more hysterically hypocritical.

These artificial and unnecessary mandates are intended to intimidate reporters who now must consider whether merely being assertive might result in their getting banished. They will have to think twice about challenging Trump for fear of violating these ludicrous rules that no White House in history has ever required. And Trump will not hesitate to cite these strictures to cast out any journalists that upset him or are less than obedient when he orders them to sit down and shut up.

The letter says that “Trump believes strongly in the First Amendment.” That is, perhaps, the biggest lie of all. Believing in the First Amendment is not demonstrated by calling the media “the enemy of the people” and recklessly labeling any news you don’t like as “fake news.” And it certainly isn’t demonstrated by imposing strict and insulting behavioral rules on what is supposed to be a free press. But this is how Trump’s belief system works. If you aren’t sufficiently adoring of him, then anything you have to say can be suppressed and your ability to question the President – a servant of the people, not a king – can be revoked. Hopefully the remaining members of the free press will refuse to observe this atrocity and demand that Trump submit to the constitutional principles he swore an oath to defend.

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.