Bernie Sanders Tells The Daily Show that He ‘Knows Fox News’ – Then Proves that He Doesn’t

The upcoming 2020 election is going to be at least a twenty ring circus. And the media will be serving as the Master of Ceremonies. Prominently featured in this extravaganza will be Fox News, who will make it their business to defend Donald Trump at every turn, while viciously and dishonestly attacking his critics.

Bernie Sanders, Fox News

The Democratic National Committee made a wise decision not to let Fox News host any of their primary debates. Seeing as how Fox relentlessly maligns Democrats in the most despicable terms, it never made sense to consider them as debate partners. And on top of their constant smear campaigns, Fox’s audience is irredeemably hostile to the Democratic Party and its candidates.

So it was disconcerting to learn that Bernie Sanders has agreed to participate in a town hall on Fox News. There is absolutely no conceivable benefit to be realized by helping Fox News to belittle him, his ideas, and his (for the time being) party. Sanders appeared on The Daily Show Thursday night to defend his decision (video below). It didn’t go particularly well. The segment began with Trevor Noah asking why Sanders would go on Fox News after the DNC so righteously denounced them. He replied:

Trust me, I know Fox News. I know who they are and I know the role that they are playing. On the other hand, during the last campaign I did a town meeting with a fellow named Bret Baier who did it pretty fairly. He did it straightforwardly, and believe me, we went over the ground rules before and they kept their word. So to me it is important to distinguish Fox News from the many millions of people who watch Fox News.

Okay. Here’s the first problem. If Sanders really knew who Fox News is and what role they play, he wouldn’t be impressed with Baier’s pretense of fairness. No one thinks that whoever hosts the Fox town hall is going to bare his teeth and bark at Sanders like Sean Hannity or Jeanine Pirro would. But those characters would use the program as source material for their smear campaigns immediately afterward. Meanwhile, Fox News would use Sanders’ appearance to pretend they are fair and balanced and to leech credibility from him that they can’t earn on their own. And then Sanders continued:

I think it is important to talk to those people and say, ‘You know what? I know many of you voted for Donald Trump, but he lied to you. He told you, for example, he was going to provide healthcare to all people. Now he wants to throw thirty million people off the healthcare they have. He told you he was going to tax reform that would not benefit the wealthy. Eighty-three percent of the benefits go to the top one percent. So I think it is important to talk to Trump supporters and explain to them to what degree he has betrayed the working class of this country and lie during his campaign in terms of what he would do.

That’s a common sense response to the dishonest and regressive agenda that Trump and the GOP have forced onto the American people. Unfortunately, Fox News viewers have an unnatural aversion to common sense. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them that Trump is lying, they won’t believe you. It’s the Primary Directive of cult management to insist that everyone but the cult is lying to you. Sanders would be wasting his time because the Fox audience will have predetermined that he is the liar and he’s only there to malign their messiah who is incapable of uttering a false word.

It has been established by numerous surveys that Fox News viewers are unalterably devoted to their conservative dogma, and since the advent of Trump, their loyalties are reserved for him exclusively. If Trump says that he’s already building a border wall (he hasn’t), they believe it. If he says that their taxes were lowered (they’re higher), they feel richer just listening to him. If he says that his healthcare plan (which doesn’t exist) is better and cheaper, they will rise from their Lazy-Boys and declare that they’ve been miraculously healed by his touch. They even believe that Trump was “totally exonerated” by a four page summary of the Mueller report that explicitly says there was no exoneration. Because that’s what Trump told them. And even Fox News can’t shake them from their slobbering devotion.

That’s not an audience that Sanders can have any effect on. He’s wasting his time speaking to them. They will only watch to gather reasons to hate him and the “socialist” Democratic Party more than ever. And the post-town hall analyses by Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends, will inform their own hostile reactions for days to come. Hopefully no other Democrats will follow in the misguided footsteps of Sanders by subjugating themselves to Fox News.

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

‘I Am Ashamed’ To Be Associated With Fox News, Says Long-Time Military Contributor

Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (Ret) is a familiar face on Fox News. He has been doing commentary on military matters and foreign affairs for more than a decade. He has always been a hard-core spokesman for ultra-conservative views and a fierce opponent of all things liberal. He once called President Obama a “total pussy” on the air (for which he got a two week suspension).

Fox News Ralph Peters

For a little background, Peters is so radical that he once complained that the U.S. military needed to buck up and produce more civilian casualties in order to win the war on terror. He also advocated targeting the media for military attacks, including in the U.S. But more recently he has assumed a strident “NeverTrump” position. He believes that Donald Trump is Putin’s puppet and even announced on Fox that he would be voting for Hillary Clinton because he doesn’t “want Moscow’s man in the White House,” and that “Vladimir Putin has a deep hold on Trump.”

Bearing all of that in mind, the letter Peters released on Tuesday is all the more remarkable. In it he announced that he was severing his relationship with Fox News. And the substance and tone of the document is just plain shocking. For someone so devoted to the far-right agenda, Peters’ descriptions of Fox News must sting. And no matter how much of a war-mongering neanderthal he is, he seems to have solid grasp of how reprehensible and dangerous Fox News is. So read on in amazement (emphasis added):

On March 1st, I informed Fox that I would not renew my contract. The purpose of this message to all of you is twofold:

First, I must thank each of you for the cooperation and support you’ve shown me over the years. Those working off-camera, the bookers and producers, don’t often get the recognition you deserve, but I want you to know that I have always appreciated the challenges you face and the skill with which you master them.

Second, I feel compelled to explain why I have to leave. Four decades ago, I took an oath as a newly commissioned officer. I swore to “support and defend the Constitution,” and that oath did not expire when I took off my uniform. Today, I feel that Fox News is assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers. Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed.

In my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration. When prime-time hosts–who have never served our country in any capacity–dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller–all the while scaremongering with lurid warnings of “deep-state” machinations– I cannot be part of the same organization, even at a remove. To me, Fox News is now wittingly harming our system of government for profit.

As a Russia analyst for many years, it also has appalled me that hosts who made their reputations as super-patriots and who, justifiably, savaged President Obama for his duplicitous folly with Putin, now advance Putin’s agenda by making light of Russian penetration of our elections and the Trump campaign. Despite increasingly pathetic denials, it turns out that the “nothing-burger” has been covered with Russian dressing all along. And by the way: As an intelligence professional, I can tell you that the Steele dossier rings true–that’s how the Russians do things.. The result is that we have an American president who is terrified of his counterpart in Moscow.

I do not apply the above criticisms in full to Fox Business, where numerous hosts retain a respect for facts and maintain a measure of integrity (nor is every host at Fox News a propaganda mouthpiece–some have shown courage). I have enjoyed and valued my relationship with Fox Business, and I will miss a number of hosts and staff members. You’re the grown-ups.

Also, I deeply respect the hard-news reporters at Fox, who continue to do their best as talented professionals in a poisoned environment. These are some of the best men and women in the business.

So, to all of you: Thanks, and, as our president’s favorite world leader would say, “Das vidanya.”

That hardly requires any elaboration. However, Fox News issued a brief and uncharacteristically weak response:

“Ralph Peters is entitled to his opinion despite the fact that he’s choosing to use it as a weapon in order to gain attention. We are extremely proud of our top-rated primetime hosts and all of our opinion programing,”

Fox didn’t even bother to refute any of Peters’ allegations regarding Fox’s devolution into a propaganda machine. Nor did they defend the assertions that Trump is a hapless asset of Vladimir Putin. They just bragged about their on-air shills (only those in primetime) and made a wholly nonsensical accusation that Peters was seeking attention. By quitting his job at a major cable TV network? Um, Okay. Let’s see if any of his former colleagues have the guts to join a long overdue and righteous exodus from Fox. Or they can stay and forever wallow in the treasonous glow of Comrade Trump’s State TV.

In the meantime, The Daily Show compiled some of Peters’ greatest hits. This is the guy who has now come around (finally) to the view that Fox News is “fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers.”

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

Muslim-American Comedian Chosen to Headline Trump-Less White House Correspondents Dinner

On April 29, the White House Correspondents Association will host its annual charity dinner (WHCD). Often referred to as the “Nerd Prom,” it attracts guests from both politics and the press. Ordinarily the president is a featured guest who delivers his own comic monologue. This year, however, Donald Trump declined to attend and has directed his administration to stay away as well.

Hasan Minhaj

That may be for the best considering Trump is not known for his comedic ability. Last October Trump tried to perform an allegedly comic routine at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation charity dinner. It’s an event sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York to benefit the poor, sick, and underprivileged. But Trump’s speech was a crushing embarrassment. He landed some plodding duds and insulted the Catholic audience and the evening’s other guest of honor, Hillary Clinton.

So this year’s WHCD will proceed without Trump. That makes him the first president to snub the dinner since Ronald Reagan missed it thirty-six years ago. However Reagan had a better excuse. He was recovering from having been shot.

The headliner for this year’s dinner will be The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj. This is a particularly interesting choice for several reasons. Minhaj is a Muslim-American comedian who has not been shy about bringing Trump into his act. Roasting Trump in absentia ought to make the event especially enjoyable. And there is an abundance of possible material due to Trump’s relentless bigotry aimed at Muslims. For a taste of what Minhaj might cook up, here are some examples of his past work:

At the Radio and Television Correspondents Association last year (video from CSPAN), Minhaj got right to the point. His commentary included a swipe at the timidity of the media. Along with slamming Fox News because he had “never seen so many people with spray tans hate people of color,” he said that:

“The New York Times, the Washington Post – they don’t call [Trump] a racist. They say his comments are ‘racially-tinged.’ No, I’m racially-tinged. That dude is racist, straight up.”

On a memorable episode of the Daily Show, Minhaj worried about Trump’s Muslim policies saying that:

“Donald Trump is an extremist leader who came out of nowhere. He’s self-financed, recruits through social media, attracts his followers with a radical ideology to take over the world, and is actively trying to promote a war between Islam and the West. That’s right. Trump is White ISIS – WHISIS.”

On an episode of the Daily Show immediately following Trump’s election, Minhaj expressed some of the common fears of the American people, particularly people of color. With regard to Trump’s call for a ban on all Muslims coming into the United States, Minhaj wondered “How is that not instantly disqualifying?” He’s had plenty to say on this subject. He began this segment noticeably shaken:

“Like many Americans I have spent the last twelve hours refreshing the Canadian immigration website, which keeps crashing. So I am panicking because melanin doesn’t rub off.”

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

All of this promises an entertaining night of comedy and political grilling. Until then, you can watch the rest of the post-election Daily Show episode here:

Racist Fox News Stooge Jesse Watters Gets SCORCHED By The Daily Show (VIDEO)

Generally when a rabidly bigoted Fox News host makes headlines it’s safe to guess that the subject is Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity. However, a lesser known figure is challenging the network’s chumpians for dipshit supremacy.

Jesse Watters

Jesse Watters is a producer for The O’Reilly Factor and hosts his own Watters World that purports to be funny. He’s also the closeted editor of the ultra-conservative and lie-riddled Fox Nation website (see Fox Nation vs. Reality). His exploits have drawn some attention in the past primarily for their rank stupidity. Stephen Colbert roasted Watters deliciously on his old Colbert Report.

This week Watters outdid himself with a blatantly racist trip to New York’s Chinatown (video below). He managed to fire off every offensive stereotype in the book. The repulsive segment has been universally condemned by Asian-American groups and journalists. Watters issued the standard non-apology apology blaming those who were offended for their own pain.

Well, Watters isn’t getting off that easy. Daily Show correspondent Ronnie Chieng saw the piece and had a little something to say about it. He got the righteous rant rolling by responding to a question that Watters asked a Chinatown resident. The question: “Is this the year of the dragon?” Chieng’s reply: “No, it’s the year of “Go F*ck Yourself!” That set the stage for the rest of the segment. Chieng played a few clips from the piece with a look that melded outrage and confusion leading to this comment:

“What the hell was that? How was that on the news? In fact, how was that even on TV? Where the (bleep) did this come from? I mean, everyone’s been wondering who’ll be the target of 2016’s worst racism. I didn’t even know Asians were in the running.”

Chieng chastised Watters for taking advantage of innocent people and making them look foolish for not responding to him. Of course the reason for their silence was that he deliberately harassed people who didn’t speak English. Watters was ridiculing people (mostly seniors) who were unable to defend themselves. So Chieng gave him a taste of his own medicine. In a forum where Watters could not respond, Chieng asked “Hey douchebag, why do you look like a guy who carries around a bag of roofies just in case?” And it just gets worse from there – much worse.

The bigotry that is so commonplace on Fox News in their reporting has also crept into their alleged comedy. And the hate-filled campaign of Donald Trump was hatched and nurtured on the network. Their 99 percent white audience could hardly care less about disparaging others. So expect more of the same sort of prejudice and insults in the future from Fox News. Not to mention their home-brew hate machine, Donald Trump.

SNL’s Trump Mockery Causes Fox News Clowns To Freakout: ‘Should Comedy Shows Take On Politics’?

There has been a meme circulating around the InterTubes for some time saying that “I get my news from Comedy Central and my comedy from Fox News.” It’s a concise way of articulating the reality that programs like The Daily Show are far more reliable sources for information than Bill O’Reilly or Fox & Friends. Expanding on that theme, Fox & Friends did a segment this weekend that asked perhaps the dumbest question of the year: Should comedy shows take on politics?

Fox News

Are they Kidding? Politics has been a staple of comedy for centuries. The desire to mock our governments and leaders is pretty much an element of being human. But from Fox’s point of view it’s easy to understand their comic anxiety. First of all, they are terrible at it. Second of all, they are thin-skinned whiny babies who can’t take a joke. The F&F segment was a preemptive strike against last night’s Saturday Night Live season debut featuring Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump.

[What follows is a reprise of an article first published last year]
But something that seems to have been developing without much notice is that Fox News is actively reshaping their programming to be more like an actual comedy network. Alone among cable news broadcasters, Fox News is airing actual comedy shows. Already on the schedule is their late night entry Red Eye. Earlier this year they premiered The Greg Gutfeld Show, spinning off the former Red Eye host. And they just recently introduced a new show starring Bill O’Reilly stalker/producer and Fox Nation editor, Jesse Watters, that will expand on his Watters’ World segments from The O’Reilly Factor. [See this epic smackdown of Watters by Steven Colbert]

Setting aside the fact that there is scarce evidence of actual humor in any of these programs, what is interesting is that Fox News is investing so much of their airtime in a form of entertainment that literally makes a mockery of their pretense to being journalists. And considering their epic failure in this genre back in 2007, the execrable “Half-Hour News Hour,” they have some measure of courage to attempt it again. For a network that whines so often about not being taken seriously as reporters, this trend will do little to enhance their already tattered reputation.

Making matters worse is the fact that Fox News has been so fiercely derisive of comedy programs that deign to direct their barbs at news subjects. Over many years there has been a constant drumbeat of outrage from Fox aimed at comedians whom they regard as unqualified to have worthwhile opinions on the news or the talent to find humor in it.

And no one has taken more abuse from Fox than Jon Stewart. Sean Hannity called him “a sanctimonious jackass.” Megyn Kelly said that “He was not a force for good.” Bill O’Reilly labeled him “a key component of left-wing television.” O’Reilly also went after Stewart’s audience saying that he has “stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night.” And this anti-Stewart doctrine comes straight from the top. Fox News CEO Roger Ailes publicly scolded Stewart saying that “He hates conservatives. He’s crazy.”

Fox News generally demeans anyone in the entertainment field who speaks out about politics, unless it’s Ted Nugent or Dennis Miller, but then it’s a stretch describing them as entertaining. If George Clooney or Sarah Silverman exercise their rights as citizens, Fox News considers it an abomination and unleashes a rancid stream of unreserved hostility. Fox contributor Laura Ingraham even wrote a book titled Shut Up and Sing,” to advocate for silencing show biz folk who want to participate in American democracy.

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

So after disparaging entertainers, and especially comedians, for engaging in the centuries old art of satire, it is rather odd to find Fox News devoting a significant amount of time and money to doing what they hate so many others for doing. But while it is common for comedians to take on political topics, it is unheard of for news networks to commit whole programs to comedy. Certainly a news network can interview a comic or report on a humorous news story, but Fox has just launched their third comedy show. And they still want people to take them seriously as journalists? Well, that ship has sailed. If anything, Fox could continue to debut new comedy programs until they fill the schedule. Then, at least, people will be laughing at Fox for the right reasons.

The Dearth Of Mockery: Bring Back Jon Stewart And The Old Stephen Colbert

As this election cycle careens wildly on a collision course with destiny, the measurable supply of sanity seems to get smaller by the day. The prospect of Donald Trump, a reality TV game show host, becoming the nominee of the Republican Party on the strength of his hate-speech and prideful ignorance is becoming ever more likely. At the same time, the media charged with holding candidates accountable to at least minimum standards of honesty and transparency is almost entirely absent. In the past there was a release valve available to let off steam as the politicians and the press drifted off into a vegetative state. That valve took the form of a healthy, cathartic supply of political satire by smart and talented observers who often did a better job of informing the public than the news professionals did.

Stephen Colbert & Trump Baby

Addressing this drought of comic relief, Jim Rutenburg of the New York Times wrote that Stephen Colbert and his production team have been meeting to shore up what has been a rocky first season of late night entertainment. He correctly observed that “If ever there was an election cycle that called for the sharp satirical analysis that Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert once provided on a nightly basis, it is this one,” and that they “are badly missed in the face of all the Trumpmania.”

As evidence of that vacuum, Rutenburg cited my article (thanks Jim) from last March: “Calling Jon Stewart: America Needs You Now More Than Ever.” The points made then are still relevant and deserving of reconsideration. To that end I am re-posting the article in its entirety below. It’s encouraging to see a mainstream news entity like the New York Times recognize that America is suffering a deficiency of rebellious ridicule, but unless the media steps up to restore its commitment to constructive mockery, miscreants like Donald Trump will thrive and prosper. Therefore…


Calling Jon Stewart: America Needs You Now More Than Ever.

Originally published March 9, 2016

When Jon Stewart left the Daily Show (TDS) he left a hole that is much bigger than his diminutive frame. TDS was a unique brand of entertainment that delivered more than humor. It was a daily session of cathartic therapy that provided a safe place to scream at the world through a video surrogate. It was a mocking rebuke of the madness that has infected contemporary politics and culture. It was an assault on the media from a rebel force that they couldn’t control.

Jon Stewart NBC News

TDS became so respected as a source for news that it was commonly included in polling to rate news providers despite being on a comedy network. And it generally rated quite well and higher than many of the allegedly serious news networks. That fact drove the media elitists wild with jealousy as they sought to ridicule the viewers as slackers (Bill O’Reilly added “stoned”), even though studies showed that the TDS audience was also better educated and informed than mainstream news viewers (including O’Reilly’s). Long-time TDS correspondent Stephen Colbert addressed this criticism saying that TDS viewers had to be knowledgeable about the news or they wouldn’t get the jokes.

With one of the most bizarre elections in history currently in progress, there is more material than ever for fierce mockery. The Trump candidacy is a Chinese joke factory – you know the kind that churns out gag-rich laughables 24/7 that sound like they were made by children. The cliche that “the jokes writes themselves” has been trotted out to describe the atmosphere, but talented professionals will still do a better job of it. And Trump isn’t the only source for freestyle farcicals in this election cycle. Ted Cruz is the first competitive presidential candidate to hail from the messianic wing of the Republican Party. And the opportunities missed by the now-defunct campaigns of Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, etc., can never be regained. The Democrats aren’t immune from mockery either, but I’ll leave that to all of the conservative comedians (oh wait, we still haven’t found any those, although Fox News is trying to desperately).

However, since Stewart stepped down from the fake anchor’s desk there has been an aching absence of the purgative satire that he mastered. His hand-picked successor at TDS, Trevor Noah, is an able comedian, but lacks the everyman relatability that endeared Stewart to his viewers. Larry Wilmore, who inherited the time slot of the Colbert Report, has been improving lately, but still falls short of his predecessors. And speaking of Colbert, his new role as himself on CBS’s Late Night doesn’t have the punch that his character did on Comedy Central. It doesn’t help that he is required to host celebrities and other product pluggers for most of the program.

There are some bright spots in the satire field. Most notable is John Oliver’s brilliant and hilarious long-form comedy on his HBO program. Seth Myers has transferred his SNL Weekend Update anchor routine pretty well to his Late Late Show’s “A Closer Look” segment. And former TDS correspondent Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal” has gotten off to a promising start. But Oliver and Bee are only offering one show a week, which hardly fills the void.

What everyone seems to be missing is the fact that Stewart was not doing political satire. He was doing media satire. His targets were predominantly news outlets and the people that represent them. While politicians weren’t shy about publicly embarrassing themselves on a regular basis, it was more often the way that they were covered by the press that attracted Stewart’s attention. And Fox News, the most flagrantly dishonest purveyor of propaganda, was a frequent and well-deserved target. While some comics do go after Fox from time to time, nowhere is there the kind of relentless ridicule that Stewart unleashed on a regular basis. His consistent and high quality humor launched a popular meme proudly declaring that “I get my news from Comedy Central and my comedy from Fox News.”

Satire is a centuries-old form of communication that, at its best, is not only funny, but enlightening. And in the heat of this electoral season, where the front-runner of one of the major political parties is endorsed by the KKK and isn’t bothered by comparisons to Adolf Hitler, satire is an indispensable component to dealing with the insanity that appears to have taken over the GOP and much of right-wing America. The news pundits that provide the so-called informed commentary on current events are too insipidly timid to be useful. Even worse, they are too often oblivious to the truths that a good humorist can make so apparent.

That’s why we need Jon Stewart to return to the public discourse in some fashion. He can’t resume his post at TDS, but he could provide a daily commentary segment on the Rachel Maddow Show, or Colbert’s Late Night, or even NBC News. His insights would give relief to the millions of Americans who are being tortured by a media culture that is functionally blind. He would present a perspective that is altogether missing from the news, and now even from television comedy.

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

It would be a major coup for whatever program or network was smart enough to reel Stewart in. And considering that there was once a ludicrous attempt to hire Stewart to host Meet the Press, this proposal makes much more sense and is actually plausible. C’mon, Jon – we need you. We need you continue to remind us that “Bullshit is everywhere […] and the best defense against bullshit is vigilance.”

Calling Jon Stewart: America Needs You Now More Than Ever

When Jon Stewart left the Daily Show (TDS) he left a hole that is much bigger than his diminutive frame. TDS was a unique brand of entertainment that delivered more than humor. It was a daily session of cathartic therapy that provided a safe place to scream at the world through a video surrogate. It was a mocking rebuke of the madness that has infected contemporary politics and culture. It was an assault on the media from a rebel force that they couldn’t control.

Jon Stewart NBC News

TDS became so respected as a source for news that it was commonly included in polling to rate news providers despite being on a comedy network. And it generally rated quite well and higher than many of the allegedly serious news networks. That fact drove the media elitists wild with jealousy as they sought to ridicule the viewers as slackers (Bill O’Reilly added “stoned”), even though studies showed that the TDS audience was also better educated and informed than mainstream news viewers (including O’Reilly’s). Long-time TDS correspondent Stephen Colbert addressed this criticism saying that TDS viewers had to be knowledgeable about the news or they wouldn’t get the jokes.

With one of the most bizarre elections in history currently in progress, there is more material than ever for fierce mockery. The Trump candidacy is a Chinese joke factory – you know the kind that churns out gag-rich laughables 24/7 that sound like they were made by children. The cliche that “the jokes writes themselves” has been trotted out to describe the atmosphere, but talented professionals will still do a better job of it. And Trump isn’t the only source for freestyle farcicals in this election cycle. Ted Cruz is the first competitive presidential candidate to hail from the messianic wing of the Republican Party. And the opportunities missed by the now-defunct campaigns of Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, etc., can never be regained. The Democrats aren’t immune from mockery either, but I’ll leave that to all of the conservative comedians (oh wait, we still haven’t found any those, although Fox News is trying to desperately).

However, since Stewart stepped down from the fake anchor’s desk there has been an aching absence of the purgative satire that he mastered. His hand-picked successor at TDS, Trevor Noah, is an able comedian, but lacks the everyman relatability that endeared Stewart to his viewers. Larry Wilmore, who inherited the time slot of the Colbert Report, has been improving lately, but still falls short of his predecessors. And speaking of Colbert, his new role as himself on CBS’s Late Night doesn’t have the punch that his character did on Comedy Central. It doesn’t help that he is required to host celebrities and other product pluggers for most of the program.

There are some bright spots in the satire field. Most notable is John Oliver’s brilliant and hilarious long-form comedy on his HBO program. Seth Myers has transferred his SNL Weekend Update anchor routine pretty well to his Late Late Show’s “A Closer Look” segment. And former TDS correspondent Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal” has gotten off to a promising start. But Oliver and Bee are only offering one show a week, which hardly fills the void.

What everyone seems to be missing is the fact that Stewart was not doing political satire. He was doing media satire. His targets were predominantly news outlets and the people that represent them. While politicians weren’t shy about publicly embarrassing themselves on a regular basis, it was more often the way that they were covered by the press that attracted Stewart’s attention. And Fox News, the most flagrantly dishonest purveyor of propaganda, was a frequent and well-deserved target. While some comics do go after Fox from time to time, nowhere is there the kind of relentless ridicule that Stewart unleashed on a regular basis. His consistent and high quality humor launched a popular meme proudly declaring that “I get my news from Comedy Central and my comedy from Fox News.”

Satire is a centuries-old form of communication that, at its best, is not only funny, but enlightening. And in the heat of this electoral season, where the front-runner of one of the major political parties is endorsed by the KKK and isn’t bothered by comparisons to Adolf Hitler, satire is an indispensable component to dealing with the insanity that appears to have taken over the GOP and much of right-wing America. The news pundits that provide the so-called informed commentary on current events are too insipidly timid to be useful. Even worse, they are too often oblivious to the truths that a good humorist can make so apparent.

That’s why we need Jon Stewart to return to the public discourse in some fashion. He can’t resume his post at TDS, but he could provide a daily commentary segment on the Rachel Maddow Show, or Colbert’s Late Night, or even NBC News. His insights would give relief to the millions of Americans who are being tortured by a media culture that is functionally blind. He would present a perspective that is altogether missing from the news, and now even from television comedy.

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

It would be a major coup for whatever program or network was smart enough to reel Stewart in. And considering that there was once a ludicrous attempt to hire Stewart to host Meet the Press, this proposal makes much more sense and is actually plausible. C’mon, Jon – we need you. We need you continue to remind us that “Bullshit is everywhere […] and the best defense against bullshit is vigilance.”

The Clowns Of Cable News: Laughing At Fox News, Not With Them

There has been a meme circulating around the InterTubes for some time saying that “I get my news from Comedy Central and my comedy from Fox News.” It’s a concise way of articulating the reality that programs like The Daily Show are far more reliable sources for information than Fox & Friends or Bill O’Reilly.

Fox News Bozo

But something that seems to have been developing without much notice is that Fox News is actively reshaping their programming to be more like an actual comedy network. Alone among cable news broadcasters, Fox News is airing actual comedy shows. Already on the schedule is their late night entry Red Eye. Earlier this year they premiered The Greg Gutfeld Show, spinning off the former Red Eye host. And they just announced a new show starring Bill O’Reilly stalker/producer and Fox Nation editor, Jesse Watters, that will expand on his Watters’ World segments from The O’Reilly Factor. [See this epic smackdown of Watters by Steven Colbert]

Setting aside the fact that there is scarce evidence of actual humor in any of these programs, what is interesting is that Fox News is investing so much of their airtime in a form of entertainment that literally makes a mockery of their pretense to being journalists. And considering their epic failure in this genre, the execrable “Half-Hour News Hour,” they have some measure of courage to attempt it again. For a network that whines so often about not being taken seriously as reporters, this trend will do little to enhance their already tattered reputation.

Making matters worse is the fact that Fox News has been so fiercely derisive of comedy programs that deign to direct their barbs at news subjects. Over many years there has been a constant drumbeat of outrage from Fox aimed at comedians whom they regard as unqualified to have worthwhile opinions on the news or the talent to find humor in it.

And no one has taken more abuse from Fox than Jon Stewart. Sean Hannity called him “a sanctimonious jackass.” Megyn Kelly said that “He was not a force for good.” Bill O’Reilly labeled him “a key component of left-wing television.” O’Reilly also went after Stewart’s audience saying that he has “stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night.” And this anti-Stewart doctrine comes straight from the top. Fox News CEO Roger Ailes publicly scolded Stewart saying that “He hates conservatives. He’s crazy.”

Fox News generally demeans anyone in the entertainment field who speaks out about politics, unless it’s Ted Nugent or Dennis Miller, but then it’s a stretch describing them as entertaining. If George Clooney or Sarah Silverman exercise their rights as citizens, Fox News considers it an abomination and unleashes a rancid stream of unreserved hostility. Fox contributor Laura Ingraham even wrote a book titled Shut Up and Sing,” to advocate for silencing show biz folk who want to participate in American democracy.

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

So after disparaging entertainers, and especially comedians, for engaging in the centuries old art of satire, it is rather odd to find Fox News devoting a significant amount of time and money to doing what they hate so many others for doing. But while it is common for comedians to take on political topics, it is unheard of for news networks to commit whole programs to comedy. Certainly a news network can interview a comic or report on a humorous news story, but Fox is getting ready to launch their third comedy show. And they still want people to take them seriously as journalists? Well, that ship has sailed. If anything, Fox could continue to debut new comedy programs until they fill the schedule. Then, at least, people will be laughing at Fox for the right reasons.

Trevor Noah’s Daily Show Debut Produces Huge Sighs Of Comic Relief

It’s been nearly three months since Jon Stewart signed off of the Daily Show for the last time, and the void he left has been felt by millions of satire-starved fans. While Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show has tried to fill that void, and Stephen Colbert’s new Late Night show launched a couple of weeks ago, the sustained satirical presence of the Daily Show has not been reproduced by any of the other late night comedy offerings.

Consequently, the anticipation for Noah’s premiere was at fever pitch when the show finally came to the air last night. And everyone, fans and critics, were bristling with suspense as to how he would perform, and whether he would make a suitable successor to Stewart.

Trevor Noah

Well, the best indication of success is wrapped up in the loathing of one of Stewart’s most notorious and mush-headed critics. John Nolte of Breitbart News said that “Awkward Trevor Noah Bombs In Debut.” And with that we know that Noah can be proud of his maiden outing. If the Breitbrats hated it, you know you’re on the right track. Not to dwell on the ravings of a knee-jerk …er… jerk, Nolte’s critique consisted mainly of childish insults and ignorance:

“For all of Stewart’s fascist, bullying tendencies, he did possess some talent. Noah is undoubtedly talented enough to land this gig, but he is unquestionably in over his head. Noah might grow into the gig. He might not. It won’t matter. He is politically correct and a left-wing extremist. […]

“Although fewer than 1% of the population ever watched Stewart, the media still managed to turn him into a Potemkin Phenom. When you’re a leftist, talent and popularity are not required.”

Isn’t that sweet? Nolte thinks Stewart was a talented fascist. That will undoubtedly make Stewart’s day. However, Nolte’s long-standing and inbred hatred for the Daily Show makes it impossible for him to express a coherent opinion. He even admits that “it won’t matter” if Noah is any good, because he’s a “politically correct left-wing extremist,” and therefore deserving of failure. It’s also rather amusing that Nolte condemns the influence of the program because fewer than 1% of the population watched it. He’s not far off, but what he doesn’t mention is that the Daily Show had more viewers than most of the shows on Fox News. So apparently Nolte also regards Fox as talentless and unpopular.

For the record, the Breitbrats predicted the failure of the new Daily Show months ago with a hilariously stupid article that only affirmed that they are as terrible at analyzing television and comedy as they are at analyzing politics.

As for Noah, his debut was a respectable effort with many hilarious moments. It will take some time for him to fully come into his own, but he is obviously smart and funny and is using the show’s producers and writers (held over from the Stewart regime) effectively to maintain a smooth transition. The opening segment (video below) was a perfect introduction that established an emotional connection to the audience saying that he is just as nervous as they are. He revealed a little personal information that explained how he felt about his new role:

“Growing up in the dusty streets of South Africa, I never dreamed one day I would have two things — an indoor toilet and a job as host of ‘The Daily Show.’ And now I have both. I’m quite comfortable with one of them.”

And with that he thanked the audience for “joining us as we continue the war on bullshit.” That, of course, was a reference to Stewart’s last monologue, and a neat trick to assure the audience that he had the same aspirations to produce the sort of quality satire that acts as a much-needed release mechanism for those of us who are outraged daily by the foolishness and dishonesty of our political and pundit classes. He’s off to a great start.

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

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Flips Off Jon Stewart

The most bitter, paranoid, hostile media boss in the business just affirmed all of those character flaws in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. Roger Ailes was questioned about the end of Jon Stewart’s reign as host of The Daily Show and, while pretending to be above it all, he revealed that he is painfully obsessed with Stewart and delighted to see him go.

ailes-the-hutt

The interview began with Ailes whining about Stewart being “after us for years,” but insisting that “he never made a dent.” That’s probably why they did so many stories attacking him. Stewart has been the target of some scathing insults on Fox News from everyone from Bill O’Reilly (who called Stewart “a key component of left-wing television,” and his audience “stoned slackers”) to Sean Hannity (who called Stewart “a sanctimonious jackass”). Ailes himself demeaned Stewart as a lefty who hates conservatives, adding that “He’s crazy.” Pretty much every time Stewart did a segment that mentioned Fox News even briefly, the dullards at Fox would retaliate with venomous assaults consuming valuable airtime.

Ailes then demonstrated the signature reality distortions for which Fox News is known.

Ailes: As he faces the end of his career, he’s beginning to wonder: ‘Is this as popular as I’m ever going to get? Is this as much power as I’ll ever have? The one person I could never get rid of was Roger Ailes. I tried. I did everything I could.’ This was all a plea to his lefty friends. I think he’s disappointed that he didn’t accomplish that goal, and we, of course, supplied him with half of his comedy. It’s just a matter of disappointment.

Ailes had to reach deep into his anus to pull out the assertion that Stewart is at the end of his career. Stewart is not retiring. He is leaving one job and moving on to other projects. And as for his future popularity, here are a few people who left The Daily Show but whose careers have soared: Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Steve Carell, Larry Wilmore, Olivia Munn, Ed Helms, Kristen Schaal, and Michael Che.

It is also a notable indication of how ego-driven Ailes is to believe that Stewart’s goal was to get rid of him. In truth, Stewart’s goal was to expose the dishonesty, prejudice, and hypocrisy of Fox News, as well as other mainstream media outlets. And that is a goal he accomplished in spades. Nobody regards Fox News as an impartial news source, not even conservatives. And most people recognize that Fox practices a wholly unethical brand of pseudo-journalism and thinly disguised propaganda for the Republican Party. Stewart deserves some of the credit for that.

One thing that Ailes gets right is that Fox News supplied Stewart with much of his material. But that’s an odd thing to brag about. In effect Ailes is conceding that so much of what he airs on Fox is ludicrous bullspit that is ripe for mockery. Indeed it is, and Stewart took full advantage of it.

Elsewhere in the interview Ailes exhibited a severe case of denial. He said that he never worries about Stewart, but that is contradicted by how knee-jerk reactive he and his network are to anything Stewart says. He said that Stewart couldn’t work for Fox because “He would depress everyone.” Like everyone at Fox isn’t already swimming in despair as they anguish over everything that President Obama does and says. He complained about Stewart’s mood saying that “You can’t say that many negative things about people unless you’re really unhappy about something.” Has Ailes ever looked in the mirror? [Note: that was meant figuratively to point out that he and Fox News are the ones that are relentlessly negative. However, if you want to take literally, that works too]

As a parting shot in the interview, Ailes launches an unprovoked attack on his own corporate family:

Ailes: Knowing [Stewart], he’ll direct movies with sort of a left-wing point of view, and America’s a terrible country. Somebody needs to tell him that 90 percent of what Hollywood puts out already does that. He’s going to have to find another niche.

Somebody needs to tell Ailes that 21st Century Fox is one of the top five film studios in the world (it is #4). It also owns one of the four broadcast television networks (Also #4). It is firmly ensconced in Hollywood and is as responsible for its output as any other studio. Perhaps he is upset that it was Warner Bros., not Fox, that released that despicable, unpatriotic, left-wing movie “American Sniper,” that grossed more than any other film in 2014.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It is apparent that Roger Ailes is a deeply disturbed and emotionally tormented individual. His loathsome and cantankerous personality is evident in this interview and in the programming on Fox News. It would be almost pitiful but for the damage he causes. And in the end, he must know that Stewart will be remembered far more fondly than he will, and for a far more honorable body of work.