Former Fox News Watch Host: The People Who Watch Fox News Are Cultish

This morning on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter interviewed the former host of the Fox News program “News Watch.” That program was canceled in 2008 and its host, Eric Burns, was fired. It’s replacement, “MediaBuzz,” is now led by a more reliable hack, Howard Kurtz, who isn’t troubled by having to peddle the partisan garbage that Fox spews.

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On Reliable Sources, Stelter raised the ever-expanding controversy over Bill O’Reilly’s diuretic flow of lies about his past adventures as a news superhero. Stelter opened with with statements from the order of nuns who lost four of their members to death squads in El Salvador. They were disturbed by O’Reilly’s false assertion that he had personally witnessed the executions. O’Reilly later admitted that he had only seen photographs, but failed to apologize or even acknowledge that his prior claims were false.

At the top of the interview segment, Burns told Stelter that he had experienced the extraordinary effect of the audience loyalty at Fox News, saying that “The people who watch Fox News are cultish.” [a condition that News Corpse documented a few months ago] and that “O‚ÄôReilly, as the head of the cult, is not held to the same standards as Brian Williams. Burns went on to give credit to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann who had frequently pointed out O’Reilly’s predilection for lying, with evidence proving it. Then Stelter asked Burns to comment on the shift by Fox News to ever more right-wing slanted programming. Burns said that…

“I thought that as Fox got more and more popular that Roger Ailes, who runs the network, would say ‘Well, the right has nowhere else to go, so if I move a little more to the center I can get a bigger audience and not lose my core audience.’ He did just the opposite. He went more to the right.”

It’s important to note that Burns hosted a program that was already severely slanted to the right. He had four panelists that included a single “liberal,” pretty much setting the model for every other panel on Fox (i.e. MediaBuzz, The Five, Special Report, Cashin In, Fox News Sunday, etc.). So Burns is no progressive mole. However, he was astute enough to recognize the downside of being associated with Fox News and replied to inquiries after his departure by expressing relief that…

“I do not have to face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.”

On Fox’s MediaBuzz this morning, host Kurtz completely ignored the O’Reilly affair, choosing instead to focus on negative stories about Hillary Clinton’s email, Obama’s speech in Selma, AL, and Netanyahu’s speech before Congress. Throw in a suck-up profile of Rand Paul and all of the criticisms expressed by Burns begin to be obvious. But don’t tell that to the cult members who watch Fox. They threaten to throw another Tea Party.

And Speaking of Cults: Get the ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
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Olbermann Features News Corpse On Countdown

On yesterday’s broadcast of Countdown on MSNBC, host Keith Olbermann featured a story about News Corpse. I couldn’t be more proud.

Actually, it was a story on the $1 million donation from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to the Republican Governor’s Association. Although I did report on this unprecedented bankrolling of GOP candidates by a major pseudo-news organization, Countdown’s segment was an interview of Media Matters’ Eric Burns on the subject.

It was an informative and entertaining discussion that hit on most of the salient points. I would have liked it if they had also pointed out that some of the funds received by the RGA would likely be stuffed right back into Murdoch’s pocket via ads they purchase on Fox News and in the Wall Street Journal, but in the end I was just jazzed to see my web site name on the screen for several minutes.

Keith should be grateful that I am not as litigious as Murdoch, whose company is presently harassing the folks at Skype because they think the name is “confusingly similar” to their Sky satellite television service. I’m still waiting for Murdoch to come after me.

NPR Asks Mara Liasson To Reconsider Fox News

Now that it has been established that Fox News is not a legitimate news network, the question arises as to whether reporters from other news enterprises who appear on Fox are merely pawns in Fox’s game of alleged balance. I have long argued that such appearances serve no purpose other than to validate Fox’s brand of propaganda. Lately, there have been others who share that view, as illustrated in this article at Politico:

According to a source, [NPR’s Mara] Liasson was summoned in early October by NPR’s executive editor for news, Dick Meyer, and the networks supervising senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. The NPR executives said they had concerns that Fox’s programming had grown more partisan, and they asked Liasson to spend 30 days watching the network.

At a follow-up meeting last month, Liasson reported that she’d seen no significant change in Fox’s programming and planned to continue appearing on the network, the source said.

Liasson’s assertion that she doesn’t see any significant change in Fox’s programming is a bit of a dodge. It could easily be argued that Fox’s programming has not changed – it has always been partisan, dishonest, and factually challenged. In which case, she should never have agreed to appear on the network in the first place. However, Fox’s rightist slant has become noticeably steeper. So much so that it has even been noticed by people associated with Fox.

Just in the past couple of months, longtime Fox News contributor Jane Hall left the network citing the extremism of Glenn Beck as part of her reason. Also, former Fox anchor Eric Burns emerged to declare that he is grateful that he no longer has to “face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.”

While Fox News has indeed been solidly right-wing since its inception, recent changes have cemented their already hard-core partisanship. They hired Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck. They parted ways with Alan Colmes. In fact every recent announcement from their editorial management took them farther to the right.

If Liasson can’t see this and admit that her ties with Fox are damaging her reputation and that of NPR, then perhaps her NPR handlers should take it upon themselves to cut ties with her. They previously had a similar situation with Juan Williams, an NPR contributor who also appears on Fox and sometimes fills in for Bill O’Reilly. Williams was ordered to stop identifying himself as an NPR reporter when he appeared on Fox’s opinion programs (which is most of them). NPR could go no further than that as Williams is not a full time employee.

As for Liasson, her blindness ought to yield some sort of consequences. NPR is not commenting, but Fox took the opportunity to demonstrate what a bunch of sanctimonious jerks they are by releasing this statement:

“With the ratings we have, NPR should be paying us to even be mentioned on our air.”

Any journalist who works with Fox News must be held accountable for that decision. It should follow them throughout their career and tag them as the disreputable hacks that they are. They should be regarded professionally as being in the same category as reporters from the National Enquirer. If Liasson wants the attention she gets from the Fox family, she will have to live with the scorn she receives from everyone else.

Falling Out Of The Crazy Tree: Glenn Beck Loses Friends

“Please talk me out of the crazy tree, America.”
~ Glenn Beck, July 2009

It must be hard to be Glenn Beck. And not just because you would be perpetually burdened with nightmarish delusions of demons and communists conspiring against you. He must have abandonment issues on a grand scale. Perhaps it all goes back to having lost his mother to suicide when he was a teenager. His holiday story, “The Christmas Sweater” is largely centered on that relationship.

Exacerbating this problem, Beck is losing support from many of the folks he would ordinarily rely upon. For instance, Charles Johnson, the proprietor of the right-wing web site Little Green Footballs, just enumerated the reasons that he is parting ways with the right. Two of his top ten reasons explicitly cite Beck due to his support for anti-government lunacy, conspiracy theories, and hate speech. When you’ve lost LGF, you might really want to commence some serious self-examination.

Beck also lost Eric Burns, former host of Fox News Watch. Burns was a relative moderate on Fox News, which may explain why they fired him (watch your back, Shep). Burns has kept a low profile since leaving Fox, but now he opens up about his former haunt. And the first thing he wants to convey is his gratitude that…

“I do not have to face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.”

Ouch! Burns says that Beck is “an embarrassment” and likens him unfavorably to some rather unsavory characters from the past: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and John Birch. Remember, these criticisms are coming from a former Fox News anchor. This is how far Beck has wandered from even conservative convention.

None of this, however, will phase Beck. He is confident in his confusion. He has knowledge that transcends the capability of mere mortals. He said so:

6:1) I’ve been talking for several years now – two in particular.
6:2) Because I know what our country is headed towards. I know the struggles that are ahead in my life and I know the struggles that are ahead in your life.
6:3) It’s not going to be pretty, but it’s going to be good.
6:4) We are going to again transform the world. We are going to have a miraculous rebirth. Things are all going to change.
~ More Beckisms in The Gospel According To Beck

Glenn Beck sees our future. His omnipotent vision will shield us from harm. Or at least it will be good harm. But when he speaks of miracles, I wonder if he is aware that Hitler also campaigned on a message of rebirth. It is also interesting to hear Beck say that “we are going to transform the world.” When President Obama said before the election that “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” Beck replayed the comment over and over again, insisting that there was something sinister in it. The same is true for his declaration that “Things are all going to change.” When Obama says the same thing, it is cause to hoard guns and ammo and gold and our precious bodily fluids.

Beck must feel awfully alone. Along with those mentioned above, he has lost upwards of eighty advertisers. And more recently, the Harlem Gospel Choir backed out of performing with his theatrical release of The Christmas Sweater. He is rapidly becoming segregated from the world of rational thinkers. He is devolving into a cartoon of himself. He already admitted that he is just an entertainer, a rodeo clown, and a worthless loser. And he beseeches America to talk him out of the crazy tree. In this self-appraisal he has a comrade:

“I have been laughed to scorn as a prophet; for many a year my warnings and my prophecies were regarded as the illusions of a mind diseased […] I appear in the eyes of many bourgeois democrats as only a wild man.”
~ Adolph Hitler, September 1936

We would be wise to remember history. Beck’s friends may be falling from the crazy tree like autumn leaves, but Beck is climbing to ever-higher branches that can’t possibly sustain his weight. He is going to come down from the tree, but not because he was talked down. Perhaps that is what he means when he says that “It’s not going to be pretty.”