Fox News Host Considers Confederate Traitors to Be ‘Revered’ American Leaders

It’s been five days since Donald Trump fell off the crazy train into the abyss of neo-Nazi advocacy. His press conference last Tuesday will be remembered as a tribute to the white supremacists that helped to elect him. To this day they comprise a significant segment of his remaining support. And despite the widespread criticism he’s received, Trump clings to his abhorrent views.

Fox News Jesse Watters

Naturally, Fox News continues to shill for the President. They have staunchly defended the most heinous comments that flow from his diseased psyche. Somehow they have managed to justify his admissions of sexual assault, his insults to veterans, his unsavory connections to Russia, and his glaring ignorance of every subject he addresses. So it isn’t surprising that they find cause to agree with his unimaginable covenant with treasonous Americans.

The debate over the preservation of statues commemorating Confederate traitors has taken center stage at Fox News. But they are intellectually incapable of grasping the simplest concepts. They complain that moving these offensive monuments to museums will result in the abolition of history. Since when do people learn history from lumps of bronze in the park? Statues are not historical lessons, they are tributes. We have no statues of Hitler, yet most Americans have a pretty good idea of who he was and what he represented. And anyone interested in the Civil War can find plenty of information at the library.

Undeterred by that common sense, Fox News ignoramus Jesse Watters stared into his camera Sunday night and literally perverted history. He regurgitated a favorite canard of conservative white-wingers who lie shamelessly about America’s past:

“Let’s also remember that all of these Confederate war heroes were Democrats. Democrats were the party of slavery. Maybe the Democrats want to tear down these statues so the country forgets that the Democratic Party enslaved black people. But I actually think that many on the left want to destroy any monument of revered historical American leaders.”

There is so much wrong with that brief mental flatulence that it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with his bastardization of history. Most people with a high school diploma know that Southern Democrats did dominate the Confederacy. They rejected the Republican politics of Abraham Lincoln who led the nation in a war against the slave states. But that affiliation flipped in the twentieth century as Democrats became the party of working Americans. That includes African Americans. President Johnson cast the remaining bigots out of the Democratic Party when he signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. From that point on, the Southern racists abandoned the Democrats and took up with Republicans who were happy to preserve Jim Crow laws, segregation, and white rule.

Consequently, it’s a lie of omission to refer to Democrats as “the party of slavery.” And it’s readily apparent where the bigots reside today politically. The Republican Party is currently the home of the KKK, the neo-Nazis, the alt-right, and all the other groups with deceptive labels attached to institutional racism. Just ask former KKK Imperial Wizard, David Duke, or white Nationalist Richard Spencer. Both are fervent Trump supporters. The claim made by Watters is only valid if you deliberately ignore the past hundred hundred years and today’s reality.

Then Watters made the flagrantly idiotic claim that Democrats want to tear down the Confederate statues so the country forgets their role in slavery. That makes no sense at all. You don’t make people forget something by turning it into a raging controversy. What’s more, Democrats are openly condemning slavery and everyone who participated in it. And it’s Republicans who are insisting that the statues remain. The GOP is not asking to keep the statues to remind people of the Democrats’ past. They want to keep them as tributes to the slave states and the traitors who fought for them. That’s a fact that Watters has conveniently glanced past.

Finally, Watters admits that, in his view, the traitors of the Confederacy are “revered historical American leaders.” Now he is not mincing words. His theory is that Democrats want to suppress these treasonous cretins that he believes ought to be celebrated. So Watters has revealed his true feelings and his unpatriotic obsession with the people who fought to divide America.

This is what passes for journalism on Fox News. And it’s consistent with the network’s mission to advance Republican politics. All of their primetime hosts (Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, The Five) have articulated the same themes. They truly believe that these Confederate statues provide deserved praise to “honorable” Americans. And if they regard Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson as honorable, what are they looking for in a leader today? Of course the disturbing answer to that is that they have already found what they’re looking for. And he is presently residing in the White House.

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

Profiles in Cowardice: Republicans Are Refusing All Interview Requests to Defend Trump’s Bigotry

On Thursday morning Donald Trump tripled down on his support for the Confederacy and the bigotry it fought to preserve. His latest tweetstorm gushed over the “beauty” of the statues of traitors that he says “will be greatly missed.” And he’s right. They will be missed by the white supremacists and racists who have been applauding Trump’s advocacy of their cause.

Shepard Smith Fox News

However, outside of the alt-rightists and Klan members that have rallied around his pro-Nazi remarks, Trump has garnered scant support from his own Republican colleagues. Many have taken to putting out their own condemnations of the violence instigated by bigots in Charlottesville. They include GOP leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Unfortunately, in most cases they merely express opposition to racism without holding their president accountable for exacerbating the hate.

These weakly conveyed messages of tolerance demonstrate the fear that Republicans have of directly countering Trump. They remain committed to his presidency and his agenda. They just can’t bring themselves to utter his name in conjunction with the division he is fomenting.

They also can’t bring themselves to defend him on television. Every cable news network is complaining that their efforts to book Republicans to defend the President are coming up empty. This is an astonishing turn of events. Publicity-hungry politicians are actually declining to appear on TV to promote their party and president. Here are some examples of the media response to this unprecedented situation:

Chuck Todd, MSNBC: We invited every single Republican senator on this program tonight, all 52. We asked roughly a dozen house Republicans including a bunch of committee chairs and we asked a half-dozen officials. And none of them agreed to discuss this issue with us today.

Wolf Blitzer, CNN: We did reach out to Republican leaders throughout the day. They all, at least for now, refused to join us. But the invitation is clearly still very much open.

Shepard Smith, Fox News: Our booking team reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country today. Let’s be honest. Republicans don’t mind coming on Fox News channel. We couldn’t get anyone to come and defend him here. We thought in balance, someone should do that. We worked very hard at it throughout the day. We were unsuccessful.

That’s right. Even Fox News, the PR division of the Republican Party, is unable to convince a single Republican to go on the air to support their leader. They can still book GOP advocates of nuking North Korea or throwing millions of Americans off of their healthcare plans. But asking them to backup the President’s recent cheerleading for neo-Nazis is apparently where they draw the line.

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

It remains to be seen how long they can hold out. Trump is already tweeting attacks on party mates who dare to criticize him. Thursday morning he unleashed his typically infantile insults on Senators Lindsay Graham and Jeff Flake. Expect those Twitter tantrums to continue as Trump’s ultra-sensitive ego is bruised by others disloyal to Dear Leader. Before long the only people willing to defend Trump on TV will be David Duke and Ivanka. And I’m not all that sure about Ivanka.

Morally Bankrupt: Fox & Friends Host Couldn’t Mute These Moving Repudiations of Trump

There’s an old saying that offers this common sense advice: If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Apparently Donald Trump hasn’t heard that saying. Or maybe he just doesn’t think it applies to people who are perfect and rich and certain of their superiority. Consequently, he continues to dig himself deeper into the cesspool of white supremacy advocacy.

Fox News

On Tuesday Trump held an impromptu press conference that quickly devolved into a nauseating defense of neo-Nazis and the racism embodied by the KKK and other hate groups. He was roundly chastised by Americans from across the political spectrum. Democrats and Republicans alike are distancing themselves from his overt bigotry. A new poll shows that more people believe that Trump supports white nationalism than think that he opposes it. The fallout from his disastrous performance was nearly universal.

One area of respite for the President was, of course Fox News. With virtually every program they aired came a vigorous defense of Trump’s allegedly unyielding love for all mankind. Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson led the way in white-washing his rancid prejudices. At the same time they sought to smear those who oppose the racism espoused by Trump and company. But there were a few moments when real emotions were displayed that better represented the nation’s revulsion of Trump’s bigotry.

On Fox and Friends, co-host Abby Huntsman interviewed Johns Hopkins professor Wendy Osefo and Republican political analyst Gianno Caldwell. Her mission was clearly to guide the discussion into a redemption from Trump’s latest debacle. Prof. Osefo provided an excellent definition of the terms of the debate (video below):

“This is about hatred. It’s about white supremacy. And to have Heather Heyer killed on U.S. soil by a Nazi, Deandre Harris beaten and bludgeoned by Nazis. This is not talking points here. This isn’t partisan. This is human life. And as a mother, to hear the President of these United States not sit here and condemn what has happened. As a black woman of two black boys, my heart bleeds. This is not talking points here. This is personal. And we as a nation, as a country, have to do better.”

Huntsman’s reaction completely ignored this heartfelt plea for Trump to change course. She made a pathetic attempt to steer the conversation back to territory that was advantageous to Trump:

Gianno, to you. Do you agree with that? There are good people on both sides of this debate. We talk about keeping these statues up. People that I talk to say that this is about history. How do we move forward. How do we learn from those mistakes if we just tear everything down?

Huntsman’s pivot included the White House talking points that both sides are to blame and that there are good Nazis. She also revealed the narrow scope of people that she talks to. This isn’t about preserving history, which is well documented in libraries full of historical literature. The people Huntsman talks to actually want to preserve the honoring of traitors. But her other guest wasn’t distracted by this tactic:

“You know, I come today with a very heavy heart. Last night I couldn’t sleep at all because President Trump, our president, has literally betrayed the conscience of our country. The very moral fabric on which we’ve made progress on race relations. He’s failed us. And it’s very unfortunate that our president would say things like he did in that press conference when he said that “There’s good people on the side of the Nazis. They weren’t all Nazis. They weren’t all white supremacists.” Mr. President, good people don’t pal around with Nazis and white supremacists.”

Remember, Caldwell is the Republican on the panel. And he expressed what every decent Republican ought to admit. Republicans in Congress need to renounce Trump’s bigotry and defense of the alt-right white supremacists. His cabinet must demand he reject racism and fire those on his staff who embrace it (Bannon, Gorka, Miller, etc.). Absent that, they must resign themselves.

Caldwell concluded his remarks with a shot aimed directly at Huntsman and Fox News:

“For anyone to come on any network and defend what President Trump did and said at that press conference yesterday is completely lost and potentially morally bankrupt.”

That’s something that all politicians, pundits and journalists need to take seriously. This isn’t about talking points. It’s about human decency. And there aren’t two sides to that.

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

Fox News ‘Reporter’ Exalts White Supremacist Killer in Charlottesville as a ‘Vigilante’

It’s been three days since the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. The deliberately hostile affair claimed the life of Heather Heyer, a counter-protester, and injured dozens more. Donald Trump distinguished himself as a Nazi-sympathizer by refusing to condemn the hate groups that organized the event in his first public comments. It took him two more days to say anything remotely critical of the perpetrators of the violence.

Fox News

In the meantime, Fox News went to work covering for the callousness of the President. They made excuses that stretched the limits of credulity. Fox and Friends worked overtime to portray Trump as calm and restrained during his first non-comment, and bold and decisive after the second. Trump-fluffers Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson labored to turn him into a statesman who embodied harmony and fellowship.

For his part, Trump maintained his well-known posture of arrogance and bigotry. He posted tweets blaming the media for the public’s repudiation of his insensitivity. He also retweeted a comment by a known alt-right conspiracy monger that sought to shift the debate to evil black folks. And to top it off, he retweeted another Fox and Friends story (the 18th time this month). This one was about his consideration of a pardon for the racist former Arizona sheriff, Joe Arpaio.

It’s no secret that Fox and Friends, Hannity, et al, are opinion-based programs masquerading as news. But Fox’s Washington D.C. correspondent, Doug McKelway, seeks to present himself as an actual journalist. Which makes his report on Tuesday all the more troubling (video below). The segment began as a story about activists taking down statues that honored confederate traitors. But it quickly derailed into propaganda of the worst sort. McKelway’s commentary completely twisted the narrative into right-wing bullshit juxtaposing…

“…those who find the system of slavery to be so abhorrent that we should have no memories of it whatsoever to those who believe that what their great-great-great-great granddaddy did in the Civil War should be remembered and preserved.”

Is McKelway arguing that slavery was not really that abhorrent after all? Also, he apparently thinks that commemorative statues are the only way to record history. Maybe he should read a book. No one is suggesting that the memory of slavery be wiped out. Just that the memory be held in the context of its inhumanity, rather than being honored in bronze. And if anyone wants to preserve what their confederate forefathers did, let it be preserved as the treason and brutality it actually was.

But McKelway wasn’t through. It wasn’t enough that he wanted to remember the civil war slave states fondly, he implied that any other recollection was a communist plot:

“And then, this ventures into the area of airbrushing of history. A tactic of totalitarian governments, a common practice in the former Soviet Union where people who fell into disfavor in the government were literally airbrushed out of history.”

Again, no one is airbrushing anyone out of history. Patriotic Americans very much want to maintain the historical record of the civil war. Including the parts that document the barbarous agenda of the South. But to smear those who advocate an accurate retelling of history as totalitarians and commies is just plain nauseating. In fact, it is a tactic of totalitarians and commies. McKelway believes that slave owners have simply been unfortunate to have fallen out of favor. Poor babies.

And if you thought that was the end of McKelway’s atrocities, you’re not giving him and Fox News the credit they deserve. He closed the segment with a note regarding the funeral service for Heather Heyer. But in doing so he elevated her murderer to a status that is utterly offensive:

“We’ve also learned when the funeral service will be held for Heather Heyer, the young woman, the 32 year old that was killed by the white vigilante who mowed down people in downtown Charlottesville on Saturday.”

Vigilante? For the record, a vigilante is someone who has decided to take the law into his own hands. It is itself against the law. It is generally undertaken when the perpetrator believes that legal authorities are deemed inadequate or unresponsive. And the victim is someone who is thought to be guilty of a crime, at least in the eyes of the vigilante. It’s wrong and indefensible in civil society, and often leads to innocents being targeted and harmed. But some crackpots believe that it’s justifiable and romantic.

That said, what crime does McKelway think that Ms. Heyer committed that would make her fair game for a vigilante? The driver of the car that killed her, James Alex Fields, had only one motive: To do harm to innocent people who opposed his racist ideology. That is not a vigilante. It’s a cold-blooded murderer and a radical right-wing terrorist. McKelway really needs to adjust his definitions, as well as his heinous biases as a person and a so-called reporter.

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

UVA Prof to Trump: Fire All the White Nationalists on [Your] Staff, Starting with Steve Bannon’

The tragedy that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday has ironically united the nation. Most decent Americans are repulsed by the bigotry espoused by the alt-right white nationalists who organized the event. Unfortunately, the President is not among them.

Trump/Bannon

Donald Trump’s initial response to the violence was to issue a mealy-mouthed statement that blamed “all sides.” But only one side engaged in deliberate hostilities that resulted in the death of a young woman. Trump’s callous and tone-deaf response was criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike. Reacting to that criticism, the White House put out an anonymous, unsigned statement that continued to ignore the reality of the tragic events:

“The President said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. And of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-nazi and all extremist groups.”

So now it “includes” white supremacists. Which, of course, is reaffirmation of his position that it also includes others. He is still trying to dilute the grotesque actions of the bigots who are unarguably responsible. And the process of dilution is being carried out by Trump’s surrogates. On CNN’s State of the Union, Tom Bossert had a peculiar excuse for Trump not identifying the racists. He said that the President didn’t want to “dignify the names of these groups.” That argument flies in the face of relentless insistence that Muslims had to be identified as “radical Islamic terrorists.”

On the Fox News morning program, Fox and Friends, co-host Pete Hegseth sympathized with the racists. He complained on their behalf that they feel like they’re being “treated differently” and have become “second-class citizens.” Poor privileged, snowflake, babies.

Consequently, it was encouraging to hear someone on TV tell the truth about the rioting white supremacists. On CNN’s Reliable Sources, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato didn’t mince words. And he gave some harsh advice to the President who can’t seem to do or say anything right. Here is the exchange he had with host Brian Stelter (video below):

Stelter: Would what the President says in the coming days matter in Charlottesville? Would it actually help or affect the community?

Sabato: Thanks for asking that, Brian, because Donald Trump, of course, is very unpopular anyway here, but he missed his moment. He had the opportunity to do something when it mattered yesterday afternoon. And any of his predecessors in modern times would have had the good instincts to say the right things. He wouldn’t because he won’t denounce part of his base. They’re white supremacists. We know what they are. We know who they voted for.

So listen Brian, if he wants to do something to help us and everbody else, let him fire all the white nationalists on his staff, starting with Steve Bannon. Actions speak louder than words. Words written by his staff.

Stelter: You know Bannon would reject being described as a white nationalist?

Sabato: I don’t care. We’ve read all that we need to read. And there are others on that staff too. You know darn well there are.

Exactly! Prior to joining Trump’s campaign, Bannon was the chairman of Breitbart News. The website openly bragged that it was “the platform for the alt-right.” He now occupies an office down the hall from the Oval Office. And he is likely the author of the statements that tread so lightly on the hateful culprits of the violence in Charlottesville.

Sabato’s observance that there are others in the Trump White House who hold these disgusting views is indisputable. On an earlier appearance on CNN he named one of them. Sebastian Gorka is a special advisor to the President. He also happens to be a former Breitbart editor and is associated with known Nazi groups. But people like Bannon and Gorka are among Trump’s favorite advisers. He isn’t likely to fire them and piss off his base of supporters.

As a result, Trump will continue to get counsel from the worst of the worst. And it’s precisely what he asked for. This is not a case of clandestine fascists infiltrating the government. These are people that Trump selected with full knowledge of their resumes. And if he thinks he can paper over these abhorrent cretins and their hateful philosophies, he is going to be sorely disappointed. Americans will not long tolerate this. Trump already has the worst approval ratings of any president in modern history. Don’t look for that to improve anytime soon.

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

Desperate President Tweets Threat to Republican Senators Who Are ‘Turning On Trump’

Apparently making reckless threats aimed at nuclear-powered madmen isn’t sufficiently fulfilling for Donald Trump. Perhaps his own reputation as a nuclear-powered madmen dilutes the effect. So Trump is now aiming his electoral weapons at his Republican colleagues in the senate.

Donald Trump

Included in his scheduled morning Twitter tirade was a retweet of his pals at Fox and Friends. [NOTE: Trump must be on the Fox News payroll as this is his 13th retweet of F&F so far this month, and the 121st since he launched his campaign] The article linked in the tweet was, of course, from Fox News. It dealt with the potential electoral tribulations of Republican senators who have had the audacity to be independent thinkers. In other words, they have disagreed with the wannabe dictator in the White House.

The article is titled “Senators learn the hard way about the fallout from turning on Trump.” That’s a perfectly legitimate subject of discussion. And there are GOP incumbents whose seats are in jeopardy next year. Although that’s true for those still fluffing the unpopular president. However, by posting that article Trump is blatantly warning all Republicans to refrain from challenging him, or face his wrath. There is nothing subtle about promoting the perils of “turning on Trump.”

This heat-seeking rhetorical missile is meant to frighten Republicans who may be wavering in their otherwise unyielding adoration of the President. He demands constant support for everything he does and says. Any healthy expression of doubt or criticism is regarded as disloyalty. And the temptation to distance oneself from Trump’s toxicity will not be tolerated. That’s a harrowing dilemma for politicians attached to a president who can’t raise his approval ratings out of the thirties.

Trump has already made very public and embarrassing attacks on the GOP’s Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. He has characterized McConnell as a weak loser who is responsible for Trump’s failing agenda. Never mind that Trump ran on the promise of his unparalleled negotiating skills and how easy it would be to achieve every goal he put forward. By now we should have defeated ISIS, repealed ObamaCare, cut taxes for the rich, locked up Hillary Clinton, and built a wall on the Mexican border. You know, made America great again.

Trump, however, has failed achieved to any of his campaign promises. Instead, he has brought the world to the brink of a thoroughly unnecessary nuclear conflict. His administration is a pitiful mess that has undergone unprecedented upheavals. And he is being investigated for financial corruption and collusion with Russia’s attacks on our democracy. Is this what he meant when he told his rally-goers that they would soon be “sick and tired of winning?”

So while Trump is playing nuclear chicken with Kim Jong-Un, he is also alienating his allies on Capital Hill. Previously loyal colleagues like Paul Ryan, Jeff Flake, Dean Heller, and John McCain are becoming more comfortable defying his authority. How he expects to shepherd his agenda through Congress without their help is a mystery.

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

Trump thought the presidency was like his family business where he was the king. But now he is discovering that his only tool is whining and bullying. And the more offensive he is toward his own party, the more likely they are to join in impeachment proceedings as his legal troubles continue to unfold. Keep in mind, Republicans in Congress have always preferred Mike Pence anyway.

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

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

Donald Trump Kim Jong-Un

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donald Trump Has a ‘Fox and Friends’ Fetish That Should Frighten Every American

There is something terribly wrong when an American president is obsessively dialed into propaganda that regularly contradicts reality. It’s bad enough when Donald Trump manufactures his own exaggerations, deflections, and lies. But lately he has taken to acting as the de facto publicist for the spin machine at Fox News. Especially one program that is best known as a haven for Trump-fluffing, sycophantic bullshit: Fox and Friends.

Donald Trump Fox News

On Wednesday morning, Trump’s sunrise Twitter tirade included five retweets from the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends. They spanned a variety of subjects, but shared a common theme of world disorder and imminent catastrophe. The messages that Trump sought to magnify and adopt as his own included:

In those communiques Trump covered, respectively, the crisis he just created with North Korea, his racist preoccupation with Mexico and a border wall, more saber-rattling over Korea, alleged terrorism in France, and Fox News’ presentation of his “fire and fury” speech/threat to his North Korean twin. And while those are all topics of some significance, it’s peculiar that Trump used a single source to address them.

Apparently, all Trump does each day is watch Fox News. It’s where he gets his intelligence data, despite being in charge of the world’s best spy agencies. It’s how he affirms his self-worth with the relentlessly flattering suck-ups disgorged by his Fox friends. In fact, the show might consider changing its name to “Fox and Friend” (singular), because they are really only broadcasting to an audience of one.

As he has repeatedly made clear, Trump hates the media. He called it “the enemy of the American people.” Never mind that polls show that the American people trust the media far more than they trust him. And he can’t seem to go more than a few hours without insulting CNN or the New York Times. His protestations of “fake news” every time his babysitters mistakenly allow a negative story to reach his desk are pathetic. But they exemplify his deranged world view and dependence on ultra-positive reinforcement.

However, Trump’s compulsive regurgitation of Fox and Friends is more than just a tribute to his favorite TV show. There has never been a political leader who so obsessively promoted a single media outlet. It’s almost as if Trump is working for Fox News as the public relations man in charge of advancing the interests of Fox and Friends. In addition to his five tweets Wednesday morning, he has tweeted about the program ten times already this month. And the Trump Twitter Archive shows 118 such tweets since he announced his candidacy in June of 2015.

It is also notable that Fox and Friends is often the trigger for Trump’s tweets. Brian Feldman of New York Magazine collected a bunch of examples of Trump tweeting something that appeared to be random. As it turned out, Trump’s tweets often followed – sometimes by minutes – a segment on the subject on Fox News. Plainly he was watching in his pajamas with his phone in hand and couldn’t help himself. This is a phenomenon that rarely occurs with any other news network.

Prior to running for president, Trump had a regular call-in spot on Fox and Friends called “Mondays with Trump.” He was also a frequent guest on other Fox News programs like The O’Reilly Factor and Your World with Neil Cavuto. His relationship with Fox News had some rocky points during the campaign, but he always supported his “Friends.”

The problem with this is that it makes the doofuses on Fox and Friends the equivalent to his national security team. They seem to have at least as much influence over him as his closest advisers. More, if you consider that he “meets” with them every day and never argues with them. He quotes them far more frequently than he does any of his cabinet or staff. And while he will bash his Attorney General and other high ranking officials, he has never had a bad word to say about his Friends on Fox. He almost holds them in as high esteem as his Russian friend Vladimir.

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

What’s troubling about this is the utter lack of qualifications of the aforementioned couch potatoes. Co-hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade are not experts in government, economics, defense, or anything else. They are happy-talk presenters on a propaganda network. Yet their counsel is getting the highest priority in Trump’s White House. That’s something that should make all Americans – and non-Americans for that matter – afraid for the fate of the world. Trump literally ignores his professional intelligence advisers in favor of a trio of giggling airheads. And, for the record, they are all in for a a war with North Korea. Are you scared yet?

LOCK ‘EM UP: Fox News Leaks Classified Info Based on Anonymous Sources – Trump Retweets

The White House recently embarked on a campaign to flush out the throngs of leakers in their midst. Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press briefing to announce that anyone caught leaking would face stiff consequences. So it’s interesting that this warning is already being ignored by a surprising offender.

Fox News Donald Trump

On Donald Trump’s favorite TV show, Fox and Friends, co-host Steve Doocy interviewed U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. In the course of their conversion Doocy let slip some information he obtained from a story on Fox News. The story revealed that U.S. satellites had detected North Korea loading anti-ship cruise missiles on a patrol boat. That, apparently, was not information approved for public dissemination. And Haley let Doocy know that in no uncertain terms (video below):

DOOCY: Ambassador, on the front page of foxnews.com right now there is a story that apparently the intel community has picked up anti-ship cruise missiles were being loaded onto a patrol boat or patrol boats in North Korea. What can you tell us about that?
HALEY: I can’t.
DOOCY: Why?
HALEY: I can’t talk about anything that’s classified. And if that’s in the newspaper that’s a shame. But –
DOOCY: You have no reason to believe that’s not accurate though?
HALEY: I have no reason to comment on it.
DOOCY: (Laughing) OK.
AINSLEY EARHARDT: That shouldn’t be in the newspaper? Is that another leak I guess?
HALEY: You know, it’s one of these things, I don’t know what’s going on. But, I will tell you it’s incredibly dangerous when things get out into the press like that. You are not only just getting a scoop on something, you are playing with people’s lives. And this has got to stop. Whatever the leaks are coming from, if somebody thinks they are getting power or fame from it, all you are doing is putting Americans in danger.

Haley was adamant in her first response that she could not answer Doocy’s questions. But that didn’t stop him from pressing her further. She reiterated her intention to refrain from commenting. Doocy thought that was funny. Haley had to school him on the serious nature of the data he was pushing her to reveal.

As if it weren’t bad enough that Fox News was disclosing classified information, there was another culprit with loose fingertips. Trump, as usual, was watching Fox and Friends this morning. He retweeted three separate stories that he had seen on the broadcast. One of them was the story about North Korea with the classified data. So Trump was participating in the leaking of information that his own U.N. ambassador warned was “incredibly dangerous,” and “playing with people’s lives.” What’s more, he was propagating info obtained from anonymous sources. Recall, Trump’s position on the use of sources who are not identified in news reports:

It is endlessly perplexing that Trump still gets his intelligence data from Fox News. Apparently he is unaware of the resources he has at his disposal within the government he allegedly manages. Had he contacted his National Security Advisor or the CIA, he might have been cautioned as to the sensitive nature of the data he was about to publish. But that’s too much to ask this notoriously ignorant and reckless so-called president.

The only question now is whether the Department of Justice will follow through on their threat to prosecute anyone found to be leaking. This past weekend, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appeared on Fox News Sunday. He told Chris Wallace that he would prosecute whoever was discovered to be violating the law. He specifically that included members of Congress and the White House. In this case, Donald Trump is unambiguously guilty. And this is not the first time that Trump has breached this legal directive. If the DoJ expects to be taken seriously they need to investigate Trump’s leaks and prosecute if warranted. Otherwise, they will have no credibility to prosecute any other alleged leakers.

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

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

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

Rod Rosenstein Fox New

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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