In Defense of Fox News (?): Trust in Media Graphic Was Early, Not Censored

There is no question that Fox News is the most brazenly biased right-wing distorter of reality that has even been broadcast. It’s executives, hosts, and contributors are almost entirely devoted to disseminating conservative propaganda, much of it dictated by Donald Trump’s White House. Even worse, Trump’s positions are often dictated by Fox News.

Fox News Lies

That said, there has been a story circulating around the InterTubes that is just plain wrong. It asserts that Howard Kurtz, host of Fox’s MediaBuzz, was surprised by a graphic that showed Fox News as being the least trusted cable news network, and that he called for it to taken down in order to suppress that anti-Fox information. There is a lot wrong with that assertion.

First of all, there was a graphic that appeared during Kurtz’s program that was out of place. Kurtz did ask that it be taken down. But that’s only because it was out of sequence. When that part of the discussion came up a couple of minutes later, he showed that graphic again at the proper time. There was no attempt to censor it. (See video below).

Also, the argument that this graphic was taken down because it showed Fox News as trusted less than MSNBC and CNN is not accurate. The Monmouth University survey that was the basis for the graphic’s data did not compare the networks’ trustworthiness. It compared whether respondents trusted Trump or the media more. That’s actually worse from Trump’s perspective. Although that misreading is largely the fault of Fox News. The graphic needs to be read left to right, not top down. By highlighting the column instead of the rows Fox invited the misinterpretations. As News Corpse previously wrote about this poll:

“Like other polls before it, Monmouth found that Americans trust the media more than they do Donald Trump. That’s gotta sting the President who has been striving furiously to turn the nation against the press. The detail shows that 48 percent of Americans trust CNN more than Trump (35% trust Trump more). Forty-five percent trust MSNBC more than Trump (32% for Trump). Even 30 percent trust Fox News more than Trump (20% for Trump). Although the Fox numbers also show that a plurality of 37 percent trust both equally. This affirms that Trump’s base is still immovably stuck in the low thirties.”

The original story asserting that Fox News was embarrassed by an errant graphic and deep-sixed it appears to have been published by the Associated Press. They have since corrected their story. But it’s important that the record be correct in the progressive media so as to preserve our moral claim to being reality-based. There are more than enough legitimate examples of Fox News lying. And the findings in the poll are bad enough for Trump that they don’t need to be muddied up with misunderstandings.

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

The Desperate Fox News Effort to Spin the Nunes Memo is a Pretty Bogus ‘Bombshell’

The Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Devin Nunes, spent the last couple of weeks alleging that he had proof of an all-consuming, “deep state” conspiracy to destroy Donald Trump. He didn’t. But that didn’t stop him from beating the drum for partisan drivel that was giddily embraced by many of his GOP colleagues, as well as the conservative media echo chamber.

Not surprisingly, Fox News was the first, and most enthusiastic, torch carrier for the overblown hype that Nunes was peddling. Take a look at how they presented the “news” announcing the memo’s release:

Fox News

Okay, that last one in the bottom-right was from Saturday Night Live, but even they have better journalistic ethics than Fox News does. The others are from Fox’s primetime Trump-fluffers Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, and Saturday’s pitiful wannabe propagandist, Jesse Watters. And what they all have in common is the compulsion to characterize the super-dud Nunes memo as a “Bombshell.”

Let’s be clear, the memo fell as flat as the Earth that Fox’s science deniers are perpetually squawking about. It failed utterly to prove any of the allegations its authors and promoters had put forward. In fact, it literally proved the case made by Democrats that the FISA court’s granting of a surveillance warrant for Trump flunky Carter Page had nothing to do with the Russia investigation or the work of special counsel Robert Mueller. If anything, that was the “bombshell” produced by the memo. And even several Republicans who sit on the Intelligence Committee agree. As reported by Talking Points Memo:

  • Trey Gowdy (R-TN): “I actually don’t think it is has any impact on the Russia probe.”
  • Brad Wenstrup (R-OH): “I don’t think it really has anything to do with” Mueller’s probe.
  • Chris Stewart (R-UT): “This memo has frankly nothing at all to do with a special counsel.”
  • Will Hurd (R-TX): “I don’t believe this is an attack on Bob Mueller.”

None of these Republican members of Nunes’ committee agree with Nunes. Nor do they agree with Trump’s deranged tweet that the Nunes Memo “totally vindicates” him. The measure of psychosis that Trump displays by his narcissistic self-delusion is off the scale. And therefore, so is the hyperbolic, pro-Trump editorializing of the well-orchestrated Fox News “bombshell” amen chorus. They can’t even tell the truth when their own side is dismissing the vacuous memorandum (with an emphasis on the “dumb”).

And don’t expect the designated media expert of Fox News, Howard Kurtz, to set the record straight. He is currently promoting his new book, Media Madness, that is a right-wing take on how much the media allegedly hates Donald Trump. (To be accurate, it isn’t just the media. It’s the vast majority of Americans, but that’s another subject). One of the reasons that Kurtz’s book has rocketed up to #710 on Amazon is that he is undoubtedly the worst media analyst in the business. In one of his recent book tour appearances on Fox News (of course) he said that…

“There is something about Donald Trump, the candidate and now the president, where many journalists and commentators believe they have some kind of mission to save the country from an erratic president. And that’s not journalism.”

Actually, that absolutely is journalism. Kurtz apparently thinks that the mission of the media is to be an obedient lap dog that serves no purpose other than presidential stenography. But the Founding Fathers put a unique protection in the Constitution for freedom of the press specifically because it is sometimes required to take positions that will offend the powerful. It is the duty of the press to alert citizens when their leaders are corrupt, lying, treasonous, ignorant, and even erratic. And it’s all the more critical when we have a president who is all of the above. That is, without a doubt, a real bombshell that is ready to blow bigly.

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

Severely Delusional Fox News Guest Declares That Donald Trump Has Never Incited Violence

Last week the CNN offices in Atlanta received a barrage of threatening phone calls by a man who claimed he was on his way over to “gun down” everyone at what he called the “fake news” network. His language was straight out of Donald Trump’s playbook for intimidating the media that he despises so much. Any objective person would recognize that the deranged caller was inspired by what he heard Trump saying for the past two years.

Fox News Kurtz

That said, it might be unreasonable to expect to find many objective persons at Fox News. And Sunday Morning on MediaBuzz proved that point. The program hosted by Fox’s media correspondent, and right-wing tool, Howard Kurtz, raised the subject of the threats against CNN with his panel of analysts (video below). Among them was Emily Jashinsky of the ultra-rightist Washington Examiner. When asked whether she thought Trump bore any responsibility for the threats, Jashinsky said that…

“I don’t think there’s anything specific that you can point to that Donald Trump himself has said or done that is directly inciting violence.”

SRSLY? Has Jashinsky been held in captivity in underground Idaho bunkers by Apocalyptic cultists for the past couple of years? If not, her ignorance exposes a profound cognitive fracture. There are too many examples of Trump’s overtly hostile rhetoric to list here. But a few of the more heinous ones include:

  • Calling the media “the enemy of the American people.”
  • Praising neo-Nazis as very fine people after a march where a counter-protester was murdered.
  • Posting a tweet of him body-slamming a CNN character in a video.
  • Posting a tweet of a train running over a CNN character in a video.
  • Speculating about whether he might kill reporters covering his campaign.
  • Asking his supporters at a rally to “knock the crap out of” protesters, and promising to pay their legal fees.
  • Yearning for the days when a protester would be carried out in a stretcher,” and saying that he’d “like to punch him in the face.”
  • When speculating about the possibility of Hillary Clinton nominating Supreme Court justices, Trump was comforted by the the thought that “the Second Amendment people” could stop her.

What’s more, Trump regularly refers to the press as “sleazy,” “dishonest,” and “the most horrible people.” He portrays the media, individually and as an institution, as corrupt and committed to destroying his presidency and the country. It isn’t hard to imagine that an unstable Trump supporter (are there any other kind?) might take those verbal attacks to the next level and be convinced that he’s carrying out Trump’s wishes.

As for Kurtz, he is a dyed-in-the-wool Trump sycophant who is no less culpable for this violent rhetoric. During the campaign Kurtz was aghast at what he incorrectly thought was negative treatment of Trump by the press. Kurtz said it was “almost like the press put out a mob hit on Donald Trump.” See? Nothing remotely violent in that kind of language. And nothing that would spur a Trump-worshiping nutcase to take matters into his own hands and “make America great again.”

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

Fox News = The Astrology of Journalism: Cries ‘Fake News’ While Burying Their Own Fakery

On Sunday morning Fox News has a program that ostensibly covers what’s happened in the media during the prior week. MediaBuzz is hosted by Howard Kurtz, a reliably right-wing shill who spins almost every story in favor of Donald Trump and conservative Republicans. The latest episode had plenty of red meat to chew on, but Kurtz predictably managed to shift the focus to the so-called “liberal” news outlets while letting his own network off the hook.

Fox News Howard Kurtz

The program began by dedicating the whole A-block to Trump flunkies Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie. They spent several minutes bashing Democrats with provably dishonest statements. Kurtz never once challenged them or questioned the phony basis for their remarks. And when he eventually wrapped up this Trump Lovefest, Kurtz moved on to devote much of the rest of the program to comparatively minor media mix-ups.

In the first instance Kurtz pressed his panel to discuss a CNN story that misstated the date of an email (September 14 rather than 4). The main point of the story was to reveal a communication with the Trump campaign about Wikileaks and Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails. That was little changed by the differences in the date. It’s still significant that Trump and his associates were alerted to the Wikileaks data almost immediately after it was posted. Nevertheless, several minutes were spent discussing the story that CNN had quickly corrected.

Kurtz also featured a tweet of a photo that showed low attendance at Trump’s Pensacola rally for Roy Moore. Dave Weigel, a Washington Post reporter retweeted the photo on his personal account, not as a WaPo item. He later apologized saying that the photo was taken before Trump’s arrival (although other photos seem to confirm that the venue was not “filled to the rafters”. as Trump said). Trump also addressed this tweet and, in a tweet of his own that breaches the constitutional protections of a free press, he called for Weigel to be fired.

A date mix-up and a reference to Trump’s crowd size are typical of the trivia that Fox News seems to be perpetually obsessed with. They blow up stories like these into major catastrophes because they haven’t got any legitimate criticisms to report. And they conclude from these trite examples that the media is hopelessly biased and infested with fakery. Trump himself lied about these mishaps being “vicious and purposeful,” when there is no basis whatsoever for that hyperbolic and delusional reaction.

What makes the focus of Kurtz’s program all the more troubling is that Fox News also had a problem this week with a report that they had to correct. Of course, they have lots of problems every week that they never bother to correct. But this story resulted in Fox News editing their story and headline because it was too dishonest even for them.

The story was about Roy Moore, the GOP senate candidate in Alabama who has been accused of sexual assault on a minor (among other atrocities). Fox’s headline falsely asserted that “Roy Moore accuser admits she forged part of yearbook inscription attributed to Alabama Senate candidate.” There was just one little problem with that. The accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, never admitted any such thing. All she did was reveal that she made a notation, next to Moore’s yearbook message and signature, to recall the date and location it was signed. Nothing was forged, and there was no attempt to deceive anyone into thinking the notation was Moore’s handwriting.

Fox News changed the headline (although not the URL) to read “Roy Moore accuser admits she wrote part of yearbook inscription attributed to Alabama Senate candidate.” But that’s also untrue. She did not write Moore’s inscription and she did not attribute the notation to Moore. Fox’s correction fell beneath ethical standards expected of professional journalists. And the magnitude of the mistake was far more serious than those of CNN and the Weigel. In fact, Fox News literally accused Ms. Nelson of the crime of forgery, something she could sue them for.

That seems like it would be an excellent story for a program that reports on the media to cover. But Kurtz gave the Fox News story a whopping three seconds. He mentioned it in passing as he immediately segued back to other alleged media faux pas. He didn’t criticize Fox for the error or allow his panel to discuss it. He quite obviously and deliberately buried the story. And that’s pretty much his mandate for the program he hosts. It’s a regularly scheduled propaganda machine to make all other media look bad, while sweeping Fox’s far more blatant problems under the rug.

Most intelligent media consumers are aware that mistakes happen. Reporters are human. And the presence of errors does not translate into “fake news.” To the contrary, when a mistake is made an ethical news operation will acknowledge and correct it. That’s actually evidence of their honesty and dedication to the truth. Conservative David Frum put it perfectly Sunday morning on CNN’s Reliable sources when he said:

“These mistakes are precisely why people should trust the media. Astronomers make mistakes all the time because science is the process of the discovery of truth. Astrologers never make mistakes, or at least they never own up to them. Because what they are offering is a closed system of ideology and propaganda.”

And that could not be a better description of the difference between Fox News and responsible journalism. Fox is the astrology of news. They report what they believe their audience wants to hear. And it doesn’t matter if they have to make it up or bend it to fit a preconceived viewpoint. It’s purpose is not to inform, but to make the audience feel better about themselves and to affirm what they already believe (or hope) is true. And the way Fox News reads the stars somehow always divines good news for Trumpians and bad news for Democrats and liberals. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?

And this just in: Leland Vittert of Fox News was having a discussion this morning about fake news when he interjected that Dave Weigel had been fired from the Washington Post. That is fake news.

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

WTF: Fox News Media Critic Says ‘The Press Put Out A Mob Hit On Donald Trump’

There is always an unmistakable moment when desperation sets in for people or organizations that are undergoing difficult times. That moment came yesterday for Fox News and their advocacy of Donald Trump. The evidence is the commentary by their media correspondent (video below), Howard Kurtz, who hosts Fox’s MediaBuzz, has been a consistent proponent of Trump from the outset of his campaign.

Godfather

Kurtz was interviewed on Fox Monday by Abby Huntsman who introduced the segment by asking “what is going on here” with the media bias against Trump. Kurtz responded fervidly that he had “never seen anything remotely like this, and I have been saying this for months.” He was visibly roused about what he perceived as an unusually shrill display of partisanship by the press. Continuing on that path he ranted about:

“The obvious distaste, bordering on disgust, that many journalists and commentators have for Donald Trump – he was able to defeat that during the primaries – but it’s been going on for quite a while. In the last ten days it is almost like the press put out a mob hit on Donald Trump. The imbalance is so overwhelming on almost every media site and outlet that it can no longer be denied.”

Is he freakin’ serious? First of all, there is only one person responsible for the media coverage of Donald Trump and that’s Donald Trump. Granted, the last ten days has been a veritable shitstorm for Trump. But no one in the press forced him to insult the grieving parents of an American hero. He wasn’t coerced by some reporter to lie about having seen palettes of cash being unloaded from a plane. His whining about “rigged” elections didn’t come from the media. Calling Hillary Clinton the devil was his idea. Declaring his affection for Vladimir Putin and his animosity for NATO can only be attributed to him. Absolutely none of that is the fault of the media, and covering it is not an expression of distaste or disgust. It’s actually called journalism.

Secondly, the general chaos and disunity of a Republican Party led by a self-absorbed bigot was not invented by a twisted journalist obsessed with destroying Trump. It was the predictable consequence of putting a pitifully ignorant and thoroughly unhinged narcissist at the helm of the GOP. If anything, the reporting on Trump has been insufficiently critical. Reporters too frequently resort to timid descriptions of Trump as merely being wrong or mistaken when in reality he’s a pathological liar. Likewise, they characterize his frothing, infantile insults as simply negative opinions.

For Kurtz to assert that reporting on the offensive and ludicrous behavior of Trump is in any way analogous to a mob hit is not only dreadfully out of bounds, it reveals Kurtz’s own partisan prejudices. He has been serving as The Donald’s chief fluffer for over a year now. Clearly his role at Fox News is to carry forward Trump’s hostility to the press from the inside. And Trump has returned the favor by largely limiting his press availability to Fox News.

Finally, Kurtz’s assertion of an overwhelming imbalance that can’t be denied is downright delusional. It is especially troubling for someone who professes to be a media expert. The truth is that Trump received far more coverage, and more favorable coverage, than any of his opponents, including Hillary Clinton. This was proven by a study conducted by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy. What’s more, this is a study that any reputable media analyst would be aware of. So Kurtz’s failure to address it marks him as either disreputable or dishonest (or both). Which makes him the perfect media correspondent for a disreputable and dishonest network like Fox News.

UPDATE: Consistent with the right’s inclinations toward violence, Donald Trump was speaking today about the prospect of Hillary Clinton nominating Supreme Court justices. He complained that there was nothing that could be done about that if she were president. Then he added that “the Second Amendment people” could stop Clinton. It was a blatant call for someone to assassinate her. I really don’t know how his campaign survives crap like this.

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

Huuuge Coward Donald Trump Ducking All TV News Shows – Except His Pals On Fox News

As Donald Trump will be first to tell you, everything he does is BIG, tremendous, the best, and everyone else pales in comparison to his self-exalting greatness. Apparently, that also applies to his awesome display of cowardice with respect to his recent media appearances.

Donald Trump Chicken

Howard Kurtz is the media correspondent on Fox News and host of MediaBuzz. His commentaries generally comply with the standard Fox requirement of reverence for Donald Trump and knee-jerk Republicanism (for example). But he just published an article for the Fox News website that actually reveals some useful information about the monster that Fox created:

KURTZ: Donald Trump, in a sharp shift in strategy, is now refusing to appear on many television outlets, and top advisers who want to limit his exposure are no longer notifying him of every interview request.

According to sources familiar with the campaign, one faction is worried that the constant rounds of interviews entail too much risk of the candidate making mistakes or fanning minor controversies

There are two startling revelations in those opening paragraphs. First, Trump’s handlers are admitting that he is a gaffe machine and is not competent to speak in public without adult supervision. Secondly, his babysitters have apparently staged a coup and are taking on greater power within the campaign, even to the degree of keeping Trump in the dark and making decisions that deliberately shun his participation. Imagine how horribly that weakness would play out in the Oval Office.

Kurtz notes that Trump has abstained from all appearances on news networks that are deemed to be unfriendly. And since he has broadly tarred the press as vile scum, that doesn’t leave much. He has not consented to an interview on CNN since June 13, or on MSNBC since May 20. However, in that same time frame he has appeared eighteen times on Fox News, mostly with his close personal friends Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and the curvy couch potatoes of Fox & Friends.

Additionally, Trump has shied away from the Sunday morning talkers that he used to at least call into on a regular basis. His absence on those programs may be due in part to the fact that some of them will not allow him to phone it in anymore. That includes Fox News Sunday where he has not been a guest since April 3. Host Chris Wallace was one of the first to publicly refuse to take Trump’s calls on the air.

It’s reflective of Trump’s character that he is too frightened to face journalists who might be less than adoring. He cannot engage in a substantive dialog on any of the pressing issues of the day because he is too ignorant and refuses to do the necessary study. Consequently, he sticks to sweeping generalities like “build a wall,” “kill the terrorists,” and “make America great again.” He never provides any details on how he would achieve any of those goals, and answering questions from reporters about them only exposes his shallow grasp of a complex world.

In some respects it would seem obvious that Trump is left with only Fox News as the foundation of the media strategy for his campaign. But let’s not forget that he has attacked Fox with some of the same ferocity as he has other networks. He withdrew from one of the Fox News GOP primary debates due to his fear of and revulsion for host and moderator Megyn Kelly. He even supported a boycott of Fox News and tweeted:

That didn’t last long. Trump was on the O’Reilly show later that night. Which is proof that he does not have the courage of his convictions, particularly when his needs are at stake. He is exhibiting personal characteristics that should make every voter nervous about a Trump presidency. He is cowardly, selfish, incurious, fickle, and conceited bigly.

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

These are not traits that would contribute to successful negotiations with foreign leaders or even here at home in Congress. Trump’s fear of the press and need to be coddled by sycophants, combined with his lust for power and insistence on blind loyalty, are the makings of the worst kind of tyrant: one that is ill-informed, addicted to praise, and susceptible to manipulation by his intellectual superiors (i.e. anyone not Sarah Palin).

GOP Senator Attempts To Strongarm Facebook Over Bias Allegations

In what may be one of the most alarming examples of government overreach, the Republican chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Sen. John Thune, is injecting himself into the operations of Facebook’s news publishing. Upon hearing about a report by Gizmodo that Facebook might be slanting the articles that appear in their Trending Topics section, Thune fired off a letter to Facebook demanding an accounting of their procedures.

John Thune Facebook

It needs to be stated firstly that the article on Gizmodo consists only of unsupported allegations from anonymous sources. They claim to be former Facebook contractors so their shield of anonymity seems peculiar since Facebook cannot retaliate against them. However, without any identity it’s impossible to know whether they have ulterior motives or are disgruntled ex-employees lashing out for their own reasons. They provided no documented proof to support their claims of bias. Yet they did admit that “there is no evidence that Facebook management mandated or was even aware of any political bias at work.” So the whole story may be the overblown product of personal grudges. Which makes what happened next all the more troubling.

After the story was pumped through the conservative media echo chamber, where Fox News took particular interest (more on that later), it eventually landed on the desk of Sen. Thune. His response was to write a letter to Facebook expressing his concern that the company might be inappropriately influencing its audience. The letter said…

“Facebook has enormous influence over users’ perceptions of current events, including political perspectives. If Facebook presents its Trending Topics section as the result of a neutral, objective algorithm, but it is in fact filtered to support particular political viewpoints, Facebook’s assertion that it maintains a ‘platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum’ misleads the public.”

Thune also stated in a press release about the letter that…

“Facebook must answer these serious allegations and hold those responsible to account if there has been political bias in the dissemination of trending news,” said Thune on sending the letter. “Any attempt by a neutral and inclusive social media platform to censor or manipulate political discussion is an abuse of trust and inconsistent with the values of an open Internet.”

Oh really? So now the federal government is empowered to force a news provider to refrain from any political bias and, according to Thune, failure to do so is regarded as “an abuse of trust.” Asserting the heavy hand of government, Thune instructed Facebook to make its employees available to brief his committee. What’s more, Thune asserts that Facebook is “mislead[ing] the public” if they falsely claim to be a “platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum.”

So when will Thune be sending a similar letter to Fox News? After all, Fox has been falsely claiming to be “fair and balanced” for years. They also have enormous influence over “perceptions of current events, including political perspectives,” yet they regularly “censor and manipulate” their reporting.

The arguments made by Thune are a flagrant violation of the constitutional right to the freedom of the press. Congress has no business interfering with the editorial decisions made by the journalists employed by Facebook. If there is bias in their work it can be reported by other journalists, protested by media watchdogs, and the public always has the opportunity to make up its own mind as to whether to patronize Facebook or any other news enterprise.

From the moment this story broke, Fox News has expressed their outrage that the liberal weasels at Facebook would dare to suppress conservative stories. They treated it as if the allegations were proven facts, which of course they were not. Facebook has already looked into the charges and responded saying that “We take these reports extremely seriously, and have found no evidence that the anonymous allegations are true.” But that hasn’t stopped Fox News from continuing to portray Facebook as being guilty of grossly prejudicing their news coverage.

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

Anyone who has watched Fox News for twenty minutes recognizes the absurdity of Fox complaining about another organization being biased. But the intrusion of the government on behalf of offended right-wingers who cannot even validate their charges is beyond the pale. Thune is overstepping his authority by threatening to investigate Facebook and demanding their compliance. Even Fox’s media correspondent, Howard Kurtz, was taken aback by Thune’s aggressive approach. Kurtz told Fox Business Network host Trish Regan that “If Thune had sent a letter like that to the New York Times or the Washington Post or Fox News we’d probably tell them to buzz off.” And that’s exactly what Facebook should tell them.

[Update:] Steve Benen at MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow blog takes Thune to task noting that he is “The wrong Republican to pick a fight with Facebook.” As a leading opponent of Net Neutrality and the defunct Fairness Doctrine, Thune previously condemned the sort of government intrusion he is currently engaging in. In a 2007 article he said that “the hair stands up on the back of my neck when I hear government officials offering to regulate the news media and talk radio to ensure fairness.” Perhaps he shaved his neck since then.

Fox News Shamelessly Whitewashes Donald Trump’s Threat Of RNC Riots

It is difficult to recall any leading candidate for president who has so frequently and blatantly insinuated the threat of violence into a political campaign as Donald Trump. And his threats have not been merely hypothetical rhetoric, they have produced actual assaults at his rallies on peaceful protesters and even members of the press.

Donald Trump Fox News

When Trump made recent comments that he expects that there will be riots at the Republican National Convention if he is not given the GOP nomination for president that he believes is his entitlement, he said it in the context of his prior statements that literally encouraged violence from his followers. However, Fox News is trying desperately to absolve him of any responsibility for the potential harm that he is forecasting and inciting. This morning on MediaBuzz with Howard Kurtz, the host went to great extremes to let Trump off the hook:

“I was surprised that the media went to DEFCON 1 over Trump’s riots comment. I mean, I’ve used that phrase, ‘oh, there will be riots if this happens,’ and I thought it was hyperbole.”

That is typical of what is coming from the Trump apologists at Fox News. They are lock-step in agreement that Trump’s dangerous language is merely a figure of speech or, at worst, a careless exaggeration. What they seem to be purposefully sweep under the rug is the full story that Trump is telling his glassy-eyed disciples. That story includes advocating openly hostile behavior such as his desire to “punch [protesters] in the face,” and his praising of an assault about which he said the protester “deserved to be roughed up.” He lamented the old days when protesters would be “carried out on a stretcher,” and even offered to pay the legal fees of his goons if they “knocked the crap out of” some protesters (see the video below). In light of all of that, his talk of riots can no longer be dismissed as hyperbole. What Trump actually said was

“I don’t think you can say that we don’t get [the nomination] automatically. I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots. I’m representing a tremendous — many, many millions of people. […] I think bad things would happen. I really do, I believe that. I wouldn’t lead it, but I think bad things would happen.”

In other words, if his tyrannical orders are not obeyed, his followers have his permission to fulfill his prophecy. He knows exactly what his storm-Trumpers are capable of. This was an unambiguous threat intended by Trump to convey that he is determined to be the GOP nominee, or else. And if he is not exalted, riots will ensue. Of course he says that he “wouldn’t lead it,” but conspicuously never says that it shouldn’t happen. That wasn’t an accident. It was a message.

For Howard Kurtz to pretend that Trump was entertaining a flight of fancy and meant no harm requires a massive dose of self-delusion. And on that measure, Kurtz is full of it. He has performed the duties of Trump’s fluffer before, as he tried to exempt Trump from criticism for his repugnant remarks, while simultaneously trying to keep Trump’s verbal fecal splatter from soiling the Republican Party.

Kurtz had help from his Fox News comrades who similarly stepped up to scour the scum off of Trump. Fox regulars Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, Ainsley Earhardt, Greta Van Susteren, Andrea Tantaros, and Chris Wallace all sought to attach the “figure of speech” fallacy to Trump’s hate-speech.

In addition to whitewashing Trump’s endorsement of riots, Fox made sure that the protesters were disparaged as the real problem simply for exercising their rights to express themselves. In the view of Fox News the First Amendment is only available to conservatives, and dissenters are infringing on them when they seek to speak out. Had Fox been around when Martin Luther King was protesting racist segregation in Alabama, they would have vilified him for interrupting George Wallace’s freedom to oppress black schoolchildren.

Fox News

In pursuit of the sort slander that turned bigots like Wallace into heroes, Fox trotted some of their old fear mongering to rile up their dimwitted audience. Trump is standing in today for Wallace, but his bigotry is no different. So Fox is going after Trump’s protesters so as to turn them into villains. And of course Fox’s coverage of protesters is always slanted to portray progressives as evil, but a couple of years ago, when the protesters were the Tea Party, Fox heralded them as patriots. Now the foul remnants of the Tea Party are lining up behind Donald Trump. And Fox News is running the media interference for them.

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

Donald Trump's History of Inciting Violence

Terrifying. #DumpTrump

Posted by MoveOn.org on Sunday, March 13, 2016

Fox News Admits That The Media Is Rooting For Donald Trump

Yesterday News Corpse published an article on The Trump Effect that laid out how the media has a profit motive to keep Donald Trump in the race. The article included a quote from the CEO of CBS who confessed that, with regard to Trump, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” In other words, their lust for profit has a higher priority than their love of country.

Donald Trump News

So what happened on Fox News last night could not have happened at better time. On the Kelly File, host Megyn Kelly did a segment with the Fox News media correspondent and host of Fox’s MediaBuzz, Howard Kurtz. The discussion began with Kelly asserting that “a lot of the media, they love Trump.” That’s an understatement, particularly after exploring the Trump Effect and the profound financial incentive the media has to extend his place in the limelight. They are doing everything they can to keep his face in front of voters and maintain his electoral viability. Which led to this revealing exchange:

Kurtz: Now Cruz has made this argument in recent days, and Marco Rubio as well, that the media has focused so much attention on Donald Trump. They love Donald Trump. They’re rooting for Donald Trump. At least until the fall.
Kelly: But they do. If you look at the numbers even on the nightly newscast — the time they devoted just in the past night — last night to Donald Trump vs the other two, it was six minutes Trump, I think seven seconds, Rubio. I mean, the disparity was remarkable.
Kurtz: There’s a clear imbalance. And we’ve all had banners awaiting Trump news conference, which shows how he can hijack the news cycle. But a lot of that attention has been negative.

Kelly had finally admitted something that has been true for more than half a year – that the coverage of Trump by the media has been wildly out of proportion to the rest of the candidates of both parties. While Kurtz only mentioned that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio had complained about this, last December Bernie Sanders told Chris Cuomo of CNN about a study that showed that Trump received 81 minutes of airtime on ABC News in 2015 while Bernie Sanders got 20 seconds.

The response by Kurtz to Kelly’s revelation, however, was painfully oblivious to reality. First of all, he tried to blame Trump for the imbalance by accusing him of “hijacking the news cycle.” Which makes you wonder if Kurtz knows the definition of “hijack.” Trump did not storm the studio and force the news producers at gunpoint to put him on the air. They did that all of their own accord. It was more of a gift from the press than a hijacking by Trump. If the media didn’t want to put him on then he wouldn’t be on, and there would be nothing he could do about it. Just ask Bernie Sanders.

Following that absurd portrayal of events, Kurtz then attempted to conflate two completely different issues. By veering off to say that “a lot of that attention has been negative,” he was changing the subject from the free airtime that Trump got to the amount of time spent discussing him. But that isn’t the problem that was raised by observing how much time Trump got every time he gave a stump speech. The cable news networks seem to cut to him live whenever he holds a rally. And, of course, they don’t do that for anyone else. That’s the problem, and Kurtz appeared not to want to acknowledge it.

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

The most striking part of this whole segment, though, was how both Kelly and Kurtz spoke about the media as if it were a detached entity that had nothing to do with them. However, the truth is that Fox New is the network that is most responsible for the coverage imbalance that they both concede exists. No network gives Trump more airtime than Fox News. And on Fox, no candidate receives as much airtime as Trump. So it was a bit disorienting to hear these two pretend that the Trump Effect was just some vague theory that was floating around and impacted all of the media equally. They may have come closer to representing reality by admitting that the media roots for Trump, but they continue to lie about their decidedly prominent role in the cheering section.

Really? Fox News Thinks Rachel Maddow Is Too Biased To Moderate A Debate

Howard Kurtz, host of MediaBuzz on Fox News, wrote a column today that might have consumed the world’s supply of chutzpah. In the column Kurtz took MSNBC to task for having the audacity to let their biggest star, Rachel Maddow, co-moderate a Democratic debate. Of course, that’s something that Fox has done itself with their hot property, Megyn Kelly, but never mind that. Kurtz is very upset.

Megyn Kelly

The headline of the article asked this pressing question: “Why did MSNBC put Rachel Maddow on the debate stage?” The question was apparently so easy to answer that Kurtz managed to handle it all by himself.

Kurtz: Rachel Maddow did a pretty good job in questioning Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at MSNBC’s Democratic debate last night. (…) She is smart and passionate, a Rhodes scholar with a deep knowledge of the issues. She did not roll over for Clinton during a recent interview on her prime-time show.

Well, with a track record like that she should never be allowed anywhere near a candidate debate. The last thing Fox would want is a smart, knowledgeable, fair person to facilitate a political discussion. That certainly isn’t the way they do it. Fox has taken great pains to make sure that all of their presenters are cut from the same moldy conservative cloth. And yet, Kurtz can still pose this scenario as if it weren’t utterly oblivious to reality:

“Imagine the reaction on the left if the Fox News moderators at a debate were Bret Baier and Sean Hannity, an unabashed conservative. The criticism of Fox for fielding such a team would have been intense.”

Of course, the truth is that Fox’s moderators are unabashed conservatives, which I’ll get to in a moment. But first it is important to note that Kurtz couldn’t simply praise for Maddow without qualifying it by insisting that, despite her evident skills “she shouldn’t have been on that stage as a moderator,” and that “she should not have been put in that position,” because “she is an unabashedly liberal commentator who rips the Republicans every night on her program.”

If that is their criteria for choosing debate moderators then Fox has some explaining to do. Their own debate moderators have included relentless liberal bashers like Megyn Kelly, one of the most stridently partisan purveyors of propaganda on the Republican PR channel (aka Fox News). She spreads more lies about Benghazi than any of her Fox colleagues (and that’s saying something). She was caught leading a discussion that was based on a series of “Fox Facts” that were cribbed directly from a Republican National Committee press release. She made a point of informing her viewers that it was a fact that both Jesus and Santa Claus were white.

Media Matters did a survey a couple of years back that showed that Kelly “has hosted conservatives (56%) significantly more often than progressives (18%) and has surpassed even Fox’s Hannity in its divide between guests on the left and right.” That’s the same Hannity that Kurtz used in his imaginary scenario about unabashed conservatives. And in March she will host her third debate on Fox News.

Also moderating for Fox was Neil Cavuto, the Glenn Beck of business news. His first question in the debate he moderated asked the candidates which of their economic plans God would endorse. He has made it his mission to castigate low-income Americans as sponges and leeches who are actually living the good life at the expense of the one-percent. He is a committed climate-change denier. And he frequently has segments about alleged government waste that usually turns out to be completely bogus (like this on about the famous shrimp on a treadmill).

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

With blatantly biased moderators like this on Fox, Kurtz has the gall to complain about Maddow, even as he admits that she has all the qualifications for a moderator and that she acquitted herself well. What more does he want? His complaint obviously doesn’t have anything to do with Maddow’s ability to perform with proficiency and fairness, so the only thing left to explain why he would devote a column to this whining is his own bias and partisanship. Or perhaps he was ordered to do it by his boss, Roger Ailes, as a slap at Megyn Kelly’s time period competition. Expect to see more of this Maddow bashing on his Sunday morning program.