Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Jobs Council Fraud?

The headline story on Fox Nation today calls the President’s Jobs Council a fraud. There is nothing in the story that indicates what the nature of the alleged fraud is, but the charge stills hangs there like rotting fruit.

Fox Nation

The root of the complaint has something to do with the frequency with which President Obama meets with the White House Jobs Council. The Fox Nationalists appear to be upset that he doesn’t do it often enough. Coincidentally (wink), that’s the same theme that Mitt Romney has been pitching on the campaign trail recently.

But here’s the thing. The Jobs Council has mostly done its work already. They issued a report with some specific recommendations. Those recommendations have been addressed by both the administration and Congress. The White House has acted on 54 of the 60 recommendations for executive action. Congress passed the JOBS Act which contained many of the ideas proposed by the Council. There are many other proposals that Republicans in Congress are blocking because they are more focused on making Obama a one-term president than they are on helping Americans get back to work.

It’s ironic that Romney and Fox are so concerned with the meeting schedule of a Council that they so fiercely opposed. They have rejected many of its recommendations and they were never particularly fond of its formation. Fox News in particular was maniacally critical of its chairman, Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric. Bill O’Reilly called him “a despicable human being” on the air. So it’s rather peculiar that they are now upset that Obama hasn’t spent more time with them. Of course, if he did meet more often they would be crticizing that.

Fox Nation Lies And Lies

It is important to be accurate here. Fox Nation obviously spins stories to advance the ultra-rightist fairy tales they present as “news.” But they also engage in overt, blatant lying, not mistakes or differences opinions, but outrageous, unambiguous lies. Here are a couple of examples from this morning:

GE’s Immelt Surrenders on Climate
No he doesn’t. The article, sourced to the science deniers at the Fox-affiliated web site, JunkScience, brazenly misrepresents remarks by Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of GE. What Immelt said was that he had some regret that his prior focus on green technology was misinterpreted by critics as downplaying other priorities such as job creation and general business goals. In the article he expressly affirmed his support for Climate Change science and said that GE’s businesses in this area will create between 10 and 15 million jobs. He also said that those businesses will generate $21 billion in revenue this year. That hardly sounds like surrender.

NPR Caught Abusing Taxpayer $
No they weren’t. There was absolutely nothing in this article, sourced to the right-wing Daily Caller, that even remotely suggested abuse of any kind. The Fox Nationalists made it up from scratch. It was an article about NPR’s use of lobbyists to help them preserve the congressional funding that has been under attack since the release of phony sting videos by criminal videographer James O’Keefe. (Those videos, which were published by the Daily Caller, were subsequently proven to have been deliberately edited to create a false impression.) If the Fox Nationalists are implying that any use of lobbyists is inherently abuse, then they are accusing a lot of their pals of being corrupt.

It may seem futile to point to yet another example of Fox News being purposefully dishonest, but the need to be vigilant does not wane just because this band of liars are so prolific. The more we can demonstrate that Fox does not deserve to be believed the better chance we have of altering their behavior and preventing their distortions from taking hold.

The Case For The Comcast/NBC Merger

There has been, and will be, much discussion about the proposed merger between entertainment giants NBC/Universal and Comcast. Now that an agreement has been formally entered into, the discussions will likely become even more heated. Media reform advocates like FreePress are already organizing opposition to the deal. Free market capitalists want it to go through without interference from the government.

However, the government has a legitimate role to play to insure fair competition and to advance the interests of the public. Hearings will be held by the FCC, the FTC, and several congressional committees over the next year before the marriage can be consummated. Opponents will make the argument that a combined Comcast/NBCU would dominate access to entertainment programming and news on both cable and the Internet. Estimates show that Comcast, already the largest US provider of cable service and Internet access, would control up to 25% of all content. Comcast, on the other hand, will promise not to abuse their market position. If you’re naive enough to take their word for that, you might not think it’s such a bad deal. Unfortunately, Comcast has not been a particularly conscientious steward of the power they already have. And approving the merger would surely propel competitors to similarly bulk up to face the new, more scopious Comcast.

Ordinarily, I am a knee jerk opponent to any kind of media consolidation. The scope and reach of the Five Families of media (GE, Disney, Viacom, News Corp, and Time Warner) already wield far too much influence over everything we see, hear and read. I have long advocated breaking up these anti-competitive conglomerates and re-introducing real competition, independence, and diversity into the media marketplace. I still believe that deconsolidation is an achievable objective, though fairly far off on the time line.

In the meantime, what does this merger present to the current marketplace? Is Comcast really a worse partner for NBCU than GE, the world’s biggest defense contractor? Conflicts of interest in program content and distribution cause considerable harm, but is it any less harmful than conflicts that involve the production of military goods and weapons? GE’s reach extends even further into consumer products, financial services, information systems and health care technology. That’s a pretty broad scope for potential conflicts.

The Comcast merger offers some opportunities if implemented responsibly. Regulatory agencies can impose restrictions to prevent market abuse that would apply to all players, not just Comcast. They could mandate open access to airwaves and cable lines. They could codify network neutrality. They could promote localism to enhance the community service obligations that networks routinely ignore.

Comcast is already making noises about how they want to be better corporate citizens. They contend that they will comply with reasonable conditions set for the merger by the FCC and others. They promise that the corporate office will not influence news reporting at NBC or MSNBC. They vow to keep their content available to competing services like DirecTV. They have even taken a position in support of health care reform, explicitly repudiating the position of the US Chamber of Commerce, of which they are a member.

Of course, These may all be tactics designed to curry favor with the administration in hopes of clearing a path for approval of the merger. If so, that could also be an opportunity. The agencies and congressional committees reviewing the matter could extract significant concessions and make them binding for all of the monopolistic media enterprises.

Another somewhat more amusing benefit is the new relationship that would be forged between Fox and the NBC News unit. Bill O’Reilly and others at Fox have taken great pleasure in demonizing NBC and its current parent GE. For the most part they go after the executives because they are afraid to utter Keith Olbermann’s name aloud. O’Reilly has called GE’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, “a despicable human being” and has spewed impotent threats, saying…

“That Immelt man answers to me. . . . That’s why I’m in this business right now, to get guys like that.”

Um, OK. If you say so. So who will O’Reilly bash now? If he were to go off on Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, he might find himself regretting it. Comcast may decide that Fox News would be better off on a more expensive, upper tier, cable package. That could significantly reduce the number of homes that Fox would reach. Such a move would impact their ratings as well as their revenue from both advertising and cable subscription fees. Comcast might also decide that its new asset, MSNBC, would be a better fit on their basic cable packages, which it is not currently on in many markets. That obstacle to access has been a longstanding impediment to MSNBC’s ratings performance.

Like all bullies, O’Reilly is likely to keep his fat mouth shut about Roberts and Comcast. When there is really something at stake, he will cower in the corner and stick with his War on Christmas shtick. O’Reilly would never send Stuttering Jesse Watters to ambush Roberts. He’d rather stay comfy in his studio holding hands with Dick Morris as they demonstrate how little they know about any subject they address. And Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch would probably bury O’Reilly if he were to damage their relationship with the nation’s biggest cable operator. So maybe O’Reilly might actually have to confront Olbermann man to man. Although he would certainly lose that contest too.

In conclusion, I can’t get excited about another merger of big media megaliths. But I can’t really muster a great deal of antagonism about this one. I don’t see it as worse than the status quo, and I do see an opportunity to tighten regulatory oversight for the whole industry. That is, if the regulators and the administration have the will. Stayed tuned.

Rupert Murdoch: We Did Not Start This Abuse

When News Corp released their quarterly earnings yesterday, analysts took the opportunity to address some issues that have plagued the company’s cable news division, Fox News. News Corp Chairman and CEO, Rupert Murdoch, was characteristically combative – and dishonest.

The key question was from Brian Stelter of the New York Times:

“There was much talk in the past three months about an agreement between News Corporation and General Electric to limit the attacks between Fox and MSNBC. Is News Corporation continuing to seek to limit those attacks?”

Let’s just ignore the prejudicial framing of the question that implies that Fox has already been seeking to limit attacks. There has been absolutely no evidence of that, so it makes no sense to ask if it will continue. Murdoch, however, wasn’t going to complain about a such a propitiously delivered inquiry. He responded by whining that “they started it.”

“We did not start this abuse, which we thought went way beyond – it was personal and went way beyond – not on me, but on others, and it was finally we had to allow people to retaliate. And the moment they stop, we’ll stop.”

The truth, however, is a quite different from Murdoch’s representation. The hostility between Fox and it’s cable news colleagues was initiated by Fox from the day they launched in 1996. The utterly cynical “fair and balanced” slogan was an intentional slap at the other networks, whom they were accusing of bias. The meaning of the slogan was not that Fox would present the news with fairness or balance, but that they would serve to counter what they delusionally viewed as the imbalance of the rest of the media.

Since the ideological battle between the networks began on the day Fox debuted, Murdoch can hardly accuse the other networks of starting the abuse. But it didn’t stop there. In January of 2007, Fox ran an on-air promo that said they were “The only cable news channel that does not bring you the usual left wing bias.”

And that wasn’t all. They subsequently ran ads that accused CNN of being partisan and the Fox Nation promos declared that it was “time to say no to biased media.” More recently, they falsely claimed in a trade ad that CNN had failed to cover the Tea Bagger events that Fox itself was sponsoring. So much for fairness and balance. Murdoch himself admitted that his network’s slogan was a fraud in April of 2008 when he said…

“It’s very hard to be neutral. People laugh at us because we call ourselves ‘Fair and Balanced.’ Fact is, CNN, who’s always been extremely liberal, never had a Republican or conservative voice on it.”

People are laughing at you because you make such hysterically inane remarks like that one. Just a reminder – CNN’s lineup of conservatives: Robert Novak, Pat Buchanan, Mary Matalin, Tucker Carlson, Lynne Cheney, Lou Dobbs, etc. Fox’s lineup of liberals: Alan Colmes.

Not only was Murdoch wrong about who started this war, he also improperly asserted that it was made personal by his rivals. That doesn’t really square with the facts. How would he characterize this comment from Bill O’Reilly:

“[T]here is a huge problem in this country and I’m going to attack that problem. I’m going to attack it. These people aren’t getting away with this. I’m going to go right where they live. Every corrupt media person in this country is on notice, right now. I’m coming after you…I’m going to hunt you down […] if I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed…I would.”

Nah, that aint personal. And then there was the time that Roger Ailes threatened that he would “unleash O’Reilly against NBC and would use the New York Post as well.” That was just after O’Reilly called GE chairman Jeffrey Immelt “a despicable human being” who was responsible for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq. And Ailes kept his promise about unleashing the New York Post who published hit pieces on Keith Olbermann that included his home address. No, not personal at all.

Now Murdoch is misrepresenting the entire affair. It is demonstrably evident that Fox started the name-calling and bullying long before this current imbroglio began. And it was Fox who escalated it to bitter and personal insults. Now Murdoch says that “the moment they stop, we’ll stop.” That is almost exactly what Fox said in May of last year. But since then, Fox has only become more adversarial, showing no interest in anything but conflict and confrontation.

So contrary to Murdoch’s assertion, Fox not only started the abuse, they raised it to unprecedented levels. Now Murdoch complains that he doesn’t like it. Well, he’s saddled with it now. He invented it and promoted it. It is his legacy. Along with giving the world nutcases like Glenn Beck. That is how we remember Rupert Murdoch.

GE And News Corp: The Saga Continues

As previously reported, executives at GE and News Corp have been attempting to broker a deal that would end the bickering between the networks and, mostly, Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly. I continue to maintain that it would be a violation of journalistic ethics for the execs to interfere with the judgment of their commentators. But the brass at GE and News Corp don’t seem to agree with me.

The first attempt at a truce was broken within 48 hours by Olbermann who, on returning from vacation, skewered O’Reilly royally, just like the good old days. O’Reilly took up the gauntlet and, as per his routine, ignored Olbermann and went straight after his boss at GE, Jeffrey Immelt. The tactic of bypassing Olbermann and aiming at Immelt is said to have been personally suggested by Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. With the war on again, the combatants began to reveal some of their innermost thoughts – particularly Ailes who, according to the Washington Post, summarized the situation thusly:

Ailes offered a blunt, if slightly jocular, diagnosis of the problem. He could control his nutcases, Ailes said, but Immelt couldn’t control his.

That says so much. First, Ailes is acknowledging that his people are nutcases (as if we didn’t already know). And second, Ailes is admitting that he has the power to manipulate the content and views of the nutcases who host Fox programs.

GE has issued a statement saying that they haven’t “told anyone at NBC News or MSNBC how to report the news.” But the New York Times claims to have sources who said that, not only was there a deal that covered Olbermann and O’Reilly, but also…

“Employees of daytime programs on MSNBC were specifically told by executives not to mention Fox hosts in segments critical of conservative media figures.”

What I want to know is, how can you produce a segment critical of conservative media figures without mentioning Fox hosts?

Olbermann (and anyone in his position) deserves respect for standing up to interference from the suits in the suites. It is the ethical thing to do in the news business. You simply do not let them intrude on your news judgment, especially if your job is to provide analysis and opinion. Unless, of course, you’re Bill O’Reilly, who is a coward, and a puppet for Ailes, who has previously admitted that he has the ability to direct what is said by Murdoch-owned pundits on TV and in print (over which he has no executive authority):

“Ailes warned that if Olbermann didn’t stop such attacks against Fox, he would unleash O’Reilly against NBC and would use the New York Post as well.”

This was basically extortion on the part of Ailes who literally served notice on GE saying that, “If you stop, we’ll stop.” The objective by both the GE and News Corp executives has nothing to do with the pursuit of news. Rather, it is a self-serving plot to tamp down any criticism of the parent companies. They are looking after their corporate interest, not the public interest.

This whole affair is a near perfect illustration of why monolithic corporations, with vested interests in far flung business and government affairs, should not be permitted to own news enterprises.

GE And FOX Agree To Censor Their News Divisions

In a report in the New York Times, the corporate parents of NBC and Fox News were brought together at a summit for CEO’s in an attempt to settle a long-simmering feud. Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE, and Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp, sat down to try to work things out.

What they were striving to resolve was the eternal and bitter competition between MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Fox’s Bill O’Reilly. This affair has been a rancorous, and often humorous, battle wherein Olbermann frequently awarded O’Reilly his “Worst Person in the World,” trophy, and O’Reilly countered by slandering NBC, GE, and Immelt personally (O’Reilly would never utter Olbermann’s name). According to the Times’ Brian Stelter…

“It was a media cage fight, televised every weeknight at 8 p.m. But the match was halted when the blood started to spray executives in the high-priced seats.”

There are two things that are immensely disturbing about this backroom handshake. First and foremost, the corporate parents of news enterprises ought not to be dictating the content of their news divisions, or the opinions of their commentators. That is especially true if the reason for the ivory tower interference is to dampen any blowback on the parent company’s business or executives resulting from controversial positions. This is about the best example of why it is unwise for corporations with vested interests in broader business and government affairs to own news publishers to begin with.

Secondly, the result of this inter-cable warfare is precisely what Fox News wanted. MSNBC is caving in to a deliberate tactic designed to halt criticism of Fox and its personnel. It is a one-sided victory for Fox that comes at the expense of MSNBC’s best interests and dignity. It was less than four months ago that Fox News CEO, Roger Ailes, laid down the threat from which they are now reaping the harvest. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post reported the tantrum Ailes threw in response to the escalating on-air debate:

“Ailes warned that if Olbermann didn’t stop such attacks against Fox, he would unleash O’Reilly against NBC and would use the New York Post as well.”

That’s precisely what happened, and it didn’t even take two weeks for Fox to follow through on its threat. Now we see this truce in effect at least partly because Immelt doesn’t like being called “a despicable human being” by O’Reilly. And the worst part is that Fox’s blatant bullying is being rewarded with a complete capitulation by MSNBC.

For these networks to enforce this agreement is nothing short of censorship. Olbermann responded with an email that said that he was not a party to any agreement, but he also seems to have halted his once routine attacks on O’Reilly and Fox News. As for Fox, their position now is that it is appropriate to direct their commentators to steer clear of certain topics. But that appears to apply only to topics that negatively impact the company brass. Just last week, after Glenn Beck called President Obama a racist, Fox released a statement that said that beck had merely…

“…expressed a personal opinion which represented his own views, not those of the Fox News Channel. And as with all commentators in the cable news arena, he is given the freedom to express his opinions.”

That freedom, of course, has limitations. From the Fox News point of view, it is alright for one of their hosts to comment disparagingly on the President of the United States, but it is not OK to comment on the president of the company. The company, after all, is sacrosanct and its interests are superior to those of the nation.

It is disheartening to see this sort of corporate thuggery imposed on what should be independent news divisions. One can only hope that the truce will fail and free expression will prevail.

Update: Olbermann returned from vacation and struck down any notion that the network brass would dictate the content of his program. To prove it, he returned Bill O’Reilly to the “World’s Worst” list and reprised his old “Bill-O the Clown” routine. Apparently, news of a network truce were exaggerated. That’s good news.

Bill O’Reilly Can’t Get No Respect

In a segment preposterously misnamed “Reality Check,” Bill O’Reilly has once again tread on territory that only highlights his hypocrisy and dishonesty.

For months O’Reilly has berated General Electric and its CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, for the poor performance of the stock. O’Reilly, with an undisguised disgust, asserts that Immelt is a “despicable human being” who should not be running any business due to his incompetence. But O’Reilly conveniently neglects to mention that News Corp, the parent of his employer, Fox News, has performed even worse in the stock market, presumably placing Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes lower on the scale of competence than Immelt. We already know they are more despicable.

Yesterday, O’Reilly attacked GE and Immelt again, citing a Barron’s article with the results of their survey of the 100 Most Respected Companies in the World. The article noted that GE had slipped from its top 10 position in each of the last four years (#1 in 2005), to #43 this year. O’Reilly summarizes saying…

“In short, Barron’s is saying Immelt is a disaster. But the fact that man has remained in his position for eight years says our financial system is rigged and Americans should be very wary about buying stocks in this environment.”

Actually, Barron’s isn’t saying anything. It is a survey of the opinions of money managers, most of whom have been severely burned by the recent market collapse. Even so, if Immelt is a disaster for placing his company at #43 out of 100 companies worldwide (not bad, really), what does that make Murdoch and Ailes for not making the list at all? It certainly makes O’Reilly a propagator of misinformation for failing to tell the whole story.

Perhaps worse than O’Reilly’s faulty reporting is his admonition that Americans “be very wary about buying stocks.” Not that that isn’t always safe advice, but O’Reilly is associating it with what he calls a “rigged” system. He is using fear to dissuade the folks from investing in an already troubled market. The problem here is not whether his financial analysis is sound, it is his hypocrisy. He often assails others for bad-mouthing America, which he asserts will do harm to the nation. But he doesn’t have any problem with his own rhetorical assault, which if heeded, could worsen or prolong our current economic crisis.

Why does Bill O’Reilly hate America? Maybe because most of the country has no respect for him whatsoever.

Update: Immelt has declined to take bonuses for 2008 due to the performance of the company. I wonder if Murdoch or Ailes will do the same.

Glenn Beck And The Jeffrey Immelt Hysteria

This morning Barack Obama introduced the members of a newly formed Economic Recovery Advisory Board (ERAB). It is a fairly diverse group ideologically, and most people will have both praise and criticism for the Board’s makeup. One of the members, however, has already set off a nerve in what passes for Glenn Beck’s brain.

Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, is a long-time target of Bill O’Reilly’s wrath. O’Reilly has called him a “despicable human being” and has threatened to “get” him. Now that Beck has joined O’Reilly at Fox News, he is standing in line to get in some lumps of his own.

On his program today, Beck started out ranting that the Obama administration has merged with GE, simply because Immelt is a member of the ERAB. He is not even the chair of the Board (that would be Paul Volcker) which has 15 other members. And the Board is only an advisory group, so they have no policy making responsibility. Nevertheless, this is a merger that spells doom for America because Immelt is just such an evil individual in the demented mind of Beck.

Then, like O’Reilly, Beck demonstrates his brazen dishonesty by railing about how Immelt is a failure as the head of GE. Beck’s proof is that GE’s stock has declined precipitously in the past year (what stock hasn’t?). What Beck does not say, though he surely must know, is that Beck’s employer, News Corp, has fallen an almost identical 65% in the past year. So if Immelt is incompetent, then so is Rupert Murdoch.

Now, here is where Beck’s hysteria goes into overdrive. His in-studio guest was Thomas Borelli, a professional mercenary in the hire of rightist corporate pillagers. He is a principle of the Free Enterprise Action Fund – an investment vehicle described on its web site as…

“….a shareholder activist mutual fund (Ticker: FEAOX) that seeks long-term capital appreciation while aggressively challenging CEOs who use shareholder assets to advance the liberal political agenda which threatens long-term shareholder value, the free enterprise system and individual liberty.”

The acknowledged mission of this phony fund is to harass executives at shareholder meetings. The vast majority of the press releases on their web site are missives directed at companies that dare to oppose global warming. Borelli’s partner is Steven Milloy, a climate change denier and a Fox News contributor whose beat is Junk Science. The two of them used to work for Phillip Morris where they fabricated propaganda that dismissed the health hazards of smoking. Now they co-manage this socially irresponsible (and fiscally failing) mutual fund, one of whose top holdings is GE.

Beck and Borelli blathered on about the bankruptcy of Obama’s budget stimulus plan, and Immelt’s suspicious participation, as if either of these economic prodigies had anything useful to add. For the most part, this was an outstanding demonstration of how Fox News casts its programming with ringers who have no real expertise in the issues, but are adept at the art of disinformation. The most interesting part of the discussion was simply the fact that Beck found someone as ignorant and intellectually corrupt as himself to play with.

Update, 7/31/2010: The Free Enterprise Action Fund appears to have been transformed into the Congressional Effect Fund (CEFFX). The mission of this fund may be even nuttier than it’s predecessor:

The fund’s principal investment strategy is designed to invest in the S&P 500 on days when Congress is out of session (not meeting) and to invest in interest-bearing domestic securities or to otherwise be out of the stock market when Congress is in session (meeting). The Advisor believes that the investment methodology minimizes investment exposure and risk when Congress is in session, while fully investing in the S&P 500 when Congress is out of session.

What monumental ignoramus would invest in this? Other than a Glenn Beck viewer who is tired of being scammed by gold dealers, that is.

Happy Birthday Fox Business Network

Today is the first anniversary of the debut of the Fox Business Network, Rupert Murdoch’s newest propaganda platform. Ratings for the network are still so low that, even after a year, Nielsen cannot certify their reliability and they are not published. When numbers were leaked earlier this year they revealed a pitiful performance that drew only 8,000 daytime viewers, and 20,000 in prime time. CNBC, by contrast, drew an average of 284,000 viewers during the day and 191,000 in prime time.

This hasn’t stopped Murdoch from pursuing his ambition for a business channel that would be…

“…more business-friendly than CNBC. That channel leap[s] on every scandal, or what they think is a scandal.”

Ironically, the network that was hatched to put a rosy hue on business news appears to have had the opposite effect on the financial world into which it was born. The week that FBN launched the Dow Jones was at an all-time high. Since then the Dow, which also became the property of Murdoch when he purchased it along with the Wall Street Journal, has plummeted 33%.

Is it mere coincidence that the markets went straight down immediately after having been touched by Murdoch’s bony, demon finger? The first week that FBN was on the air the Dow dropped over 500 points. That should have served as a warning of the devastation yet to come.

On July 13, 2007, FBN’s Managing Editor, Neil Cavuto, disputed reports of the economy’s weakness saying that he “[didn’t] believe a word of it.” Cavuto previously downplayed the significance of the credit crunch, saying that, because “this ‘meltdown’ affects roughly 4 percent of all mortgages out there” there wasn’t really any problem at all. He then blamed market declines on John Edwards, who was running a distant third in the Democratic primaries at the time, but apparently still had superhuman powers over the stock market.

Cavuto’s colleague, Bill O’Reilly, recently asserted that the market was tanking because traders were pricing in a presumed Obama victory in November. [For the record, the market has performed better during Democratic administrations than Republicans for the past 107 years. And investments accrue more under Democrats]. O’Reilly also has a spotty record of financial analysis. He lambasted General Electric’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, with whom O’Reilly is obsessed, saying that he didn’t know how Immelt kept his job after GE’s stock dropped 36%. But O’Reilly must not have noticed that News Corp., the parent of Fox News was itself down 38% – even worse than GE. Maybe he should be asking how Murdoch keeps his job.

So in honor of FBN’s first birthday, investors and news consumers should be aware that this is the sort of credibility you can expect from Fox News and FBN which calls itself: The Network You Can’t Afford To Miss. It’s more like: The Network You Can’t Afford To Watch.

Bill O’Reilly Controls The Stock Market

Jed Babbin, the editor of Human Events, has written what may be the stupidest article of the year. In it he wastes 1200+ words arguing that GE/NBC is terribly upset with the prodigious success of its cable news network MSNBC. Obviously – anyone would be disturbed with a business enterprise that doubles its audience year after year. As evidence of the concern, Babbin introduces two “exhibits” to affirm his hypothesis.

Exhibit A is a letter sent by presidential counselor Ed Gillespie complaining about an interview of President Bush conducted by Richard Engle. Babbin doesn’t actually explain why whining by a White House crony demonstrates any discomfit in the halls of NBC’s executive suites. The fact of the matter is that it’s just another politician working the refs to try to get more positive coverage.

Exhibit B is the contention that Keith Olbermann has a relationship with his bosses. Why Babbin thinks that there is something extraordinary about the host of a network’s number one program receiving accolades from the network honchos is also not explained.

But the truly idiotic part of the column is Babbin’s assertion that Bill O’Reilly is responsible for the poor performance of GE stock:

“O’Reilly’s high-temperature criticism of GE and Immelt — calling him a “despicable human being” responsible for the deaths of American troops in Iraq — may even have contributed to GE’s stock slide. From a high of $42.15 on October 2, 2007, GE’s shares have lost 36% of shareholder value, closing last Friday at $26.83.”

That’s a lot of power that Babbin has placed in the hands of a lowly TV blowhard. However, GE’s stock is not alone in suffering severe losses. Maybe Babbin hasn’t heard that the economy is near (or in) a recession. Perhaps he has also not heard that the stock of News Corp., the parent of Fox News is itself down 38% – even worse than GE. Is that also the work of Market Magician O’Reilly? Or has Olbermann been casting counter-spells of his own?

Indeed, O’Reilly has been tough on GE, NBC, MSNBC, and Jeff Immelt (although O’Reilly will never utter the name Olbermann). Just last week O’Reilly wondered how Immelt kept his job. Does he also wonder how Fox News chief Roger Ailes keeps his? At least MSNBC has been increasing their viewership, while the Fox News audience has been cratering. But the extremity of O’Reilly’s pique goes even further with overt threats aimed at GE’s CEO:

“That Immelt man answers to me…That’s why I’m in this business right now, to get guys like that.”

And lest you dismiss O’Reilly’s intent, he has made it clear that he is serious:

“[T]here is a huge problem in this country and I’m going to attack that problem. I’m going to attack it. These people aren’t getting away with this. I’m going to go right where they live. Every corrupt media person in this country is on notice, right now. I’m coming after you…I’m going to hunt you down […] if I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed…I would.”

[For more on O’Reilly’s sociopathic paranoia, see The O’Reilly Fear Factor: Collected Verses]

Babbin concludes his article by attempting to foment an insurgency within the ranks of NBC News. He advises NBC journalists to issue ultimatums directed at the NBC brass and, if they do not get satisfaction, to resign forthwith. I’m not sure why anyone would take advice from the likes of Babbin. He has proven with this article to be intellectually deficient, and a poor editor to boot. But one person has already taken advice proffered in this column. John McCain has initiated a Truth Squad,” and staffed it with well known liars. I guess that’s something Babbin can take comfort in.