Holy F**k! CNN Explores Joint Venture With Paranoid, Racist, Lunatic Glenn Beck

As if to prove that television news executives are lowest form of life on the planet, CNN recently held talks with Glenn Beck about forming a joint venture between the struggling network and Beck’s lame video blog, The Blaze. According to a report in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal it would be…

“…a new venture between CNN-parent Time Warner and The Blaze that would replace HLN’s current programming with Blaze programming.”

Glenn Beck CNN

What on Earth could they be thinking? The prospect of bringing Beck back to CNN (or television) makes no sense whatsoever. When Beck left his show on CNN’s Headline News it was in the ratings dumpster. He routinely lost to his competition and was the lowest rated program on CNN’s primetime lineup. He gathered more viewers at Fox News, but only because his toxic philosophy was a better fit for the fear-mongering, right-wing propaganda channel. However, when he left Fox News just two years later he was a pariah who couldn’t keep advertisers due to his rancid rhetoric and hate-filled, paranoid tirades. Even Fox acknowledged that he was a liability. After Beck, pretending that the exit was his idea, said he told himself that “If you do not leave now, you won’t leave with your soul intact,” Fox retorted

“Glenn Beck wasn’t trying to save his soul, he was trying to save his ass. Advertisers fled his show and even Glenn knows what that means in our industry.”

So what exactly did CNN find attractive about the notion of reignited their romance with this loser? He has an even smaller audience now than he did at CNN five years ago. That’s why he is currently on a PR campaign to rehabilitate his noxious image. But despite admitting that he “has said stupid things,” and his other disingenuous attempts to cast himself as repentant for his past vulgarities, he is still the same vituperative huckster of gloom that he has always been. For example, he recently complained about not being able to use the words “fag” and “nigger,” in reference to artwork by a guest on his show. He is also being sued for defamation by a student from Saudi Arabia whom Beck falsely accused of being a key figure in the Boston marathon bombing.

Where does CNN think his advertisers would come from? A visit to TheBlaze website reveals that he has no advertising other than Google Ads. He is still anathema to the Fords, Campbell Soups, Procter & Gambels, Fidelitys, etc. So if Beck can’t produce ratings, and he can’t attract advertisers, but he is widely reviled and divisive, what could explain CNN’s interest in him?

There only two possible answers to that question. One is that CNN is desperate beyond all comprehension. They are like a drowning man grasping for the only thing in the water, even if it’s an anchor. And secondly, CNN is run by tabloid TV king Ken Jautz who was promoted from his position as head of HLN. It was while he was at HLN that Jautz gave Beck his first job in television. So perhaps it is that unique brand of insanity that causes one to do the same stupid things over and over expecting a different result.

The fact that CNN was participating in these talks says something about their health as a news organization. They would not be considering this if they had bright prospects for the future. It also says something about Beck’s media operation. His Blaze video unit is currently financed by viewer subscriptions. If that were as successful as he pretends it to be, he would not be contemplating giving the same programming away for free on cable TV. That would dry up his web subscription base. He would also have to be pretty desperate to consider returning to the network about which he said…

“I used to call it the Pit of Despair because there are all these people plunking out stories like, ‘I just want to hang myself, I just want to hang myself.” […and…]

“If you ever think that CNN is a rational, normal, non-leftist organization, look who they hired [referring to Crossfire co-host Van Jones as a ‘communist revolutionary’].”

More recently, Beck asked himself “Why is CNN in a ratings free fall?” And he gave himself the answer that it was “the unbelievable level of manufactured outrage on the network.” Actually, that may have inspired him to seek out these talks. He may have seen that as a sign that the network was the perfect platform for an outrage manufacturer like himself. But it doesn’t clear up why CNN would seek to recruit someone with such a horrible opinion of the network.

Shameless self-promotion…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

Reports on the talks indicate that they broke down over financial terms, not ideology. That makes the whole incident even worse. Apparently CNN is cool with Beck’s evangelical, ultra-conservative messaging. And it isn’t just that he’s conservative, but that he is so violently hostile toward progressives that he once said that to stop them “you’re going to have to shoot them in the head.” And despite that sort of vile discourse, CNN only walked away from the negotiations over money. Journalism, honesty, integrity, civility, etc., never entered into it.

[Update:] Brian Stelter, reporting for CNN, says that it was Beck who sought to hook up with CNN, but that from the CNN side “The talks were never serious.” This may just be CNN covering its ass so as not to be embarrassed by the disclosure of the talks, but it also confirms that Beck is scrambling to keep his head above water.

Zombie News Network: How New Boss Jeff Zucker Can Bring CNN Back From The Dead

Once upon a time there was a groundbreaking 24-hour cable news network that came to dominate broadcast journalism. After nearly two decades as the undisputed leader in its market, CNN began to stumble and was eventually overtaken by both Fox News and MSNBC.

There are many factors that contributed to CNN’s decline, including a certain arrogance derived from having the field to itself for so long. When Fox came along and challenged CNN, they were unprepared for a competitor that didn’t really care about news, instead favoring a more entertainment oriented approach that focused on a sexier brand of melodrama and sensationalism. Also, the hardcore, right-wing partisanship of Fox News herded all of the conservative news sheeple into one corral, artificially inflating the ratings picture. From the start, Fox reflected the views of its financier, Rupert Murdoch, and its CEO, former GOP media guru Roger Ailes, who described his own philosophy of journalism this way:

“If you have two guys on a stage and one guy says, ‘I have a solution to the Middle East problem,’ and the other guy falls in the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?”

And ever since Fox has been throwing Democrats into orchestra pits that were built by Fox engineers and reporting that in place of actual news.

CNN GOP Tea PartyIn responding to the competition, CNN did not help itself by embarking on the path to Foxification. Their management made the foolish mistake of concluding that Fox’s success was related to their blatant conservative bias and abandonment of journalistic principles, and rushed to reproduce that model themselves. They installed Ken Jautz, a rabidly right-wing promoter, as it’s chief. Jautz was the man who gave Glenn Beck his first job in television. Then CNN went on a hiring binge that consisted of the most unsavory figures from Wingnutlandia including: Amy Holmes and Will Cain (of Glenn Beck’s The Blaze), Erick Erickson (of the uber-conservative blog RedState), Dana Loesch (of Breitbart News and the Tea Party), and E.D. Hill, a former Fox anchor and Bill O’Reilly guest host, who is most famous for saying that a friendly fist bump between the President and the First Lady was really a “terrorist fist jab.”

CNN was the only cable news network to broadcast live Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party response to Obama’s State of the Union address. Then they co-sponsored a GOP primary debate with the corrupt Tea Party Express. They also co-sponsored a debate with the ultra-right-wing Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. However, they conspicuously failed to program similar events with lefties like MoveOn.org or the Center for American Progress.

Dressing up like Fox was damaging to both CNN’s credibility and their ratings. Even Fox’s business network recognized that copying Fox News was a losing strategy. FBN VP Kevin Magee sent a memo to his staff saying that…

“…the more we make FBN look like FNC the more of a disservice we do to ourselves. I understand the temptation to imitate our sibling network in hopes of imitating its success, but we cannot. If we give the audience a choice between FNC and the almost-FNC, they will choose FNC every time.”

Unfortunately, no one at CNN could grasp that simple truth. Now CNN has a fresh opportunity to restore its former glory. Following the resignation of Jim Walton, CNN has tapped former NBC/Universal chief Jeff Zucker to replace him as the president of CNN Worldwide. Zucker has a mixed record at NBC. During his tenure the entertainment division went from first to fourth. He presided over the catastrophic move of Jay Leno to primetime, then back again to late night, which resulted in the loss of Conan O’Brien. However, NBC News boasts the top rated morning and evening news broadcasts. And MSNBC has rocketed into an unexpectedly competitive position with Fox. In fact, since election day, MSNBC has actually outperformed Fox.

Zucker has an abundance of existing assets with which to remake CNN into the global media powerhouse it used to be. They have more reporters in more parts of the world than their competitors. In fact, CNN has more domestic and foreign bureaus than Fox and MSNBC combined. Fox invests very little in news bureaus or other news gathering operations. The bulk of their expenditures is on their “celebrity” presenters and pseudo-pundits. Fox is an enterprise that is engaged more in news analysis and manipulation than anything resembling journalism. While MSNBC benefits from the substantial resources of NBC News, the cable network has concentrated more on opinion and advocacy in recent years.

All of this creates an opening for CNN to become what its marketing department already pitches the network as: a news channel. CNN’s audience still expects the network to perform at its best when some catastrophic event occurs. They continue to get high tune-in for natural disasters and acts of war. However, there isn’t always a convenient calamity to fill their airtime. So they cram their schedule with pablum and phony attempts at balance, but succeed mostly at boring their viewers with a desperate effort to avoid offending anybody.

The question now is, where will they go from here? The best way to put CNN back in the game is to adopt a hard news profile that dispenses with petty partisan bickering. In one of his first quotes after the announcement of his hiring, Zucker said that “news is more than just politics and war.” That’s true. Viewers have many immediate concerns that would compel them to watch a network that provided them with information about issues that impact their lives. That includes economics, civil liberties, health, crime, education, jobs, the environment, etc. And the job of a news network is more than just reporting what occurred. It is also putting it context, explaining matters that are often complex, and making the whole package entertaining enough to keep the viewer’s attention.

By concentrating on real news, CNN can stake out territory that its competitors are neglecting. They can focus on the fundamentals of journalism that consist of shoe-leather investigations, relevant interviews, and compelling production values. They need to jettison the political hacks who populate their studios and replace them with policy experts and academics. This will turn the predictable, partisan slapfights into informed discussions. And the audience can get something out of the program that is more substantive than a red face and ammunition for their next bout with a contrary uncle at a family dinner.

When the subject turns to politics, who would you rather see debating, for instance, raising the age for Social Security eligibility? A Democrat and a Republican who will spew the same old party line talking points? Or an expert on retirement economics and an apolitical career administrator from Health and Human Services? Obviously the later would be more informative, but it could also be more dry and difficult to sit through. That’s why the art of storytelling needs to be brought back to news reporting.

With actual intellectual content to convey, it would be up to anchors and producers to package it attractively. For that you need professionals who know how to tell a story and engage an audience. The newspaper business used to be full of people with those skills until all the papers started folding up. CNN could snap up some of that talent and put them to work juicing up stories that people are really interested in. In fact, there would nothing wrong with employing dramatists and humorists to write news copy that makes people feel something, so long as they stick to the news. And the presenters should be people with demonstrated abilities to connect with audiences on a personal level. Add some dynamic graphics and music and those experts on retirement economics can become downright scintillating.

Finally, there is a concept that has crept into the production of contemporary news that is not, and should not be, a part of quality journalism. CNN should ban the notion of balance from all of their reporting. Balance is a false objective. The goal of honest journalism should be truth. For example, it does no one any good to interview a doctor about the documented health risks of smoking, and then bringing in a tobacco advocate for “balance.” An opposite opinion is worse than a waste of time, it is counterproductive, if it is not based on reality. A news network should not tolerate science deniers, birthers, and zealots who peddle fables as if they were facts.

If CNN wants to be a player in cable news, they need to avoid accepting the terms of their competition. They need to set the terms themselves. And if they commit to identifying the issues that matter to people, and presenting them honestly and with a bit of showbiz flash, they can draw the kind of engaged and loyal audience that appeals to advertisers which, of course, is critical to success in this business. Plus, they can actually serve a positive purpose by educating viewers and advancing dialogs of substance. Even better, if this approach is successful it will spur other news enterprises to follow a similar path. Then, maybe, one day, we can be proud of the American media and not regard it with the disdain that it currently inspires.

Fox Nation: Historic Debacle At CNN

It has been well documented that Fox News is a disreputable enterprise that shuns any semblance of journalistic ethics. The most recent example, producing and airing an anti-Obama campaign-style video, perfectly demonstrates how far afield they are from a being legitimate news organization. Amongst the traits of Fox News that separate them from the pack is their tendency to attack their peers in the news business. That is almost unheard of from other cable networks, newspapers, or other outlets.

Fox Nation

Today Fox News continued in that vein by leaping on the Nielsen ratings reports for May 2012. To be sure, CNN’s ratings were dismal. But so were the ratings for Fox which declined double digits and notched a primetime low that they haven’t seen since 2008. Nevertheless, Fox reported only on CNN’s numbers and ignored their own sickly showing. And nowhere in their story did they note that the decline was primarily due to the inflated ratings in May 2011, when the killing of Osama Bin Laden, hurricanes in the Midwest, and Casey Anthony were dominating the airwaves.

That said, Fox is inadvertently correct about a debacle at CNN, but not the way they mean. CNN is suffering a decline in viewership that is historic mainly because they pioneered the concept of the 24 hour cable news network but are now languishing in last place. But if they are perplexed by the sorry turn of fate they have experienced in recent years it is only because of their own willful blindness to the circumstances that led to it.

When Fox News began to approach and overtake CNN in the ratings, CNN management made the foolish mistake of concluding that Fox’s success was related to their blatant conservative bias and abandonment of journalistic principles. While that was (and is) the model for Fox’s programming, that played only a small part in their success story. The real reason that Fox excelled was that they had switched the deck. They were not in any practical sense a news network. Their programming was (and is) closer to an entertainment channel than anything else. They feature shallow, sensationalistic stories that rely heavily on melodrama, controversy, emotion and sex – the main characteristics of soap operas and reality shows. And they decorate their broadcasts with flashy graphics and sound effects that would be more appropriate for game shows. That’s what draws their viewers in, and that is always more compelling than actual news content.

However, CNN panicked and decided that the way to compete with Fox was to emulate their right-wing partisanship and theatrics. Ironically, even Fox’s business network recognized that emulating Fox News was a losing strategy. Fox Business Network VP Kevin Magee sent a memo to his staff saying that…

“…the more we make FBN look like FNC the more of a disservice we do to ourselves. I understand the temptation to imitate our sibling network in hopes of imitating its success, but we cannot. If we give the audience a choice between FNC and the almost-FNC, they will choose FNC every time.”

CNN Tea PartyUnfortunately, no one at CNN could grasp that simple truth. Instead they installed Ken Jautz, a rabidly right-wing promoter, as it’s chief. Jautz was the man who gave Glenn Beck his first job in television. Then CNN went on a hiring binge that consisted of the most unsavory figures from Wingnutlandia including: Amy Holmes (of Glenn Beck’s GBTV), Will Cain (of Beck’s The Blaze), Erick Erickson (of the uber-conservative blog RedState), Dana Loesch (of Breitbart News and the Tea Party), and E.D. Hill, a former Fox anchor and Bill O’Reilly guest host, who is most famous for saying that a friendly fist bump between the President and the First Lady was really a “terrorist fist jab.”

CNN demonstrated its new found rightist perspective by producing programming that was straight out of the conservative PR playbook. They were the only cable news network to broadcast live Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party response to Obama’s State of the Union address. They co-sponsored a GOP primary debate with the corrupt Tea Party Express. They also co-sponsored a debate with the ultra-right-wing Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

For a network that claims to be the only truly neutral source for news, CNN has conspicuously failed to permit a representative from MoveOn.org to respond to a presidential address, nor to co-host a debate with the Center for American Progress. They have navigated toward a full-on Foxification of the network without any pretense to objectivity or balance.

And what have they got for it? A steep collapse to last place in the ratings, an embarrassing forfeiture of credibility, a severe loss of viewer loyalty and respect, and the pleasure of becoming a target of Fox’s ridicule.

As a division of TimeWarner, CNN has the resources to brand itself as a powerhouse news provider. They have more domestic and international news bureaus than any television news enterprise. They have access to the talent and technology that could set them apart from their competitors. Yet they fail to take advantage of these assets. And worse, they squander them in the vain hope of being FoxLite.

That’s what I call an historic debacle. And it’s why CNN just posted their worst ratings in twenty years. It’s also why they are now seen as an object of sympathy as Fox News batters them in the ratings and in the press. The first step in rehabilitating themselves would be to recognize their problem and clean house. Then they would need to fight back. If they would aggressively hammer at Fox as a lightweight purveyor of lies in a flashy, soap opera package, they might just begin to recover some measure of pride and start their long trek back to legitimacy.

Dana Loesch: CNN’s Pro-Corpse Defiling Contributor

This week a disturbing story emerged from Afghanistan in the form of a video of U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Afghans presumed to be members of the Taliban. Such behavior is repulsive and contrary to the standards of the Marine Corps. The acts portrayed in the video have been condemned by the highest representatives of the military.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta: I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey: Actions like those are not only illegal but are contrary to the values of a professional military and serve to erode the reputation of our joint force.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos: [The behavior is] wholly inconsistent with the high standards of conduct and warrior ethos that we have demonstrated throughout our history.

Nevertheless, CNN contributor Dana Loesch (who is also a Tea Party leader and the editor-in-chief of Andrew Breitbart’s BigJournalism) took to the air to exacerbate the offense and defend the soldiers saying…

“Now we have a bunch of progressives that are talking smack about our military because there were marines caught urinating on corpses, Taliban corpses. Can someone explain to me if there’s supposed to be a scandal that someone pees on the corpse of a Taliban fighter? Someone who, as part of an organization, murdered over 3,000 Americans? I’d drop trou and do it too. That’s me though. I want a million cool points for these guys.”

The subsequent controversy erupting from Loesch’s offensive remarks has generated a secondary controversy centered on the appropriate role of news analysts and the lines drawn for decency and civil discourse. Loesch, in a tacit acknowledgement that her comments crossed the line, sought to defend herself by claiming that she was not condoning the Marines, but ridiculing the media response. But the dishonesty of that excuse is apparent just by re-reading her statement. She explicitly says that she would do the same thing the Marines did and praises them for being “cool.” If that isn’t condoning the behavior, what is?

Loesch’s web site, BigJournalism has gone to work to absolve her sins, not by demonstrating that her comments were appropriate, but by attacking anyone who criticized her. They started with Politico, a news operation started by unabashed conservative journalists, and tagged them as leftists because of their article that merely reported that the controversy exists. John Nolte, editor-in-chief of Breitbart’s BigHollywood, desperately stretched to imply a bias by Politico because the article included this:

“I’ve reached out to CNN to ask for their response to Loesch’s comments, and whether or not it will have any impact on her role at CNN.Nolte’s emphasis.

Most people would regard that as a standard inquiry in a situation where a news analyst’s big mouth got them in hot water. From there Nolte descended into an hysterical rant that accused Politico of “pushing to have Dana taken off the air or punished.” And he escalated that nonsense to claim that Politico had an even bigger agenda to “marginalize” and “silence” Loesch. The conspiracy in Nolte’s mind extended all the way to George Soros, as all conservative conspiracies do. And the entirety of this clandestine plot was drawn from Politico’s perfectly reasonable and responsible desire to get a response from CNN.

Another Breitbart hack, Dan Riehl, weighed in on the subject to accuse Media Matters of being…

“…fixated on a mission to try and silence the free speech of Big Journalism editor Dana Loesch, while also engaging upon a campaign to somehow damage her with CNN.”

Riehl’s evidence is an article by Media Matters that correctly observes that Loesch’s comments were Too Extreme For Rush Limbaugh. Riehl disputes that assessment mainly by changing the subject. He utterly ignores the fact that Limbaugh, with reference to the Marines, said explicitly that “There’s no defense of this.” But Riehl peels away from that fact to post a rambling quote from Tea Party Republican Allen West that also advocates punishing the Marines and says outright that “The Marines were wrong.” It appears that the fixation is on Riehl’s part to avoid the reality that the behavior of these particular soldiers was indefensible to almost everyone but Loesch.

As for Loesch, her own defense that she published on BigJournalism was an incoherent jumble of phony patriotism and self-aggrandizement. Her primary argument was that…

“There is a difference in advocating for the Marines to break the law, which I didn’t do, and defending them from overly-dramatic hysteria.”

Of course, defending them is precisely what she did. Even to the point of declaring that she would have “dropped trou” and joined them (which I’m sure they would have loved). Nevertheless, she contradicts herself a few paragraphs down by stating that “I won’t condemn American soldiers on the battlefield.” Not even, apparently, when they engage in condemnable acts that their commanders have no problem condemning.

The triumvirate of Loesch, Riehl, and Nolte, all touched on what they regard as an underlying evil aimed at Loesch and conservatives in general. They are convinced that any criticism they incur is an attempt to silence them. Ironically, they call for such criticism to be silenced. Conservatives believe that free speech is sacrosanct exempt when exercised by liberals. Consequently, any critique of Loesch is viewed by rightists as akin to censorship.

It is, however, perfectly appropriate to question news analysts who engage in a dialogue that advocates unlawful acts in the conduct of a war. CNN should take the responsible steps to review incidents wherein contributors bring disrepute to their network. But I don’t anticipate that they will. The current head of CNN, Ken Jautz, is the hack who gave Glenn Beck his first job on television. He also recently hired Beck associate Will Cain. These two uber-rightists share the air with CNN contributor Erick Erickson, who called former Supreme Court Justice David Souter a “goat-fucking child molester.” And it was under Jautz that CNN partnered with the corrupt AstroTurf PR firm, Tea Party Express, to host a GOP debate.

The hard-right turn that CNN has taken has landed them squarely in third place. And that decline is due in large part to people like Loesch. The American people are not looking for this kind of substanceless, bombastic, hate-speech from their news sources. They can get that from Fox News. And if anyone’s job should be in jeoprady, it is the person at the helm, Ken Jautz.

The Foxification Of CNN: New Management Pushes The Network Into Crazy Territory

This article also appears on Alternet.org.

In the fiercely competitive world of cable news, the players have been jockeying for position as they battle for viewers and advertisers. Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN, each with their own models of programming, seek to gain scale and influence.

Harmful If SwallowedFox News, we know, has established its place as the leader in right-wing advocacy and Republican PR. MSNBC, while not a full-fledged counter to Fox, has allotted a fair portion of its programming to more liberally leaning fare. But CNN, the innovator and one-time leader in cable news, has wavered between those poles emerging as somewhat of a journalistic mutant – neither left nor right nor neutral.

The past year, however, CNN has been attempting to fashion a more recognizable persona. The shift coincides with the promotion of Ken Jautz, formerly the president of CNN’s sister network, HLN. At HLN Jautz succeeded in raising both ratings and revenue by turning the channel into a trashy TV tabloid reliant on celebrity gossip and characters like Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck (yes, Jautz gave Beck his first job on television).

Now presiding over CNN, Jautz has brought his brash and distinctively commercial style to the network that once aspired to be a model of journalistic integrity. He is employing the same sensationalist philosophy at CNN that brought him success at HLN, along with a decidedly conservative bent. In an interview he gave after his promotion was announced Jautz delivered a tribute to Fox News and a preview of what to expect from his tenure saying that he does not believe that “facts-only” programming will work. True to his word he has endeavored to give CNN a shiny Fox-like hue and assembled a team that shares his aversion to facts.

Here are some examples of the lowlights of the Jautz era at CNN:

1) First and foremost, Jautz brought Glenn Beck into the CNN family saying that “Glenn’s style is self-deprecating, cordial…not confrontational.” That sort of delusional analysis ought to have been a red flag that disqualified Jautz from running a news network.

2) Erick Erickson, the RedState blogger who once called Supreme Court Justice David Souter a Goat-f**king child molester, became a CNN political commentator. Since his hiring he has cheered the S&P’s downgrading of the U.S. credit rating and agreed with Rick Perry that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.

3) CNN signed Dana Loesch, the editor of Andrew Breitbart’s BigJournalism, to be a contributor. Loesch has alleged that President Obama “sided with terrorists,” and she embraced the overt bigotry of notorious Islamaphobe Pamela Geller. Breitbart, of course is famous for promoting deceptively edited videos that smeared ACORN, NPR, Shirley Sherrod and even CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau. Loesch was hired by CNN after these events were widely known.

4) Jautz brought Erin Burnett over from CNBC. In her debut she broadcast a story that portrayed the protesters on Wall Street as unfocused neo-hippies that didn’t understand the issues they were protesting. Burnett would have fit in well on the curvy couch of Fox & Friends where they routinely disparage the movement without ever addressing the substance of it.

5) CNN had the distinction of being the only network to air Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party response to the State of the Union Address. Even Fox didn’t think it was worthy of live coverage. The result is that CNN had two opposing viewpoints to the President’s address, one from the GOP and one from the Tea Party which, of course, is just an affiliate of the GOP. We’re still waiting for CNN to air a response from the Progressive Caucus or MoveOn.org.

6) Another new CNN political analyst is Will Cain, who CNN acquired from the ultra-conservative National Review. And if that credential isn’t far enough out in right field, Cain just announced that he is joining Glenn Beck’s web site, The Blaze.

7) CNN locked arms with the Tea Party to co-host a Republican presidential primary debate. By choosing Tea Party Express as their partner they embraced a dubious organization that was booted out of the Tea Party Federation due to the racist commentaries of a spokesman. It was also revealed that most of the funds raised from donations wound up in the coffers of Russo, Marsh, the Republican PR firm that founded Tea Party Express.

8) Former Fox News anchor and Bill O’Reilly fill-in, E.D. Hill, is now a CNN contributor. Hill was dumped by Fox after a segment that showed President Obama giving the First Lady a friendly fist bump and Hill called it a “terrorist fist jab.”

So CNN is now employing Fox News rejects, Andrew Breitbart lieutenants, and Glenn Beck associates. They’ve entered into covenants with unscrupulous Tea Partyers. On the flip side, former CNN reporters Ed Henry and John Roberts are now comfortably ensconced at Fox News. The lines between CNN and Fox News are blurring to the point where the networks are becoming indistinguishable. And most of this occurred since Ken Jautz assumed the helm of CNN.

If there is one thing that American media doesn’t need, it’s another Fox News. The first one is already doing a stellar job of misinforming the public and advancing the agenda of the Republican Party. What’s more, emulating Fox has done nothing for CNN’s ratings. Why should it? Viewers who are in the market for dumbed-down histrionics, Democrat bashing, and a steady diet of right-wing falsehoods, already have a proven provider. Fox’s audience has shown that they are not the least bit interested in looking for the remote that slipped under the sofa years ago. They don’t even change the channel when their heroes are just a click down the dial.

Consequently, if CNN is gaining nothing from reshaping their editorial slant to mirror Fox, the only conclusion is that they are deliberately making a hard right turn because that is the direction they want to go. But this path has only resulted in their dropping to third place behind Fox and MSNBC. If CNN ever hopes to regain some of the luster of their glory days, they will need to differentiate themselves from Fox. They might want to take a stab at journalism. That would be novel in these days of advocacy tabloidism.

Remember This While Watching The CNN/Tea Party GOP Debate

CNN Tea PartyWhen the Republican debate tonight airs it is important to put into context the venue in which the candidates will appear. This debate is being broadcast on CNN along with their co-hosts, the Tea Party Express (TPE).

From the start, the notion of elevating any Tea Party group to the position of national debate sponsor was ludicrous. The Tea Party is nothing but a fringe element of the Republican Party. It has very little support, even amongst Republicans, and its approval ratings have been on a path of rapid descent. It’s most recent nationwide bus tour, which is scheduled to conclude today at the Tampa site of the debate, has been an utter failure with record low attendance.

Contrary to the general practice of engaging impartial partners for debate presentations, TPE is hardly impartial. It is a political action committee that has actively engaged in campaigning on behalf of specific candidates. They supported senate candidates Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, and Joe Miller in Alaska (all lost). They have also been vocal proponents of Sarah Palin who has appeared as a sort of mascot for the group. Palin is supposedly still considering joining the race president herself (although I submit that she is perpetrating something of a hoax in conjunction with Fox News), so TPE cannot now be reasonably be portrayed as fair presenters. They have far too many obvious conflicts of interest.

What makes matters worse is that TPE is a corrupt organization that has even been rebuked by the rest of the so-called Tea Party movement. They were created by Sal Russo and his Republican PR firm, Russo Marsh, and their brief history is fraught with scandal. Rival Tea Party groups were harshly critical of them for directing nearly half of the money they raised from citizen supporters to Russo’s firm. Their former spokesman, Mark Williams, was forced to resign after publishing a racially offensive article on his web site. TPE was booted from the National Tea Party Federation for these and other ethical lapses.

What might have have prompted CNN to make this unholy alliance with a discredited and over-hyped entity? Undoubtedly CNN’s new president Ken Jautz had something to do with it. Jautz, who took the reins at CNN last September, was previously in charge of their sister network HLN. It was there that he made history by giving Glenn Beck his first job in television. At CNN he has already distinguished himself by hiring Andrew Breitbart’s Editor-in-Chief, Dana Loesch, as a political analyst and being alone in airing Michele Bachmann’s embarrassing Tea Party response to President Obama’s State of the Union message.

The CNN/Tea Party Express alliance is an unprecedented partnership between a news organization and an active political action committee that has already taken sides in the debate. Would CNN ever consider partnering with MoveOn.org for a Democratic debate? Ironically, the American Dream Movement (of which MoveOn is a part) is now asking for equal time in the form of a post-debate response. Since CNN gave Tea Partier Michele Bachmann just such an opportunity, it would be only fair to grant the same courtesy to a legitimate enterprise with far more popular support. And what’s more, CNN should partner with the American Dreamers to co-host a debate in the upcoming election.

CNN is embarrassing themselves with this association with Tea Party Express. This debate is a farce that lacks the sort of credibility that an honest news enterprise would set as a goal. They ought to take measures to try to redeem what’s left of their tattered reputation – if it isn’t too late already.

[Addendum] CNN has posted an article today about how an “Angry electorate helps sustain tea party.” In it they assert that the Tea Party has “moved toward the mainstream.” CNN’s evidence for this is that CNN chose the Tea Party to co-host a debate that is airing on CNN. And this absurdly circular logic was the work of – you guessed it – a CNN political producer. So CNN is validating their own choice for debate partner by having a CNN analyst write an article for CNN praising the partnership with CNN. How convenient.

Equal Time For The American Dream

CNN Tea PartyLast December CNN announced that they would be co-hosting a Republican debate with the Tea Party Express. That ridiculous idea was something put together under the new leadership of Ken Jautz who was promoted to head CNN after distinguishing himself at sister station Headline News. At HLN Jautz was responsible for such journalistic masterstrokes as The Nancy Grace Program. And of course he will always be remembered as the man who brought Glenn Beck to television.

When the Tea Party Express partnership was unveiled I responded by noting that the group was a corrupt branch of a fake movement that was nothing more than a bunch of ultra-conservative GOP malcontents:

“They were created by Sal Russo and his Republican PR firm, Russo Marsh, and their brief history is fraught with scandal. Rival Tea Party groups were harshly critical of them for directing nearly half of the money they raised from citizen supporters to Russo’s firm. Their former spokesman, Mark Williams, was forced to resign after publishing a racially offensive article on his web site.”

Nevertheless, CNN proceeded with this embarrassing endeavor which will air Monday, September 12. America will have to sit though a farce that elevates the Tea Party to a status they have not earned on their own, seeing as how they have an approval rating in the twenties. Even amongst Republicans they are not particularly well liked. But that didn’t stop CNN from broadcasting Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party response to President Obama’s State of the Union message.

The blatant unfairness of this led me to ask “Would CNN ever consider partnering with MoveOn.org for a Democratic debate?” That seemed unthinkable at the time, which is precisely the point I was making. But now The American Dream Movement has stepped up to assert the same principle of fairness. They are petitioning CNN to give them equal time to respond after the President’s speech on Thursday before congress. And they make a compelling case:

“Now it’s only fair for CNN to air the American Dream Movement’s progressive response to the president’s major jobs speech on Thursday.

The American Dream Movement includes scores of groups representing millions of members who’ve been out in force for months campaigning for jobs, not cuts. In July, we had twice as many gatherings as the tea party had when they launched.”

If CNN would recognize a phony organization that was invented by Fox News and the Koch brothers, and is a adjunct division of the Republican Party, they ought to give some consideration to a legitimate grassroots group of citizens who represent real people and working families.

Please support this effort by signing the petition:

Tell CNN to Give the American Dream Movement Equal Time.

If they would do it for Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party, they should do it for the American Dream Movement. And what’s more, they should partner with the American Dreamers to co-host a debate in the upcoming election. It’s only fair.

New Tea Party Express Bus Trip Already Out Of Gas

The big kick off celebration for the Tea Party Express’s latest bus trip began with something of a whimper. The event was held in Napa, California amidst the wineries and grape fields.

Last year the Tea Party Express bus tour was launched by Sarah Palin. This year the best they could come up with was losing Nevada senatorial candidate, Sharron Angle. Palin has a good excuse though. She is busy not riding on her own “One America” bus tour, which she quit six days in.

Tea Party Express had heavily promoted this trip, even promising Baggers that “This is your opportunity to hear special guests speakers, including presidential candidates.” Unfortunately, not a single candidate bothered to show up.

The bus trip will continue across the country with plans to end September 12, in Tampa Bay, Florida, in conjunction with a GOP presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Tea Party Express.

When CNN originally announced that they were partnering with Tea party Express, it was an embarrassing association that never should have been entered into. Tea Party Express is a corrupt enterprise that was created by Republican publicist and fundraiser, Sal Russo. Most of the money raised by the group was funneled right back into Russo’s company for publicity and management fees.

What’s more, since the association was announced, the Tea Party has bled support. It now sports favorable ratings of only 20%. It is viewed less favorably than atheists and Muslims.

CNN sullied its already teetering reputation by embracing Tea Party Express. That decision was the work of Ken Jautz, who was promoted to run CNN after his tenure at Headline News. Jautz will forever be remembered as the man who brought Glenn Beck to Television.

And now that the boneheaded decision to clasp hands with TPE has proven to be a fiasco, it is not too late to break ranks. There is simply no excuse for a news enterprise to partner with a phony scam outfit that purports to represent a movement that is widely reviled.

Two Things That Will Not Change When Glenn Beck Leaves Fox News

Today is a day that will not live in infamy. If remembered at all, it will not be for what happened, but for the disgusting and divisive error that was excised from our airwaves. Today is the day that Glenn Beck’s Acute Paranoia Revue and Disinfotainment Revival Hour will broadcast its last episode on Fox News. After that Beck will pack up his congregation and sail away to darker, stormier waters.

That event has many sane and compassionate people celebrating. But they should not be to hasty in their glee. While removing Beck from the air can only be a step in a positive direction, as the headline of this article states, there are:

Two Things That Will Not Change When Glenn Beck Leaves Fox News:

  1. Glenn Beck
  2. Fox News

Beck may be leaving television, but he will still be broadcasting to a fairly large audience of miscreants on the radio. His Internet venture is less likely to cause much of a stir because, if people weren’t going to watch him on TV for free (his audience was in a downward spiral for the last year), they certainly aren’t going to pay to watch him on the web. Except, of course, for his most devoted disciples of misinformation and hate. Nevertheless, Beck will have a platform to spew division and lies and he will do everything in his power to exploit it. For instance, he will be venturing off to torment the already suffering people of Israel in August to instruct them on how to “Restore Courage.”

As for Fox News, last April I documented the “10 Reasons Why Fox News After Glenn Beck Will Still Suck.” They include Bill O’Reilly. Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, and seven more. I pointed out that…

“…any suggestion that Beck’s departure polishes Fox’s reputation is pure folly. The worst of Beck’s haunted imagination is securely woven into the Fox News dis-comforter. The trademark Fox invective, sophistry, and bias predate Beck and will outlive him.”

For anyone who is worried that they will suffer withdrawal symptoms, they will be relieved to know that Fox News will continue to feed their revolting habit. There will still be unfounded conspiracy theories. President Obama will still be a Kenyan Muslim who is deliberately trying to destroy America. Saul Alinsky and Bill Ayers and ACORN will remain lurking in the shadows. And George Soros will still be manipulating every evil on the planet. Not to worry.

And if Fox News isn’t enough, you also have CNN whose new president, Ken Jautz, is the man who gave Beck his first job in television. In his brief tenure at CNN, Jautz has already partnered with the corrupt Tea Party Express to host a GOP debate. He hired Andrew Breitbart’s editor-in-chief, Dana Loesch. He set CNN apart as the only network to broadcast Michelle Bachmann’s embarrassing Tea Party response to the State of the Union address. Here is what Jautz said when announcing his new host, Glenn Beck, at Headline News:

“Glenn Beck is the next piece of the puzzle. Glenn’s style is self-deprecating, cordial; he says he’d like to be able to disagree with guests and part as friends. It’s conversational, not confrontational. […] We didn’t look for a conservative, a liberal or anyone of a particular ideology.”

If Jautz really believes that Beck was cordial, non-confrontational, and did not have a conservative ideology, he is in need of serious pharmaceutical therapy. Jautz’s delusional mindset hasn’t improved since then. In an interview after being promoted to head CNN, Jautz summed up his idea of what the news network should aspire to by saying, “I do not believe that ‘facts-only’ programming…it will not work.” That’s comforting, isn’t it? So Beck’s audience will have plenty of options for their fact-free, pseudo-news consumption and indoctrination.

Finally, for those who want a keepsake of the Freak Show Beck starred in for the past two years, Media Matters has been kind enough to provide one:

If you feel the need to take a shower, go ahead. The Internet will be here when you get back.And if anyone wants to buy a used URL, I may be interested in unloading my GlennBeckUnhinged.com

Tea Baggers Plotting To Sabotage Union Rallies

Tea CrusadersAmerica is about to learn how the right-wing engages in community organizing. Rather than working to get the support of like-minded citizens to participate in public events on behalf of their agenda, Tea Partiers are planning a campaign of dirty tricks that fails to advance the debate, but succeeds in revealing their own contempt for the democratic process. For a crowd who professes to revere the Constitution, they are openly demonstrating their disrespect for the First Amendment’s guarantees of free assembly and the redressing of grievances.

Here is the plot as laid out by Tea Bagging luminary Mark Williams: [Note: Williams’ website keeps appearing and disappearing so here is Google’s cache of the page]

Here is what I am doing in Sacramento, where they are holding a 5:30 PM event this coming Tuesday: (1) I signed up as an organizer (2) with any luck they will contact me and I will have an “in” (3) in or not I will be there and am asking as many other people as can get there to come with, all of us in SEIU shirts (those who don’t have them we can possibly buy some from vendors likely to be there) (4) we are going to target the many TV cameras and reporters looking for comments from the members there (5) we will approach the cameras to make good pictures… signs under our shirts that say things like “screw the taxpayer!” and “you OWE me!” to be pulled out for the camera (timing is important because the signs will be taken away from us) (6) we will echo those slogans in angry sounding tones to the cameras and the reporters. (7) if I do get the “in” I am going to do my darnedest to get podium access and take the mic to do that rant from there…with any luck and if I can manage the moments to build up to it, I can probably get a cheer out of the crowd for something extreme.

And Williams describes precisely what his goals are for this charade:

Our goal is to make the gathering look as greedy and goonish as we know that it is, ding their credibility with the media and exploit the lazy reporters who just want dramatic shots and outrageous quotes for headlines. Even if it becomes known that we are plants the quotes and pictures will linger as defacto truth.

It should come as no surprise that the Tea Party aspires to manufacture falsehoods that they hope will linger as “defacto truth.” They rarely show much regard for actual truth. And with this project they affirm that their movement is utterly devoid of principle.

Mark Williams is a veteran Tea Bagger with a dubious history. He was expelled as the head of Tea Party Express for composing some overtly racist screeds for his blog. Subsequently, the Tea Party Express was banished from the Tea Party Federation. But the affiliation between these people and groups continues without interruption. Williams’ scheme has been endorsed by the Patriot Action Network, another Tea Party adjunct, whose partners include Islamophobe Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs and, of course, Tea Party Express.

In addition to this, Tea Party Express, which is known for funneling donations into the GOP lobbyist firm that created it, has been embraced by CNN. The network is co-hosting a Republican presidential primary debate with the disreputable organization. And CNN’s affiliation with the phony Tea Party movement also extends to their airing of Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party response to the State of the Union address, and to the hiring of Tea Party flack (and Breitbart’s editor-in-chief) Dana Loesch. CNN’s love affair with the Tea Party has been orchestrated by their new head, Ken Jautz, who will forever be marked as the man who gave Glenn Beck his first job in television.

The Tea Party’s response to the massive week-long demonstrations by labor and others in Wisconsin has been pitiful. Despite Tea Party star-power like Andrew Breitbart, Herman Cain, and Joe the Plumber, their big counter-demonstration last Saturday fizzled as a mere 2,500 Baggers showed up to confront an estimated 70,000 pro-worker demonstrators. And their little affair lasted less than an hour and a half, wrapping up at about 1:20pm although it had been scheduled to go until 3:00. This show of weakness may be why the Tea Baggers are resorting to dirty tricks.

The pro-American worker demonstrators should be on alert for Tea Party saboteurs. They should be prepared to expose them and inform the media of the desperate and unethical tactics. The media, for its part, should also be aware of the misrepresentation that they are being targeted with, and they should not hesitate to reveal it to their audience.

Whether or not this childish prank succeeds is still up in the air. One thing that Williams gets right is that the press can be astonishingly lazy. That means it’s up to citizens to make sure that the press do their jobs. So if you are attending any rallies, be aware, be vigilant, and be careful. These instigators have been primed by the rhetoric of Glenn Beck and other purveyors of hate. They have been deluded into thinking that the giant. multinational corporations who despise workers’ rights are actually representing their interests. And they are capable of anything in pursuit of their anti-union, anti-democracy mission.