Fox ‘News’ Fluffs Trump in the ‘Bone Spurs’ Debate with Ultra-Biased Headline and Story

From the earliest days of Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions he has transparently tried to exploit the men and women of the military for his electoral advantage. Never mind that his actual actions were disrespectful, and even illegal (his charities withheld promised funds) as he insulted veterans like John McCain, Gold Star families, and the fallen who he refused to pay tribute to. And until today, Trump had never even visited the troops in a war zone, and only conceded to take the trip after being shamed into it for months.

Donald Trump, Saving Cadet Bone Spurs

Trump’s visit to Iraq today was a blatantly self-serving affair that appears to have been done for the sole purpose of producing a propaganda video of him cavorting with real life soldiers. The video was just a montage of Trump smiling and shaking hands set to a soundtrack of the right’s favorite syrupy paean to patriotism, “God Bless the U.S.A.”

But perhaps the most notable hypocrisy of the Trump era has been his own evasion of military service via a series of academic deferrals and a highly suspicious medical exemption for “bone spurs” in his heel that never prevented him from playing baseball or golf. On Wednesday the New York Times published a story that examined the bone spurs controversy. They interviewed the daughters of the doctor who is reported to have given Trump his medical excuse to deploy to Manhattan’s Studio 54 instead of Vietnam. The story said in part that the daughters of the doctor…

“…say their father often told the story of coming to the aid of a young Mr. Trump during the Vietnam War as a favor to his father.

“‘I know it was a favor,’ said one daughter, Dr. Elysa Braunstein, 56, who along with her sister, Sharon Kessel, 53, shared the family’s account for the first time publicly when contacted by The New York Times.”

The Times found that Dr. Braunstein rented an office in the Edgerton Apartments in Jamaica, Queens, which was owned by Trump’s father Fred in the 1960s. The daughter’s claimed that their father received special treatment from the Trumps following his “favor” for young Donald.

So naturally, Fox News rushed in to shield Trump from any of the criticism resulting from the article in the Times. On the Fox News website they published a story with an unfair and unbalanced headline stating that: “New York Times tracks down anti-Trump children of deceased doctor to run uncorroborated Vietnam allegations.”

Wow. That really packs in the pro-Trump bias by the shovel full. First, the story attempts to dismiss what the women said by casting them as anti-Trump, implying they did this to deliberately harm the President. However, they have said nothing about this for decades and only spoke after the Times found them and asked for their account of what happened.

Secondly, the story is not uncorroborated. It originated from an anonymous tip that didn’t include any details or names. The Times then did the legwork to fill in the blanks. So what the daughters told them was, in fact, the corroboration of the original tip.

The Fox News article noted that Trump himself has never provided any details of his alleged infirmity because he said that he didn’t recall them. This from the man who says he has the world’s greatest memory (which he later didn’t remember saying). And Fox wasn’t at all curious as to why there was no evidence that the doctor had ever examined Trump before disqualifying him from military service.

Finally, the Fox News article only solicited two other persons for comments on the story. One was Dan Gainor, of the uber-rightist Media Research Center, who said “I’m surprised the paper didn’t arrange a séance and quiz the late doctor, too.” The other was conservative strategist Chris Barron, whose comment attacked the Times saying that “The New York Times is essentially indistinguishable from a gossip rag you’d find in the super market checkout line.” That’s it. No other quotes were provided from any left of center or neutral sources.

Trump’s recent treatment of Secretary of Defense James Mattis is proof of his disrespect for the military. And an interview he did last month on Fox News (wherein he bashed Adm. William McRaven, a former Navy Seal who helped dispose of both Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden) shows that he only supports the military when they bow down to him. But on Fox News Trump is still a hero whose evasion of the draft was a trivial matter that shouldn’t be explored by the real news media. And any attempts to do so will be met with biased retorts that offer zero substance to support their claims, but fit nicely in the Trumpian era theme of fake news.

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

Crybaby Trump Lashes Out at the Media for Accurately Reporting His Frequent Failures

With Hurricane Michael bearing down on the Gulf Coast, Donald Trump managed to find time to tweet about the media that he regards as “the enemy of the people.” He’s been doing that most of the last two years, even after the GOP-controlled Senate rebuked him for his blatantly anti-constitutional blather.

Donald Trump

In his latest Twitter tantrum, Trump characteristically whined about what he thinks is biased treatment by the press. He continues to prove that he is a weakling who can’t take the heat of public service like all the presidents who preceded him. So he lashes out incoherently and clings to sycophantic supporters who oblige him with undeserved flattery. Wednesday morning’s rant was especially deranged:

The Media Research Center is a notoriously biased pack of right-wing shills. What they publish as “studies” wouldn’t stand the scrutiny of credible media analysts. And their results are similar to those of dictatorships where the tyrant in residence always seems to get ninety-plus percent in every election. It’s uncanny how much murderous totalitarians like Trump’s pals Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un are loved by the people they oppress.

In Trump’s attack on the press he makes a point of calling out all of the broadcast media offenders: ABC, CBS and ABC. He must really hate ABC because he put them in there twice. And surprisingly, he left out NBC, the network he hates more than all the others. Is his hostility just so intense that he can’t even bring himself to utter their name? And Trump’s complaint about negative stories is completely off base. The press is reporting on him accurately, and it isn’t their fault that almost everything he does is negative.

Trump did manage to include his newspaper nemesis, the New York Times, which is hardly failing. Trump is very upset that the Times didn’t put the Kavanaugh “victory” on the front page Tuesday. First, let’s note that Dr. Ford, and millions of American women, don’t think that Kavanaugh’s presence on the Supreme Court is a victory. But more to the point, Trump is once again demonstrating his ignorance and/or dishonesty. That’s because the Senate confirmation vote occurred on Saturday, and it was on the front page of the Times on Sunday:

It continues to boggle the mind how Trump can keep exhibiting ever lower stages of mental infirmity. The simplest things are screwed up to an astonishing degree. And even when he is apprised of his errors, he persists in repeating them. It’s a symptom of his senile dementia and malignant narcissism. And it’s embarrassing to the nation and the majority of its citizens. But what’s even more troubling is that there is a small core of StormTrumpers who eat this up. They are as delusional as he is and are incapable of being corrected no matter how solid the facts. What’s truly frightening is that Trump will eventually be gone, but they will remain.

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

Missing From Trump’s ‘Dishonest and Corrupt Media’ Awards: Any Dishonesty or Corruption

It will come as no surprise that Donald Trump’s latest media stunt turned out to be just another narcissistic waste of time and energy. Back on January 2, Trump posted an announcement on Twitter that he would be hosting what he called “The Dishonest and Corrupt Media Awards of the Year.” It was an ironic choice considering his well documented proclivity for lying. But undeterred by facts or shame, Trump eventually went ahead with his award ceremony.

Donald Trump

Having been forewarned that this gala affair would run afoul of ethics laws if it was produced by the White House, Trump handed it off to a compliant Republican Party Politburo. The list of “honorees” was posted on the GOP website Wednesday afternoon and then immediately crashed the site. When the awards eventually became available they were presented with this introduction:

“2017 was a year of unrelenting bias, unfair news coverage, and even downright fake news. Studies have shown that over 90% of the media’s coverage of President Trump is negative.”

That’s the perfect lead in to these phony awards because it is itself demonstrably dishonest. The claim that “over 90% of the media’s coverage of President Trump is negative” came from the ultra-rightist Media Research Center and was aired on Fox News by his his favorite show, Fox and Friends. It is a thoroughly biased and utterly false study that fails to back up its conclusions with facts. And to the extent that there were negative reports on Trump during the year, it’s because he did so many negative things. It isn’t the media’s fault if they accurately cover that.

The winners of Trump’s Dishonest and Corrupt Media awards all shared at least one thing in common: None of them were either dishonest or corrupt. They were mostly minor errors that were quickly corrected. No evidence was offered to prove that there was any deliberate intention to deceive or mislead. Here, for the record are the awardees:

  1. The New York Times’ Paul Krugman claimed on the day of President Trump’s historic, landslide victory that the economy would never recover.
  2. ABC News’ Brian Ross CHOKES and sends markets in a downward spiral with false report.
  3. CNN FALSELY reported that candidate Donald Trump and his son Donald J. Trump, Jr. had access to hacked documents from WikiLeaks.
  4. TIME FALSELY reported that President Trump removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office.
  5. Washington Post FALSELY reported the President’s massive sold-out rally in Pensacola, Florida was empty. Dishonest reporter showed picture of empty arena HOURS before crowd started pouring in.
  6. CNN FALSELY edited a video to make it appear President Trump defiantly overfed fish during a visit with the Japanese prime minister. Japanese prime minister actually led the way with the feeding.
  7. CNN FALSELY reported about Anthony Scaramucci’s meeting with a Russian, but retracted it due to a “significant breakdown in process.”
  8. Newsweek FALSELY reported that Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda did not shake President Trump’s hand.
  9. CNN FALSELY reported that former FBI Director James Comey would dispute President Trump’s claim that he was told he is not under investigation.
  10. The New York Times FALSELY claimed on the front page that the Trump administration had hidden a climate report.
  11. And last, but not least: “RUSSIA COLLUSION!” Russian collusion is perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people. THERE IS NO COLLUSION!

Trump led off with the “failing” New York Times, whose two mentions gave it a second place to the four that CNN received. But conspicuously, most of the items were ridiculously trivial. Crowd size, feeding fish, and hand shakes hardly seem worthy of recognition for most dishonest and corrupt. Others weren’t even news stories, but opinions or other trifles. And this was, sadly, the best they could do.

Contrast that with the sort of awards that Trump might have been given if he were the recipient of similar trophies. They would include his purposeful lying about voter fraud, the firing of FBI Director James Comey, accusations that Hillary Clinton lied to the FBI, and his relentless assertions that inquiries into his collusion with Russia were a hoax. That was actually PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year for 2017.

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

It’s fitting that these fake awards flopped so badly. Trump has been making dubious and dangerous allegations about the media throughout his presidency. The purpose is to damage the credibility of the one non-governmental institution that can hold him accountable for his despicable, and criminal, behavior. But clearly this phony spectacle failed to hit its target. It was petty and transparently self-serving. And it will be quickly forgotten after the requisite mockery that it deserves.

Fox News Wants You to Believe That Trump-Bashing Killed the Emmys – It Didn’t

The preliminary Nielsen ratings for the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards broadcast are in and they aren’t particularly good. The program drew about 11.2 million viewers, which is down slightly from last year’s show. But leave it to Fox News to turn this minor slippage into a political catastrophe caused by the relentless liberalism of Hollywood elites.

Emmys Stephen Colbert

An op-ed on the Fox News website trumpeted the ratings results with a speculative headline asking “Emmys ratings crater; Trump-bashing to blame?” The argument presented by Fox’s Brian Flood was that criticism of Donald Trump sunk the broadcast to new lows. He writes that:

“It looks like the 69th annual Emmy Awards are heading into sub-basement territory in terms of ratings after host Stephen Colbert spent much of Sunday’s event attacking President Trump. It turns out American viewers may not have been as into Trump bashing as Hollywood would like them to be.”

For the record, host Stephen Colbert didn’t spend much of the night attacking Trump. In all he spent less than three minutes out of a three hour program. But the real absurdity of this analysis is that it proposes something that’s impossible. Fox News thinks that viewers chose not to watch the program based on their clairvoyant observation of the Trump-bashing before it even began. Obviously, without such ESP skills they would not have known not to tune in.

In fact, the Emmy broadcast has been scoring lower numbers for several years. Trump wasn’t president when the ratings began a falling trend. The reasons knowledgeable people attribute to the decline are that television doesn’t have the popular appeal of the Oscars and the Grammys. What’s more, many of the winning programs are now airing on services like Netflix and Hulu that have fewer viewers than broadcast TV. Consequently, the stars are not as familiar or compelling. And airing against Sunday Night Football didn’t help either.

That didn’t stop Fox News from setting up their biased perspective and interviewing political partisans to support it. Flood first sought the opinion of Dan Gainor of the ultra-conservative Media Research Center. Predictably, Gainor slammed the event as “a Hollywood bubble show.” He further castigated television’s creative community as out-of-touch with America and unqualified to express an opinion. That’s a point of view that disappears from right-wingers when the TV personality is one of theirs. Case in point: Donald Trump (or Ronald Reagan, Ted Nugent, Clint Eastwood, Scott Baio, etc.).

The argument that Americans might have tuned out the Emmys because they objected to jokes about Trump also fails logically. Trump is currently sitting on record low ratings himself. And that’s from the American people, not a select groups of show business professionals. With his approval numbers wallowing in the mid-thirties, it’s unlikely that the program lost many viewers who were loyal to Trump. If anything, the fact that most Americans are repulsed and embarrassed by him might have drawn in a bigger audience. There is substantial appetite in the country for the Trump-bashing that Fox News is lamenting. An example of that is the fact that Colbert has become the top rated late night talk show host largely due to his nightly mockery of the President.

The program did feature some sharp jabs at Trump’s expense. Veep’s Julia Louis Dreyfus noted that her show had considered an impeachment plot line, but abandoned it because they were worried that “someone else” might beat them to it. Alec Baldwin, who’s portrayal of Trump on Saturday Night Live won him an Emmy, consoled Trump by giving him partial credit for an award he never won himself. But the most cutting comedy came from the reunited stars of 9-to-5 who said:

Jane Fonda: Back in 1980 in that movie, we refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.
Lily Tomlin: And in 2017, we still refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.

Those are the sort of comments that Fox News and their conservative disciples regard as intolerable attacks against their White House Messiah. And for some reason they get away with calling liberals “snowflakes” for being too sensitive. Yet it doesn’t bother them when Trump himself posts tweets that show him assaulting Hillary Clinton. Apparently joking about physically attacking women is perfectly acceptable to these Deplorables. But Fox News finds it necessary to write op-eds that lie about the Emmys just because they can’t handle a few harmless jokes.

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

Uh-Oh: Rachel Maddow is Under Attack by Sean Hannity and Right-Wing Propaganda Groups

The conservative media machine is marshaling its forces to launch an all-out assault on journalists and pundits who fail to kowtow to Donald Trump. It’s a reactionary campaign in response to the success of the honest reporting by Rachel Maddow and other progressive voices. In recent weeks, Maddow has taken the lead in primetime programs from the previous ratings chart topper, Fox News. The rest of the MSNBC lineup has seen a similar surge in popularity. This massive shift in dominance is mainly driven by the strength of their straightforward reporting about Trump and Russia.

Maddow Hannity

Consequently, those on the right have begun shaking in their boots as their hammer lock on the ratings is broken. The last year has been dreadful for Fox News. Their CEO, Roger Ailes, and top star, Bill O’Reilly, were both terminated in disgrace due to sexual harassment scandals. They are being sued for gender and racial discrimination. And the New York Attorney General is investigating the network for securities violations.

The latest Fox News host to suffer as a result of his own sleazy misconduct is Sean Hannity. He has been pushing a widely debunked conspiracy theory about Seth Rich, a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer. Despite the absence of any facts, and pleas from the family to back off, Hannity has persisted. Even Fox News took down their report on the subject.

The determination of Hannity to spread this phony story has prompted Media Matters to post a list of his advertisers. The purpose was not to start a consumer boycott, but to alert the advertisers to what sort of program they were sponsoring. Then they could decide if it was in their best interest to continue.

Apparently, the desperate losers on the right were not pleased. So they have initiated their own campaign against Maddow and others whom they now refer to as “liberal fascists.” According to Politico:

“The groups plan to pressure advertisers for left-leaning shows like Maddow’s on MSNBC, in hopes that the sponsors will pull their ads. They charge that Maddow and other liberal hosts are peddling conspiracy theories and smearing conservatives with personal attacks.”

“They cited reports of alleged coordination between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian agents as an example of the smears.”

Notice what they’ve chosen as their example of a conspiracy theory. It’s a fact-based report that is affirmed by seventeen U.S. government intelligence agencies. No independent observer disputes that the Russians interfered with the 2016 presidential election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. And the allegations of collusion are based on numerous reports connecting Trump and his associates with Russian operatives. Many of those connections were hidden by the participants until disclosed by persistent reporters.

The groups involved in the attack on Maddow et al are well known in the conservative hack community. The Media Research Center has a long history of smearing liberals in the press. They favor common right-wing talking points and exploiting lefty “villains” like George Soros. The Media Equality Project is a new entity headed by two former conservative radio talkers, Melanie Morgan and Brain Maloney. They both appeared on Hannity’s program Tuesday night to defend his campaign of slander and promote their anti-Maddow efforts. [Video below]

So far there is no discernible impact from the wingnut brigades. That may be because Maddow’s reporting is wrapped up tighter in facts than anything produced by Hannity and his ilk. The Media Equalizer’s told Hannity last night that they are getting millions of people supporting them. However, their Facebook page has fewer than 5,000 followers and they have even less on Twitter.

But let’s not get cocky. Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, and Lawrence O’Donnell need the continued support of Americans who appreciate honest news analysis. MSNBC still hasn’t signed a contract renewal for O’Donnell. Meanwhile they have hired or promoted the likes of Greta Van Susteren, Hugh Hewitt, and George Will.

The right has a built in advantage with the media because every media owner is a giant corporation whose interests are not aligned with the average American. We have to make sure they know that their financial well being is dependent on serving the public interest. In the meantime, it’s satisfying to see Hannity and his trolls floundering as they try to muddy the waters with their self-serving lies. But we can only expect that to make them more aggressive and repulsive. Stay tuned and stay strong.

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

Urgent (and hilarious) Update: Hannity is now so desperate that he’s threatening to go after Stephen Colbert. And that’s something Colbert — would absolutely LOVE.

Right-Wingers Freak Out Over Claim That Obama is ‘Banning’ Fox News

Oh Noes! The Obamabots are at it again. Remember when they confiscated all of our guns, set up concentration camps, and handed Alabama over to ISIS? Well now they have a new plot to outlaw free speech and suppress the patriots at Fox News.

Fox News

The conservative InterTubes are afire with paranoid panic over remarks by a member of the Federal Election Commission. Democratic commissioner Ellen Weintraub wrote a memorandum to her colleagues with the subject “Revised Proposal to Launch Rulemaking to Ensure that U.S. Political Spending is Free from Foreign Influence.” To anyone not suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome, this would appear to be responsible election oversight. Which is the mission of the FEC. However, to hysterical right-wingers this is an assault on free speech. The offending paragraph from the memo simply asks:

“Given the ban on direct or indirect foreign national spending in U.S. elections. should any limits be imposed on corporate spending based on the percentage of the corporation’s foreign ownership?”

It is already illegal for foreign nationals and corporations to donate to U.S. candidates and political referendums. The reasons are obvious. Nobody wants hostile nations to be able to interfere with American elections. Russia or China should not have the ability to plant their operatives in our Congress. The rulemaking proposal by Weintraub is only meant to close any loopholes and to secure the integrity of our political system. The memo states exactly that:

“The FEC needs to address the real threat that foreign individuals, corporations, or governments may seek to manipulate our elections through domestic corporations they own or control. Given everything we have learned this year. it blinks reality to suggest that that there is no risk of foreign nationals taking advantage of current loopholes to intercede invisibly in American elections. This is a risk no member of the Federal Election Commission should be willing to tolerate.”

This could not be more clear cut. Weintraub is plainly seeking to prevent our enemies from corrupting our elections. So leave it to Fox News to create a controversy where none would otherwise exist. To that end, the hosts of Fox & Friends barreled headlong into the phony squabble with Brian Kilmeade introducing senior correspondent Ed Henry:

Kilmeade: Oh, in case we didn’t mention it, Fox News could be banned from covering politics. That is if Democrats on the Federal Election Committee (sic) get their way.
Henry: Democrats on the Federal Election Commission targeting Fox and other media companies who have even a tiny bit of foreign ownership, saying they should not be allowed to engage in any ‘electioneering communication.’ This could be used to muzzle free speech and it was offered by a Democratic commissioner on the FEC, Ellen Weintraub.

The segment went on to assert that the commission was enacting a regulation that “could ban Fox and others from endorsing or covering” politics. Although there is nothing in the memo that even alludes to that. In fact, the memo never even mentions the media. What’s more, it isn’t enacting anything, it is merely opening a dialog. And the dialog is wholly focused on corporations that are owned by foreign nationals or governments. The actions addressed are strictly identified as electioneering, not reporting, endorsing, or any other function of journalism. Weintrab even reiterated that in an official statement:

Did that ease the irrational fears of the conservative outrage machine? Of course not. On the Internet there were frantic tweets from the usual fringy suspects. In addition, the Media Research Center (the ultra-right watchdog group and home of Newsbusters) published an article with a headline that shrieked “FEC Attempting to Kill Fox News, WSJ, NY Post Political Coverage.” Their lede was a false and feverish declaration that “The propaganda machine inside the federal government is in full swing to squelch any conservatives or dissenting views.”

As is apparent from the original memo and the appended affirmation, none of that is true. It’s just another fit of hysteria from right-wing conspiracy kooks. These are the same folks who thought that military exercises in Texas were a prelude to invasion. They worried that Obama was deliberately infecting America with Ebola. Before long these fruitcakes will be clamoring for Hillary Clinton’s impeachment due to her covert lizard identity. In the meantime, Fox & Friends’ Ainsley Earhardt is showing her grit by standing up to the infidels:

“If they want the government to control the media then they can move to North Korea, or Russia, or China. It’s not happening here. No one’s telling us what we can and can’t say.”

Well, no one except for the Fox News executives and the Republican National Committee. It is no accident that there is a uniformity of opinion on Fox. They are presently serving as the Trump PR office. And this latest imaginary atrocity will just be another of their excuses after they lose in November.

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

UPDATE: The real threat to freedom of the press is Donald Trump:

“Mr. Trump, especially given the positions he’s staked out … would represent a really significant threat to the tradition of an independent free press in the United States,” says David Barstow of The New York Times.

“I think Donald Trump represents a clear and present danger to the liberties of the people, to the idea of the First Amendment,” agrees David Cay Johnston, now a columnist for The Daily Beast.

Fox News Is Hyperventilating About Climate Change vs. Terrorism – Again

One of the most predictable lines of attack on President Obama by Fox News and other right-wing media is to latch unto his commitment to mitigating the catastrophic effects of anthropomorphic climate change, and suggesting that his commitment to fighting terrorism is lax in comparison. The idiocy of that argument has been demonstrated numerous times, but since the right keeps bringing it up like a meal of rotten clams, it still needs to be debunked.

Fox News

The latest regurgitation of this nonsense came when Obama spoke at a press conference with the President of Argentina. He was asked a question about the post-Brussels optics of his decision to stay in Cuba and attend a baseball game. Obama expanded on his previous statement asserting that allowing the terrorists to disrupt our lives would be counter-productive, and that the message we need to send is that “You do not have power over us.”

Obama: Groups like ISIL can’t destroy us. They can’t defeat us. They don’t produce anything. They’re not an existential threat to us. They are vicious killers and murderers who perverted one of the world’s great religions. And their primary power, in addition to killing innocent lives, is to strike fear in our societies, to disrupt our societies, so that the effect cascades from an explosion or an attack by a semi-automatic rifle. And even as we are systematic and ruthless and focused in going after them, disrupting their networks, getting their leaders, rolling up their operations, it is very important for us not to respond with fear.

That profound and powerful statement was contorted into an expression of indifference by the spinmeisters at Fox News with help from CNSNews, a division of the uber-rightist Media Research Center. The problem they had with Obama’s remarks was that they were followed by his support for advancing a positive agenda, including solutions to the very real global threats posed by climate change.

Obama: So it’s important for the U.S. president and the U.S. government to be able to work with people who are building, and who are creating things and creating jobs, and trying to solve major problems like climate change, and setting up educational exchanges for young people who going to create the next great invention or scientific breakthrough that can cure diseases. We have to make sure that we lift up and we stay focused as well on the things that are most important to us.

The Horror! President Obama had the audacity to advocate a path forward that seeks to prevent suffering from disease and worldwide climate-related disasters. Anyone with a clear perspective understands that these are real threats that will affect millions of people. And while terrorism is unarguably agonizing and barbaric, it’s impact is much more narrow in terms of victims. What conservatives want is to terrify people by focusing on the immediacy and bloodshed of incidents like those in Brussels. Which is, ironically, the same thing the terrorists want.

However, most experts on terrorism and international security (including four of the past Secretaries of Defense, three of whom are Republicans) have concluded that climate change, unlike terrorism, is an existential threat. The military has been crystal clear for years about the very real consequences of a world where water and arable land become scarce, and nations erupt into chaos and war. Last year the Rolling Stone published an extensive examination of The Pentagon & Climate Change: How Deniers Put National Security at Risk. Among its many documented examples of the threat certified by numerous military analysts is one that ought to be persuasive to the conservative Republican deniers:

“In 2003, under Donald Rumsfeld, former President George W. Bush’s defense secretary, the Pentagon published a report titled ‘An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.’ Commissioned by Andrew Marshall, who is sometimes jokingly referred to within the Pentagon as Yoda — and who was a favorite of Rumsfeld’s — the report warned that threats to global stability posed by rapid warming vastly eclipse that of terrorism.

You might think that with Rumsfeld warning about the dangers of climate change from a national security perspective, the naysayers at Fox would keep their mouths shut. You would be wrong. And that’s because their goals have nothing to do with solving problems. The Fox propagandists are tightly focused on bashing the President to the exclusion of any other objective, including the best interests of the American people and the rest of the world.

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

For the record, Obama didn’t just bring up climate change at the press conference to rattle conservative cages. The issue was one of the key subjects on the agenda for his trip to Argentina. And during the visit Obama and Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri agreed to take significant measures to cut carbon emissions from air flights and integrate solar and wind power into electricity grids.

What’s more, the criticism from the right that Obama has not properly prioritized the fight against terrorism in his public statements was put to rest the very same day in these remarks which Fox News neglected to report:

“I’ve got a lot of things on my plate. But my top priority is to defeat ISIL and to eliminate the scourge of this barbaric terrorism that’s been taking place around the world. The issue is how do we do it in an intelligent way. But what we don’t do, and what we should not do, is take approaches that are gonna be counter-productive. So when I hear somebody say we should carpet-bomb Iraq or Syria, not only is that inhumane, not only is that contrary to our values, but that would likely be an extraordinary mechanism for ISIL to recruit more people willing to die and explode bombs in an airport or in a metro station. That’s not a smart strategy.”

In conclusion, Fox News is blatantly disinforming their dimwitted audience when they try to portray Obama as disinterested in terrorism, when in fact it is one of his highest priorities. And they are likewise disinforming their audience by leading them to believe that climate change is not an existential threat, in particular when compared to terrorism. But what they are doing mostly is advancing the interests of terrorists by helping them to spread the fear that is at the heart of their strategy.

Fox News Imagines Another Covert Plot Against Rick Perry (And America) By George Soros

The folks at Fox News are on the case of yet another scheme by super-villain George Soros who seems to be at the helm of every evil deed that Fox stumbles over. This time they have dispatched Brent Bozell, founder and president of the uber-rightist media watch-mongrel, Media Research Center (MRC), to pull the curtain aside on the Soros machine and reveal that he is the puppet master behind the indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Fox News Rick Perry

For more delusional nonsense from Fox News…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

Bozell’s op-ed for Fox News is titled “Mainstream media censors Soros’ connection to Rick Perry indictment.” He begins his bill of peculiars by alleging that the media has suppressed the truth about Texans for Public Justice (TPJ), the group that originally filed the complaint against Perry. Bozell claims that “the group responsible for that indictment had received a half million dollars” from Soros. However, there is a very good reason that the press failed to disclose this information: It isn’t true.

First of all, TPJ is not responsible for the indictment. They merely filed a complaint that would have been dismissed if it were without merit. It was the Grand Jury, impaneled by a Republican prosecutor who was appointed by a Republican judge, that brought the indictment. As usual, if Republicans are alleged to have broken a law it is always the fault of Democrats. That includes GOP governors Perry, Chris Christy, Scott Walker, Bob McDonnell, and Rick Scott. Detect a pattern there?

Secondly, TPJ never received $500,000 from George Soros. Since Bozell failed to cite his source for that allegation, I had to track it down myself. As it turns out it was reported by the Business & Media Institute (BMI), which just happens to be a division of Bozell’s MRC. Fancy that. BMI describes their mission as being “devoted solely to analyzing and exposing the anti-free enterprise culture of the media.” Searching further I did find a $500,000 donation from the Open Society Institute, which was founded by Soros, to a coalition of groups that came together to ensure that stimulus funds were well spent. From their press release

“The Open Society Institute today announced a $500,000 grant to groups in Texas to monitor stimulus spending, encourage public participation in state-level decisions, and advocate for an equitable distribution of recovery funds. […] The coalition includes Texas Impact, Texans Together, the Sierra Club, Texas Legal Services, La Fe Policy Research and Education Center, Public Citizen, the Center for Public Policy Priorities and Texans for Public Justice.”

OK then, TPJ was the beneficiary of some amount of largess from Soros, but certainly not half a million dollars. Even if the donation was divided evenly among the members (unlikely because groups like the Sierra Club and Public Citizen are so much larger than TPJ), it would have amounted to only $62,500. It was intentionally dishonest for Bozell to imply that TPJ received the whole amount. Another detail that he left out was that this donation was made five years ago (November 2009). That was long before TPJ had filed its complaint against Perry and even before any of the issues cited in the complaint had occurred.

No objective person could conclude that an organization that received a small portion of a donation five years prior was still beholden to that donor. But Bozell implausibly proclaims that he “wasn’t in the least bit surprised to learn the Soros machine’s fingerprints were all over this brazen, partisan ploy. It’s what they do.” How Soros’ fingerprints got all over an event that took place many years after he made a donation can only be attributed to his well-known omnipotence and clairvoyant powers. Either that or Bozell’s well-known paranoia and aversion to the truth.

Bozell closed by saying that “In this case, the media have gone beyond mere bias and are complicit in the Soros machine’s scheme to take down a conservative leader.” And with that he comes full circle to branding the entire controversy as a Soros scheme. No longer is it a just a partisan ploy by democrats. Bozell has named the perpetrator and his accomplices in the media. And with the help of Fox News this delusional fabrication will become a fact in the minds of wingnuts across America.

IDIOCRACY: Fox News Is Aghast That Media Watchdog Does What Media Watchdogs Do

On CNN’s Reliable Sources this weekend, host Brian Stelter interviewed David Brock, the founder of Media Matters, to respond to an accusation made by disgraced former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson on last week’s program. Attkisson alleged that Media Matters might have been paid to target her for criticism. It was an irresponsible and paranoid allegation for which she offered no evidence or any details on who would have offered the payment or to whom. In effect, Attkisson demonstrated why her reporting is regarded as hackery.

In the segment on Reliable Sources (video below), Brock was asked about the nature of his business and his relationship with other media enterprises. He candidly replied that “We do work with reporters. We’re a media watchdog group.” That seems pretty obvious. It is precisely what media watchdogs are designed to do. They monitor various journalism outlets, analyze their content, and communicate their findings to the public and other members of the press. It’s a valuable service that helps to keep the media honest and accurate. But that’s not the way Fox News sees it.

Fox Nation

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In a desperate attempt to further smear an organization with which Fox is obsessed, Fox News posted an article on their Fox Nation website with the shocking disclosure that Brock “Admits to Working with Media Outlets on Stories.” That’s more of a definition than an admission. It’s perfectly acceptable for Brock to provide his reports to the media, just as it’s acceptable for the media to receive and evaluate them.

Nevertheless, the Fox Nationalists portrayed this activity as if it were criminal, saying that he “did not deny the allegations today.” Again, that’s more of a job description than an allegation. And it’s a job that is done by many organizations including some with conservative views. One of the most notable is the Media Research Center and its NewsBusters website. Run by ultra-rightist Brent Bozell, the MRC is a major source of information for the conservative media circus including Fox News. Former Fox anchor Brit Hume even lauded the MRC saying…

“I want to say a word, however, of thanks to Brent and the team at the Media Research Center […] for the tremendous amount of material that the Media Research Center provided me for so many years when I was anchoring Special Report, I don’t know what we would’ve done without them. It was a daily buffet of material to work from, and we certainly made tremendous use of it.”

Given the close relationship between the MRC and Fox News, it is blatantly hypocritical for them to assert some sort of malfeasance on the part of Media Matters. When Fox’s primary anchor and managing editor confesses to making “tremendous use” of the MRC’s data, and not knowing what he would have done without them, it seems somewhat overblown and self-serving to criticize Media Matters for simply documenting the flagrant bias and inept inaccuracies of the conservative media.

It would not be too much of a stretch to observe the jealousy of the right who have a much harder time fabricating their fake outrages and phony controversies like the one presented here. Whereas Media Matters, sadly, has an abundance of right-wing distortions and lies to catalog. Brock may have said it best on Reliable Sources when he noted that conservative watchdogs…

“…seem to be particularly incensed about Media Matters’ relationship with the media. Maybe we’re just doing a better job than they are.”

FLASHBACK: Before Fox News Attacked The IRS, They Embraced It To Attack Media Matters

In researching the recent controversies over the IRS and its alleged targeting of conservative non-profits, I stumbled across an article I wrote two years ago that unveils yet another blatant hypocrisy from Fox News (as if more were necessary to make the point). The current programming on Fox is dedicated almost non-stop to hammering the Obama administration for the misbehavior of low-level IRS staff. The story has even supplanted their previous pet scandal, Benghazi. And despite making broad accusations of complicity by the President, they have failed to provide even a smidgen of evidence that he had any role in the way that non-profits were selected for review.

That simple fact, however, has not stopped Fox from launching a sustained campaign of outrage aimed at the IRS, which they now regard as a totalitarian agency bent on destroying America and freedom. But it was not always thus. Not too long ago, Fox News was happy to use the IRS as a cudgel against their own perceived enemies. They embarked on mission to wipe the watchdog group Media Matters off the face of the earth. It was a weeks-long effort that included dozens of broadcast segments explicitly recruiting their viewers to file falsified complaints challenging the tax-exempt status of Media Matters. In the process they brought in pundits, and lawyers, and even their in-house “Psycho Analyst” to paint a disparaging portrait of the organization and its founder.

Fox News - Media Matters

The irony of Fox using the IRS to harass a non-profit organization just because they disagree agree with it will surely be lost on everyone at Fox and everyone who watches it. Below is the article re-posted in full because it is still as relevant today as it was then. Actually more so, with the addition of Fox’s newly minted contempt for the IRS.


Media Matters Has Fox News Scared And Desperate

[July 11, 2011] In the untamed jungle that is cable news, there is a ferocious and predatory beast stalking the terrain. Anyone who has encountered Fox News in the wild can attest to the spine-chilling threat imposed by the pseudo-news network. And now Fox News has the scent of new game.

The Fox News pack is on the prowl for the media watchdog group, Media Matters, against whom they have recently initiated a sustained assault. In the past two weeks they have featured over 30 stories with the express purpose of challenging the group’s right to exist. Fox has assigned network stalwarts like Bill O’Reilly, Bret Baier, Charles Krauthammer, James Rosen, Ann Coulter, Dick Morris, and Bernie Goldberg, to the mission. This is an unprecedented, broadly distributed attack by a major media enterprise against a non-profit group they regard as an adversary.

This latest batch of complaints stem from comments made last March by Media Matters founder, David Brock. He was quoted in Politico as saying that the organization was shifting its focus toward Fox News to one of “guerrilla warfare and sabotage.” Giving Fox the benefit of doubt, one might conclude that it’s only fair that Fox defend itself from such an overt declaration of war. The only thing that might refute that perspective is – reality.

If this is war, it is one wherein Fox is the aggressor. Fox News initiated their attacks long ago with aggressive and false assertions that cast Media Matters as hacks, anti-American, violent, and communist. They alleged that George Soros was pulling their strings long before Soros ever made any contributions the group. Fox stalwarts like Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck engaged in rhetoric so hostile that it inspired actual physical attacks against Media Matters and their progressive allies. This video (courtesy of Media Matters) was posted two years ago and illustrates the hostility harbored across the Fox platform long before Brock’s recent comments:

The new and highly coordinated offensive by Fox asserts that Media Matters has violated the terms of their tax-exempt status by setting their sights on Fox. They quote from the IRS rules governing non-profits that state that…

“…501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

On the basis of that criteria, Fox News argues that Media Matters is in violation and should have their tax-exempt status revoked. However, in order for that to be valid, Fox would have to admit that they are a political operation so that attacks on Fox News would qualify as opposition to political campaigns and/or candidates. Without that stipulation there is no violation on the part of Media Matters. So Fox is, in effect, conceding their role as a Republican mouthpiece. Shocking, I know.

Contine reading