Trump Confidant Alex Jones Spins INSANE Conspiracy Theory About the Las Vegas Massacre

The news yesterday of the massacre in Las Vegas was both horrific and predictable. It is unbearably sad that Americans are still being slaughtered by madmen with weapons that should only be available to soldiers at war. And yet, too many of our national leaders continue to resist common sense methods to keep such deadly artillery off the streets. So once again we are mourning the dead and sending out thoughts and prayers to their loved ones.

Alex Jones

Just as predictable is the fantastical fiction of conspiracy theorists and others seeking to exploit tragedy. Chief among them is Alex Jones, a devoted supporter of Donald Trump whom, he claims, he’s in frequent contact with. Trump has has appeared on Jones’ Infowars program praising his “amazing” reputation. And an Infowars “correspondent” was actually granted a White House press pass.

Consequently, you have to wonder whether the President thinks the latest hallucinatory ramblings of Jones are also amazing. Within hours of the Las Vegas shooting, Jones was disgorging his deranged analysis. It consisted entirely of invented “facts” and lunatic outbursts. The wild ride begins here (video below):

“Now here’s the big news. Islamic State has taken responsibility, and the man known by the police for issues, I guess for mental illness, reportedly converted to Islam in the last two months. And even though that’s being reported by Reuters and others, you’re not seeing on it on CNN or MSNBC.”

Perhaps the reason other news outlets are reluctant to report it is because there’e no proof that it’s true. The report by the Associated Press includes the disclaimer that ISIS “has a history of exaggerated or false claims.” Even so, Jones’s media bashing was wrong. A tweet by CNN’s Brian Stelter explained that CNN and others ought not to cover the claim by ISIS because there isn’t “a shred of evidence” to support it. And NBC’s Pete Williams did discuss the claim on MSNBC, also noting that it wasn’t believable.

Jones then preposterously asserted that Al Gore was allied with ISIS and Al Qaeda. He connected that to a thoroughly made up claim that two months ago Gore and former CIA Director John Brennan had predicted a terrorist attack and the overthrow of Donald Trump within two months (i.e. now). Jones said that this was because October 1st was the 100 year anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. As nutty as that conspiracy theory is, it was also historically wrong. The Russian uprising against the tsarist regime actually began in February of 1917 and concluded in late October with the Bolsheviks assuming control of Parliament. There was no significant event on the first of October that would have warranted an anniversary remembrance. But then Jones really flew off the rails:

“Here’s the other big news. On Saturday night, Sunday morning, they released O.J. [Simpson] just twenty hours before the attack took place. So all the media would come and be in place to cover this event. The whole thing has the hallmarks of being scripted by ‘deep state’ Democrats and their Islamic allies using mental patient cutouts.”

Really? Simpson was released in the dead of night specifically to avoid any media coverage. And it worked. There was a single fixed camera at the prison that caught Simpson’s release. Jones also alleged that Democrats and communists were planning to “go violent and start shooting and killing police, conservatives, whites, you name it. And that white genocide needs to be carried out.” According to Jones, this was reported by national news organizations. It wasn’t. And even Saturday Night Live was accused of being a part of the plot to “cause a civil war in this country.” And before he was done, Jones regurgitated the debunked story that Democrats or unions refused to deliver emergency supplies to the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

This is the level of depravity that Alex Jones sinks to on a regular basis. He previously said that 9//11 was an inside job. He charged that the mass murder of the children at Sandy Hook was a hoax staged by actors. And he still doesn’t believe that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen. Nevertheless, he has the respect of Donald Trump who promised that “I will not let you down.” And given the quantity and quality of his lies, Trump is surely keeping that promise.

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

Rachel Maddow Tops All Cable News Programs in 3rd Quarter – And Donald Trump is Nervous

The rapid rise of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has stunned many in the cable news business. Her show has risen from modest beginnings to dominate her field. And she has achieved something that was thought unthinkable a couple of years ago: beating Fox News. And she has been doing that handily for several months.

Rachel Maddow

There is a segment of television news consumers who are clearly interested in thoughtful, well-researched journalism. Maddow’s brand of intelligent, fact-based discourse is proving to be more popular than Fox News style blather, bellowing, and bullshit. The negativity and ultra-conservative bias that defines Fox News might be wearing thin. Plus, they have the unenviable job of defending Donald Trump’s infantile outbursts, humiliating ignorance, and unpopular positions on nearly everything.

With all of that in mind, it isn’t that surprising that Maddow has taken the cable news crown. What’s surprising is the scope of her victory and its continuing acceleration. Forbes reports the newest Nielsen numbers saying that:

“The MSNBC host just hit a milestone for MSNBC, with her 9 p.m. hour, The Rachel Maddow Show, finishing the third quarter of 2017 as the No. 1 cable news show on television. It’s the first time any MSNBC show has finished first in the Nielsen ratings for an entire quarter.

“Maddow hit her highest ratings among total viewers (2.7 million) and in the advertiser-coveted demographic of adults 25-54 (606,000). That represents an increase of 75% compared to the third quarter of 2016 (total viewers), and 65% (adults 25-54).”

The numbers for Maddow were reflected throughout the MSNBC schedule. Their total day growth was “up +41 percent in viewers and up +27 percent in the demo.” That contrasts with a Fox News decline “year-over-year in total viewers, down -3 percent in total day and down -12 percent in total viewers.” Ironically, Fox’s best performing program was “Shepard Smith Reporting” which was up +19 percent. Lately Smith is the sole voice of sanity on Fox and a frequent critic of Trump. Which is to say that he reports truthfully.

Speaking of Trump, he isn’t taking this news well. In fact, he’s avoiding the reality of it entirely. On Thursday he retweeted his friend Bill O’Reilly congratulating Sean Hannity for a short-term ratings bump.

The disgust of seeing the sexual predator Trump, promoting fellow deviant O’Reilly, was jarring and repulsive. Particularly since this was O’Reilly’s first time back on Fox News since he was terminated for sexually harassing his colleagues and guests. As for Hannity, he just moved to a new time period directly competing with Maddow. So he front-loaded his first week with a bevy of right-wing icons like Steve Bannon, Paul Ryan, Rush Limbaugh, and O’Reilly. He can’t be expected to keep up that pace and his ratings will likely sink back to their prior levels. So any boasting about the numbers for a couple of days is premature and pales in comparison to Maddow’s quarterly trouncing of Hannity and Fox.

But this is all that they have to hang on to. Maddow is a certified success who is putting Hannity to shame. And the fact that Trump is lowering himself to posting TV ratings results is further proof of his unfitness for the presidency. The nation is juggling multiple crises including hurricane catastrophes in Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas. Trump’s third attempt to kill ObamaCare just went down in flames. He’s now peddling a tax reform scam that will benefit the wealthy and hurt everyone else. He seems intent on starting a nuclear war with North Korea. Our elections systems have been compromised by foreign enemies.

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

Trump himself is at risk for prosecution and possible impeachment for his involvement with Russia, both politically and financially. And now he’s interrupted his racist posting on the NFL to lie about television ratings. We don’t have a president anymore. We have a traitorous, wannabe tabloid hack who would be better suited as a correspondent for the Russian version of TMZ. And even that would be a stretch for him.

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

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

Shepard Smith Fox News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ex-Fox News Anchor Greta Van Susteren’s Failing MSNBC Show is Abruptly Canceled

Score one for the free market. Six months ago MSNBC hired Greta Van Susteren to host an early evening hour program. It was a peculiar choice considering the network’s success with their more progressive personalities in primetime. There was never a good case to be made for a former Fox News host succeeding on MSNBC. Their existing audience surely wasn’t clamoring for more Fox-style news analysis. And no one who watches Fox would be caught dead tuning in to MSNBC.

Greta Van Susteren

Nevertheless, the network’s management took the plunge. An apt metaphor considering how deep the ratings for Van Susteren’s show sank. The show was virtual sinkhole in the schedule. Both its lead-in and lead-out had more viewers and better ratings. People were clearly changing the channel when Van Susteren’s show started.

Van Susteren’s weakness occurred while the rest of the network’s program’s were soaring to record highs. Rachel Maddow has frequently beaten her Fox News competition and landed at the top of all cable news programming. The same is true for her colleague Lawrence O’Donnell. Van Sustern wasn’t even performing as well as Maddow’s and O’Donnell’s repeats.

So after six months, MSNBC management has seen the light and diplomatically announced a parting of the ways. Network president Phil Griffin said:

“MSNBC and Greta Van Susteren have decided to part ways. Greta is a well-regarded television veteran and one of only a few broadcasters who can say they’ve hosted shows at all three major cable news networks. We are grateful to her and wish her the best.”

Griffin also revealed that Van Susteren’s time slot will be filled by Ari Melber. Melber is the network’s legal analyst and host of the weekend show The Point. He has also been a frequent fill-in host for several of the network’s programs. He should be a capable, if not exciting, addition to the schedule. On the down side, he’s just another cable news white guy. Weekend anchor Joy Reid would have been a better, and more stimulating, choice.

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

It remains to be seen if MSNBC has realized the folly of their ways. They recently hired or promoted other right-wingers like Hugh Hewitt, Bret Stephens, Charlie Sykes, and George Will. And their big get, Fox News star Megyn Kelly, is already off to a disastrous start. Her NBC Sunday Night show premiered to abysmal ratings and went down from there. NBC execs are already somewhat frantic that she will kill the Today Show when she debuts in September. Time will tell.

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.

Morning Joe Unleashes Epic Rant on GOP Liars: My Party is Going STRAIGHT TO HELL’

In the four unbearably long months that Donald Trump has been president his administration has achieved nothing but scandal and worldwide embarrassment. However, the biggest threat to Trump’s presidency and the Republican Party has always been the prospect of other Republicans abandoning him to save their own necks. Until that happens he faces only moderate risk from the criticism of Democrats.

Joe Scarborough

Well, the GOP dam is about to burst. The flood of Republicans distancing themselves from Trump is growing. For the most part that’s due to the tsunami of evidence accumulating about his unsavory connections to Russia. And his own statements that amount to confessions of obstruction of justice don’t endear him to his colleagues either. But while Russia is the most troubling of Trump’s basket of scandals, it isn’t the only one.

Friday morning a prominent Republican and MSNBC TV anchor was through with the brazen dishonesty of Trump’s brand of Republicanism. Joe Scarborough shocked his Morning Joe panel by firing off an impassioned commentary (video below). The trigger was Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney. At a Senate hearing Mulvaney flatly declared that Trump’s proposed budget would not cut Medicare. That’s an assertion that is plainly contradicted by reality. Or as Scarborough out it, it’s a “certifiable lie.” And that was just the beginning.

Scarborough continued with the question that formed the basis of his righteous rant. “Why do the Republicans,” he asked emphatically, “keep looking into cameras and lie?” It would be too easy to reply that “that’s all they’ve got,” or “it’s in their blood.” Scarborough himself couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer. But his exasperation was showing. He railed against his party pals saying that:

“You’re cutting $850 billion in Medicare for the poorest of the poor. If you want to do it, embrace it. Don’t lie about it. Stop lying about it. We know you’re lying about it. We’re not stupid. And you Republicans in the House have been lying non-stop.” […]

“It’s so maddening. This is my party. My party is going straight to hell politically. They really are. They’re going straight to hell. They have embraced the coarsening of culture where the truth means absolutely nothing.”

This is the kind political crack in the wall that precedes massive defections. And it isn’t just limited to a specific policy. Scarborough made a point of connecting the lies of the GOP with its leader. Saying that “I understand Donald Trump lies all the time,” Scarborough recognized that the fish stinks from the head. And he warned his party peers that “You are selling your soul if you just keep lying about things.”

The only question now is how long it will take for the retreat to reach a tipping point. No elected Republican is willing to lose their seat to defend a crumbling administration that is mired in accusations of criminal conduct with hints of treason. When the light of truth is switched on they will scurry to political safety like startled cockroaches. The thing that voters will need to remember is that, even in their darkened crevices, they are still cockroaches.

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

MSNBC Reaches HUGE Ratings Milestone as Fox News is dragged Down By Right-Wing Millstone

Donald Trump’s presidency continues to be the victim of an unrelenting cascade of scandalous news. At the same time, ironically, Fox News appears to be the victim of Donald Trump. As the President’s fortune’s sink ever lower, so do the ratings for Fox News. And it’s no coincidence.

Rachel Maddow

This week MSNBC hit a significant milestone. For the first time ever the network topped the weekly primetime ratings in a commanding fashion. For both total viewers and the critical 25-54 year old advertising demographic, MSNBC led all of cable news. This was a broadly based ratings win that stretched beyond the network’s powerhouse, Rachel Maddow. All In with Chris Hayes, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, and The 11th Hour with Brian Williams all won their time periods.

Simultaneously, Fox News descended to lows that it hasn’t seen in seventeen years. They came in third in the demo in primetime behind both MSNBC and CNN. This is fairly conclusive evidence that the media landscape is shifting in the Era of Trump. MSNBC’s primetime lineup has proven to be popular as the nation seeks in-depth coverage of Trump’s floundering White House. Viewers appreciate the perspective and analysis of clear-eyed anchors and guests.

The problem for Fox News is that their entire business model works against them in this environment. The editorial practice on Fox is to hype anything and everything that reflects negatively on Democrats and liberals. Conversely, they avoid or underplay any news that harms their benefactors on the right. Since almost all of the news these days is horrible for Republicans, Fox News is trapped in a vortex of right-wing happy-talk. And worse, they are ideologically precluded from reporting what viewers are most interested in.

Every day there seems to another bombshell story related to Trump’s alleged collusion with Russian operatives. These are among the most compelling stories of any news cycle. The American people want to know whether the President engaged in potentially impeachable conduct. They want to know if he’s in cahoots with foreign enemies. In addition, there are numerous other topics that cast the administration in a bad light. They include: the much despised Republican proposal to repeal and replace ObamaCare; Trump’s tax reform that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us; the foreign and military affairs wherein Trump exposes his profound ignorance; the financial conflicts of interest by the President and his family; and the many episodes of embarrassing and/or unlawful behavior by his advisers and associates.

But Fox News won’t cover any of that. At least not in any detail. So if news consumers want to know what’s going on they have to switch away from Fox. And they are doing so in droves. MSNBC is clearly the biggest beneficiary of this. While viewers know there’s an editorial slant during the network’s primetime, they appreciate the exhaustive research and factual basis. Particularly with breakout star Rachel Maddow. CNN has also grown their ratings, but their obsession with phony balance and artificially combative debate limits their upside.

Fox is likely to continue its downward spiral. And not just because of their reporting embargo on actual breaking news. In the past year they have lost their CEO, Roger Ailes, and biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, to sex scandals. They also lost Bill Shine, the executive who replaced Ailes. They are under investigation by the New York Attorney General for financial securities violations. Among their on-air personalities they saw the departures of Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kelly, Andrea Tantaros, and Julie Roginsky. And their only African-American anchor, Kelly Wright, is a plaintiff in a racial discrimination lawsuit along with twelve others. The list of litigants against Fox for racial and gender discrimination continues to grow.

Meanwhile, MSNBC is enjoying record audience growth. Maddow and her primetime colleagues are doing what was once considered unthinkable. They are beating Fox News. Recent reports that suggested that MSNBC might not renew the contract of Lawrence O’Donnell launched a massive outcry that may have forced the network to the negotiating table.

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

The trends are decidedly in MSNBC’s favor. They have the content and the public on their side. While Fox News is struggling without leadership, star power, or news that appeals to their glassy-eyed disciples. We can expect the fates of Fox and Trump to continue to slide in sync with one another. And as they both alienate TV viewers, the nation, and the world, their influence will decline to match their dishonest and loathsome reputations.

UPDATE: MSNBC’s hot streak continued to win the whole month of May for weeknights in primetime.

MSNBC is Finally Negotiating with Lawrence O’Donnell. Keep the Pressure on. It’s Working

The soap opera drama surrounding Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract negotiations with MSNBC is heating up. In a good way. Last week an article on the Huffington Post revealed that MSNBC was not actively negotiating to re-sign O’Donnell whose contract expires in June. That news startled his fans and the media world at large.

Lawrence O'Donnell MSNBC

O’Donnell is a core part of the team that is currently burning up cable news. MSNBC’s ratings are reaching record highs. For the past three weeks they have even bested Fox News in the critical 25-54 year old advertising demographic. That was considered unthinkable a few weeks ago. The brightest star in the network’s universe is Rachel Maddow, whose ratings have soared in sync with her stellar reporting on Donald Trump. O’Donnell has nearly matched her success and beaten Fox News perennial, Sean Hannity, on some nights.

Insider speculation has pointed to NBC News chief Andy Lack as the obstacle to O’Donnell’s renewal. Since his ascension, Lack has steered MSNBC to a decidedly more conservative slant. He hired Greta Van Susteren from Fox News. Also dinosaur conservative George Will. He gave former George W. Bush communications director, Nicolle Wallace, her own show. And he’s giving Hugh Hewitt one on the weekend. Why he thinks that any conservative viewers are going to tune in to MSNBC is a complete mystery. They have been trained for years to regard the network as something just this side of Satanic. Van Susteren’s show is already a dismal failure that brings down the programs that follow it.

Lack’s programming moves are disconcerting for several reasons. They make no sense from a business perspective. It is ridiculous to upend a schedule that is showing such success and is still growing. It alienates the core audience that is the foundation of that success. But there is also talk that Lack’s motivation is to suck up to Donald Trump. Considering Trump’s record low standing in the polls, that may be the dumbest reason of all to upset a winning formula.

Shortly after the HuffPost article, another appeared on Showbiz411 with a disturbingly declarative headline. It blared “MSNBC Ending Lawrence O’Donnell ‘The Last Word’ Show Despite Top Ratings (Exclusive).” It’s author, Roger Friedman, began by saying “I can confirm that MSNBC is ending the top rated ‘The Last Word’ with Lawrence O’Donnell.” That, unsurprisingly, created a stir among viewers. Even worse, Friedman cited sources that said “O’Donnell’s tireless criticism of Donald Trump” was the reason for the cancellation.

So here’s the good news. Friedman just published a new article that contradicts his prior exclusive. Apparently the outcry from viewers was so powerful that it pushed MSNBC to the negotiating table. Indeed, there has been a flood of angry viewers swarming Facebook and Twitter in defense of O’Donnell. The result appears to be the first serious talks between the network and its star.

It’s too soon, however, to declare victory. Until there’s a signed contract that locks O’Donnell into his current time slot, fans need to keep the pressure on. But they can do so with the knowledge that such tactics are working. You can call them at 212-664-4444 and email them at letters@msnbc.com.

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

There has never been more need for honest progressive reporting on television. The Era of Trump cannot be allowed to dispense the lies and propaganda that are emblematic of that movement. And with Fox News in upheaval (having lost its CEO Roger Ailes and its biggest star Bill O’Reilly to sex scandals), this is not the time to retreat. Activists who are seeking to turn Congress and the White House blue need to recognize that the media battlefield is just as important as the electoral one. Carry on progressive soldiers – to victory.

UPDATE (5/31/2017): Lawrence O’Donnell affirmed that he’ll be continuing on his program for the next couple of years. VICTORY!

WTF is Going On at MSNBC? Recent Hires Have a Distinctly Fox News Flavor

Three months into Donald Trump’s administration there is more cause than ever for critical analysis of Washington politics. But much of the press is having trouble countering Trump’s “Reality TV” dramatization of news. They attempt to achieve a false balance by presenting opposing views, even if one side is truthful and the other is lying.

Rachel Maddow

Having a president who’s suspected of colluding with Russians to steal an election is hardly the time to go soft. It is not the time to appease those in power or pander to wingnuts who will never tune in anyway. Yet that’s exactly the direction that MSNBC appears to heading.

In recent weeks they have hired or promoted some decidedly right-wing personalities. Former Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren now has her own show on MSNBC. Former communications director for George W, Bush, Nicolle Wallace, also just premiered a new program. Likewise conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt. This week MSNBC announced that it has hired old-school conservative George Will away from Fox News.

These roster changes are especially puzzling at this time. MSNBC has built a brand that appeals to a more progressive audience. Despite having a former Republican anchoring three hours in the morning (Joe Scarborough), and a generally straight news profile during the day, their prime time lineup leans openly to the left. Chis Hayes, Rachel Maddow, and Laurence O’Donnell are not shy about expressing their liberal opinions.

More importantly, that programming slant has paid off handsomely for MSNBC. They are enjoying their highest ratings in years. Maddow is actually beating her competition on Fox News in the key advertising demographic of 25-54 year olds. Not too long ago Fox News was considered unbeatable. But now Adweek’s TVNewser reports that:

“The network also continues to post more year-over-year prime time audience growth than both Fox News and CNN: +82 percent in total viewers and +61 percent in the prime time demo versus April 2016.”

It’s a surprising and inspiring success story. Any network would be turning cartwheels and striving to replicate that success across its dayparts. So why is MSNBC going out of their way to bolster a winning lineup with right-wing losers? None of the new “talent” has demonstrated any appeal to MSNBC’s audience. Van Susteren, in fact, is an obvious hole in the schedule, dipping noticeably between her lead-in and lead-out. And the viewers that might be interested in these new faces are genetically averse to ever tuning in to the radical socialists at MSNBC. Why should they when they can get all the wingnuttery they desire on Fox News? And if it’s caterwauling debates that they want, CNN already has the market cornered on that.

There is no shortage of liberals who could be brought into the MSNBC family. Joy Reid already has a Saturday morning show that gets more viewers than many weekday shows on CNN and Fox. They could have moved her into the time slot they gave to Van Susteren or Wallace. Even Keith Olbermann was in talks to return to MSNBC. His last stint with the network was the last time they challenged Fox. But according to Olbermann, they told him he would have to refrain from his “fiery” commentaries. That was an untenable restraint, so he walked.

It’s hard to know what the suits at MSNBC are thinking. There is clearly an appetite for news commentary that counters the powerful elite in Washington. It’s a programming niche that is unfilled elsewhere. Plus, it’s a necessary defense against the dangerously erratic Trump administration’s assault on America. Where else can we go to get reality-based news about climate change? Who else is covering voter suppression and gerrymandering? Which other network is allotting time to racial and gender discrimination? And what about our President’s potentially treasonous connections to unsavory figures in Russia?

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

Fox News deliberately downplays any unflattering news about Trump. CNN reports it, but puts on crackpots who disseminate absurd justifications. That leaves MSNBC as the one network that honestly covers Trump’s dark side. For that reason alone they should not be adding to the pro-Trump voices in the media. We already have plenty of that and far too little truthful common sense and compassion.

UPDATE: There are rumors that MSNBC may not renew the contract of Lawrence O’Donnell despite the fact that his ratings are at a record high. He is beating CNN, and challenging Fox News. This would be good time to let MSNBC know that we demand they keep O’Donnell and stop sucking up to the right. You can call them at 212-664-4444 and email them at letters@msnbc.com.

Rachel Maddow’s Brilliant Reporting on Trump and Russia Has Upset the Snowflakes at Fox News

For the past several weeks Rachel Maddow has been enjoying record ratings for her MSNBC program. Not only that, in the Key 25-to-54 demographic, Maddow is beating her direct Fox News competition, Tucker Carlson. The surge in viewers can be attributed to the “gift” of endless atrocities and absurdities courtesy of Donald Trump & Company.

Rachel Maddow Donald Trump

As a result of the program’s accelerating success, Fox News is exhibiting signs of anxiety and desperation. This week Fox News lashed out to criticize Maddow by featuring an analysis of her coverage published by The Intercept. Fox’s headline complained “Report Calls Out Just How Much Time MSNBC’s Maddow Spends on Trump & Russia.”

Oh my. We certainly can’t have that. In addition to beating Fox in the ratings she’s bringing attention to the most damaging scandal of the Trump administration. No wonder Fox is worried. It’s bad enough to be losing to a liberal network, but they’re also failing to protect their boss in the White House. A boss who regards the whole Russia thing as fake news.

The criticism that Maddow is spending too much time on Trump and Russia is ironic. It’s exactly that coverage that is propelling her ratings growth. Clearly there is an audience that’s thirsty for the truth on this subject. And Maddow is well aware of that. In a recent interview she told the Hollywood Reporter that:

“We’ve put a lot of effort into the Russia scandal and I don’t regret that, and I intend to be as aggressive as I possibly can on that story because here is a scandal that is of transcendent, historic importance and is existentially about whether or not this presidency should exist or whether it is the product of a crime.”

The article in The Intercept is actually a well researched and written examination of Maddow’s choice of topics. And reasonable readers can agree or disagree with its conclusions. While it does fault her for overdoing the Trump/Russia story, it does so from the perspective that other stories important to progressives were getting short shrift. For example immigration, the Obamacare repeal effort, and Trump’s Muslim ban.

That’s probably not the same position Fox News is coming from. After all, it’s unlikely that Fox wants Maddow to forgo Russia and spend more time on Trump’s other failures. Fox’s only interest is in bashing Maddow and taking back their ratings crown. That may be why Fox left out The Intercept’s acknowledgement that “Maddow’s focus on Russia has helped her ratings, which are at their highest level since 2008.” Or that Maddow is “A supremely gifted journalist who Vanity Fair has dubbed ‘the smartest person on TV.'”

That Fox News would cherry pick bits of this article that they could frame negatively is evidence of their nervousness. They obviously have little to support their position and are stretching for ways to disparage their competition. But linking to an article that’s largely complimentary in order to squeeze out a mild rebuke is a desperation move. Look for more of that going forward as Trump continues to be a fountain of material for Maddow and other liberal journalists. At the same time Fox is having to deal with the fall of serial sexual harasser Bill O’Reilly. The fate of the network’s star attraction is currently hanging by a thread.

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

Here’s a sample of some of the Trump/Russia coverage that Maddow has been doing so well: