Fox News Receives Demand to Retract Trump’s Defamatory Election Fraud Lies

Throughout the bizarre misadventures of Donald Trump’s election defeat, he and his screwball legal team have launched baseless attacks on a variety of people and companies that they blamed for his humiliating loss. Their wild conspiracy theories spun tales of alleged plots against Trump by Joe Biden and other Democrats, as wells as by Dominion Voting Systems and software developer, Smartmatic. And Trump’s increasingly rabid rhetoric is crossing the line into explicit incitations of violence.

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Donald Trump, Fox News, Lies

These allegations were never supported by evidence. And the lawsuits filed by Trump’s incompetent attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, et al., failed in nearly sixty separate court cases. That has to be some sort of record. And now it has led to a legal response by Smartmatic who has sent letters demanding retractions from the Trump-fluffing, right-wing media outfits that prop up Trump’s lies. The letters went out Monday to Fox News, Newsmax, and the One America News Network (OANN). According to Mediaite

“Smartmatic demanded the retraction of dozens of comments made by hosts Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, as well as Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who appeared frequently as guests on the network […alleging…] “a conspiracy orchestrated by George Soros and the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.”

All they need to add is Barack Obama’s birth certificate and Hillary Clinton’s emails to guarantee a spot in the Conspiracy Crackpot Hall of Fame. Mediaite also obtained a copy of the letter that Smartmatic sent to Fox News, the network that recently expressed its deep sympathy for the travails of Trump. The letter contains numerous examples of defamatory statements made by Fox News anchors, contributors, and guests, as well as Trump’s lawyers. The letter summarized its complaint saying that…

“Fox News has engaged in a concerted disinformation campaign against Smartmatic. Fox News told its millions of viewers and readers that Smartmatic was founded by Hugo Chávez, that its software was designed to fix elections, and that Smartmatic conspired with others to defraud the American people and fix the 2020 U.S. election by changing, inflating, and deleting votes. While Fox News holds itself out as a trusted news source, it has continually and repeatedly published demonstrably false information and defamatory statements about Smartmatic. Fox News used its anchors and on-air guests, including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, to spread lies about a company that had absolutely nothing to do with the voting that took place in areas at the heart of the ‘conspiracies’ discussed following the 2020 U.S. election.” […]

“Smartmatic believes Fox News had (and has) no evidence or credible source to support any of the false and misleading statements it published in the Reports. Indeed, Fox News would have easily discovered the falsity of the statements and implications being made about Smartmatic by performing even a modicum of investigation.”

Smartmatic was stating the obvious in their assessment of Fox News as not “performing even a modicum of investigation.” That’s because Fox has never been bona fide news organization. It’s mission from the beginning was to disseminate conservative propaganda to advance the extremist agenda of the Republican Party, and it’s more recent incarnation, the Trump Party.

The worshipful defense by Fox News of Trump’s preposterous claims of election “shenanigans” is the best evidence of the network’s utter lack of credibility and ethics, not to mention patriotism. And the Smartmatic lawsuit is well founded and warranted. In fact, they should add Trump to the list of defendants since he is at the root of the slanderous lies that form the basis of the lawsuit. Perhaps they will add him after he leaves office next month. But then they’ll have to get in line behind a parade of both civil and criminal cases that are sure to follow Trump into civilian life.

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How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
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Apocalypse Wow: Trump Lawyer Threatens Election Fraud Case ‘Will Be Biblical’

There has been an alarming escalation in Donald Trump’s war on democracy. Three weeks after election day, Trump is still trying to overturn the votes of a decisive majority of the American people. It’s the desperate act of a power hungry authoritarian seeking to evade the indictments that will surely follow him into civilian life, and to continue fleecing his cult followers and taxpayers.

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Flaming Trump

Ironically, in 2016 Trump complained that any challenge of election results was a direct threat to our democracy.” But like so much of what he says, that is subject to contradiction whenever it serves his purposes. Consequently, Trump is pulling out all the stops to manufacture bizarre conspiracy theories to support his flagrantly dishonest assault the American election processes. He’s attacking both Democrats and Republicans and even his own Ministry of Propaganda, Fox News. Which, to the delight of honest journalists, is working pretty well.

What is most definitely not working is Trump’s legal battle to undo the reality of President-elect Joe Biden. In fact, Trump currently has a win/loss score of 1 in 25 (at least). But never fret, according to Rudy Giuliani, losing is all part of his master plan.

Now Sidney Powell, an attorney on Trump’s election fraud team, is channeling even more lunacy into Trump’s legal circus. She was interviewed by the wingnut Newsmax network on Saturday where she alleged all manner of criminality on the part of election officials that she accused of being in cahoots with the Biden campaign. Powell even claimed that the Justice Department, headed by Trumpian super-sycophant Bill Barr, is part of the anti-Trump cabal. As usual, she didn’t offer a sliver of evidence (which got her into some hot water with Tucker Carlson of Fox News.

Powell is among those who allege that a voting machine company (Dominion) planted malicious software in their devices in order to switch hundreds of thousands of votes from Trump to Biden. This theory also stipulates provably false nonsense about the company’s software being developed in Venezuela with the help of the late Hugo Chavez, and votes being tabulated in Germany and Spain. Next we can expect her to claim that the vote counters are captive children working in the basement of a pizza parlor.

However, in this interview, Powell never provided any proof of anything she alleged. She just kept pounding out ever more preposterous poppycock. But she couldn’t explain how millions of votes could be diverted in a nationwide conspiracy that she claimed would require thousands of people to implement. Nor could she explain how it could all be pulled off without detection. But that failure didn’t stop her from turning the crazy up to eleven:

“Georgia is probably going to be the first state I’m going to blow up. Mr. Kemp [Georgia’s GOP governor] and the [GOP] Secretary of State need to go with it cause they’re in on the Dominion scam with their last minute purchase or reward of contract with Dominion worth a hundred million dollars. The State Bureau of Investigations for Georgia ought to be looking into financial benefits received by Mr. Kemp and the Secretary of State’s family about that time.

“And another benefit Dominion was created to reward is what I’d call ‘election insurance.’ That’s why Hugo Chavez had it created in the first place. I also wonder where he got the technology. Where it actually came from. Because I think it’s hammer and scorecard from the CIA.”

Then Newsmax asked Powell to clarify that she was asserting that Kemp, a longtime ally of Trump, was directly involved in the conspiracy. Powell reiterated that she “has been told there is evidence of that.” And at that point she said that she could not give any more information about that. But when Newsmax asked if she could provide any new information about the filing of her case in Georgia, Powell said that…

“I can’t say that yet. But hopefully this week we will get it ready to file. And it will be biblical.”

For the record, the phrase “It will be biblical,” is generally used to indicate a divine catastrophe on the scale of Armageddon, the battle prophesied to usher in the “End Times.” It has come to be used as a generic reference to any “end of the world” scenario. Which makes it a curious choice of words for the President’s lawyer. Even more troubling, the phrase has also been adopted by the QAnon conspiracy crackpots who believe there is a broad-based Washington confederation of cannibal child molesters. So you have to wonder about Powell’s sympathies.

What this tells us is that Trump’s case for election fraud is grounded in the same fantastical mythology of Revelations. While many Christians believe it literally, there is no material proof. And you can’t go into a court of law and ask the judge to accept your arguments on faith. But that’s where Trump and his band of theocratic lawyers have taken us. So don’t be surprised when they call on the wrath of GAWD to rain down on America if they don’t get their way.

UPDATE: Hmmm. What brought this on (she was previously identified as a member of the legal team)? The whole screwball gang is joke.

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In Challenge to Fox News as the ‘Sexual Predator Network’, Newsmax is Courting Bill O’Reilly

For many years now Fox News has occupied the top of the ratings for cable news networks. Although they are getting beaten on a regular basis by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and others, they still generally outperform their competition, but by much smaller margins than in the past.

Bill O'Reilly, Donald Trump

What is not heralded as much by Fox News public relations is their uncontested position as the premiere “Sexual Predator Network.” Fox has a history with sexual deviants who were shielded, and even promoted, within their dysfunctional corporate family. They include the former CEO, Roger Ailes, and their once top star, Bill O’Reilly. Even Donald Trump, now better known as the pervert in the White House, was once another pervert on Fox News with a regular segment on Fox and Friends.

In addition to those perpetrators of sexual harassment and abuse, Fox News is crawling with infidels who cheat on their spouses with underlings on the job. Host Ed Henry was suspended for several weeks after his affair was publicized. But Trump fave Pete Hegseth and O’Reilly spawn Jesse Watters were never punished for the very same exploitative behavior.

However, Fox News may have some competition in the debauchery business. The New York Posts’ Page Six is reporting that the conservative news outlet Newsmax is in talks to bringing Bill O’Reilly back to the airwaves. Presumably because America has been missing the insights of a deviant who has paid out more than $32 million to hush up his personal sex scandals. Newmax must believe that the nation still wants to hear from people who have disgraced themselves through abhorrent mistreatment of women colleagues.

To make matters worse, Newsmax is also said to be courting former Fox News host Eric Bolling, who was fired for sending obscene photos of himself to his coworkers. Former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren is also in Newsmax’s sights as a recruitment target. Van Susteren herself has not been accused of any sexual misconduct, but she has said that such behavior at Fox News contributed to her reasons for quitting. According to Page Six, this line up (plus former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer) would form the basis for the Newsmax primetime block:

“An insider told Page Six, ‘The deals are not done yet, but talks are in the advanced stages, certainly with O’Reilly. The thinking is, following a 6 p.m. news show, Greta would anchor the 7 p.m. hour, O’Reilly would be back at 8 p.m., and Bolling could smoothly continue on at 9 p.m. Spicer and his cohorts would go on at 10 p.m., with the later slot allowing the show to be looser. But the deals are not yet signed and sealed.'”

The regrouping of these Fox News rejects is less surprising when you consider that the Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy, is a close friend of Fox News addict, Donald Trump. Ruddy previously brought in ex-Fox EVP Michael Clemente to run the his broadcast division. So it looks like they’re trying to get the band back together. [For what it’s worth, a source close to Newsmax told Brian Stelter of CNN that “there have been no negotiations at all.”].

But in reassembling some of the most repugnant characters, who were even too disgusting for Fox to continue employing, Newsmax is setting itself up to take the sexual predator crown from Fox. Perhaps they could bolster their schedule by reaching out to Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer. Maybe some comic relief with an all new Bill Cosby Hour. And all of it could be produced by Harvey Weinstein. Newsmax can probably get all of this “talent” at a considerable discount from their previous salaries. And they would surely appeal to disaffected Fox fans who don’t think the network is misogynistic enough.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
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Clinton Cash: The Untold Story Of How Bill And Hillary Help Make Rupert Murdoch Rich

Tuesday saw the official release of Peter Schweizer’s latest foray into sloppy and dishonest pseudo-journalism, Clinton Cash. Even before the book hit the shelves it was widely debunked by more reputable analysts who found numerous errors, unsupported speculations, and outright inventions. Even Schweizer himself was forced to acknowledge that some of his allegations were untrue and that none of them could be proven.

The clear purpose of the book is to smear likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Despite Schweizer’s feeble attempts to characterize his book as an impartial examination of Clinton’s finances, he has been a long-time Republican operative including stints as a speechwriter for George W. Bush and advisor to Sarah Palin. In addition, he is closely affiliated with ultra-conservatives like the Koch brothers and Breitbart News. However, there is another highly motivated player in this well-coordinated attack campaign that is getting less attention.

Clinton Cash

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, commands a vast empire of media businesses that share a determined leaning toward activist, far-right politics. So it is not surprising that a committed conservative like Schweizer would integrate himself into the Murdoch machine. As a result, the opportunities for propaganda and profit become plentiful.

Schweizer’s book was published by HarperCollins, which is owned by Murdoch’s News Corp. So making the book a bestseller puts cash directly into Murdoch’s wallet. To that end, Murdoch has exploited his own Fox News which has gone into overdrive promoting the book. Schweizer has become an almost daily fixture on the network, and when he isn’t there himself, the network hands those promotional duties to their anchors and guests. All told, Fox News has donated the equivalent of more than $107 million to the marketing of the book, according to an analysis by Media Matters.

And speaking Fox News, the network produced and aired its own hour-long special (The Tangled Clinton Web) that served as an unabashed infomercial for the book. And rather than assigning a political personality like Sean Hannity to the brazenly partisan project, it was hosted by Fox’s chief news anchor, Bret Baier. The program was repeated several times. So while running PR for the book, Fox News is also chasing ratings and advertising dollars from the book’s rollout.

In addition, Murdoch’s print news operations joined in the Clinton Cashing in fest. The Wall Street Journal ran a feature editorial parroting the unsubstantiated claims in the Schweizer book and labeling the work of the Clinton’s foundation as “dishonest graft.” The New York Post devoted its cover to hawking the book and mocking the Clintons as money-hungry opportunists. A charge that reeks of irony coming from the realm of Rupert Murdoch.

Since when did free-enterprise loving right-wingers become so hostile to people achieving success through hard work and entrepreneurial ability? This ideological flip-flop was so pronounced that veteran Clinton-basher, Christopher Ruddy, CEO of the uber-rightist Newsmax, wrote an editorial denouncing Schweizer’s book and Fox’s role in selling it. The article was titled In Defense of the Clinton Foundation,” and went to great lengths to criticize both the shoddy reporting in the book and the blatant exploitation of Murdoch’s own tangled web.

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There is no doubt that Schweizer’s book is intended to damage Hillary Clinton’s White House aspirations. It was planned and executed by people with long-standing animosity for both the Clintons and Democratic politics. But the evidence that it is also a profit-making vehicle for Rupert Murdoch is unavoidable. And that is the true meaning of the title. Murdoch is orchestrating this whole fraudulent scheme because he wants to be rolling in Clinton Cash.

Another Right-Wing Cable News Network To Challenge ‘Liberal’ Fox News

Despite having the top rated cable news network in the country, and a ridiculously undue influence over much of the rest of the mainstream media, conservatives are still not satisfied with their stranglehold on the press. That’s the only explanation for why they keep launching new right-wing cable news networks to compete with Fox News.

Most of these competing enterprises complain that Fox News has betrayed their cause and defected to the enemy liberal camp. Thus the necessity of forming a new network that is devoted to the true conservative agenda that Fox has abandoned. The disappointment with Fox’s brand of conservatism has stirred a flurry of challengers and even a boycott by some determined Tea Party “Fire Ants.”

Fox News Boycott

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The latest entry in the field is the ultra-rightist webzine, Newsmax. The CEO of Newsmax, Chris Ruddy, has a staunchly conservative resume going back to the days when he opposed the Clintons and accused them of murdering their friend Vince Foster. These days Ruddy claims to be on more friendly terms with his former adversaries and is positioning his NewsmaxTV as a “kinder, gentler Fox News.” But It’s hard to see where NewsmaxTV will succeed in the wake of the other recent attempts to pry wingnuts and Tea Partiers away from Fox.

In 2010, a project from Hollywood conservative (and Friend of Abe) Kelsey Grammer and former Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider, was given a flashy fanfare as it promised to bring conservative values to both news and entertainment programming. However, the RightNetwork never seemed to get past the website stage and today doesn’t even have that.

That was followed by the much hyped One America News Network in March of 2013. One America was announced at last year’s CPAC with support from Herring Broadcasting and the “Moonie” Washington Times. It’s founder, Charles Herring, said he was motivated by his perception that “the sources of national news tend to lean to the left…and all we have is Fox.” So far, that has not proven to be a sufficient justification for a new right-leaning network.

And now we have NewsmaxTV – a network that admits that much of its success will rely on the same advertising and hucksterism that fuels Newsmax. That business model is heavily reliant on two non-journalism revenue streams: 1) Selling the email lists of conservative pundits, and 2) Selling highly dubious nutritional “supplements” and medical services. Business week described Newsmax as

“…a smorgasbord of political, health, and financial information, self-help books, and even vitamin supplements constantly pushed through the website and e-mail lists. This eclectic array of products—the company made $46 million in subscription revenue from its 17 newsletters and $6 million from vitamin supplements in 2013—makes Newsmax less of a news business and more of a strange hybrid of the Heritage Foundation and Amway.”

Given the rapidly expanding roster of competitors, Fox News is surely quaking in their Tea Party tri-corner hats and pilgrim boots as a result of this new player in the right-wing media circus. Keepe your eyes peeled because, if NewsmaxTV is anything like the efforts that preceded it, it isn’t going to be there for very long.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Obama ‘Seizes’ Control Of Courts By Following The Constitution

Hillary Clinton once said that if President Obama walked on water he would be criticized by Republicans for not being able to swim. Sadly, the point Clinton was making about the knee-jerk hostility of the right does not go nearly far enough. For example, this week the Fox News community website, Fox Nation, took a swipe at Obama’s judicial nominations with an article titled “Obama Seized Control Of ‘Second Highest Court’ In The Nation.”

Fox Nation

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The Fox Nationalists cribbed this item from the ultra wingnut brigade at Newsmax, who nurtured a conspiracy out of the rather routine process of filling vacancies on federal courts. Writing for Newsmax, John Gizzi said that…

“In November, Obama effectively gained control of the 11-member court when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid triggered the ‘nuclear option’ — reducing the threshold needed to stop a filibuster from 60 votes to a simple majority.”

Putting this assertion into the context of reality, a state of consciousness that conservatives deliberately avoid, one would first have to recognize that Harry Reid only moved to modify the Senate rules because Republicans had abused them in an unprecedented manner. While filibusters were once employed as a last ditch effort to derail legislation that a member simply could not abide on principle, today’s GOP made it a routine procedure by filibustering virtually everything that came up for a vote. This was particularly egregious when it came to the confirmations of administration appointees and judges. It was a tactic aimed at gutting the authority of the executive branch of government that, for the first time in history, was headed by an African-American.

As a result of the filibuster reform, Obama’s nominees for judicial posts were able to be confirmed by a majority vote in the senate. This is sometimes called “democracy.” Subsequent to confirmation, however, Obama has no control over the decisions by his appointees who are independent and have lifetime tenure. So there is no truth to the assertion that Obama has seized control of anything.

Newsmax went on to quote the rightist Heritage Foundation lawyer, Hans von Spakovsky (a cartoon villain name, if there ever was one), complaining that by filling the court’s vacancies, it would then have a majority of jurists appointed by Democratic presidents. In the view of von Spakovsky that was some sort flaw that artificially prejudiced the judiciary. To the contrary, that is precisely how the Framers intended the system to work. Over time the courts would represent the political diversity of the populace as democratically expressed by their vote for the presidency.

All that Obama has done, with help from the senate, is to carry out his duties as stipulated by the Constitution. It is the president’s responsibility to place nominees before the senate for confirmation when a vacancy is created. There is no reference whatsoever to filibusters in the Constitution. So the charge that is being made that Obama has “seized control” of the courts is unarguably false. But that never stops Fox Nation from publishing such charges. In fact, it probably makes it all the more likely.

GOP: Greed Obsessed Profiteers – How the Right Fleeces Donors To Enrich Themselves

The election of 2012 broke all records for spending on campaigns and collateral causes of political movers and shakers. The orgy of spending was triggered by the Citizen’s United decision allowing donors to make unlimited contributions anonymously. A by product of this landscape littered with special interest cash was a new industry driven by hucksters intent on sucking up substantial portions of the money flying around in the political ether.

One of those hucksters was the toe-sucking grifter, Dick Morris. Rachel Maddow recently reported on his scam that involved soliciting donations for a Super PAC that he claimed to have founded, and funneling those funds to his accomplices at the right wing blog Newsmax. Then NewsMax used some of that money to pay Morris for access to his email donors list so that they could solicit more donations. In effect, Morris was raising money to pay himself to raise more money.

Another example of this racket involved the Astroturf-roots, Tea Party operation, FreedomWorks. In the wake of scandalous revelations that their former chairman Dick Armey had staged an armed coup to wrest control of the group from his partners, it has been learned that the organization was taking the funds received from unsuspecting donors who opposed big government waste and depositing them in the bank accounts of wealthy broadcasters like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. These payouts were ostensibly intended to buy positive promotions of FreedomWorks on their programs in order to produce more donations that could also be paid out to the promoters. It was a blatantly circular self-enrichment scheme that was also described by Armey as “ineffective” and “a mistake.”

These incidents illustrate a congenital characteristic of the conservative mindset. It is a philosophy that explicitly lauds a dog-eat-dog flavor of wealth creation and celebrates the success of ruthless entrepreneurship and Greed-Obsessed Profiteers (i.e. GOP).

At the center of this con game is Fox News and the associated right-wing media machine. The unprecedented sums of money raised and spent in the last election cycle exceeded $5 billion dollars. Of that it is estimated that $3.4 was spent on advertising. In the world of Republican politics there is only one elephant in the room when it comes to media, and that is Fox News, the number one rated cable news network (for now) and the PR division of the GOP.

Fox was the first stop on every Republican’s campaign trip. It was where groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity dumped the bulk of their television ad dollars. It was the TV base for Dick Morris, Karl Rove, Scott Rasmussen, and the Breitbart-affiliated activists who were pretending to be movie producers.

Fox News was running the same scam as those described above. They would provide a platform for conservative politicians and organizations to solicit donations. The organizations would then pay Fox to run their ads with the money they raised from their appearances on Fox. And round and round it goes.

Rupert MurdochThis is a tactic exploited so well by Rupert Murdoch himself in the last election cycle when he donated a million dollars to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who promptly returned it to Fox in the form of ad buys. In this way Murdoch actually made a 22% profit on his donation to the Chamber, and the Chamber got their ads broadcast at a 78% discount.

The maze of campaign finance laws makes it difficult to ascertain whether or not any laws were broken by these financial shenanigans. But the Federal Elections Commission is such an impotent agency that it would be surprising if they ever bothered to investigate or punish such lawbreakers.

However, what is even more surprising is that anybody would contribute to these organizations if they knew that their donations were not being used to advance the causes they support, but instead are lining the pockets of the executives and fundraisers. It is brazen betrayal of the folks who put their hard-earned dollars to work for their beliefs. But it is also precisely what conservatives are best known for: making themselves rich at the expense of the little people.

Hysterical Addendum] Dick Armey is now claiming that when he spoke with Media Matters and made his remarks about FreedomWorks, and their wasting money on Beck and Limbaugh, he actually thought he was talking to the uber-rightist Media Research Center. That explains his candor. He clearly believed that those comments would never be made public by MRC.

The Donald Trump/NewsMax Debate: What No One Is Talking About

Donald Trump

Ever since it was announced that Donald Trump would be moderating a debate between the Republican presidential primary candidates, the focus of the press and pundits was centered on the absurdity of a clown like Trump being taken seriously in that role. After all, he is charlatan who pretends to be a successful businessman, but in reality he is fraud who has presided over four bankrupt enterprises and rescued his floundering career by becoming a TV game show host.

GOP luminaries from George Will to Karl Rove to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, have all dismissed Trump a distraction, a joke, or worse. And consistent with his pugilistic personality, Trump fired back with a barrage of petulant insults. More importantly, the candidates themselves have shunned Trump and his Narcissistic endeavor. Huntsman, Paul, Romney, Perry, and Bachmann are all officially out. When Bachmann gave notice on Fox News she complained to Gretchen Carlson that…

“…[Trump] was also on television saying that he was leaning toward one candidate. Even if he was leaning towards me it suggests the idea of bias and I just don’t know if that’s necessarily the right format.”

And just to illustrate how clueless the characters on Fox News are, Carlson responded to Bachmann saying…

“That’s interesting, because I had not thought about the latter part of what you just said as being possibly a conflict of interest if he actually is leaning towards one candidate.”

Yes, Gretchen, that is interesting (I mean the part about you having thoughts). And while Huntsman and Paul spoke candidly about their reasons for sitting out the debate, Romney, Bachmann, and Perry all polished their snub by lavishing the Donald with flagrant flattery and shameless adulation. Nevertheless, it has become glaringly apparent that Trump holds no sway with either the public or the political players. The roster for the much ballyhooed debate (mostly ballyhooed by Trump himself) is now set with only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum participating. That should make for some compelling TV drama. However, it is unlikely to result in the fulfillment of his prediction that “We will get, probably, the highest ratings of any debate.” Such grandiose hyperbole can only come from the ego of Trump.

But lost in the sublime comic relief of all of this Trumpling is any substantive review of his partner in this debasement of debate. NewsMax is a popular conservative magazine and web site. Popular among the curmudgeon crowd of over-65 conspiracy nuts, that is. Its editor, Chris Ruddy, is the author of a book that advanced the scurrilous lie that Bill Clinton’s aide, Vince Foster, did not commit suicide as all available evidence proved, but was – murdered! When Ruddy could not get his employer, Rupert Murdoch of the New York Post, to go along with this fable, Ruddy struck out on his own with the help of another right-wing media baron: Richard Mellon Scaife. It ought to be a warning sign if Murdoch is uncomfortable with your lunatic ravings.

Scaife is a stalwart anti-communist who seems to believe that anyone to the left of Barry Goldwater is a Trotskyite. His largesse extends to a who’s who of rightist foundations like the American Enterprise Institute, David Horowitz’s Freedom Center, and the Heritage Foundation. He is similarly generous to organizations that oppose public education, unions, and global warming science. But he is best known for bankrolling the investigations of sex scandals and drug-running plots that he was convinced Clinton was engaged in back in Arkansas.

So in addition to the embarrassment of being associated with Donald Trump, the two remaining participants in his debate must also account for their connection to NewsMax and Scaife. This is about more than just Trump’s ego and Birtherism. It also extends to extremist delusions about murdered White House staffers and drug traffickers. Even worse, NewsMax once published an article that was a thinly veiled call for a military coup against the Obama administration. Or as it is referred to legal circles – treason.

Santorum doesn’t have much to worry about because he isn’t going anywhere anyway. But Gingrich is the current GOP frontrunner (and the likely beneficiary/victim of a Trump endorsement), and he should be asked to comment on the appropriateness of aligning himself with these controversial figures. Sadly, it may be too much to expect the media to hold Gingrich’s feet to the fire when they haven’t even bothered to report that there is a fire. While it may be tempting to fill the airwaves with the Tales of Trump, that is only half the story. NewsMax and Scaife are as much a part of this ludicrous debate as Trump and deserve a little attention as well.

[Update] Trump spoke with Don Imus on the Fox Business Network this morning and delivered some deeply depressing news. Imus asked Trump if the debate would be going forward with only Gingrich and Santorum participating. Trump said, “I don’t know. I have to look into it.” Aside from being an enormous insult to Gingrich and Santorum, canceling the debate would eliminate one of the most eagerly anticipated comedy events of the holiday season. Come on, Donald…stick with it.

NewsMax, Kristol Conspire To Plant False Obama Story

On Sunday, March 16, 2008, the rightist tabloid NewsMax published an article by Ronald Kessler that claimed that Barack Obama had attended a controversial sermon by Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Obama has previously denied that any of the sermons he attended at Wright’s church contained the inflammatory language that has been getting so much attention from the press as of late.

Kessler’s article would be a startling revelation that brings Obama’s veracity into question, except for one thing. Kessler’s article isn’t true. Obama’s campaign provided proof that he was in Miami on the day that Kessler’s source (another NewsMax columnist) said that he was in the pew. But NewsMax’s dirty deed was already done. The story had proliferated into the Conventional Media and was already polluting the news environment.

First and foremost, William Kristol of the New York Times cited Kessler when he regurgitated the false story in his Monday column. The bulk of the editorial was devoted to praising the “next generation” while insulting his own:

“Many of its members seem more serious and impressive than we baby boomers were when our elders were foolishly praising us, 40 years ago, as the best-educated, most idealistic generation ever. Many of the best of this young generation are serving their country – either in the military or otherwise.”

Frankly, I don’t recall many elders lavishing much praise on the youth of 1968, although they were the best-educated, most idealistic generation up to that time, and they did serve their country in numbers far greater than today’s youth. And they died in far greater numbers as well – 58,000 in Vietnam. Kristol doesn’t think that’s impressive, but he has no qualms about using the issue to infect the news cycle with lies about Sen. Obama.

Next comes Fox News, who featured Kessler’s fiction in their own story. Originally titled “Report Places Obama at Controversial July ’07 Wright Sermon,” it was altered to “Schedule Puts Obama in Miami During July ’07 Wright Sermon,” after Kessler’s errors were revealed. Still, Fox soft-peddles the correction by saying that:

“Doubts were cast on the story Monday as records showed the Democratic presidential contender was in Miami that day.”

“Doubts were cast on the story…” is how Fox characterizes the production of documentary evidence that eviscerates the story. The spin is dizzying. And it is continuing as the falsehood is spread through the conservative media. Even though Kessler and Kristol have published corrections of sorts, the virus has been unleashed and is circulating. Kessler’s correction merely conceded that the date was wrong, but he stands by the assertion that Obama was present at some unspecified sermon that occurred on some vague date, and he expects us to swallow the rest of the story’s details as factual.

This is how mythical slander about Obama being a Muslim or swearing the oath of office on the Koran gets adopted by much of the public. It is how the war in Iraq was sold by Vice President Cheney when he appeared on Meet the Press and cited an article in the New York Times that was sourced to a leaker in the Vice President’s own office. It’s a circular wheel of propaganda that needs to be exposed if Americans ever to get honest representations of their government and their world.