Thanks Trump! The Pumpkinhead President Scares Fox News Ratings Into an Abyss

The month of October has been a frightening experience for Donald Trump. His Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, admitted on national TV that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. His personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, had a nervous breakdown on Fox News. He was forced to reverse an idiotic plan to host the 2020 G7 summit at his Doral golf resort in Miami. And his one bit of good news – the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – produced a paltry two point bounce in a poll by his favorite, ultra-biased pollster, Rasmussen. Scary, huh?

Donald Trump, Fox News, Halloween

Trump was so terrified throughout the month that he fear-posted 104 panic-tweets attacking the fearsome chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. And as if the Offender-in-Chief doesn’t already have enough reasons to soil his trousers, the Trump-fluffing “news” network that he relies on to prop him up with worshipful propaganda, Fox News, fell on some hard times as well. The ratings for October reveal that impeachment has been good news for both America and Fox’s chief competitor, MSNBC.

The total day ratings for Fox News declined by a whopping 27 percent in the all-important 25-54 demographic, compared to October of 2018. In the same period MSNBC rose 12 percent. MSNBC also increased total prime time viewers 25 percent, and prime time demo viewers 16 percent.

This growth was driven by impressive gains by The Rachel Maddow Show, which was the #1 cable news program for the month among adults 25-54. Her show was up 13 percent, while Fox News’ Hannity declined 21 percent in that time slot. In total viewers Maddow was up 22 percent, compared to Fox’s 2 percent drop. She beat her direct competition, Sean Hannity, as well as Fox’s other prime time stars, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.

These gains were also present in other MSNBC programs. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell was up 20 percent (Fox News dropped 22 percent). The 11th Hour with Brian Williams finished #1 in the 11 p.m. hour, up 25 percent (Fox News declined 31 percent). The Beat with Ari Melber delivered the network’s most-watched month ever in the 6 p.m. time period, up 34 percent (Fox News down 12 percent). Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace was #1 in total viewers, up 13 percent (Fox News dropped 27 percent). All In with Chris Hayes was up 24 percent (Fox News was down 19 percent). Even the weekend had great news with total day gains of 10 percent (Fox News dips of 32 percent).

There could be several explanations for this powerful performance by MSNBC and the simultaneous collapse of Fox News. Trump’s impeachment might have stirred more interest by progressive news consumers to tune in more. At the same time, it might have discouraged conservatives from watching the news at all. But there’s another possible factor that drove Fox’s viewers away: Donald Trump. He spent a fair amount of time bashing his own own best media outlet and even telling his followers to turn off Fox.

For instance, after a Fox poll showed him losing to Biden, Trump tweeted that “I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll. Whoever their Pollster is, they suck.” And then there was the time he tweeted that “@FoxNews doesn’t deliver for US anymore. It is so different than it used to be.” And not mincing words, Trump told his Deplorables that “We have to start looking for a new News Outlet. Fox isn’t working for us anymore!”

It’s hard to determine whether Trump’s Fox bashing had any real impact on their ratings. But it isn’t hard to see that he is a fickle and vengeful narcissist who demands 100 percent adoration at all times, lest you be cast into the corn fields, aka TrumpScorn. However, it is more likely that television audiences were simply more interested in getting honest presentations of the news by real journalists instead of slobbering, glassy-eyed sycophants. And since a majority of Americans favor Trump being impeached and removed from office (even in that Fox News poll), even the opinion side of MSNBC would figure to be more popular.

If Trump has anything going for him at this time, it’s the “bloody highway crash” appeal that might cause viewers to tune to Fox in order to see exactly how his mental breakdown will unfold in real time. Sure, it’s morbid and gruesome, but hell, it’s Halloween. Everybody may just be in a weird mood.

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

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.

Fox Nation Outrage: Obama Vacations With White People – And Other Lies And Delusions

The Fox News community website, Fox Nation, is a non-stop parade of deliberate misinformation, biased reporting, and promotion of notoriously disreputable purveyors of propaganda and conspiracy theories like Alex Jones and Breitbart News. [For more documented proof of Fox Nation’s lies, read Fox Nation vs. Reality] This morning that penchant for bullpucky was in full display with a trio of stories that perfectly illustrate the Fox Nation mission.

Fox Nation

Let’s begin with a little item that alleges that “Obama Suggests Conservatives Are Greatest Threat To Nation.” This story was filched from the ultra-rightist Daily Caller (which is run by Fox News host Tucker Carlson) and referenced an interview of President Obama in the New York Times. Obama discussed gridlock in Washington and told the Times that “Our politics are dysfunctional.” That is an indisputable fact that is evidenced by this congress being the least productive in history. The article also said that…

“The president mused, the biggest threat to America — the only force that can really weaken us — is us.”

That’s quite a different statement than what was asserted in the headline. To be sure, it is Republicans that have boasted of their obstructionism. GOP House Speaker John Boehener even said that the congress under his “leadership” “should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.” By that measure they still suck because they have repealed precisely zero laws. But the point is made that they are proud of being an obstacle to progress. Nevertheless, Obama placed the blame more broadly on “us,” not conservatives as the liars at Fox Nation and the Daily Caller said.

Next up is an article that was picked up from right-wing media distorters, NewsBusters. They in turn were citing England’s version of the National Enquirer, the Daily Mail, who reported speculation that the former Director of Communications for George W. Bush, Nicolle Wallace, had been chosen to replace Jenny McCarthy on “The View.” Fox Nation turned that item into “Liberal Nicolle Wallace Is the New ‘Conservative’ Host on The View?”

“Liberal?” Wallace, as noted above, was a long-time political operative for the Bush regime. She was also a deputy campaign manager for his reelection in 2004, and headed up Sarah Palin’s communications staff for the McCain/Palin campaign in 2008. Wallace created a stir when she spoke candidly about Palin’s shortcomings after the election. But that doesn’t make her a liberal. It makes her intelligent and honest. On second thought, maybe it does make her a liberal, because those are qualities that liberals respect and conservatives disdain. However, for Fox Nation and NewsBusters to characterize Wallace as liberal after a career of conservative politicking is just plain delusional. Apparently the only replacement they would find suitable would be someone like Ann Coulter or Michele Bachmann.

Finally, the Fox Nationalists went to their resident screeching hyena, Mark Levin, for a taste of his undisguised racism. The headline on Fox Nation said “Mark Levin Blasts Obama for Vacationing at ‘Whitest Place on Earth’” Indeed, Levin seems to have found something objectionable about our African-American president and his family hobnobbing with his Caucasian superiors, rather than serving them drinks and cleaning their rooms as God intended. Levin continued saying to Obama that “We know how you hate whites,” and that Obama would be better off vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands. [Remember what happened to Glenn Beck when he said that Obama hates white people?]

But what makes this truly despicable is that Levin is not only racist, he is stupid – or is that redundant? As noted by Mediaite’s Matt Wilstein, Martha’s Vineyard has a richly diverse history:

“While Martha’s Vineyard is no doubt a ritzy island with more than its fair share of white people, Levin is clearly unaware of its rich history as a summer destination for wealthy black families. This is particularly true of Oak Bluffs, where African-American families began summering as early as the 1890s.”

Levin does make a valid point in one respect. Perhaps Obama should stay away from “the whitest place on Earth.” But it isn’t Martha’s Vineyard. It’s Fox News, where vile bigots roam free to disparage the nation, insult its citizens, and preach a brand of faith that exalts the wealthy, white, ruling class.

Be Sure To “LIKE” News Corpse On Facebook

As usual, Fox News is rampant with racism, delusion, and bald-faced lies. The articles above are only a small sample of the repulsiveness that is published there every day. It’s astonishing that they get away with this and even attract devoted fans. Obviously, there is still a lot of work to be done in this country to stamp out bigotry and the ignorance from which it stems.

The Sarah Palin Watch Widget

Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin burst on the scene from nowhere – Nowhere, Alaska, that is. You know, the place where they wanted to build that bridge to. And despite the fact that nobody in at least 49 states knew the slightest bit about her, she rocketed to stardom as the leading light of American conservatism.

Consequently, some Americans wanted to know more about the person who may become a 72 year old heartbeat from the presidency of the United States. They will be disappointed. The McCain campaign has sequestered Palin and will not permit reporters to interview her. They will allow no questions on the vetting process, or the abuse of power investigation that is currently underway. They refuse to clarify her positions on foreign policy or Congressional earmarking. There will be no direct examination of her record as governor or her fitness for national office. In short, the American people should shut up and be happy with whatever happy talk the campaign wishes to engage in via staged rallies and campaign ads. That is almost exactly what McCain spokesperson Nicolle Wallace told Jay Carney of Time Magazine.

I created the Palin Watch widget to record the elapsed time from her entry into the race, until she agrees to answer questions in a fair, independent, national media forum. There is simply no other way to assess her ability to perform the job she seeks. A candid give and take with probing journalists reveals more of a candidates knowledge and insight than a speech that was probably prepared by aides. The job she wants is far too important to give to an unknown quantity who arrogantly declines to open herself up to the people she would serve.

The Palin Watch was inspired in part by the Obama Watch, a device that Chris Wallace used to goad Barack Obama into appearing on his Fox News Sunday program. The difference is that I am not pimping my own show, or any show, so long as Palin makes herself available to press scrutiny.

Americans must rise up and demand that McCain free Sarah Palin. The time is now to come clean so that voters have sufficient information to make an informed judgment. Democracy is in a sorry state if political strategists can hawk candidates like soda pop without ever disclosing the ingredients.

McCain Coach Working The Refs

Following the candidates forum at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, a minor controversy erupted with regard to the participants playing fair. The ground rules called for each candidate to be asked the same questions. Therefore, John McCain was to be isolated so that he could not gain an advantage by hearing the questions as they were asked to Barack Obama, who went first.

As it turns out, McCain was not in the “Cone of Silence” as stated by Rev. Warren. Instead, he was en route to the church where he could have plausibly listened to Obama’s interview or been briefed on it by a staffer. Andrea Mitchell reported on Meet the Press that some Obama supporters were questioning whether McCain did, in fact, cheat:

“The Obama people must feel that he didn’t do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because what they are putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. He seemed so well-prepared.”

This set off McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, who fired off an angry letter to NBC president, Steve Capus. The letter said in part…

“We are extremely disappointed to see that the level of objectivity at NBC News has fallen so low that reporters are now giving voice to unsubstantiated, partisan claims in order to undercut John McCain.”

Reporters giving voice to unsubstantiated, partisan claims has been routine in this campaign. Though they have mostly been aimed at Obama. McCain’s people have relentlessly spewed nonsense about Obama’s faith, his patriotism, and his agenda on everything from war to energy to taxes. It is apparently OK if reporters give voice to unsubstantiated, partisan claims if they come from McCain.

Davis’ disingenuous indignation is especially pathetic in this context. In his own letter he quotes Mitchell as saying that the Obama campaign was less than thrilled with his performance. Conversely he notes Mitchell’s assertion that McCain seemed well prepared. Mitchell’s report was actually declaring McCain the winner of the debate, and yet, Davis still finds cause to complain.

McCain’s spokeswoman, Nicolle Wallace, also commented on the affair. In her remarks she pointedly accused the Obama campaign of having “lost its bearings.” I wonder if the intent of that language is meant to imply that she believes Obama may be senile. That’s exactly what McCain adviser Mark Salter alleged when Obama used the same words last May to describe McCain.

This fake outrage on the part of Davis, Wallace, et al, is nothing more than another transparent attempt to bully the media into shaping coverage that is one-sided and positive in favor of McCain. And the really sad part of this cynical and manipulative whining is that it has a damn good chance of working.