Studies Prove that Watching Fox News Increases Coronavirus Fatalities

Media scholars and neutral observers almost universally agree that Fox News has been a source of flagrantly biased right-wing propaganda from the day it began broadcasting. It’s founders – an arch-conservative, foreign-born, media baron (Rupert Murdoch), and an ultra-rightist Republican campaign operative (Roger Ailes) – intended that political prejudice to be its primary mission when they launched the network.

Donald Trump, Fox News, Coronavirus

However, the presence of Fox News in a splintered media environment has had a more disastrous impact on the nation than anyone could have predicted. Amidst the spread of the deadly COVID -19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Fox News became the central point of infection to spread disinformation and deliberate lies that can now be shown to have directly contributed to the nation’s tragically high fatality rate. Along with Donald Trump’s negligence, incompetence, and purposeful malfeasance, Fox News deceived dimwitted Americans into volunteering the lives of themselves, their families, and their communities, in the service of partisan political power and the ego of a malignantly narcissistic president.

The Washington Post is reporting that – not one, not two – but three recent studies confirm the role that Fox News played in exacerbating the harm of the coronavirus. [NOTE: the first of these studies was reported here on News Corpse in April, revealing that higher rates of coronavirus deaths could be linked to watching Sean Hannity] Fox News, along with other right-wing media (i.e. Rush Limbaugh, OANN, Breitbart, etc.) distorted and/or invented narratives that downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic. They portrayed it as equivalent to the common flu and mocked health experts who advised cautionary behavior such as social distancing and wearing face masks. According to the Post:

There are many reasons our response to the pandemic tied to more than 120,000 U.S. deaths has faltered, experts say, including the lack of a cohesive federal policy, missteps on testing and tracing, and a national culture emphasizing individualism.

In recent weeks, three studies have focused on conservative media’s role in fostering confusion about the seriousness of the coronavirus. Taken together, they paint a picture of a media ecosystem that amplifies misinformation, entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking concrete steps to protect themselves and others.

The end result, according to one of the studies, is that infection and mortality rates are higher in places where one pundit who initially downplayed the severity of the pandemic — Fox News’s Sean Hannity — reaches the largest audiences.

In other words, watching Fox News actually amplifies the mortality rate of an already deadly disease. Their viewers were deceived into believing that the virus wasn’t anything to worry about, and that they could conduct their lives as usual with no added risk. That was recklessly untrue. The Post continued pointing out the lethal mythology that Fox News disseminated:

Administering a nationally representative phone survey with 1,008 respondents, they found that people who got most of their information from mainstream print and broadcast outlets tended to have an accurate assessment of the severity of the pandemic and their risks of infection. But those who relied on conservative sources, such as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories or unfounded rumors, such as the belief that taking vitamin C could prevent infection, that the Chinese government had created the virus, and that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exaggerated the pandemic’s threat “to damage the Trump presidency.”

It is no coincidence that all of those conspiracy theories match up precisely with what Trump himself has been saying. Fox News is, after all, his State TV Ministry of Disinformation. And between the two they are unambiguously responsible for deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. But even worse, they are both continuing to spew the same falsehoods that have already proven to be so deadly.

Thankfully, most of the American people do not watch Fox News and will resist the lies that are being told by Trump and his media shills. And hopefully, the majority of us will engage in responsible, cautious, and healthy behavior. Unfortunately, the deluded Foxies and Trump cultists can’t be counted on to take the simple precautions that save lives.. So it would be wise for the rest of us to socially distance from anyone who watches Fox News or attends Trump rallies. For your own sake, and that of your loved ones.

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

IT’S CALLED PROJECTION:Trump Obsessively Accuses Others of Treason

It’s always painfully obvious when Donald Trump is fuming over events he can’t control. He lashes out wildly in all directions seeking to land blows on the vast armies of enemies that he imagines, in his paranoid stupor, are conspiring against him. This is especially evident after some humiliating experience such as his Fiasco in Tulsa or his floundering reelection campaign.

Donald Trump, Deep State

On Monday Trump exhibited one of the most profoundly disturbing meltdowns of his presidency. He elaborated on recent comments he made that vaguely insinuated that President Obama was guilty of some unnamed criminal acts. Now Trump revealed to the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) that the crime he believed that Obama had committed was treason.

Trump’s justification for that charge was the already debunked conspiracy theories that his 2016 presidential campaign had been spied on by Obama and others in the mythical “Deep State.” And he went on to muse wistfully about executing his political foes like “they” did 50 or 100 years ago. Apparently Trump still regards Joseph Stalin as a role model.

Trump’s fixation on maligning political opponents as treasonous is neither new nor limited to prominent figures like Obama. In fact, the Washington Post has compiled a list of people or entities for whom Trump is advocating the death penalty (video below). According to the Post…

“Trump suggested five times in the month of May alone that individuals and entities may have committed treason against the United States. It’s a theme he has pushed over four dozen times in his term. […] Trump has accused no fewer than 11 people and entities of treason over the past three years, even though fewer than 30 have been charged with the crime in U.S. history.”

Indeed. Trump has been pursuing this slanderous narrative for most of his term. His first tweet on the matter was the single word, all-caps, quizzical outburst, “TREASON?” in September 2018. More recently, in May he rage-tweeted “The Russia Hoax is the biggest political scandal in American history. Treason!!!” He even said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is every bit as guilty of treason. And that’s just for starters. Here are the myriad berserk accusations of treason that he’s made as documented by the Post:

  • President Barack Obama
  • Congressional Democrats
  • The news media
  • The author of an anonymous op-ed
  • Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page
  • Former FBI director James Comey
  • Former top FBI official Andrew McCabe
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (4 times)
  • The attorney for the Ukraine whistleblower
  • Obama’s Justice Department

Experienced Trump watchers are well aware that nearly every criticism he lobs at others is what psychologists refer to as “projection:” a defense mechanism in which one denies the existence of unpleasant characteristics in themselves, while attributing them to others. Consequently, Trump’s plaintive whines of treason are evidence of his true self-appraisal. Deep down he knows that his words and actions are un-American and anti-democratic. But since his mental state is too fragile to process those feelings, he projects them unto his perceived adversaries.

This mental trickery is totally contrary to the tough guy image that Trump is so desperate to present. In fact, it is the behavior of weaklings and cowards who are unable to face their own shortcomings, or the strengths of those that challenge them. It’s a way of running away from one’s problems and reality. Trump is the textbook example of this psychological defect. And while it’s fascinating to see this unfold in such a public manner, it’s frightening to know that the one stricken with it is ostensibly running the country. But hopefully not for too much longer.

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

In Deranged Tweets Trump Says that All California Votes ‘Must Not Count’

The evidence of Donald Trump’s mental infirmity continues to pile up. On a daily basis he openly exhibits an unbridled rage at those he fears. He proclaims that he has the “total authority” of the tyrants he admires. With paranoid fervor he regards every critic as a “hater” who is out to get him. He ignores the suffering and death caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus) while focusing furiously on his abysmal polling. And he refuses to accept responsibility for any of his actions, while vainly shifting blame to others.

Donald Trump, Constitution

The psychoses of Trump could fill a textbook on sociopaths and narcissists. The latest example of the severity of his psychological degradation was displayed in another Twitter outburst on Saturday morning. This one was boiling over with fear and desperation as he lashed out incoherently at Americans who happen to live in California.

Seriously, what on Earth is he ranting about? Californians have had access to mail-in voting for years. The only new twist is that Gov. Gavin Newsom just signed an executive order sending ballots to all registered voters in the state. They are not obligated to use them, but they have the choice. And that freedom, that makes voting easier for everyone, is what Trump believes is a “SCAM!” Consequently, in his diseased mind, all the votes of American citizens in California “must not count.” What sort of madness produces this disgustingly undemocratic – and un-American – idiocy?

Trump’s tweet also makes the bizarre assertion that a voting booth was just opened “in the most Democrat area in the State.” Does anyone know what he’s even talking about anymore? There are voting booths in every district. Does he think that predominantly Democratic districts shouldn’t have them? Is the prospect of Democrats voting the basis for his complaint that “It’s all rigged out there”?

UPDATE: In another tweet, Trump elaborated on his curious remarks about new voting booths. Apparently he thinks that voting in California is “supposed to be mail in ballots only.” He is wrong, of course. And he’s demonstrating how pitiful he is at comprehending what’s going on around him.

Trump continued to address the matter of mail-in voting in his very next tweet, which promoted a Republican candidate. Except in that tweet Trump completely reversed himself himself noting that in this special election there is mail-in voting and offering this reminder to his cult followers: “Mail in ballots, & check that they are counted!” Really? So for Republicans mail-in voting isn’t a scam and those votes should be counted? And a couple of tweets later Trump declares that the whole “CA25 is a Rigged Election.”

The question of mail-in voting is a touchy subject for Trump and all Republicans. They have always had a mortal fear of expanding the electorate. Trump recently said the quiet part out loud with a rant about mail-in voting wherein he whined that “They had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” Trump is afraid because he knows that the more people who vote, the less likely it is that he will be reelected. Republicans at large have the same fear.

This fear is what is driving Trump’s assault on the U.S. Postal Service. His hostility to this agency, that is explicitly authorized by the Constitution, is rooted in his jealousy of and contempt for Jeff Bezos, a real billionaire and the owner of Amazon and the Washington Post. In a rancid screed last month Trump called the Postal Service “a joke,” and threatened to withhold funding if they didn’t quadruple their rates. That, of course, would put an enormous burden on every business, as well as every American wanting to wish their grandmas a happy birthday.

Trump’s nauseating attack on democracy must not be ignored or normalized. He needs to be called out for this obvious grasping of totalitarian rule. This week Trump appointed a new postmaster general who just happens to be a major Trump ally and donor. That confirms that he is serious about sabotaging the Post Office for his own nefarious political advantage. And we, the people, must not allow him to get away with it.

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

GOING POSTAL: Trump’s USPS Envy Reveals His Egomaniacal Intentions

Never forget that there is always an ulterior motive behind everything Donald Trump does. If there isn’t a tangible personal benefit for Trump he wouldn’t be doing it. That benefit could be political, financial, or just a shot in the arm to his voracious ego. But it’s there, and you don’t usually have to dig too deep to find it.

Donald Trump, Stock Market Crash

Last week Trump reprised his long-running vilification of the U.S. Postal Service. His hostility to this agency, that is explicitly authorized by the Constitution, is rooted in his jealousy of and contempt for Jeff Bezos, a real billionaire and the owner of Amazon and the Washington Post. In a rancid screed on Friday Trump called the Postal Service “a joke” and complained about their management and deficits, saying that…

“The post office, if they raised the price of a package by approximately four times, it would be a whole new ballgame. But they don’t want to raise it because they don’t want to insult Amazon, and they don’t want to insult other companies, perhaps, that they like. The post office should raise the price of the packages to the companies. Not to the people, to the companies. If they did that, it would be a whole different story.”

First of all, if the Post Office raised their prices four times, those costs would be passed on to their customers. So Trump’s ignorant and disingenuous promise not to burden “the people” with the increases is a purposeful lie. This is similar to his ludicrous claim that tariffs imposed on China are paid by the Chinese government directly to the U.S. treasury. In fact, they are paid by American companies who either absorb the decline in their profit margin, or tack the increase on to their products, amounting to a de facto tax on all American consumers. As a failed businessman Trump can’t be expected to understand how these things work.

What’s more, Trump’s assertion that Amazon is getting some kind of a sweetheart deal is false. They are paying bulk rates similar to all other shippers of mass quantities of packages. It’s also false that the Post Office is losing money as result of their relationship with Amazon. Actually, it is Amazon and other large retailers who are the bright spots in the USPS business. Without them the Postal Service would be even further in debt. And Trump’s idiotic proposal to raise rates would likely cause Amazon and others to develop their own delivery operations (which Amazon has already started), resulting in still deeper debt for the USPS.

The aim by many on the right is to fully privatize the USPS and run it like FedEx. That’s preposterous. FedEx and other third-party shippers are profitable because they took only the most profitable type of business from the Postal Service. They do not, and cannot, deliver ordinary first class mail. Nor do they service many rural areas. So unless you want to pay $14.00 to send a letter to grandma, or a birthday card to your sister, you better start supporting the Post Office.

The real problem facing the USPS is not package delivery, but a bizarre requirement that they must pre-fund 75 years’ worth of retiree health benefits. Neither the government nor private companies are required to do that. And the prices for their services are in line with their costs. That is actually required by a 2006 law mandating that “each line of business within the postal service set its prices at least high enough to break even.” It is, therefore, literally against the law for the postal service to lose money on package delivery. Again, business moron Trump wouldn’t know this.

So why is Trump fixated on this issue when there are so many other matters (such as a deadly global pandemic) that require the nation’s attention? For two reasons. First, he is bursting with envy of Jeff Bezos. He knows that he will never achieve the sort of success or respect that Bezos has. Consequently, he seeks to illegally abuse the power of the presidency to inflict pain on his nemesis. In addition, Bezos is also the owner of the Washington Post that Trump despises because they aren’t afraid to publish the truth about him. That assault on journalism is another unlawful action on Trump’s part intended to intimidate the free press.

The second motivation behind Trump’s attack on the Postal Service is his fear of the prospect of all Americans having access to their right to vote. Mail-in ballots are permitted in many states and also by the Pentagon for our citizens in the military. And it is especially necessary at this moment in time to protect people from exposure to the coronavirus.

However, Trump has claimed that mail-in voting is only used by cheaters (including himself) and that it is rife with fraud, although there has never been any evidence of that. However, Trump himself revealed the real reason he’s opposed to it when he told Fox News that it “doesn’t work out well for Republicans.” He went on to complain that Democrats were “crazy” for supporting vote-by-mail, saying that “They had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

So there you have it. Trump is afraid because he knows that the more people who vote, the less likely it is that Republicans will be elected. And his confederates in the Republican Party agree with him. They are probably right. Consequently, killing initiatives like vote-by-mail that make it easier to vote is part of the GOP platform, along with other assorted means of suppressing votes.

What true patriots should be doing now is contacting their representatives in Congress and demanding that they support the Postal Service by fully funding it and providing emergency funds to help it get through the pandemic. Remember, they are a major American employer, including tens of thousands of veterans. In addition, you can help by buying a sheet of commemorative stamps. I would suggest the Trump tribute stamp that is labeled as “Year of the Rat.”

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

Defending His Bleach Injection Insanity, Trump Lies and Makes Matters Even Worse

When lying holds no moral weight, the liar will carelessly compound his dishonesty. So it is with Donald Trump whose pathological falsification of all things great and small is bound to set historical records. Unfortunately, this isn’t sport, and the likelihood that people will be hurt, and even die,cannot be ignored.

Donald Trump Virus

Trump’s bizarre and dangerous assertions on Thursday that injections of bleach or alcohol could be potential treatments for COVID-19 (coronavirus) were the latest escalation of his war on human beings. Trump seems to cherish initiatives that put lives at risk. He displays that in his efforts to kill Obamacare, his rollback of fuel emission standards, and remarkably in his proposal to nuke hurricanes. He clearly doesn’t have even a kindergartners grasp of science. But more worrisome is that he has zero empathy for the citizens of the United States or the world.

On Friday Trump sought to disinfect his noxious suggestion about ingesting household cleaning solutions. But his pitifully lame effort only served to amplify his abundant ignorance. For the record, at Thursday’s Coronavirus Task Force briefing (aka Trump 2020 reelection campaign infomercial), Trump hyped an insane theory of his own making with this inquiry: “The disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning.”

Yes, of course there is. And it would totally kill the virus – along with the patient – but hey, that’s the trade-off. The comment was so preposterous that Trump had to walk it back early Friday as he spoke with reporters. However, his explanation only affirmed that he will lie shamelessly no matter how obvious it is. When asked to clarify his remarks, Trump told reporters that “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen.”

The only problem with that excuse is that the video above shows that he wasn’t addressing reporters. He plainly turned to Dr. Deborah Birx and Bill Bryan of the Department of Homeland Security for affirmation of his wackadoodle theory. Furthermore, there was no hint of sarcasm in his voice or manner. And if that weren’t enough, Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, issued a statement saying that…

“President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing. Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”

Notice that McEnany doesn’t bother to point to whatever she is asserting was out of context. She knows that the media was merely quoting Trump, and doing so accurately. Even worse, McEnany doesn’t dispute the impression that Trump left as endorsing bleach injections. She merely advises that people consult with their doctors first. There’s a problem with that as well. Because if you ask your doctor if it’s okay to shoot up Clorox, you’re likely to be committed to a psyche ward.

Finally, Trump seems to think that it’s his job to float reckless and potentially fatal therapies to the American people on national television. And he said as much in this exchange:

Philip Bump, Washington Post: Respectfully sir, you’re the president and people tuning into these briefings they want to get information and guidance and want to know what to do. They’re not looking for rumors.”
Trump: I’m the president and you are fake news. And you know what I’ll say to you? I’ll say it very nicely. You ready? It’s just a suggestion from a brilliant lab by a very, very smart, perhaps brilliant man. He’s talking about sun. He’s talking about heat. And you see the numbers. So that’s it. That’s all I have. I’m just here to present talent. I’m here to present ideas.”

First of all, the suggestion to inject poisons was not from the “very smart, perhaps brilliant man.” That was all Trump. More to the point, it is not the president’s job to present any and all ideas, particularly those that are not validated by science and that can result in tragedy. That’s just rumor mongering. And Trump’s recent experience with hyping the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine proved the folly of such snake oil pitches when it turned out that it contributed to more deaths among a trial group of coronavirus patients, than those who did not receive it.

If there’s one thing that can be learned from this, it’s that Trump’s babbling must never be taken seriously. His ignorance and callous disregard for the welfare of others can only lead to pain and loss. And even when he’s called out for his fatal errors, he will manufacture distortions of reality to try to absolve himself of responsibility. These are the behaviors of a narcissistic sociopath. And those who continue to cover for him, whether in the public, the press, or politics, are not only complicit, they are hopelessly lost cultists.

UPDATE: So after suggesting that people ingest poison, then lying that it was HHS official Bill Bryan who said it, then lying that he was sarcastically addressing it to reporters, Trump has now tweeted that he did in fact say it to Bryan. Trump really needs someone on his staff to manage his lies better.

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

BAD FOR AMERICA! Trump Delights In the Suffering of American Workers and Business

In times of crisis, the American people want and expect their leaders to exhibit wisdom and compassion. Difficult problems require both intelligence and judgment to resolve, and at least the appearance of sympathy for the hardships facing the average citizen. The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is just such a circumstance. Unfortunately, the United States is currently stuck with Donald Trump who has none of these qualities.

Donald Trump Climate Change

The single most reliable feature of Trump’s character (or lack thereof) is his unflinching determination to always do only what is best for him. This selfishness is evident in his reckless and greed-driven proposals to “reopen” the country before any public health expert considers it safe. It’s obvious in his obsession with the polls and TV ratings that define his self-worth. There is virtually nothing that Trump addresses in his Coronavirus Task Force briefings (that he has hijacked and turned into 2020 reelection events) that isn’t directly attached to his personal welfare.

On Monday morning, while the nation was trying to cope with ever more troubling news concerning the spreading pandemic, Trump was, as usual, manning his Twitter machine and pounding out dangerous falsehoods, childish platitudes, and tributes to himself. Among the tweets that he posted was one that was particularly offensive:

What’s “bad for America” is a president who repeatedly maligns the free press in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people.” It’s fair to say that it’s also bad when a president is so stupid that he doesn’t understand that all businesses are presently struggling due to a virtual economic shutdown made necessary by Trump’s negligence and incompetence. Among the businesses that are experiencing financial difficulties are those owned by Trump. In fact, many are currently closed and his net worth has declined by thirty percent.

However, what’s truly repulsive about this tweet is that Trump is openly gleeful that American media companies are being hurt financially along with the rest of the country. These are businesses whose mission is to keep the American people informed, sometimes at great risk to themselves. This is especially difficult when the president is a pathological liar. But they are also businesses that employ tens of thousands of Americans. Clearly Trump couldn’t care less about these people, their families, and communities.

It’s further proof of Trump’s ignorance that he doesn’t know whether the press is suffering financially because of the quality of their reporting or the impact of a global pandemic. Trump is just exploiting the issue to bash the media, which prior to this coronavirus outbreak was having a banner year in both viewership and revenue. And it must be driving him crazy(er) knowing that according to most polls, the American people still trust the media more than they trust Trump.

It’s that public disapproval that is likely contributing to Trump’s downward spiraling emotional state. Not only has Trump not enjoyed a sustained “rally round the flag” polling bounce, he is at a four month low (44%) with his favorite, unabashedly biased, right-wing pollster, Rasmussen. That’s gotta hurt. But it shouldn’t hurt so much that it drives Trump to celebrate the misfortune of thousands of American workers. That’s on Trump.

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

Wannabe Dictator Trump Threatens to Revoke Licenses of Stations that Air Critical Ads

As Americans sees the rising number of their fellow citizens becoming victims of COVID-19 (coronavirus), they are simultaneously losing confidence in the “leadership” of Donald Trump. From the beginning he downplayed the threat that the virus represented, insisting that the number of those affected was small and that it would shortly be zero. He could not have been more wrong. On Thursday the number of cases in the U.S. surpassed China.

Donald Trump Tyrant Dictator

And while the virus infections and fatalities go up, Trump’s mental state spirals down. He is sinking into a defensive posture that resembles closely the behavior of paranoid authoritarians who perceive enemies all around them. And one of the most common reactions by such persons is to clamp down on what they believe is a hostile media. Thursday’s Coronavirus Task Force (which he really has no business attending) opened with Trump accusing the press of being “corrupt.” That’s nothing new for someone who has repeatedly referred to the media in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people.”

More troubling is that now Trump is going after a progressive group that produced an ad recounting Trump’s failure to respond to the budding pandemic. Priorities USA compiled some of Trump’s own dismissive statements and juxtaposed them with a chart showing the virus’s rate of growth. This upset Trump and resulted in a “cease and desist” from the Trump campaign organization. Here’s the ad that triggered President Snowflake:

It’s bad enough that Trump would try to intimidate a political group by infringing on their First Amendment rights. But it’s even worse than that. The Trump campaign is actually threatening to revoke the broadcast licenses of any television station that airs the ad. That’s a fascist strongman’s solution to pesky critics who dare to speak out. According to a report in Bloomberg News, Trump’s campaign warned that…

“Failure to remove the ad ‘could put your station’s license in jeopardy’ before the Federal Communications Commission, the campaign said in the letter. ‘Your station has an obligation to cease and desist from airing it immediately to comply with FCC licensing requirements.'”

First of all, let’s establish the fact that the stations do not have any obligation to comply with the Trump campaign’s request that they do not air the ad. That request has no legal standing, and would likely fail to succeed if tried in court. The ad is comprised of Trump’s own words, and they were presented in a manner that reasonably represents their meaning. However, the campaign appears to suggest that the campaign has some ability to influence the FCC, a federal regulatory agency whose members are appointed by the President. That would be a wholly improper arrangement and an unlawful abuse of power on the part of the White House. What’s more…

“The FCC doesn’t appear to have grounds to act against the stations for airing contentious ads, said Jack Goodman, a Washington broadcast attorney, said in an interview. The ad ‘is core political speech’ protected by First Amendment guarantees of free speech, Goodman said.”

The primary complaint by Trump’s campaign concerns an audio clip of him referring to criticism from Democrats, saying that “This is their new hoax.” Trump asserts that he wasn’t referring to COVID-19 itself, but to the Democrats criticism. However, in the full context of his remarks he is itemizing events that he considered to be hoaxes. They included the investigation of Russia’s efforts on behalf of his 2016 presidential campaign, and his impeachment over his attempts to coerce the president of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. In both of those incidents his allegations of a hoax referred to the charges themselves, not criticism from Democrats. So why would his meaning be any different for the third item in that list?

This isn’t the first time that Trump has tried to use the courts to prohibit free speech. He is currently suing the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN for defamation. Trump is known for filing lawsuits – or threatening to – to harass his foes. But this time he has the power of the presidency to bolster those threats with punishment from agencies that are beholden to him. It’s the sort of authoritarianism that he so admires in his pals Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong Un. But it is anathema to American democracy and he must not be allowed to get away with it. So feel free to circulate the ad above, far and wide.

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

The Virus that Infects Donald Trump: ‘All I See is Hatred of Me’

One thing that has been clear about Donald Trump from the outset of his administration is that he has never exhibited the qualities demanded of the presidency. He lacks the intelligence, compassion, commitment, morality, and humility, that are the hallmarks of leadership. And he has never demonstrated that he has the ability to learn, take responsibility, or to bring the diverse community of Americans together.

Donald Trump, coronavirus

Trump is always about only Trump. He has brazenly profited from his position by funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to his own properties. And he has focused his political attention exclusively on advancing his own partisan interests. These are traits that psychiatric professionals have diagnosed as malignant narcissism, a combination of ego-centrism and sociopathy.

The risks of having someone with those mental issues in positions of power are readily apparent. They portend a tendency toward authoritarian behaviors that demand unflinching loyalty and reject competent advice. What’s worse is that when someone like Trump is under pressure, he will cease to behave rationally. His fears will incite ever more defensive and destructive responses to events he is unable to cope with or comprehend. Like a wounded animal, he becomes more desperate and vicious.

That appears to be the state of Trump’s mental decline now. And his Twitter feed is the best evidence of his psychic decay. Late Sunday night Trump tweeted this frightening call for help:

Let’s break that down, shall we? First of all, Trump is confessing that he compulsively consumes news on six television networks and two newspapers that he frequently disparages as “enemies of the people.”. How could he possibly have time to do that and his duties as president as well? Especially during a national emergency brought on by a deadly pandemic.

We already know that much of his time is spent tweeting (dozens of times a day), staging photo-ops with corporate CEOs and supporters, and leading daily press briefings. Never mind that he has no business even attending those briefings considering that he has no relevant knowledge or experience to contribute. To the contrary, he generally disgorges lies and misinformation that others on his staff have to clean up later. Even worse, he diverts the discussion into his petty grievances with reporters or devolves into shameless episodes of self-exaltation or making excuses for his failures. That is, when he isn’t blatantly exploiting the crisis to boost his reelection prospects.

However, the most unambiguous sign of a severe mental breakdown is Trump’s assertion that “all I see is hatred of me.” Really? That’s ALL he sees? He doesn’t see any of the presentations of facts about the crisis in the U.S. and internationally? He doesn’t see any of the medical professionals offering their expertise to educate the public on how to stay safe? He doesn’t see any of the human interest stories and testimony from real people going through the hardships of surviving in these trying times? He doesn’t see the crushing anguish of victims or the inspirational acts of heroes or any of the human stories that define us as a people? He sees only what he perceives as hatred directed solely at him.

The fact that Trump is blind to all of these non-political, educational, uplifting, and heart-wrenching stories, says something unmistakable about him. Even worse, the only things he does see are his paranoid perceptions of the universal hostility that consumes his diseased mind. What sort of person unleashes public declarations that everyone hates him? And what does it say that he lashes out with vengeful visions of his perceived enemies “destroying themselves”? Is this the behavior of a psychologically stable leader? Is it even remotely sane? And how long can America endure the madness of a man who also tweeted this all-caps rant:

Trump is now implying that he would terminate the “social distancing” recommendations by health experts after a totally inadequate 15 day period, simply because he regards the economic impact to be worse than the pandemic itself. Unsurprisingly, Trump contracted this preposterous notion from Fox News. Now he’s putting money before the lives of thousands of Americans. And he’s only doing that because the financial downturn will negatively affect his reelection hopes. If it wasn’t clear before, it most certainly is now: Trump is suffering from a sickness that threatens every American. And if we don’t take the opportunity in November to socially distance ourselves from him and the Republicans he’s infected, we can all expect to be victims of the Trump Virus.

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

Trump ‘Loves’ Him Some Whiffleball Questions From Radical Right-Wing ‘Reporter’

Another day, another White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing. These daily events serve no purpose other than to provide Trump with a forum to repeat his lies and disinform the public. And there is no plausible reason for him to be there except to satisfy his craving for ego-strokes now that he can no longer hold his traveling cult rallies.

Donald Trump

Saturday’s briefing was just a rehash of previous episodes where Trump leads a chorus of hallelujahs by sycophants paying tribute to his heroic awesomeness. In the course of his remarks Trump describes every alleged achievement as a never before seen breakthrough in human endeavors. Suffice to say that none of his barely coherent ramblings provide useful, factual information. The entirety of his presentation is an exercise in glassy-eyed happy-talk that painstakingly avoids the unsettling realities that the American people know all too well. After listening to Trump one might think that there was no pandemic crisis going on at all. Everything is fine and getting better.

In order to promulgate that deceit, Trump made a point of calling on Jenn Pellegrino, a “reporter” from the far-right, conspiracy factory, One America News Network (OANN). Her question, and Trump’s response, did nothing to advance the public’s well-being. physically or mentally. But it give Trump another opportunity to attack his perennial foes in the media (video below):

Pellegrino: This morning the Washington Post ran a story suggesting that you delayed taking action on the virus in January and February. Dr. Fauci has indicated that your action in the Chinese travel ban helped America immensely. What do you say to the Washington Post?
Trump: I love whoever you’re with. Cuz I think that’s such a nice question. I think the Washington Post covers us very inaccurately, covers me very inaccurately. I saw the story. I think it’s a disgrace. But it’s the Washington Post and I guess we have to live with it.

The story that they are obliquely referencing is one wherein the Post revealed that U.S. intelligence had warned him as early as January about the coronavirus and it’s potential risks, but that he disregarded the warnings. The Post reported that even though Trump’s advisers told him that “the system was blinking red […] they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it.”

So without putting the question into context, Trump complimented the Trump-fluffing reporter and her flagrantly biased network. Then went on to insult the Post without ever citing anything in their story that was inaccurate. Trump later noted that China had ejected the Post from the country, which he seems to think bolsters his position. Is that because he thinks China is so well regarded as a beacon of press freedom? And let’s not forget that Trump ejected the Post from the White House and other government offices.

Trump’s response to this question is especially notable considering how different it was from his response to a question he received the day before. Peter Alexander of NBC asked Trump “What do you say to Americans who are watching right now who are scared?” Whereupon, Trump jumped on him like a rabid jackal, calling Alexander a “terrible reporter” and the question “nasty.” But Pellegrino’s question asking “What do you say to the Washington Post,” drew Trump’s “love” for “such a nice question.”

The lesson here is that reporters are safer asking Trump what he has to say to news organizations that everyone knows he hates, than they are asking what he has to say to the American people. That’s because he cares more about attacking those who dare to tell the truth about him, than he does about the citizens of this country, a majority of whom voted against him. And it’s his indifference – and even hostility – to the people he is supposed to be serving, that has resulted in the disastrous way he has bungled the nation’s response to the worst pandemic in generations.

Trump’s Lawsuits Against the Media Could Produce an Avalanche of Evidence – Against Him

This election year has seen norms in political activity be swept away by Donald Trump’s continued rejection of decency and honesty as he tweets his way through a failing presidency. The observations that Trump is either pitifully ignorant and/or severely demented are impossible to dismiss. His symptoms range from bizarre assertions about windmill cancer and toilet flushing, to intense paranoia, delusions of grandeur, and authoritarian aspirations.

Donald Trump, Constitution

In recent weeks Trump has also been escalating his war against the media that he repeatedly refers to in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people,” which he did once again Sunday morning. Now Trump has set out on a path of litigation that is rooted in hostility and vengeance against the constitutional protections of a free press. This is behavior that reeks of fear, desperation, and the all-consuming mania of an unbridled persecution complex. It began with the announcement a week and a half ago that his campaign is suing his perennial nemesis (in his diseased mind), the New York Times for defamation. And in the short time since then, Trump has announced additional lawsuits against a couple of other perceived foes, the Washington Post and CNN.

Virtually every legal analyst who has commented on these lawsuits considers them not only frivolous, but dangerous. They are intended to inhibit free expression and punish those who dare to criticize Dear Leader. It’s a pure dictatorship play by a president who has repeatedly expressed his admiration for tyrants like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Xi Jinping. Each of these suits explicitly attack published opinions articles, not hard news. For instance, these are the specific citation in Trump’s legal complaints that he is alleging are defamatory:

New York Times
“There was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy because they had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions. The Trumpites knew about the quid and held out the prospect of the quo.”

Washington Post
The lawsuit cites a June 13 opinion piece by Greg Sargent that said Trump “tried to conspire with” a “sweeping and systematic” attack by Russia against the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It also cites a June 20 opinion piece by Paul Waldman that asked “who knows what sort of aid Russia and North Korea will give to the Trump campaign, now that he has invited them to offer their assistance?”

CNN
“The Trump campaign assessed the potential risks and benefits of again seeking Russia’s help in 2020 and has decided to leave that option on the table.”

All of these articles are expressing opinions that are rational, fact-based, and affirmed by authoritative sources. Some are even affirmed by Trump himself. After all, he did ask Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails on national television. What’s more, an extensive investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller found that “Trump and his campaign welcomed & encouraged Russian interference.”

To this day, Trump continues to openly solicit political assistance from hostile foreign countries. And his actions prove that he is working in concert with our adversaries to boost his reelection prospects.

While Trump’s wrathful litigiousness is an assault on press freedom, and has an unambiguous chilling effect on journalists, there is a silver lining to his abhorrent conduct. Should any of these lawsuits ever see a courtroom, Trump will be obligated to comply with discovery orders to turn over documents relevant to his complaint. So the defendants can require him to produce materials that he has been refusing to provide to prosecutors and investigators in Congress. And should he do so, he will almost certainly reveal incriminating evidence that could subject him to criminal indictments.

Consequently, it is highly unlikely that Trump will pursue these lawsuits. He may try to use them for publicity for awhile, and to run up the legal fees for the defendants. But in the end he will probably run away (or try to), as he has done throughout his life. However, he may not be able to escape if the defendants countersue and seek a declarative judgment asserting their rights under the First Amendment. In which case, he might still be required to submit to discovery and even testimony. So even though his intentions are loathsome and anti-American, this could still wind up being kinda fun.

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