I Spent 30 Minutes Watching Fox Today

You have to hand it to Fox. There is an amazing coordination of messaging, from morning to night and night to morning. In about thirty minutes today, I watched three segments that serve to demonstrate how that special brand of Fox journalism works.

First, I have to start with last night. Charles Krauthammer said on Special Report that the Obama administration is suffering from a “crisis of competence,” and that when you take all krauthammer on foxthe problems with the various government agencies, the IRS, the VA, and now the Secret Service, and put them together, “you get a sense that things are out of control.”

This morning on America’s Newsroom, “journalist” Bill Hemmer hosted a segment about the problems in the Secret Service. Just before Hemmer introduced Krauthammer’s comments from last night, he said this:

A lot of this now raising questions about whether the Obama team is simply capable.

In case you don’t watch Fox that often, that “now raising questions” trope is very common on the network. It is a way of disguising as news what simply is tendentious speculation and commentary. The questions being raised about the capability of the “Obama team” are, of course, all coming from conservatives like Charles Krauthammer. It’s pretty slick how it works. Slick, I mean, if you consider Fox’s target audience, most of whom think they are watching real news develop right before their eyes. Krauthammer makes a provocative and obviously biased statement on a so-called straight news program in the evening, and on another so-called straight news program the next day, his commentary is presented as news, via that “raising questions” device.

After his intro, Hemmer then plays a clip of Krauthammer’s comments, which sets up an interview with Rich Lowry, editor of the right-wing National Review. And Lowry is not appearing on Fox so he can provide a fair and balanced look at Krauthammer’s “crisis of competence” claim. No, sir. He is there to reinforce the message:

LOWRY: This is the central irony of the Obama administration, Bill. These are people who believe in government, who want to make government bigger, and more complex, and yet they have presided over a series of astonishing government failures. And it just makes you wonder what other failures are lurking in government agencies that we haven’t heard about yet. 

HEMMER: Hmm. Like what?

LOWRY: [Surprised] Well, we don’t know. But Charles made a very good point, Bill…

Yes, a very good point, indeed.

In yet another segment, about 8 minutes later, the Obama-hating daughter of Dick Cheney, Liz, also referenced the Krauthammer comment and spoke of “the incompetence of this liz cheney on foxpresident across a whole range of issues.” Krauthammer should get a special commission for providing so much chatter fodder for Fox. (As an aside, Liz told us that Obama and his political allies “are not doing their job in terms of trying to keep this nation safe.” That coming from the daughter of a man who was Vice President during the worst terrorist attack against this country in its history, while President Obama has in fact kept the country safe.)

My final example of this kind of phony Fox journalism came from a third segment this morning on the utterly misnamed America’s Newsroom. This time the host of the segment was Martha Maccallum, who also pretends to be a straight journalist on Fox. The organizing principle of this segment was something Karl Rove said on Greta Van Susteren’s program last night. Maccallum began the segment this way:

Some critics are saying that President Obama needs to take more responsibility for his handling of the growing ISIS threat. Here is Karl Rove on that last night:

Before we get to what Rove said, notice that intro: “Some critics are saying.” That is another way for Fox producers to present commentary as news. With an introduction like that, one rove on gretacould offer up anything, absolutely anything, and the gullible folks in the Fox audience will think they are actually watching real news. The entire segment was based on and focused on Rove’s comments from the night before. The entire thing.

What Rove said was the usual stuff about how the President could no longer “skate by” with blaming Bush for all his troubles. He also said that the President could “get bigger” and “look stronger if he takes responsibility on himself.” You get the idea. Referring to Obama’s interview on 60 Minutes on Sunday, Rove said Obama should not have “thrown James Clapper under the bus” and instead shouldered the blame himself for underestimating ISIL.

Now, I can’t go any further with my presentation of coordinated phony Fox journalism without bringing to your attention what President Obama actually said about James Clapper on 60 Minutes last Sunday. Obama did not throw Clapper, who is the Director of National Intelligence, under the bus. Here, in fact, is what he said in response to a Steve Kroft question about ISIL:

obama on sixty minutesKROFT: How did they end up where they are in control of so much territory? Was that a complete surprise to you?

OBAMA: Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.

KROFT: I mean, he didn’t say that, just say that, we underestimated ISIL. He said, we overestimated the ability and the will of our allies, the Iraqi army, to fight.

OBAMA: That’s true. That’s absolutely true. 

As you can see, Clapper had no tire tracks on him after that rather mild claim. But Obama was accused, based on that short exchange, of denying all responsibility. Fox has been particularly focused on that comment about our intelligence community underestimating ISIL, especially since some “top U.S. intelligence official” leaked to Fox a memo to staff” that supposedly exonerated Clapper and our intelligence apparatus. The problem is that Clapper did actuclapper and obama via Inter press serviceally say that our intelligence analysts underestimated the strength of ISIL, as well as overestimated the capability of the Iraqi army. But why let facts get in the way of the message you are peddling to the gullible?

With that out of the way, we can now proceed to more of Fox ignoring reality. After playing Rove’s comments, Maccallum brings into our living rooms Doug Schoen, who gets paid by Fox to pretend to be a Democrat, and Monica Crowley, who gets paid by Fox to look good and to pretend to be an insightful right-winger. As the segment proceeded, Schoen said that his take on what Rove said was,

that we are all Americans. This is not about assessing blame or parsing responsibility. It’s coming together for common purpose to take on a common enemy. I think that’s what we need to do and that’s what the President should have done.

Yes, Karl is the perfect guy to lecture us about not assessing blame. Good ol’ Turd Blossom would never do anything so, uh, un-American. Beyond that, though, if you bothered to look at that 60 Minutes interview, you would see that not only did President Obama not do what Rove accused him of doing, but he did do what Schoen accused him of not doing. Confusing stuff, yes. But as I said, facts and Fox don’t mix.

For her part, Monica Crowley did what she is paid to do. She looked good and she pretended to offer us insights from a right-wing perspective. One of her insights was this gem:

I think this goes back to his original mission when he entered the presidency, which was…the fundamental transformation of the nation, which had two basic pillars. One, socialized medicine, which he got through. And, two, retrenchment of world power, of American power in the world, which he also got through. And now you have the sense that he believes that since he’s done both, at least both are rolling along nicely for him, that his work here is done. That he can essentially sit back for the next two years and say, “Well, I’ll tinker at the margins and manage it, but, you know, the big work is already over.”

Instead of laughing at that bit of doo-doo, instead of apologizing to her audience for presenting to them such lunacy on what is billed as a fair and balanced news program, how do you suppose “journalist” Martha Maccallum responded to that nonsense? She legitimated it by saying:

MACCALLUM: Unfortunately we’re not living in a “tinkering at the margins” moment in history.

Yschoen and crowleyeah, unfortunately we’re not. Nor are we living in the Golden Age of Journalism.

The final right-wing insight provided by Monica Crowley in this segment came after a question about who was giving advice to President Obama about his “legacy.” This led Crowley to assert that Obama has never had any “wise men or wise women around him” to tell him what he needs to hear. He has limited himself to his wife, Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod, and “maybe one or two other people.” This, she said—and I kid you not—was,

a direct result of Barack Obama’s essential narcissism, where he believes that nobody is smarter than he is, nobody knows better than he does, so therefore he really doesn’t have to listen to anybody else.

And there you have it. This “news” segment began with, “Some critics are saying.” It featured Karl Rove’s comments last night mischaracterizing something President Obama said. Then, based on Rove’s erroneous comments, claims were presented that Obama is a narcissist who has socialized medicine and weakened the nation and is now resting from his work. Finally, the segment ended with the phony journalist who was hosting this madness again validating all of it by saying this:

MACCALLUM: As Karl Rove says, you can make a change. You can take the bull by the horns and you can become bigger, as Karl believes the President needs to do. We’ll see what the American people think and how he responds. Doug, Monica, always good to talk to you both. Thanks very much, guys. See ya next time.

Yep. There will most certainly be a next time. All day, every day. All night, every night.



  1. Please stop watching Faux News now. It’s not good for your blood pressure.


    • I agree with that. Sometimes my blood begins boiling, especially when I tune in for too long. That’s why I limit myself to just short bursts of exposures.


  2. I didn’t watch Faux News before I realized I was a Democrat, but if I had I think I might by now be in position to get a job as an extra on The Walking Dead. Since then I have only been exposed to it at the dentist’s office, helpless in a crowd to the drone of inanity, and on a cruise ship where access to news was either that or international CNN, which seemed to be mainly soccer. Goebbels was right – constant repetition works.


  3. ansonburlingame

     /  October 3, 2014


    The applicable term I believe is “airhead”, at least for some of those pundits on Fox, but not all of them. Krauthammer eloquently states the conservative case, usually about foreign policy. You might not agree with him but he has points that must be considered. Even amidst all the current turmoil over ISIL, he continues to warn about Iran and its nuclear ambitions, along with that country’s continuing attempts to create an Al-Qaeda-like but Shia led international terrorism network. They have a good start with Hamas and Hezzbola for sure.

    One clip now being played ad naseaum on Fox is Bush’s July 2007 warning about the consequences of not leaving substantial ground military power in Iraq when we departed. Would you and yours agree that has been proven to be a valid warning? Probably not but I have yet to read your views on that particular subject.

    You should have also watched a segment on The Kelly File last night. It was a State Department spokeswoman trying (but failing rather miserably) to debunk Panetta’s book about Obama and the White House (against DOD and State Dept) decision to leave no troops in Iraq.

    I wonder what rash of comments I will read after stating this point. Since 2001 (or earlier even) America has floundered trying to deal with radical Islam. Bush decided to use massive military power to squelch radical Islam in Iraq and Afghanistan. He failed to do so. Obama took the “let’s talk” approach and removed (and still removing) military power from the equation. That is failing as well. Now we are returning to the use of SOME military power instead, now in Iraq and Syria while evacuting Afghanistan before any semblance of real peace is achieved therein.

    If an objective view of the world is made today it is radically different from the world in 1999. America has diminished power to influence the world today and the various threats loom even larger now than in 1999. In that sense both Bush and Obama have failed, internationally in that the world is NOT a safer place, nor is “Main Street” in America as well.

    Left blames right and right blames left for that simple view of today’s world. I submit they both have failed, internationally over the last 14 years, and even before that period. 9/11 would have happened no matter what party came to WH power in the 2000 election. So blame Clinton, Bush I and Reagan for that I suppose. At least we had a 20 year respite from Russian attempts at hegemony. But now that has changed as well.

    American international influence, military power and economic power has diminished, significantly since 2000. Both right and left have caused that to happen and thus America itself, the whole country, is floundering around, diplomatically, militarily and economically.

    Symtomatic of this long term mess is the shot term mess in the Secret Service. As I recall several agents decided to cavort around in South America, the head of the Service was fired and someone took his place. Now we have fired her, remarkable thing as few are ever fired by Obama it seems. OK he did fire perhaps the second best military commander around, Gen. McChrystal and he refused to take the heat for our best military commander in several decades, Patreaus, and let him leave. We struggle to even guard the President very well today and can’t find someone, yet to make that happen. Pretty small potatoes considering everything else going on in the world today, but now even the Secret Service, like the rest of the country, flounders around looking for magic solutions.



    • King Beauregard

       /  October 3, 2014

      “One clip now being played ad naseaum on Fox is Bush’s July 2007 warning about the consequences of not leaving substantial ground military power in Iraq when we departed. Would you and yours agree that has been proven to be a valid warning? Probably not but I have yet to read your views on that particular subject.”

      Anson, if there was anyone who understood that we had made a mess of Iraq, it was the Left; we figured that out long before your side started making noises about “flypaper” (failed justification 47 or 48, probably). We left Iraq not because we were confident that everything was absolutely fine; we left because the alternative was to stay there forever, which was not a workable option. Where were the troops even going to come from for a permanent occupation? Lord knows the pro-war side couldn’t come up with nearly enough volunteers to sustain the required troop levels.


      • Amen to this point you made:

        We left Iraq not because we were confident that everything was absolutely fine; we left because the alternative was to stay there forever, which was not a workable option.

        Besides not demanding an answer to the question of what American troops would have done to stop ISIL in Iraq, had our troops been on the ground, I have yet to hear one journalist these days ask one pro-stay politician just how long we were supposed to stay in Iraq and where we were supposed to get the extra dough, since Republicans demand we pay for everything with offsets.



    • You wrote,

      Since 2001 (or earlier even) America has floundered trying to deal with radical Islam.Bush decided to use massive military power to squelch radical Islam in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      There was no “radical Islam,” in terms of terrorists who were bent on harming Americans, in Iraq. Why isn’t that clear to you by now? Iraq was a colossal mistake and that mistake had exactly nothing to do with fighting radical Islamists.

      As for you pinning on Obama a “let’s talk” approach, as I have documented in a response to you elsewhere, he has done a lot of killing while he’s talking. Again, I don’t know why that isn’t clear to you either.

      As for “magic solutions,” the only people I know looking for them are people on the right, who now that they have no responsibility for actually governing the country, think there must be a magic solution for governing the country and managing foreign affairs. It’s sickening to watch.


  4. Anson, i do not understand at all your contention that the world is “not a safer place” than in 1999. As far as I can tell, it is about the same, safety-wise, as it was then. However, now we know more about who wants to harm us and why. Just because we became aware doesn’t mean that the level of safety has really changed.

    I think you could make a pretty good case that the world is slightly safer now that we know who we can rely on and who we can’t. Most people feel less safe when they are not in control as much (the back-seat driver syndrome), but in actual fact, the level of safety can be the same or even better; you are just not driving.

    What are the facts that lead you to hold your beliefs?


  5. Didn’t Bush initially sign an agreement that stated that American troops would be out of Iraq by December 30, 2011? And wasn’t the drumbeat of war built on lies engineered by the war criminal himself, Dick Cheney? Only a watcher of Fox News forgets these facts in order to watch a bunch of bimbos and old men who support the military-industrial complex. They want war and more war so the complex can get bigger and richer, and Fox Noise is doing its part in accomplishing that goal. It is a shame that fake “journalists” can get away with lying 24/7 to a group of hateful, old white men who hate the thought of a black president. Finally, I wonder if they are aware that one of the owners of FOX Noise is an Arab businessman? Oh, I see a Muslim conspiracy . . . . . .


    • Jim,

      Yes. Yes. And, no, most Foxers aren’t aware of their Arab benefactor and the possibility that they are part of a Muslim conspiracy. But, God, I’d like to be there when they find out!



  6. ansonburlingame

     /  October 4, 2014


    I ignore the other two, left defending responses. But your’s is a good question, deserving discussion. I of course base my response on what we the people now know about various “threats”, public information, not secret intelligence assessments. Remember, our base year is 1999.

    Recall if you can the main debate between Bush and Gore in that 2000 election campaign. It was an argument over how best to use our surplus money, not a divisive debate over defict spending. Our economy was still booming as well. The only physical threat seemed to be all “over there” with a few embassies and one ship attacked. The world felt OK with Clinton’s efforts to protect Muslims in Bosnia and lobbing a few Tomahawk missiles into suspected Al-Qaeda facilities. Blackhawk Down captured our thoughts, slightly, during the Somolia intrusion. Most probably thought that was a “black Africa” situation, something like South Africa’s efforts to throw off ……..

    The whole world changed, dramatically, on 9/11/2001. America has yet to regain its footing, domestically and internationally. Even before that event SCOTUS had to get involved in a Presidential election. And we had tried to impeach a President before that. Welcome to a deeply divided, politically, America in 2000.

    Simply because America is SO divided, politically now, I consider just that point to reflect greater uncertainty, danger if you will. When other countries see a strong and united America they will tend to not try to provoke us. But when division, uncertainty, is seen in American government, well enemies think they might be able to ………. . So the frame of mind of potential enemies becomes emboldened and “unsafer” conditions arise.

    Bush captured the anger in America, post 9/11, and said two things rather remarkable in hindsight. One was “if you are not with us, you are against us”. The other is “This will be a generational war (against terror)”.

    Being a junior officer in the military during the Vietnam War, I wondered at the time Bush said that last remark if America had the guts to sustain a “generational war”. I doubted it then and of course today am convinced that is the case, now both politically AND economically.

    Right or wrong, and most will now say wrongly, Bush went “all in” to fight terrorism. He failed to remove that threat just in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama came along and screamed how wrong Bush had been and said he would lead America back to international stability. Then we had Hussein and the Taliban. Today no Hussein and we’ll see in a year or so about the Taliban, perhaps under another name in Afghanistan. In Iraq we have for all intents and purposes a long term civil war fueled from Iran on one side and Saudi Arabia on the other (throw in the Emirates as well if you like).

    Then the Arab Spring came along with a crash in our economy from which we are staggering trying still to recover, economically. I don’t know any single Arab nation better off today, safer today, as a result of the Arab Spring. Maybe Tunisia but I don’t know much about that country. Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Egypt, the Emirates (collectively), even Saudi Arabia are all worried about “stability”. We supported the removal of a dictator in the largest Arab country, Egypt, got a radical Muslim Brotherhood in his place, saw them kicked out and now being “hung” and a military form of control, dictatorship by another name, in Egypt today. Is that “safe” internationally or “safer”.

    When instability is seen in one country, it becomes not much concern to America, at least for smaller countries. But when regions of the world destabalize, uncertainty prevails and bad things start to happen, democracy or no democracy.

    Today the Arab World is continuing to fight its own religious war, Sunni vs. Shia, with no winner in sight for decades maybe. Iran is on the verge of going nuclear, in name for a while, but ………? That certainly is “unsafer”. Libya has terrorists swimming in the America embassy swimming pool and who knows who is governing that country. Europe, with American help, “broke it” and now ……..? Egypt is ………? Syria is …..? Iraq is …….? Afganistan is ………? and now Russia is ……., along with the Ukraine?

    Need I mention a European Union staggering economically, far worse than we are? As for real military power, forget Western Europe today. Do you believe NATO could actually do anything to thwart Russian ambitions in Eastern Europe today? No way could NATO influence the outcome in Ukraine today, as it did, really affected the outcome in the Balkans before 1999. Forget NATO now, unless we decide to “bomb Libya” again, to save an American swimming pool!!!

    The single event that really got my attention after 9/11 was Bengazi. It reflected continuing American uncertainty in the Arab World. America, not just Obama, had no idea how to respond, at the given moment or even now, to that terrorist attack. Just suppose that the Muslim Brotherhood decided to capture the American embassy in Egypt today (forget IF they could even try). How SHOULD America respond to such a situation? My guess is the “battle of the blogs” would be far worse than any American military response to prevent such an event, in Egypt, Iraq (ISIL in the Green Zone), Syria, Lebanon, etc., etc. .

    In my gloomy view, the glass was half full in 1999, maybe even 3/4’s full. Today, internationally it is about 1/4 full for America and the West. We are being “hammered” by terrorists and with a potential Russia hammer now being seen in the distance. Never as well, ever, forget China, at least economically.

    I won’t elaborate domestically, on immigration, economy, distribution of wealth, HC, Detroit (and others on the footsteps of that city), and that domestic list goes on and on as well. Ask yourself this simple question as well, about my primary concern for America in the future. Is our system of public education better today than in 1999? I see that as a continuing decline as well, with no end to that downward projection of the curve for American education at every level in the country.

    Sorry to write my own “blog” as a comment herein, Duane. But Michael got my attention with his question.



  7. Treeske

     /  October 5, 2014

    Proven fact: Fox news watchers are the least informed even less than those who don’t watch news at all! I guess the latter gets their news from reading?
    @Jim W. You’re right, Goebbels just like Karl Rove followed Bernays PR techniques well.


    • I don’t find the real danger in Fox viewers being less informed. I find the real danger in those viewers thinking they know something as fact that ain’t. I run into those folks all the time and I would rather run into someone who didn’t know something than into someone who knows something that is demonstrably false.


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