Jon Stewart On Right-Wingers: There Is No Satisfying “The Beast”

The Washington Post’s Eric Wemple reminds us that after Jon Stewart announced his upcoming retirement from “The Daily Show,” the on-air talent at Fox “News” wasn’t exactly sad about it:

Most notably, prime-time host Megyn Kelly riffed as follows: “I can tell you my own feeling on Jon Stewart, while I enjoy consuming his news product — this fake news product, you know at home and laughing at it,” said Kelly. “I don’t think overall he’s been a force for good. Because I think especially in his later years he got a little nasty. I think he got a little burnt-out. And I can speak personally to a lot of the attacks that were levied on me, had no foothold in the facts.”

stewartIt is beyond ironic that a Fox “News” host claims to sit at home and laugh at a “fake news product,” especially when so many people get a kick out of watching the Sultans of Fake on Fox do their best Colbert imitation day after day and night after night, as they pretend they are presenting the news.

I, however, don’t have much fun watching Fox and its stable of propagandists and, in some cases, liars (hello, Billo!) for the conservative movement. Rather than make me laugh, it depresses me to know that so many of my fellow citizens embrace the hate and misinformation that makes up so much of Fox’s programming day. It is obvious to me now, as a former conservative and “dittohead,” that America became a dumber and meaner place after right-wing zealots took over talk radio in the late 1980s (thanks to Ronald Reagan).

But since it’s appearance on the media scene, the Fox “News” Channel has taken dumber and meaner to new heights, or, more accurately, new lows. And some people have a hard time understanding why it is that so many Americans embrace, with a jihadist’s enthusiasm, such mind-dumbing and heart-numbing programming. But Jon Stewart pretty much gets it.

On Wednesday night, Stewart once again directly took on Fox by, first, playing a loop of “50 Fox lies in 6 seconds.” He noted that there were “plenty more” lies but his time was limited to 22 minutes. The entire 10-minute bit was the best stuff Stewart has done in a long time. It was hilarious. But it was more than that. The segment was insightful.

After playing a clip of Rush Limbaugh claiming that “Jon Stewart had helped to polarize the country by poisoning the Republican brand,” Stewart then played clips of Limbaugh saying a series of stupid and hateful things and followed those with the following observation:

How do you poison a cyanide factory? But see the little game that they play here is, “The only reason the right looks bad is that these guys are unfair liars to us”…My point is that we don’t lie. We don’t distort…The point is that on the right they’re pretending that our truthfulness is what’s really important to them, which ironically is not true. What matters to the right is discrediting anything that they believe harms their side. That’s their prime directive…

Look, this mission drives their attack on all the institutions that form the foundation of the country they purport to love so dearly. And what, pray tell, is wrong with these institutions? [He plays clips of Fox personalities or guests decrying “liberal bias and anti-Americanism” and “the cancer of liberalism” and the like.] …Each institution suffering from the same malady of liberalism  and what can be done?

This is their genius. They purport to want to fix things, but conservatives are not looking to make education more rigorous and informative, or science more empirical or verifiable, or voting more representative, or the government more efficient or effective. They just want all those things to reinforce their partisan ideological conservative viewpoints. Because in their minds, the opposite of bad isn’t good; the opposite of bad is “conservative.” The opposite of wrong isn’t right…it’s “right-wing.” They judge solely on the level of conservative content in everything. It’s their only litmus test…

He then played clips of Fox personalities blaming liberal Hollywood bias against Clint Eastwood for the fact that Eastwood’s film “American Sniper” did not win “Best Picture” at the Oscars. Stewart took on that “stupid shit” and then began his criticism of those who try to appease the right-wing lying machine:

You know the saddest part of all this? Republicans, conservatives, are so fucking relentless in their drive for ideological purity, that those institutions they complain about continue to cave for the same reason, I guess, that you always seem to end up going to the same restaurant the four-year-old wants to go to: “Fine! We’re going to get Fribbles again! Just stop crying!” 

Stewart went on to mention that “15 states have approved voter ID laws in the absence of any meaningful evidence of voter fraud.” He noted that in Oklahoma a “House committee voted to ban A.P. History for not sugar coating slavery enough” and that “Abstinence is approved sex education, and scientific fact isn’t reported now, it’s debated.” Then he says to all those who should know better but who are tempted to cave in to the demands of the ideologues:

So, let’s just stop. Let’s stop pretending that these concessions to the right will at any point sate the beast…So let’s just stop giving in to them. Guys, take it from someone who’s been watching what they do for a blessedly-almost-over 16 years or so. Their chronically angry war for ideological purity, where every aspect of life becomes a two-dimensional battle for America’s soul, it ages you…

As a former conservative, as a former fan of right-wing media personalities like Rush Limbaugh, as someone who spent much more time than Jon Stewart listening to and watching this stuff—as a true believer and a repentant critic—I can say that he’s right about the “chronically angry war for ideological purity” and the “two-dimensional battle for America’s soul.” There are no fifty shades of gray with these people. There is no gray at all. It’s black and white. You are either with them or against them. Thus, as Stewart says, there is no point in making tactical concessions to them.

You simply cannot satisfy the beast.

Advertisements

Of “Illegal Immigrant Children” And Millstone Necklaces

Let’s play a little game. I’ll provide you with three headlines and you tell me which one is from Fox “News.” Okay? Here we go:

1) Showdown: California town turns away buses of detained immigrants

2) Protesters Block Bus Carrying Immigrants

3) Protests turn back buses carrying illegal immigrant children

I know, I know. That was too easy. That last one, with its purposeful use of “illegal,” tells you all you need to know. And if, like me, you are wondering just how children can be illegal, I’ll get to that in a minute. For now, though, I will note that the obvious Fox headline appeared below an “Illegal Immigrants” header that linked to other stories on Fox, including: “Sheriff Arpaio calls for military action in border crisis.” Damn! I guess the hate-filled sheriff wants to send our troops into Mexico and threaten the kids before they get here! Then we wouldn’t have to worry about all those messy immigration laws! Genius!

In any case, one of the headlines I used was from NBC Los Angeles (“Protesters Block Bus Carrying Immigrants”) and if you bother to read some of the hundreds of comments on that story, you will be amazed at how much support the protesters in Murrieta, California, have. And by support I mean rabid support. It is hard to believe, when one reads through the comments, that the anger expressed is essentially directed toward children. Excuse me. “Illegal” children. As an example, I have selected a comment from “Lola Guin” (an “alternate profile” on Facebook from, uh, Massachusetts), who, as a “Top Commenter,” wrote:

...more of us need to be taking a stand like these good patriots. And to the illegal invader who is quoted in the article, due process only applies to citizens of this country. Illegals are not entitled to such things. When you break the law and invade another person’s country, you’re not afforded privileges like due process. Go back to your own country and make it better. Stop trying to mooch off the hard work of Americans. America is not the birthright of everyone on the planet. Our ancestors worked hard to make this country great. You can’t just show up after America becomes the most successful nation on the planet and expect to reap the rewards without putting in the work. You are NOT entitled to our tax money. Go home and do something with your own nations and get the heck out of ours. We’re all full up here, we can’t even support our own people because we’ve let too many of you leeches in. Trust me, illegal scum. You’re NOT wanted or needed here. Go away.

I remind you that was said to and about mostly kids, “illegal scum” and everything. The comment, so far, received 222 “likes.” Yikes.

I would bet ten-thousand Romney dollars that whoever Lola Guin is that he or she is some kind of Christian. Same with many of the other people whose comments were hateful, bigoted, racist, or some combination. One such commenter to that NBC Los Angeles story happens to be a local woman, a local right-wing woman who often comments on Joplin Globe stories, named Mary Schillaci. A man named Jeff Wagner had the gall to write into the string of vitriolic commentary and say to someone,

I hope you don’t pretend to be a Christian. You make me sick to my stomach.

Our local right-winger from Carl Junction wrote back a shoutin’:

Jeff Wagner How about “God helps those who help themselves.” Fair enough? Their countries need to help their own people and we will help ours with OUR TAX DOLLARS. Americans first!

I think she got that “Americans first!” sentiment from the GOP Annotated Bible, although I can’t be sure. But I am sure that in the real, non-GOP Bible the quote she offered—“God helps those who help themselves”—isn’t in there. If it were, then Christianity itself is a joke because its central claim is that Jesus helped us and saved us precisely because we couldn’t help and save ourselves. So it would be more accurate, by Christian standards, to say that, “God helps those who can’t help themselves.” But I digress.

Judging from her Facebook page, Mary Schillaci has some interest in God. Earlier this year she posted the following:

mary schillaci on facebook

Now, in this present humanitarian crisis, that might be a good message to send to those children coming here from Central America, since it appears many of them are down to nothing. And it is likely that many of those children think that what God is up to is making a place for them here in Christian America.

Fat chance.

Commenting on that NBC Los Angeles story, Rich McKeever (his real name), who is another “Top Commenter,” wrote:

This is what needs to happen. It seems we must take a page from the leftist playbook and take to the streets. It worked at the Bundy ranch, it worked here and it will work elsewhere if we can turn out the overwhelming numbers of people we need to become, as they say, too big to fail.

The idea, thanks to Cliven Bundy and his right-wing promoters, is that if enough folks carrying guns get together and are willing to use those guns against the government, then, by God, those children coming up from Central America won’t have a fightin’ chance! And I say “by God” in this case because, as it happens, Rich McKeever says on his Facebook page that he likes “Being Christian,” which is another Facebook page “where you can learn how to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, read daily devotionals, and be inspired.” 

Rich also says he likes a group called “Jesus Loves You,” which claims,

We’re giving away the love of Jesus Christ. 

Apparently when they were giving away the love of Christ, Rich was in a different line. Perhaps he was in line waiting to buy up all the ammo before Obama could get his hands on it, I don’t know. But we can see that Rich at least aspires to be a follower of Jesus. And just for him—no, for all those like him who want to simultaneously follow Jesus while being mean to desperate children from Central America—I have another news story for you about children, this time from a 1st-century journalist named Matthew, who was doing a write-up on Jesus:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Whoops! But he’s not finished:

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Uh-oh. “Illegal immigrant children,” anyone? “Illegal scum”? “God helps those who help themselves?” “Americans first!”? If I were those folks, I’d get to work on learning to swim while sporting a giant millstone necklace. And should they fail to figure out how to make that work, when they hit the ocean floor it might comfort them to know:

When you are down to nothing, God is up to something.

 

How To Think About Obama, Putin, And Toughness

On Monday President Obama expanded the sanctions against Russia, which, of course, still won’t quiet his critics, many of whom think he should, even without help from reluctant Europeans, do much, much more to try to keep Vladimir Putin from destabilizing and perhaps eventually annexing parts or all of Eastern Ukraine.

What that “much, much more” entails is never made clear, since it is obvious the Europeans—whose interests clearly run much deeper than ours—want to go slow in terms of putting pressure on the Russians. For some of the President’s most virulent critics, there is nothing our wussy President could do, short of starting a war, that would shut them up.

In that context, White House correspondent Ed Henry, pretending to be an objective journalist on a cable network pretending to do the news, did us all a favor yesterday by asking President Obama, who was in the Philippines, a question that only a Fox addict could appropriately love:

ED HENRY, FOX “NEWS”: …as you end this trip, I don’t think I have to remind you there have been a lot of unflattering portraits of your foreign policy right now.  And rather than get into all the details or red lines, et cetera, I’d like to give you a chance to lay out what your vision is more than five years into office, what you think the Obama doctrine is in terms of what your guiding principle is on all of these crises and how you answer those critics who say they think the doctrine is weakness. 

Asking his question, the fair and balanced Fox correspondent managed to get in:

1. The whole “red lines” controversy that right-wingers have used to bash the President.
2. The idea that Obama does not have a “guiding principle” for his foreign policy, another criticism that right-wingers hurl at him constantly.
3. And most important, the notion that President Obama lacks toughness and is a weakling on the world stage.

All of that must have pleased Henry’s bosses and earned him a bonus. But, as I said, we should also thank him because his loaded question allowed President Obama to demonstrate to sane Americans how lucky we are to have him in charge rather than some tough guy blabbing on cable TV or pecking on a keyboard at The Weekly Standard. First he began with a shot at Fox:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, Ed, I doubt that I’m going to have time to lay out my entire foreign policy doctrine.  And there are actually some complimentary pieces as well about my foreign policy, but I’m not sure you ran them.

No, Ed didn’t run them. Fox didn’t run them. And for one good reason: There isn’t anyone at Fox who would dare say anything complimentary about President Obama. That would be a good way to get yourself on the wrong side of the Republican’s War on the Unemployed. But the real attack on his critics on Fox and elsewhere—finally and decisively from the lips of the President—was directed at those who constantly say his balls are too small for the job. I will quote Obama extensively and all Americans should read all of the following with thankfulness in their hearts:

Typically, criticism of our foreign policy has been directed at the failure to use military force.  And the question I think I would have is, why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we’ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget?  And what is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?

My job as Commander-in-Chief is to deploy military force as a last resort, and to deploy it wisely.  And, frankly, most of the foreign policy commentators that have questioned our policies would go headlong into a bunch of military adventures that the American people had no interest in participating in and would not advance our core security interests. 

So if you look at Syria, for example, our interest is in helping the Syrian people, but nobody suggests that us being involved in a land war in Syria would necessarily accomplish this goal.  And I would note that those who criticize our foreign policy with respect to Syria, they themselves say, no, no, no, we don’t mean sending in troops.  Well, what do you mean?  Well, you should be assisting the opposition — well, we’re assisting the opposition.  What else do you mean?  Well, perhaps you should have taken a strike in Syria to get chemical weapons out of Syria.  Well, it turns out we’re getting chemical weapons out of Syria without having initiated a strike.  So what else are you talking about?  And at that point it kind of trails off.

In Ukraine, what we’ve done is mobilize the international community.  Russia has never been more isolated.  A country that used to be clearly in its orbit now is looking much more towards Europe and the West, because they’ve seen that the arrangements that have existed for the last 20 years weren’t working for them.  And Russia is having to engage in activities that have been rejected uniformly around the world.  And we’ve been able to mobilize the international community to not only put diplomatic pressure on Russia, but also we’ve been able to organize European countries who many were skeptical would do anything to work with us in applying sanctions to Russia.  Well, what else should we be doing?  Well, we shouldn’t be putting troops in, the critics will say.  That’s not what we mean.  Well, okay, what are you saying?  Well, we should be arming the Ukrainians more.  Do people actually think that somehow us sending some additional arms into Ukraine could potentially deter the Russian army?  Or are we more likely to deter them by applying the sort of international pressure, diplomatic pressure and economcost of iraq waric pressure that we’re applying?

The point is that for some reason many who were proponents of what I consider to be a disastrous decision to go into Iraq haven’t really learned the lesson of the last decade, and they keep on just playing the same note over and over again.  Why?  I don’t know.  But my job as Commander-in-Chief is to look at what is it that is going to advance our security interests over the long term, to keep our military in reserve for where we absolutely need it.  There are going to be times where there are disasters and difficulties and challenges all around the world, and not all of those are going to be immediately solvable by us. 

But we can continue to speak out clearly about what we believe.  Where we can make a difference using all the tools we’ve got in the toolkit, well, we should do so.  And if there are occasions where targeted, clear actions can be taken that would make a difference, then we should take them.  We don’t do them because somebody sitting in an office in Washington or New York think it would look strong.  That’s not how we make foreign policy.  And if you look at the results of what we’ve done over the last five years, it is fair to say that our alliances are stronger, our partnerships are stronger, and in the Asia Pacific region, just to take one example, we are much better positioned to work with the peoples here on a whole range of issues of mutual interest.

And that may not always be sexy.  That may not always attract a lot of attention, and it doesn’t make for good argument on Sunday morning shows.  But it avoids errors.  You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run.  But we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world.

As far as I’m concerned, with that answer President Obama executed a perfect spinning headlock elbow drop on his war-hungry critics. Which ain’t too bad for a supposedly weak leader. We picked the right man for the job after all.ambassador mcfaul

Related to that, Michael McFaul, former United States Ambassador to Russia (who is now a Professor of Political Science at Stanford), said something important this morning on MSNBC regarding Obama’s alleged lack of toughness toward Vladimir Putin:

This talk of toughness, if I could just add a little historical perspective, do you know how many government officials the Bush administration sanctioned? Zero. Do you know many Ronald Reagan sanctioned after the crackdown in Poland? Zero. General Eisenhower, President Eisenhower, who ran on “roll back Communism”? Zero. So, you know, let’s have a little perspective here…

Okay. Will do. Since I’ve previously discussed George W. Bush’s failure to do anything about Putin’s invasion of Georgia in 2008,  let’s get some perspective on Eisenhower and Reagan in relation to the Russians during the Cold War.

Eisenhower agreed to hold, in 1955, the first meeting between Soviet and Western leaders since Potsdam in 1945, where, as the Miller Center put it,  he proposed “an ‘Open Skies’ program that would have allowed both sides to use aerial air surveillance to gather information about each other’s military capabilities.” Khrushchev rejected the idea, but can you imagine if President Obama had been the first to propose such a thing? What would his critics have said? (The idea was later taken up by President George H. W. Bush in 1989 and an “Open Skies Treaty” was signed in 1992, with Russia as one of the signatories.)

A little more than a year after that Eisenhower-blessed 1955 meeting, the Soviets invaded Hungary, bombing Budapest and moving in armored units to put down a revolt against the country’s oppressive Communist government. Over 2500 Hungarians were killed. And what did Eisenhower, our national war hero, do? Nothing. Thankfully, he sort of had an idea that wars were easy to start and hard to end.

Turning to Ronald Reagan, let’s remember that, like Eisenhower, the conservative president vigorously pursued arms control treaties designed to limit nuclear weapons. Reagan fiercely hated nukes and actually wanted to make a deal with the Soviets to get rid of them altogether. (According to the Heritage Foundation, “Reagan came to believe that the biblical story of Armageddon foretold a nuclear war.” Yikes.) To that end, he proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative (dubbed by its critics as “Star Wars”), which included a space-based laser that was supposed to shoot down incoming missiles. (Some say he got the idea from a movie he made in 1940 called “Murder in the Air,” which introduced an “inertia projector” attached to a dirigible. The inertia projector eventually shot down the bad guy’s plane. Yikes, again.) Famously, and quite surprisingly, Reagan repeatedly offered to share the new missile defense technology with the Russians. If Obama had done that, he would have been excoriated and likely impeached. (Sarah Palin attacked him anyway out of ignorance or stupidity, your choice.)

During Reagan’s first year as president, in December of 1981, the Soviets finally forced the Polish government to squash Solidarity, the anti-Soviet trade union movement led by Lech Walesa. The government imposed martial law, arrested the movement’s leaders, and fired on Polish strikers and demonstrators, killing and injuring many. And what was tough-guy Reagan’s response? Some rather mild sanctions against Poland and the Soviet Union. The Europeans weren’t eager to do too much (sound familiar?) and the Reagan administration, as noted by Arthur Rachwald, “favored a flexible approach to Poland—a policy of carrots and sticks…” Rachwald writes:

..the Reagan administration’s considerable restraint made Warsaw hopeful that an improvement in relations was possible. The real test of Reagan’s long-term intentions toward Poland came at the beginning of February 1982, when the United States had to decided whether to pay $71.3 million in interest to U.S. banks that had made government-guaranteed loans to Poland. Several senators, including Patrick Moynihan, argued in favor of declaring Poland bankrupt. Such a decision would eliminate Polish exports to the West and make the Jaruzelski regime a financial ward of Moscow. This step would be the ultimate form of economic pressure on Warsaw and Moscow.

The Reagan administration, however, believed that declaring Poland insolvent would have irreversible consequences on Polish-U.S. relations.

Thus, Ronaldus Magnus paid the interest due and limited the damage inflicted on the two countries in hopes that future progress could be achieved. (Does that sound familiar, too?) Rachwald says:

The decision not to declare Poland bankrupt was a clear message to Warsaw that mutual relations were not beyond repair, and that the key to Poland’s access to Western markets and credits was in General Jaruzelski’s hands.

Well, as we know, it took eight years after that Polish crack-down on Solidarity before the Soviet Union began to disintegrate. Eight bleeping years. Sometimes it is hard to judge what toughness is. Sometimes being tough involves resisting the desire to be seen as tough. Sometimes it is, as President Obama suggested, settling for singles and doubles and only the occasional home run, as we try to “steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world.” Regarding the present crisis in Ukraine, former ambassador Mike McFaul said quite wisely this morning,

I think we should judge this by what happens eight years from now, not by what happens eight days from now.

Amen.

 

How To Get A Job On Fox “News”

I watched President Obama’s press conference on Tuesday at The Hague. Man, oh, man. What is it about those ABC News guys?

First, a little background:

When Fox “News” first opened up its fairly unbalanced doors in 1996, a 23-year veteran of ABC News, Brit Hume, joined them. Hume had been ABC’s Chief White House Correspondent, and at Fox he was the anchor of Fox’s “Special Report” for ten biased years.

In 2003, another prominent ABC News correspondent, Chris Wallace, joined Fox. Wallace, son of Mike, still hosts the closest thing−and sometimes it isn’t that close−to a real news show on the network, “Fox News Sunday.”

John Stossel, who for years was a correspondent and co-anchor of ABC News’ 20/20 program, left ABC in 2009 to join Fox “News” and Fox “Bidness” Channel, where he preaches his libertarian ideas to, if not the choir, at least the gullible.

Earlier in 2009, Michael Clemente joined Fox as a Senior Vice President of News, after spending 27 years at ABC News, including a stint as senior broadcast producer for ABC’s World News Tonight and later for 20/20. His last job at ABC News was as Senior Executive Producer of the ABC Digital Media Group.

If you happen to watch Fox “News,” you will see Rick Klein, who is a “regular guest.” Except that Rick  Klein is the Political Director for, uh, ABC News! Now, I understand that ABC does not have its own cable news platform, but why allow your Political Director to appear so often on Fox? Is it because occasionally Fox promotes his stuff for ABC? If so, ABC News ought to be ashamed of itself.

All of which leads us to Tuesday’s press conference at the Hague. Jonathan Karl, who is currently ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent, actually asked President Obama these questions:

Mr. President, thank you. In China, in Syria, in Egypt and now in Russia we’ve seen you make strong statements, issue warnings that have been ignored. Are you concerned that America’s influence in the world, your influence in the world is on the decline? And in light of recent developments, do you think Mitt Romney had a point when he said that Russia is America’s biggest geopolitical foe? If not Russia, who?

If that sounds to you like something John McCain might ask, or something that Reince Priebus might ask, or something that Sean Hannity might ask, you have good ears. Karl is apparently auditioning for Roger Ailes and, as a long-time Fox monitor, I’d say he is well qualified for a job on the network. Or just about any reactionary operation. Here’s how a few right-wing sites reported on Karl’s performance at The Hague:

right wing responses to karl

And my personal favorite, posted by Jonathan Karl’s Fox friend Greta Van Susteren, includes a proud shot of the ABC News correspondent:

greta and jon karl

As you can see, Karl is something of a journalistic hero on the right. But that’s not just for what he did at The Hague yesterday. When you examine Karl’s body of work, you see why the right-wingers love him so.

He started his reporting career in a right-wing organization created to promote conservative journalism on college campuses, the same kind of collegiate journalism that gave us people like Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin. Karl also worked for Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, which is basically Fox “News” in print. He has written articles for the right-wing Weekly Standard (including this embarrassing piece), a publication that helped bring us the Iraq War.  At ABC News, if you watch his reporting, you see a clear bias in favor of Republican talking points, including the need for austerity and tiny tales of government waste. Because I like Diane Sawyer, I frequently watch her newscast, and the best one can say about Karl’s reporting is that it slants to the right; the worst one can say about it is that, well, Karl is an undercover reactionary.

Nothing demonstrates his conservative bias better than his infamous mishap involving the Fox-created Benghazi scandal. Karl went on the air last spring and unethically fed into the Fox Benghazi narrative by erroneously “quoting” from an email that he himself had not read. The false quotes, presented as “exclusives,” made it appear that the White House (read: Barack Obama) and State Department (read: Hillary Clinton) had “dramatically edited” the famous Benghazi talking points used by Susan Rice on all the Sunday news shows. We found out later that Karl was fed his false information by, uh, congressional Republicans. He sort of apologized for the error and ABC News should have sort of fired him, but on he goes.

Given Karl’s track record, you have to wonder why President Obama, who has publicly compared Jonathan Karl to Fox’s Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry, didn’t answer Karl’s question this way:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Wow, Jonathan! Isn’t ABC treating you well? Aren’t they paying you enough? Did Roger Ailes promise you a job and a raise if you came here to the Netherlands and tried to claim how weak I am on the world stage? Isn’t that Fox’s “Obama meme du jour”? No, wait. They’ve been saying that for some time now. But, congratulations anyway! I think you’ve got the job you obviously want whenever you want it. I look forward to not calling on you at my next presser. Oh, and tell Mittens that Mr. President said “hey.”

Instead of that, President Obama, soberly and thoughtfully, answered in a way that demonstrated what real strength is and why we are fortunate the American people chose him to lead the country in these perilous times:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Jonathan, I think if the premise of the question is that whenever the United States objects to an action and other countries don’t immediately do exactly what we want, that that’s been the norm, that would pretty much erase most of 20th century history.

I think that there’s a distinction between us being very clear about what we think is an appropriate action, what we stand for, what principles we believe in, versus what is, I guess, implied in the question, that we should engage in some sort of military action to prevent something.

You know, the truth of the matter is, is that the world’s always been messy. And what the United States has consistently been able to do, and we continue to be able to do, is to mobilize the international community around a set of principles and norms. And where our own self-defense may not be involved, we may not act militarily. That does not mean that we don’t steadily push against those forces that would violate those principles and ideals that we care about.

So yes, you’re right, Syria — the Syrian civil war is not solved. And yet Syria has never been more isolated.

With respect to the situation in Ukraine, we have not gone to war with Russia. I think there’s a significant precedent to that in the past. That does not mean that Russia’s not isolated. In fact, Russia is far more isolated in this instance than it was five years ago with respect to Georgia and more isolated than it was certainly during most of the 20th century when it was part of the Soviet Union.

And what we have to make sure we’re…putting all elements of our power behind finding solutions, working with our international partners, standing up for those principles and ideals in a clear way.

There are going to be moments where military action is appropriate. There are going to be some times where that’s not in the interests — national security interests of the United States or some of our partners, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to continue to make the effort, or speak clearly about what we think is right and wrong. And that’s what we’ve done.

With respect to Mr. Romney’s assertion that Russia’s our number one geopolitical foe, the truth of the matter is that, you know, America’s got a whole lot of challenges. Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors — not out of strength, but out of weakness.

Ukraine has been a country in which Russia had enormous influence for decades — since the breakup of the Soviet Union. And you know, we have considerable influence on our neighbors. We generally don’t need to invade them in order to have a strong cooperative relationship with them. The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and lay bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more.

And so my response, then, continues to be what I believe today, which is Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned, when it comes to our security, with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan, which is part of the reason why the United States, showing its continued international leadership, has organized a forum over the last several years that’s been able to help eliminate that threat in a consistent way.

Why Liberals Should Thank Bill O’Reilly

You gotta love it. First President Obama tells the truth about Fox “News” and then Hillary Clinton follows it up. Now, when CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, ABC News, and CBS News start telling the truth about Fox, then we will be getting somewhere.

In any case, Bill O’Reilly’s interruption-plagued ObamaCare-Benghazi-IRS interview (come on, what did you expect? Billo has to eat, ya know) with Obama ended with this:

I think — I — you know, I know you think maybe we haven’t been fair, but I think your heart is in the right place.

That moment of lucidity, I knew at the time, would get Billo in trouble. One commenter on the Fox “News” site said what a lot of right-wingers were thinking:

oreilly interview

“I’m DONE with you Bill!” When they start shouting, look out!

What you should know is that, as incredible as it sounds to liberal ears, Fox “News” is now seen by many right-wingers as part of the problem. Yes, Fox isn’t conservative enough! Over at Glenn Beck’s “The Blaze,” we find this comment attached to an article on O’Reilly’s interview with President Obama:

oreilly interview

O’Reilly and Huckabee traitors? Yikes. But look at his one:

oreilly interview

Nice folks, no? But what I really want you to see is this comment:

oreilly interview

When Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Karl Rove aren’t conservative enough for you, then the political dementia on the far right is worse than we thought. And speaking of dementia, try this:

blaze

It seems that Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and Sean Hannity, who apparently have been feuding (who knew?), are now teaming up for a kind of mischief they apparently can’t accomplish as free agents. The article reports:

Beck said he, Levin and Hannity all have a different skill set, all of which are important to bring the country together and focus on real solutions.

Yes. These guys think their brand of right-wingery will “bring the country together.”

Hey, don’t laugh. Beck is serious:

“Something big is happening. Something good is really happening,” Beck concluded. “Well, I mean, unless you’re a progressive then I don’t think you’re going to like this. It’s not good news for you.”

Oh, yes it is, Glenn! It is always good news for progressives when the reactionaries are fighting so fiercely among themselves, and if Beck and Levin and Hannity want to join forces to give their extremist followers more power to attack the Republican establishment, I say, bravo!

And they aren’t the only ones bashing the establishment. Just this afternoon, I received an email from a Tea Party group that was asking for dough. After bashing unions (“who are working diligently to pervert our system of government”), the appeal continued in bold letters:

For too long we have allowed the political establishment of both parties to drive our country into the ground. Today is the day that we stop the political elite and return America to greatness. 

Yes, Democrats and Republicans are just one big elite group working together to destroy the country! Of course!

Today on his show, Rush Limbaugh, the king of the talk radio dung heap, himself spent a lot of time attacking the Republican establishment. He has a theory about what they are up to, and it goes something like this:

By pushing immigration reform (“amnesty”), Republicans are blowing their chances of winning the upcoming election “in a landslide.” Oh, sure Republicans want to win in 2014, but they want to do it without the Tea Party. Why? Because if the Tea Party delivers another landslide election to the Republicans like it did in 2010, then the Republican establishment is in deeper trouble when it comes time to nominate their presidential candidate in 2016. Teapartiers would demand that the GOP candidate come from their ranks. That is why the establishment is trying to get rid of Tea Party influence in the House and get immigration reform passed, Limbaugh said. They want to marginalize teapartiers, eke out a victory this year, and then get their establishment guy ordained as the party’s front man against Hillary.

I know, I know. It’s nuts. But it helps our side when these folks get this way. And I personally want to think Bill O’Reilly and Fox “News” for playing their part in the chaos.

_______________________________________

limbaugh and immigration

Fair And Balanced Gossip

Have you heard about the latest gossip found in a not-yet-released book?

No, I’m not talking about the gossip about President Obama and Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden that news outlets have culled—and twisted out of shape to some degree—from former secretary of defense Robert Gates’ too-early-to-tell-all book,”Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.

I’m talking about a much funnier book called, “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” written by Gabriel Sherman, an advanced copy of which was reviewed by The New York Times.

In that book,  which is a 560-page biography of Fox’s master of misinformation, Roger Ailes, you will find Ailes admitting to his Fox lieutenants before the 2012 elections:

I want to elect the next president.

What a howler! A regular knee-slapper! What a revelation! Who could have guessed that Fox was trying to elect Mitt Romney president? How hilariously shocking.

And who could have guessed that the conservative kingmaker, the sultan of sophistry, is an authoritarian? And a crass sexist:

Former employees cited in the book talked of Mr. Ailes’s volatile temper and domineering behavior. In one anecdote, a television producer, Randi Harrison, told Mr. Sherman that while negotiating her salary with Mr. Ailes at NBC in the 1980s, he offered her an additional $100 each week “if you agree to have sex with me whenever I want.”

I wonder if Ailes offered Fox and Friends’ Brian Kilmeade, whom he sarcastically referred to as “a soccer coach from Long Island,” the same deal? More to the point, I wonder what Kilmeade’s answer might have been?

Perhaps most genuinely surprising of all is in what was revealed by “A Fox News spokeswoman” responding to the above incident that was chronicled in Gabriel Sherman’s book:

These charges are false. While we have not read the book, the only reality here is that Gabe was not provided any direct access to Roger Ailes and the book was never fact-checked with Fox News.

Who knew that Fox employed fact checkers? I wonder what they do all day?

The book also offers us one of the funniest descriptions of the insufferable Bill O’Reilly, a man who makes a lot of money for Fox and for himself by constantly advertising his “best-selling” books on his popular evening hour of spit-inducing spin, that you will ever read from someone who knows him better than we do. Ailes said O’Reilly was,

a book salesman with a TV show.

Now, leaving aside the fact that Roger Ailes owes a sincere apology to book salesmen everywhere—if there are any book salesmen left anywhere—you have to admit that reducing the self-bloated Fox host, who thinks he is some kind of intellectual giant kind enough to share his intellectual giantness with the rest of the world, down to a pedestrian book peddler is kind of funny.

No, it’s real funny. Even if what Fox “News” does all day every day is not that funny, considering what it, guided by Roger Ailes, is doing to pollute the minds of millions of our fellow Americans.

60 Minutes Leaves Fox “News” In The Lurch

You have heard by now that the famed CBS News program 60 Minutes is doing a my bad! on its recent report on Benghazi, a report that many right-wingers, especially the Obama-haters on Fox “News,” have been using to justify their own misreporting on the tragedy that occurred there.

Here is the way HuffPo began its story:

In a humiliating retreat from a piece she had staunchly defended, “60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan admitted on Friday morning that she and the news magazine had made a “mistake” in their reporting of a controversial story about the Benghazi attacks.

You can read the details for yourself, but the important thing to know here is that because Fox journalism is always seeking validation from mainstream journalists (who are much too eager to give it to them), it quickly latched onto the 60 Minutes story. Via Media Matters, here is how an alleged straight news reporter (he’s not) on Fox, Brett Baier,opened a segment on Fox’s flagship news program Special Report the day after the Lara Logan piece ran:

BAIER: Answers are still hard to come by in the investigation into last fall’s Benghazi terror assault. Last night, one of journalism’s heavy hitters reaffirmed what we knew and had reported on.

“What we knew and had reported on” turns out to be, well, “what we wish we knew but reported on as if we knew it.”  Fox, and many Republican politicians and pundits, have been pushing the idea that somehow President Obama or someone in his administration (by the time its all over future presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be to blame) withheld military help from those under attack in Benghazi, and that the whole thing was a grotesque scandal that the “lamestream media” was covering up. Foxers were so damn happy that finally someone had legitimated their coverage they could hardly contain themselves.

Again, on the day after the 60 Minutes report aired, Media Matters chronicled another Fox response, this time from another anchor pretending to be a straight journalist, Martha MacCallum:

Now 60 Minutes, the venerable news program, Sunday night news program, is putting a lot of focus on this story … Here at Fox News we’ve been covering this story for a very long time. At times we’ve been criticized for continuing to cover this story…

It remains to be seen whether 60 Minutes will remain a “venerable news program” in the eyes of Fox on-air talent, but what we do know is that right-wingers will not give up their quest to taint the President or, as will eventually happen as the 2016 draws closer, taint Hillary Clinton over the horrific events in Benghazi.

Finally, the indispensable Media Matters.org also kept track of other right-wingers’ expressed glee over the now-flawed 60 Minutes report: from Pat Robertson’s pronouncement that “it’s all over” for Obama to Breitbart’s declaration that “It was a reversal for CBS News, which played a key role in the Benghazi cover-up in 2012,” to the National Review’s Jonah Goldberg’s tweet:

jonah goldberg tweet

Yikes! It turns out that the original 60 Minutes piece—centrally flawed—does corroborate “pretty much everything” Fox has been reporting.

God’s In His Heaven And ObamaCare Will Soon Send You To Join Him, Buttsex Or Not

The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven—
All’s right with the world!

—Robert Browning

All’s right with the world alright.

Republicans have shut down the government and Fox “News” is doing what it is that Fox “News” does best.

I strolled past the Republican News Channel this morning and peeked through its fogged-up windows for a couple of minutes. What I saw was a man from the Heritage Foundation, who has written a book on Margaret Thatcher, explain why the Iron Lady would be aghast to even set her saintly peepers on ObamaCare! Yes, this man told Fox viewers that the private business- and free market-loving woman who presided over Great Britain’s genuinely socialist healthcare system would oppose a conservative-inspired scheme in which markets are used to bring in customers to private insurance companies! Only on Fox.

But the worst thing I saw through the fogged-up windows was none other than Betsy McCaughey, former Republican Lieutenant Governor of New York, who Fox used all morning to “explain” ObamaCare to the folks. Just to give you an idea what a bad idea it was to have McCaughey explain the Affordable Care Act to gullible, low-information Fox viewers, I bring you a recent headline from Wonkette:

‘Death Panel’ Inventor Betsy McCaughey Warns Obamacare Will Force Doctors To Ask You About Buttsex

As I said, all’s right with the world.

Bill O’Reilly, Jason The Surfer, And The End Of American Civilization

Bill O’Reilly likes to talk about race hustlers and parasites. Well, it takes one to know one. Using his own standards of judgment, O’Reilly is a race-hustling parasite himself.

His show, a tribute to narcissism, has lately found him doing the race hustle in front of race-anxious whites, those who find it a bit unsettling to have someone other than a white man occupy The White’s House and who find it depressing that America is browning. O’Reilly exploits white angst and makes money off that exploitation.

But I’m particularly pissed off about the latest Fox-inspired attempt to put the blame for our financial and cultural troubles on those O’Reilly calls “parasites.” Billo once again brought up a guy now known as “Jason the Surfer“—no relation to Joe the Plumber—whom Fox managed to unearth in California, and who spends some of his monthly SNAP money (reportedly $200) on, Jesus forbid, sushi and lobster.

O’Reilly said,

This guy is a parasite. And my contention is that the Obama administration is encouraging parasites to come out and, you know, take as much as they can with no remorse and this is how a country declines. This is how we become a weak nation.

Now, if you’re like me, you find it hard to imagine that President Obama or anyone in his employ has spent a millisecond trying to figure out how to get California surfers to avail themselves of food stamps.Jason-Greenslate

And, if you’re like me, you also find it hard to believe how a kid on a surf board with a belly full of taxpayer subsidized sushi and lobster—even if it’s only a rare treat (at these prices)—can lead to the decline of American civilization, especially when all those Romney types are still out there hard at work practicing vulture capitalism, described famously by Republican Rick Perry during the 2012 campaign:

They’re sittin’ out there on the, on the tree limb, waitin’ for the company to get sick, and then they swoop in, they eat the carcass, they leave with that, and they leave the skeleton.

Newt Gingrich also famously said during that campaign the following:

I think we have to be honest about this. One of the reasons people who like free enterprise do not like Wall Street is that they see very rich financiers who rig the game, so the taxpayer loses, the worker loses, and somehow the rich guy does okay…If we identify capitalism with rich guys looting companies, we’re gonna have a very hard time protecting it…Is it fair to have a system, is it right, is it the kind of country you want to live in to have a system where somebody can come in, take over your company, take out all the cash and leave behind a wreck? And they go off to a country club having a great time and you go off to the unemployment line.

I remind you that people who do such nasty things in this country are essentially subsidized by everyone else. Many pay a lower rate of taxes because they have talked (via ca$h) the establishment into believing that all of what they do is essential to the economy and the nation’s well-being. That scam goes on while the race-baiting, cultural-angst-exploiting Bill O’Reillys of the world focus on a mixed up 29-year-old kid in California who gets a couple of hundred bucks a month in food help.

As I have said many times before, if we go down as a civilization, I’d rather it be by trying to make sure folks have enough to eat—even if a few folks game the system for a few bucks—than by making sure Mitt Romney’s vulture-money can vacation comfortably in the Cayman Islands.

Searching For Fox “News”

Remember when some folks in the Obama administration tried to accurately describe Fox “News” as “not a news organization”? And remember when there was some tumult over the Obama Treasury Department not wanting Fox “News” to interview pay czar Kenneth Feinberg? And remember when the other legitimate news networks stood up for Fox and said “that’s not gonna fly”?

Well, where is Fox “News” now that the Republican Party is trying to punish CNN and NBC for their sneaky attempt to make Hillary Clinton president by allegedly producing favorable television specials about her?

I typed into Google the words “fox news defends cnn and nbc”and I got 3,300,000 results, none of which led me to a single article or blurb in which Fox executives or reporters told the GOP to back off from boycotting CNN and NBC. Not a word.

What a bunch of ingrates there is at Fox.

In any case, a commenter referenced a Fox “News” Poll and I went there to look. While there, I dared to enter into the site’s search engine the words “Fox News Poll” and I got 275,669 results, including the following:

fox news poll resultsNah, there’s no political agenda at Fox. They’re simply reporting and letting you decide. What was David Axelrod thinking when he said in October of 2009 that, “They’re not really a news station”? Former White’s House communications director, Anita Dunn, must have been out of her mind to say way back then that when President Obama goes on Fox,

he understands he’s not going on it really as a news network at this point. He’s going on to debate the opposition.

Just look at those headlines one can find under “fox news poll.” And look at the lack of headlines when one looks under “fox news defends cnn and nbc.” Those two searches tell you all you need to know about Fox “News.”

%d bloggers like this: