Ebola We Can Handle, But Fox Is Another Matter

Ebola, a nasty virus, is now being used by Fox “News,” a less-nasty virus, to do what it is that Fox usually does: create fear and infect gullible minds.

Bill O’Reilly started his Talking Points segment last night with this:

The Ebola situation gets even worse.

He went on to talk about the “growing Ebola chaos in the U.S.A.” 

As Media Matters reported, O’Reilly a few days ago attacked Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control, for being a “chief propagandist,” saying he should resign for not doing what Dr. O’Reilly thinks he should have done.

We all know that Fox exists in order to tear down Democrats and promote Republicans. One way it tears down Democrats is by undermining trust in our governing institutions, since Democrats generally favor government and Republicans make a political living off attacking it. Dr. Frieden just happens to be Fox’s target at the moment.

The morning before O’Reilly talked about Frieden being a propagandist, Laura Ingraham had already beat him to it. On IQ-hating Fox and Friends, she shamefully said that Dr. Frieden “is on the verge of becoming the Baghdad Bob of the health care community.” Frieden’s sin, say Fox’s many preachers, is that he trying to sugar-coat what is going on and that the government is not only incompetent, but hiding from the public essential information about Ebola.

But there is one member of the Fox on-air clergy who, time and again, refuses to cast the first stone in situations like this. His name is Shepard Smith and here was his sermon yesterday:

Of course Shep couldn’t say it, but we all know that his message was mostly for his fellow Foxers, who have known little shame in their coverage of Ebola.

But stirring up irrational fear and institutional distrust over Ebola isn’t just confined to Fox. CNN has done it and so has MSNBC, most recently this morning. On Morning Joe—where Joe Scarborough has been mucking up the issue with irresponsible speculation—I heard Nicolle Wallace, former Bushie, ask with utter seriousness that since medical disaster movies like “Outbreak” were made 20 years ago,

Why couldn’t the medical community have had a plan on the shelf for 20 years?

Fortunately, a guest on the show, Dr. Emily Senay, was there to bring a little sanity to the discussion by essentially saying people like Wallace were promoting hysteria. And they should stop.

Here’s how that segment went:

At the center of the government’s response (which has been hampered by the right-wing’s budget-cutting mania) to Ebola is the guy Fox and others have attacked, the CDC’s director, Dr. Thomas Frieden. Guess what he did? He and his people made mistakes. And he was big enough to admit it. He came right out and said so. He has now sent a team of experts to Dallas and said, “I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed.”

 I don’t know about you, but I want a guy like that, who is as competent as they come when it comes to working in public health and who is willing to admit it when he messes up, to be in charge of something as important as fighting Ebola.

As far as the hospital in Dallas where the two health care workers were infected—the only two in the country so far—they have also admitted, better late than never, that they made a lot of mistakes, too. And you know what? That’s the first step towards fixing things, towards getting it right.

And we will get this thing right. This isn’t Liberia or Sierra Leone. But what we may never be able to fix is right-wing journalism.

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.

An Erstwhile Conservative Exclusive: The Devil On ObamaCare

Tonight, of course, is the soft deadline for getting health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. I have been trying for months to get an interview with Satan himself so that I could get his take on all the controversy surrounding the new health care law. Finally, after a lot of effort, I was able to get the old devil to sit down for what I hope is only one of many interviews to come:

THE ERSTWHILE CONSERVATIVE: Thank you for your time. I know you’re busy on this important day for America, so I will make this quick. I guess my first question is: How hard have you been working to make sure the Affordable Care Act fails?

SATAN: Well, I’m glad you ask me that. Obviously it is in my interest that this plan fail and fail miserably. And because of that, I assigned several divisions of demons the task of destroying what we in hell sarcastically refer to as “ObamaCare”—a term your president, in what some thought was a moment of tactical brilliance, adopted in order to dull the force of the point, even though I think we have still succeeded, as the polls show, in dirtying the thing with his name.

I have put so many of my demonic assets into this massive and massively negative effort that we are a little short-staffed in other areas, like helping to deny people unemployment benefits and food stamps or making sure they don’t vote this fall in the mid-term elections. But I think we’ve done such a good job in the House the last few years that we’ll be okay. I just had to be sure that we were doing all we could to make sure people don’t sign up for affordable health care. The sicker and more fearful people are the better, as far as I’m concerned.

TEC: I see, I see. Just what do these anti-ObamaCare demons do?

SATAN: Well, the largest number of them get people to do things like lie about the law in print and on the Internet and on television. I think you know where I’m going here—

TEC:—Yes, yes, I do know where you’re going and I wanted to ask you about that—

SATAN—Oh, I’m happy to tell you about it. Journalism, or what passes for journalism these days, is very important in my business. We specialize, as you know, in using the trade to spread false information about a lot of things, from Obama’s birth certificate to Benghazi to phony vaccination controversies. The latter disinformation campaign has allowed us to gain back valuable ground we RougeoleDP.jpglost to those damned scientists who have found ways of combating many of the wonderful diseases I’ve been spreading around. Thanks to all the disinformation work we do, measles is making a comeback!  

TEC: Yes, you have done a great job in terms of spreading harmful lies, I must say.

SATAN: Yes, I have. And I’m damned proud of it. Jesus called me the Father of Lies, you know. 

TEC: Yes, I know that. He also said you were “a murderer from the beginning.”

SATAN: I know, I know. He is too kind sometimes! I’m very proud of the work I do and it feels great when you get recognized for doing a good job. Thank you, Jesus!

TEC: Besides spreading lies and misinformation about ObamaCare, what else are you doing to kill health reform?

SATAN: Well, obviously, merely lying about what the law is supposed to do and is actually doing isn’t enough because the other side has those awful truth-tellers out there who are always working against us. For that reason I assigned some Special Forces units—Rulers of Darkness we call them at home—to take the good news about ObamaCare out there and, like magic, turn it into bad news! Those Rulers of Darkness are amazing little devils!

TEC: Can you give us an example of how these Rulers of Darkness work? That sounds fascinating.

SATAN: Of course I can. Just the other day on Fox and Friends—God, how I love that show!—we had the co-hosts suggest that Obama is signing up Mexicans to get the enrollment numbers up! 

TEC: Mexicans?

SATAN: Yes! Mexicans! Isn’t that awesome? The fiendish discussion was an attempt to turn the positive fact that more than 6 million have signed up into a negative fact that the only reason the number is so high is because “illegals” are signing up at Mexican Consulates. Amazing isn’t it?

TEC: That is amazing.

SATAN: One of the co-hosts even mentioned some work I did back in 2009!

TEC: What was that?

SATAN: Don’t you remember when congressman Joe Wilson shouted out “You lie!” during Obama’s 2009 address to Congress? It was during the part where Obama said that the new law “would not apply to those who are here illegally.” Come on, I got personally involved in that one. You have to remember. Next to getting Sarah Palin to use the term “death panel,” that whole Joe Wilson thing was the best political work I did that year. You have to remember—

TEC: Of course I remember. Who could forget that?

SATAN: Well, the Fox host said that maybe Joe Wilson “had a point” when he shouted “You lie!” at the President. I tell you those Rulers of Darkness demons know how to put on a show! And you know what effect this kind of stuff is having? Let me give you an important example. There are families out there where either the husband or wife are not U.S. citizens, but their children are. And these folks are scared that if they sign their kids up for health insurance coverage that the government will move in and destroy their family through deportation. Thus, Latino enrollment in ObamaCare is far behind their population numbers and, as a hellish bonus, the kids are going to go without health care! Isn’t that awesome! I mean, trying to kill ObamaCare has featured some of hell’s finest work! People may actually die!

TEC: Speaking of that, how were you able to get all those Republican governors and legislatures to not expand Medicaid? I mean it makes good economic sense to expand insurance coverage and it certainly makes good Christian morals sense to do so, and since Republicans consider themselves to be economic and moral savants, it must have been hard to get, so far, 24 states controlled by Republicans to shut the door on the poorest of Americans and deny them health insurance, right?

SATAN: Wrong. It was pretty damn easy to tell you the truth (which I rarely do). All we had to do was make sure people connected the whole thing with that Scary Negro in the White’s House, and then talk radio and Fox, where some of our top-notch lying spirits are employed, took it from there. The result is that Republican politicians in all those states would not now dare expand Medicaid and make health insurance available to those who need it. And, again, more people will die! But I don’t want talk radio and Fox to get all the credit for the whole Medicaid expansion thing. I want to give a shout out to the demons we have assigned to the Supreme Court.

TEC: Huh?

SATAN: Yes, I know. Most people forgot what happened in 2012 when the Court unfortunately found ObamaCare constitutional. Under the original law, states were required to expand Medicaid or else lose Medicaid funding. But our guys, having failed to get Justice Roberts to strike down the damned law, made a nice recovery—I was about to come down hard on them— in getting him to agree to give states a choice in participating in the Medicaid expansion. And that opt-out has worked much better than we could have imagined.

TEC: How so?

SATAN: Well, I brought with me something that I’d like to read to you, if you don’t mind. It’s from the website Health Affairs, which was started by a bunch of worthless liberal do-gooders with the disgusting name of Project HOPE—damn how I hate that name! Anyway, I usually get all goose-pimply reading this, so bare with me, but it explains the effects of the failure to expand Medicaid:

Based on recent data from the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, we predict that many low-income women will forego recommended breast and cervical cancer screening; diabetics will forego medications, and all low-income adults will face a greater likelihood of depression, catastrophic medical expenses, and death. 

Isn’t that juicy? Isn’t that wonderful? I am so proud of that and of our guys at the Supreme Court.

TEC: I can see it in your face. Look, I know you have to go, and again I thank you for your time on this important day, but I want to ask you one more question: What do you think is your biggest achievement related to the Affordable Care Act?

SATAN: Man, that’s a hard one. There are so many. Let me see. Some would say that getting the Republican Party to cheer for the failure of the law would be a big accomplishment. Others might say that getting the news media to ignore how much effort Republicans have put into seeing to it that the law fails is a big deal. But I would have to say it comes back to those deaths I mentioned. We’re all about suffering and death where I come from and I admit I’m a bit prejudiced, but the probable fact that thousands of people suffer and die each year, at least partly because they don’t have health insurance, is something those of us on our side celebrate daily. I don’t much care if the number is 45,000 a year or something lower—obviously I want that number to be as high as possible—but as long as people are suffering and dying unnecessarily I am as happy as any devil has a right to be.

TEC: Thank you. I hope we can talk again real soon.

SATAN: I’ll be looking forward to it.

Lucifer

Bad News For Republicans, Good News For America And The Kenyan Socialist In The White’s House

UNEMPLOYMENT FEB 2013No one is satisfied with these numbers, but imagine what they would be like if President Obama and the Democrats didn’t have to fight with Republicans over debt ceilings, fiscal cliffs, sequesters, and threats of government shutdowns.

Over at Fox “News,” they had their fair and balanced spin on the good news:

fox news headline

Unbelievably—no wait, believably—the story began this way:

Despite the Obama administration’s doomsday warnings about the impact of sequester, hiring picked up last month as the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level in four years. 

You see? Far from giving the President’s economic policies any credit for the good news, Fox says things got better in spite of the President.

Happy Fair and Balanced Day To You Too!

Fox Gets Thwacked

In what can only be considered one of the sweetest dope slaps Fox “News” has ever received in real time on its own air, I present to you the appearance of Thomas Ricks, who today set the record straight on Fox’s hyper-partisan coverage of the tragedy in Benghazi.

Although Ricks is no Sean Hannity, he is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who has spent considerable time covering military conflicts around the world and reporting on defense issues. He has also written several books, including books on the Iraq war. And he apparently knows a little about professional wrestling, as he executes a perfect spinning headlock elbow drop on a Fox host:

Trump Finally—Finally—Gets Put In His Place: On The Receiving End Of A Teabagger’s Offer (Not For The Kiddies)

Although some in the media take Donald Trump seriously, and by some I mostly mean Fox “News” (although NBC, which employs the buffoon, often takes him seriously, too), Stephen Colbert, the cleverest man on television, does not.

Colbert gives Trump and his latest racist-inspired offer the treatment they deserve:

Doublethink

He who controls the present controls the past, he who controls the past controls the future.”

—George Orwell, 1984

h, the aftermath.

After succumbing to the Mittens Money Machine, Rick Santorum is beginning to get his mind right:

The Santorum campaign’s website has been wiped clean of all content directly critical of the now de-facto Republican nominee.

No more “Obamneycare.” No more, “Here is a guy who is the ultimate flip-flopper.” No more he-was-for-the-mandate-before-he-was-against-it. No more “Taxachusetts.” No more “Etch-A-Sketch candidate.” No more, “Do you really believe this country wants to elect a Wall Street financier as the president of the United States.”

In good Orwellian fashion, if you search Santorum’s site for the skinny on Mittens, now you get this:

But that’s not as strange—or funny depending on your perspective—as this:

Newt Gingrich rents donor list to raise cash

Desperate times in the Newt Gingrich camp have called for desperate measures.

Scrambling to dig himself out of a $4.5 million hole, the former House speaker has resorted to renting his presidential campaign’s most valuable asset – its donor list – for as much as $26,000-a-pop.

Let me see: Newt is still an active candidate, but he is pimping out his donors for dough? Is nothing sacred with this guy? If I were Callista, I’d sleep with one eye open.

But even that’s not as strange—or, again, funny depending on your perspective—as this

Gingrich Unloads on FOX News in Private Meeting

During a meeting with 18 Delaware Tea Party leaders here on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich lambasted FOX News Channel, accusing the cable network of having been in the tank for Mitt Romney from the beginning of the Republican presidential fight. An employee himself of the news outlet as recently as last year, he also cited former colleagues for attacking him out of what he characterized as personal jealousy.

“I think FOX has been for Romney all the way through,” Gingrich said during the private meeting — to which RealClearPolitics was granted access — at Wesley College. “In our experience, Callista and I both believe CNN is less biased than FOX this year. We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of FOX, and we’re more likely to get distortion out of FOX. That’s just a fact.”

Now, first of all, what does all that say about CNN?  If Newt Gingrich finds the network a comfortable place to bed down and do the nasty, then everything I think about CNN slowly becoming Fox-lite appears to be true.

But secondly, Newt has had no problem with Fox being in the tank for Republicans generally; it is just when the network embraces particular non-Newt Republicans that it loses its credibility with him.

The story continues:

Gingrich did not pull his punches in accusing Rupert Murdoch — the chairman and CEO of News Corp., FOX News’ parent company — of pushing for Romney behind the scenes.

“I assume it’s because Murdoch at some point [who] said, ‘I want Romney,’ and so ‘fair and balanced’ became ‘Romney,’ ” Gingrich said. “And there’s no question that Fox had a lot to do with stopping my campaign because such a high percentage of our base watches FOX.”

You see? Fox “News” can bash Obama and the Democrats most of the broadcast day and it is “fair and balanced.” But when the network (allegedly) started playing grab-ass with Mittens, Newt felt compelled to sanitize the history books.

But Media Matters was watching Fox (that’s its job) during June 1 of last year and January 22 of this. Guess what? Ding! Ding! Ding! In terms of airtime, Newt was the winner:

As The Atlantic’s John Hudson pointed out in January, the Fox “News” prime-time lineup was on more than friendly terms with Gingrich, particularly Sean Hannity, who several times made goo-goo eyes at Newt on TV and gave him reach-arounds on the radio.

In any case, my favorite part of Newt’s rant was this:

The Republican Party is a managerial party that doesn’t like to fight, doesn’t like to read books. This is why the Tea Party was so horrifying. Tea Partiers were actually learning about the Declaration of Independence. They wanted to talk about the Federalist Papers. It was weird. They could be golfing.

The GOP doesn’t like to read books but the Tea Party does? Hmm.

Here’s a good definition of “doublethink“:

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

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