There is absolutely no reason why the Fox Propaganda and Lies Network should be allowed to call itself a News channel. Even more evidence has come out today that FOX is more interested in Republican Politics than it is anything that remotely resembles journalism.
Bob Woodard dropped a little revelation on how Roger Ailes tried to recruit General Patreus as a presidential candidate in 2011. There’s audio evidence so it’s not even a debatable story.
So in spring 2011, Ailes asked a Fox News analyst headed to Afghanistan to pass on his thoughts to Petraeus, who was then the commander of U.S. and coalition forces there. Petraeus, Ailes advised, should turn down an expected offer from President Obama to become CIA director and accept nothing less than the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military post. If Obama did not offer the Joint Chiefs post, Petraeus should resign from the military and run for president, Ailes suggested.
The Fox News chairman’s message was delivered to Petraeus by Kathleen T. McFarland, a Fox News national security analyst and former national security and Pentagon aide in three Republican administrations. She did so at the end of a 90-minute, unfiltered conversation with Petraeus that touched on the general’s future, his relationship with the media and his political aspirations — or lack thereof. The Washington Post has obtained a digital recording from the meeting, which took place in Petraeus’s office in Kabul.
McFarland also said that Ailes — who had a decades-long career as a Republican political consultant, advising Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — might resign as head of Fox to run a Petraeus presidential campaign. At one point, McFarland and Petraeus spoke about the possibility that Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corp., which owns Fox News, would “bankroll” the campaign.
The analysis of this should be self-evident. Eric Wemple has some great points to make. Most of them come under the heading of Fox News is corrupt and nasty.
To listen to the exchange between McFarland and Petraeus is to come away with the distinct impression that McFarland was under specific and binding orders from Ailes. She repeatedly invokes Ailes’s name, his advice and his interest in the career of Petraeus. The mandate to return to Ailes’s New York office with a mouthful of feedback from Petraeus rings from these words of McFarland’s: “So what do I tell Roger when he says…?” She continues spelling out the rules of engagement — how she was supposed to present the advice, and how she was supposed to report back.
Given that dynamic, have a look at how Ailes responded when Woodward asked about the advice-giving mission:
In a telephone interview Monday, the wily and sharp-tongued Ailes said he did indeed ask McFarland to make the pitch to Petraeus. “It was more of a joke, a wiseass way I have,” he said. “I thought the Republican field [in the primaries] needed to be shaken up and Petraeus might be a good candidate.”
Ailes added, “It sounds like she thought she was on a secret mission in the Reagan administration. . . . She was way out of line. . . . It’s someone’s fantasy to make me a kingmaker. It’s not my job.” He said that McFarland was not an employee of Fox but a contributor paid less than $75,000 a year.
Such noble and classy details there from the head of Fox News. Woodward nails you sullying your employer and the industry of journalism, and you tar the messenger. That’s outrageous enough that it could dog someone as untouchable as Roger Ailes.
The details of the exchange are frankly beyond belief. You can listen to them yourself .
Ailes’s craving for the respect and admiration of a military hotshot like Petraeus emerges with Memorex clarity in this recording. For instance, McFarland tells Petraeus that she has a request “directly from [Ailes] to you: First of all, is there anything Fox is doing right or wrong that you want to tell us to do differently.”
Unpacking the depravity in that one is a multi-part process.
No. 1: Real journalists don’t act as supplicants, no matter how wonderful and powerful may be the official they’re interviewing. Real journalists publish their journalism and move on to the next story. If people have problems with or plaudits for the work, they can send an e-mail.
No. 2: Note the promise in McFarland’s proffer. She invites the general to “tell us” to adjust coverage in whatever way he may see fit, in effect soliciting an order from a general. What an affirmation of journalistic independence.
No. 3: To which individuals has Ailes “indirectly” advanced this offer?
It’s no wonder the Brits are working to get Murdoch thrown out of the journalism business in the UK. This is the behavior of a propagandist and kingmaker.
McFarland begins by promising Petraeus absolute discretion, saying that Ailes’s “deal with me was that I was only supposed to talk to you – and he is a little paranoid, so believe me.” However, the 90-minute conversation was recorded, and a digital copy of it somehow made its way into Woodward’s hands.
“I’ve got something to say to you directly from Roger Ailes,” McFarland is captured saying on the recording that has been posted in edited form on the Washington Post website. “I’m not running,” Petraeus snaps back.
McFarland, a Pentagon adviser to the Reagan administration, does not take no for an answer. The next time Petraeus is in New York, she says, he should come and “chat to Roger and Rupert Murdoch”, to which Petraeus, for whom this conversation is clearly not the first of its kind, replies: “Rupert’s after me as well.”
“Tell him if I ever ran … ” Petraeus laughingly says as the meeting is wrapping up. “I’d take him up on his offer. He said he would quit Fox.”
McFarland says that “the big boss” would “bankroll” the campaign – a clear reference to Murdoch. “The big boss is bankrolling it. Roger’s going to run it. And the rest of us are going to be your in-house.”
Something should be done about this, however, I’m not sure what can be done about it in a legal sense. One hopes some of the Fox faithful would get the message but I’ve got no hopes there. Any one who calls themselves a journalist–if they haven’t already–should disassociate themselves with this outfit quickly. The rest of us just need to keep telling other people about this business. Fox news is biased, depraved, and deeply connected to right wing politics. It is nothing more than a propaganda outpost for the worst of Republican policies.
I’ve seen several articles in Business Week recently bemoaning the loss of moderation in the Republican Party. I wonder where these folks were when hordes of evangelicals were overtaking county parties with orders written on recipe cards back in the 1980s? I had a front row seat to the insanity. I couldn’t get any one to listen back then. However, now it’s a major topic in the press. The first article showed up in May. I got a pretty good laugh out of this quote by Dwight Eisenhower who was thought to be a Communist infiltrator by Daddy Koch and his John Birch Society. They were marginalized back then and now are front and center at the leadership table.
“Their number is negligible and they are stupid,” Dwight Eisenhower once said of conservatives, according to another panelist, Geoffrey Kabaservice, the author of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party. Alas, moderates have all but disappeared. “They might even be forced into breeding programs to keep them alive,” Kabaservice said, citing a recent Onion article. (Worth a click for the picture alone.)
The article discussed a panel that was wondering where all the moderate Republicans went. I have a pretty good answer for that. There’s been an ongoing purge since the 1980s. Most of the state parties have a litmus test on several issues. You’re made to suffer if you don’t goose step along to the evangelicals and voodoo economics true believers. Any one not capable of lies or magical thinking is decidedly unwelcome and hounded out.
The second article of interest interviews some senators that are exiting because they can’t take the atmosphere any more. Here’s a few choice comments from retiring pro-choice Republican Olympia Snow. I used to write a lot of good sized checks to her campaigns in the 1980s.
BBW: Senator Snowe, you’ve deviated from your party more than just about anyone. What is it really like when you go against the leadership?
SNOWE: People within your party used to understand that it is essential. People have to represent either their district or their state on the issues that matter and take those positions accordingly. But today there is no reward for that. In fact, there is this party adherence, and as a result if we don’t get past the party platforms that are offered by either side of the political aisle, then we can’t solve the problem. And we are not transcending those differences. That is a huge departure from the past.
Here’s another interesting comment on the role of money and the Citizens United ruling by SCOTUS. The other senators interviewed include Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), and Congressmen Gary Ackerman (D-New York) and Geoff Davis (R-Kentucky).
BBW: What harms the process more, the media or money?
CONRAD: Money is a huge problem. There are really two reasons I decided not to run again. One is I really wanted to come here to do big things, and we haven’t been doing big things. The second was I saw super PACs coming and I knew as a centrist who was not particularly supported very strongly by any group, I could have [a super PAC] roll in and just dump a load of money on me and I’m not going to be able to answer.
DAVIS: I don’t believe we should check speech by any measure or merit, but left unchecked, you could end up with the 21st century version of Tammany Hall, where you have a small number of political bosses who control the flow of money around the country, limiting the discourse and debate for personal advantage, whether left, right, or center.
SNOWE: I regret that the Supreme Court rolled back 100 years of case law and precedence. It was my initial provision in the McCain-Feingold bill that was struck down a second time in the court. But then obviously they went quantum leaps further, unfortunately, and unraveled all the case law, allowing corporations and unions to dump unlimited money into these campaigns.
What Kent says is true. Because we are trying to build what I describe as a sensible center, you don’t have a base in terms of raising money. You are almost always confined to the MSNBC or the Fox News prism. That’s the way I describe it because it’s true. People see you in one channel or another and nothing in between.
ACKERMAN: We are probably the only ones who watch both Fox and MSNBC. The public watches either one or the other, and they watch one or the other hoping that the guys on my side will kill the guys on the other side. You can accuse any and every one of us, at least at times, of going for the ratings and doing and saying things that are popular or to try to raise more money so that we can get reelected. The media does that in spades. They really do.
These seem to be the same topics we spend a lot of time on here. The media has taken sides in order to attract audiences and returns to stockholders. The more partisan hoopla they can drum up, the better it is for them. Fox News is nothing more than a propaganda channel and MSNBC is trying to find a niche offering up an alternative. Papers are so dumb downed and watered down these days that it’s hard to find much use for them. Corporate money and profit seeking has completely gummed up the process and it uses the anger of specific interest groups like the fetus and gun obsessed to further its power and money grab.The Tea Party is totally orchestrated, yet, its members are so angry they can’t see the strings that pull them.
Reading basic obituaries of whatever was left of commonsense in the party of Lincoln is a saddening experience. I say this as we watch Ron Paul’s delegates play the same game on the radical right that they played 30 years ago on the Rockefeller Republicans. Can you imagine the Republican party’s soul is up for grabs by Ayn Rand groupies now? Basically, Republicans adhere to works of fiction and drive off any attempt to ground them in reality.
Paul has stopped actively campaigning and has conceded that Romney will be the GOP nominee. It’s unclear whether Paul’s name will be submitted for nomination; mathematically, he does not have the numbers to derail Romney. But his supporters can have an effect on the party in other ways.
“We want to have a real big voice on the platform; we want to influence the direction of the party more than anything else,” said Joel Kurtinitis, a Paul supporter who was pleased after the Saturday vote.
He was Paul’s state director in Iowa until Paul suspended his presidential bid in May, and he said that although he would love to see Paul awarded a prime speaking spot at the convention, his followers’ efforts are about more than one man.
“We’re going to hold up our values and we’re going to bring conservatism back to the mainline of the Republican Party. That’s where my hopes are at and that’s my hope for this convention more than seeing Ron Paul do X, Y and Z,” Kurtinitis said.
What exactly happens to a republic built on a two party system when one of those parties becomes captured by purists? Perhaps, the Republican christofacist army is about to have its tables turned. I still have the feeling, however, that the corporate money will rule no matter what the platform says.
By working arcane rules at district, county and state gatherings around the country, his supporters have amassed an army of delegates who will try to ensure that his libertarian message about the economy, states’ rights and a noninterventionist foreign policy is loudly proclaimed.
Paul’s backers will also try to shape the party platform as they dare Republicans to take them for granted – much as social conservatives did years ago before they ascended in importance.
“We want to influence the direction of the party more than anything else,” said Joel Kurtinitis, who was Paul’s state director in Iowa until the congressman effectively ended his presidential bid in May. He said efforts by followers of Paul, a 76-year-old who will retire when his current term ends, are about more than him or his son Rand, a senator from Kentucky.
“We’re going to hold up our values and we’re going to bring conservatism back to the mainline of the Republican Party,” Kurtinitis said.
But others say the move by the Iowa GOP is a black eye for the state’s first-in-the-nation voting status and for Romney.
“Embarrassment is the word that comes to my mind,” said Jamie Johnson, who served as Santorum’s state coalitions director in Iowa. The former Pennsylvania senator, who endorsed Romney after ending his presidential bid in April, appears to have a solitary Iowa delegate heading into the convention.
There are far fewer of these insurgents than there were die-hard Hillary supporters last presidential election cycle. Yet, they seem to be much more fanatical and organized. Will they up end the dominance of the party by the Guns, God, and No-Gays fanatics that have ruled the party with Torquemada like fanaticism since the Reagan years?
How do we survive this craziness? Seriously, I’ve gotten to the point where I think voting Republican is basically voting for the end of the country as we know it. What needs to change? I’m going to give the last word to the last word to the departing senators.
BBW: I’m going to give you one magic power. As you leave here, you can change one thing about the legislative process, about the federal government, anything you want. What would you do?
CONRAD: I would do away with super PACs. I think it’s a cancer.
DAVIS: It is critical that those who are being regulated in various constituencies—be it the business community, the job creators, or other institutions—need to be an active part of that dialogue. Great Britain revolutionized parts of their regulatory process by actually bringing the people who were going to be regulated to the table and suddenly found that they could solve the problems at a lot lower cost by, again, going back to the thing that tends to be most uninteresting, particularly in cable news, and looking at the actual process. Solve the problem or prevent the problem from happening.
SNOWE: We are not doing our jobs, frankly. If I was in charge, I would be canceling recess and getting everybody here and start focusing on the issues that matter to this country because we are at a tipping point.
Legislating isn’t easy on these complex matters. You can’t just instantaneously come up with solutions to problems. Somehow we have dumbed down the process. Somehow we think, “Oh gosh, are you for or against?” Well, geez, it just came up. Can I give it some thought? Can I think about it? Can I read about it? Maybe I should learn more about the facts on the issue. But there is no time, no deference paid to thoughtfulness in the legislative process today. We have got to get back to spending some time here to get the job done for the American people. That’s what it’s all about. The American people understand it. They see it because they see on TV on C-SPAN and they recognize, “Well, where are they?”
ACKERMAN: Inasmuch as it’s a magical power that you are bestowing I would do away with hypocrisy. [Laughter] Looking at it a little bit more realistically, we have to try to find some practical approaches. I came here so many years ago as a rather liberal kid from New York City. I’m still pretty liberal. I changed a little bit on foreign policy and worldview, but I came here as a pacifist. I disagreed with Ronald Reagan, who was the first president that I served with, but I didn’t want him to fail. This pacifist wound up voting for war under the guidance of two Republican presidents because we only have one president at a time, and if he fails, my country fails. That is not acceptable. The Congress, both houses, both parties have to act like grown-ups and say that this is about policy. If it is about the presidency or if it’s about the majority in my House or your House, then it is never going to be about policy. Somebody is going to have to—not the four of us, but somebody is going to have to walk that back a few steps.
The Republicans continue to tear each other apart as the 2012 elections get closer. Karl Rove considers Herman Cain “not up to the job”. Bachmann’s former NH staff have released a letter that puts the candidate in a bad light.
“Team members were repeatedly ignored regarding simple requests, sometimes going weeks with little or no contact with the national team,” they wrote.
The former New Hampshire staffers said they maintained a sense of loyalty to Bachmann as a candidate and were willing to continue helping her despite lingering uncertainty about payment of wages.
“Sadly, they were deceived, constantly left out of the loop regarding key decisions, and relegated to second-class citizens within a campaign in which they were the original members,” the group said.
The ex-staffers laid out a timeline very different from the one put forth by the Bachmann campaign, claiming that the New Hampshire campaign manager, Jeff Chidester, resigned in an email 10 days ago. When nobody reached out to the other staffers to address their concerns, they called it quits.
Meanwhile, Cain and Gingrich are going rogue by trying to have their own debate in Texas with Tea Party activists.
Presidential rivals Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) will participate in a “Lincoln-Douglas” influenced debate hosted by Tea Party activists in Texas next month, National Review is reporting.
The debate will focus on fiscal issues and the economy, and will be moderated by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).
“We initially wanted a forum with all of the candidates,” Bill O’Sullivan, treasurer for the Texas Tea Party Patriots, told National Review. “But when we heard Gingrich say he wanted a more serious debate, like the Lincoln–Douglas debates, we wanted to do that, especially since watching the recent superficial debates has been frustrating.”
Rick Perry has introduced his tax plan which is a flat tax plan of 20%. As expected, it will give a huge tax break to the wealthy and to corporations. It also would eliminate inheritance and capital gains taxes. Perry seems to think that middle class tax payers will be able to appreciate those things too! What a moron! Here’s some of the plan’s major points.
- “The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents.”
- Elimination of the estate tax
- Cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent.
- Temporarily lower corporate tax rate to 5.25 percent to encourage repatriation.
- Transition to “territorial” tax system that only taxes in-country income.
- Eliminates the tax on Social Security benefits
- Eliminates the capital gains tax
I wanted to share the first of this Bloomberg series on bias and blindness by one of the father’s of behavioral finance Daniel Kahneman. He explains some of the frames folks use that some times leads them to make bad decisions in the face of risk. Optimism evidently leads to excessive risk taking.
The evidence suggests that an optimistic bias plays a role — sometimes the dominant role — whenever people or institutions voluntarily take on significant risks. More often than not, risk-takers underestimate the odds they face and, because they misread the risks, optimistic entrepreneurs often believe they are prudent, even when they are not. Their confidence sustains a positive mood that helps them obtain resources from others, raise the morale of their employees and enhance their prospects of prevailing. When action is needed, optimism, even of the mildly delusional variety, may be a good thing.
An optimistic temperament encourages persistence in the face of obstacles. But this persistence can be costly. A series of studies by Thomas Astebro shed light on what happens when optimists get bad news. (His data came from Canada’s Inventor’s Assistance Program — which provides inventors with objective assessments of the commercial prospects of their ideas. The forecasts of failure in this program are remarkably accurate.)
In Astebro’s studies, discouraging news led about half of the inventors to quit after receiving a grade that unequivocally predicted failure. However, 47 percent of them continued development efforts even after being told that their project was hopeless, and on average these individuals doubled their initial losses before giving up.
Many House Democrats don’t think the Obama plan to help homeowner’s with underwater mortgages goes far enough.
“It’s far too little, it’s just baby steps,” Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), a longtime critic of the administration’s housing policies, said in a phone interview. “They’re still not getting it.”
Cardoza, who announced last week he’ll retire at the end of 2012, noted that the housing collapse was a leading cause of the recession but among the last to be addressed.
“We need to excise the cancer that caused the illness before the patient can recover,” he said.
Rep. Lois Capps, another California Democrat critical of the administration’s foreclosure-prevention efforts, echoed that concern Monday, saying “much more is needed” to stabilize the struggling housing market.
“Today’s announcement is an encouraging step forward, but it is only one of a number of steps needed to fully address the growing foreclosure crisis,” Capps said in an email.
Here’s some common sense from Bernie Sanders speaking on the Ed Show and a few comments on the President’s program. Senator Sanders also thinks the plan does not go far enough
So, that should get us started today. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?