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.
Another excerpt from “Assholes: A Theory” by Aaron James is up at Alternet. It discusses the role of Fox News in warping our national discussion on policy. Study-after-study has shown that Fox News watchers actually know less than people that pay no attention to news.
A study conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey, found that the average American was able to correctly answer 1.8 out of four questions on international news and 1.6 out of five on domestic.
Fox News followers however only answered 1.04 domestic questions correctly, which is worse than those who said they watched no media at all – which stood at 1.22.
“These differences may be small, but even small differences are important when we’re talking about millions of people,” said Dan Cassino, political scientist and poll analyst. “We expect that watching the news should help people learn, but the most popular of the national media sources – Fox, CNN, MSNBC – seem to be the least informative.”
Fox’s business model is not to inform but to muddy the conversation via traditional propaganda methodology. The use of personalities that spew ideology is just one way that Fox dumbs down the nation and–in James’ words--creates “a New Culture of Idiots”. Here’s a telling analysis of Neil Cavuto in exchange with Ron Blackwell using moves that James says is classical asshole behavior. It is also a power move that prevents real information from getting to the Cavuto audience.
Cavuto fully grasps the difference between job creation and net job creation, and he knew full well what point Blackwell was making. He therefore cannot be classified as a mere “ass,” with the suggestion of donkeylike stubbornness of mind combined with obliviousness to basic concepts or the social situation. Cavuto in fact staged a ploy: a dodge. He shifted attention away from the point made to the qualifications of the person making it in order to score dialectical points with the audience.
This is at the very least an asshole move. One often can permissibly shift attention in a conversation, but here it is at best unclearly justified. Interrupting Blackwell several times and then accusing him of not answering his question does not count as even half-cooperative discourse, not even by the low standards of American politics. Even that would not have been so bad if Cavuto had meant to initiate something like a meta- conversation between the two speakers, a conversation in which Blackwell could have later complimented the tactic of diversion with a “touché!” or “well played, sir.” Cavuto betrays no hint of metacooperation. He simply feels entitled not to wait his conversational turn. He does not have to actually listen to an opposing perspective, even from the person he is talking to. Cavuto could perhaps argue that the host must exert heavy control over the terms of debate, because polite terms will not do. Or maybe he feels justified in his bullying as long as he is scoring points in a kind of televised game show, with influence, profit, and fun as his justly deserved reward. Either rationale could constitute a sense of entitlement — something like the right to rule, or at least to shut the opposition out, while taking the moral high ground.
Cavuto and other FOX personalities are not interested in the news, a conversation about policy, or presenting alternative viewpoints. They are only interested in bloviating whatever thoughts–no matter how misguided or wrong–float about in their minds. Bill O’Reilly is another prime example of an asshole that isn’t the least bit interested in news, facts, or true discussion. He frequently turns the mic off when his victims refuse to bow to his views. James shows how all Fox personalities–even those responsible for just doing the news– have the same basic approach.
It is not just Fox News commentators but Fox News itself that has the appropriate, in-your-face, I’m-entitled-to-do-this,especially-because-you-dislike-it vibe. Which should not be surprising from a tightly controlled outfit in which everything flows from a single source, chairman Roger Ailes. Ailes has personal flaws that do not necessarily make one an asshole but that clearly shape the coverage, including his paranoia and his extreme politics. We find more telling evidence by considering the man in a happy moment, a victory lap. In an event celebrating Fox News’s success, Ailes said of the competing networks’ talent, as though sharing in the agony of their defeat: “Shows, stars, I mean it’s sad, you know? . . . I called and asked them all to move to the second floor wherever they were working. Because when they jump, I don’t want it to hurt.” By which he meant that he wouldn’t mind at all if his competitors not only lost the contest but felt humiliated enough to kill themselves. He meant of course to gloat but also to show his contempt. He meant to broadcast his contempt and to have a laugh about his being in a position to advertise it.
Roger Ailes–who just signed a new contract with Fox–is probably most responsible for the zombie cable news station.
He has made clear in past interviews that he believes the country is at a crossroads. Whether we’re looking at a second Obama term or a Romney administration, Ailes wants to be engaged as head of a news organization whose commentators reflect his aggressively political views. Various Republican presidential contenders, including Mitt Romney, felt the need to meet with Ailes during the primaries, and a couple of them—Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum—had been on his payroll.
Ailes has made Fox News a propaganda arm of the Republican Party. He sees that all Republican candidates are treated with kids gloves and lets his hosts put up all kinds of lies and misstatements–no matter how egregious–just because of his ideological agenda. The deal is that lots of sheeple watch the station and listen to the lies. Hence, the results of the studies. Fox Watchers are basic no-nothings. Fox executives make a lot of money on all levels of the marketing scheme.
The notion that Mr. Ailes might decide to retire has intrigued many media observers this year, especially after he hinted that he might not stay at Fox News. Mr. Ailes is widely credited with the financial and cultural success of Fox News, the highest-rated cable news channel and a megaphone for conservative commentators like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. The channel now rivals the broadcast networks during some big news events, like thepresidential debates this month.
The terms of the new contract were not released. Mr. Ailes is already one of the highest-paid executives in television; he has received a base salary of $5 million and a bonus of $1.5 million a year for several years, as well as millions in compensation based on the financial performance of Fox News, according to public filings by News Corporation.
In the fiscal year that ended in June, for instance, Mr. Ailes received $9 million, paid in cash rather than stock, as a reward for Fox’s record earnings. Furthermore, he received $4 million in stock awards tied to the performance of Fox Business. His total compensation for the fiscal year was $21 million, making him the third-highest-paid executive at the News Corporation, behind the chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, who made $30 million, and Chase Carey, the chief operating officer, who made nearly $25 million.
Here’s a recent example of Fox lies and distortions from Steve Benen at Maddow Blog. There’s been plenty of them during this election cycle.
This visual actually aired, without a hint of irony or shame, on Fox News today, as if it presented accurate, legitimate information to its audience. Media Matters’ Zachary Pleat called it “dishonest,” but really, that’s being overly generous. I’m more inclined to say Fox News is deliberately deceiving its viewers, assuming they won’t know the difference.
There are two main elements to this. The first is the notion that the “real” unemployment rate nearly doubled on President Obama’s watch. To arrive at this figure, Fox News began with the standard U-3 unemployment rate from January 2009, and then compared it to August 2012 U-6 unemployment rate, which includes part-time workers who want to work full-time and those who’ve given up.
The only reason to equate a U-3 rate and a U-6 rate at the same time — a classic apples to oranges comparison — is to wildly mislead people. It’s about as honest as saying a team that scored two touchdowns loses to a team that scored three field goals, because three is greater than two, and when you weren’t looking, we decided to count by how many times each team scores.
The truth, for anyone who’s interested, isn’t hard to find.
Fox News is the perfect example of a set of people that can’t win an argument based on merit, facts, or logic. I actually believe that this sort’ve warped reality is what’s brought us the candidacy and campaign of Mitt Romney who appears to be able to say absolutely anything to anybody based on his current audience and needs. He knows that he’s got an entire media empire behind him that basically does the same thing. We’ve had everything from Moderate Mitt to Severely Conservative Mitt and it appears to me that the Fox Nation has been so numbed by the cable station’s ability to lie and deceive, that can’t tell one Mitt from the other and they don’t know enough to discern the lies. Fact-checking is anathema to Fox and the Romney Campaign. They’re partners in deception and the resulting assholes and idiots are set lose on the country. We now live with Fox Zombies. Watch this Youtube. It’s an interview with Romney supporters at an Ohio Romney rally. This is the FOX Nation of zombies. BE very afraid.
Hopefully, by the time you read this, I’ll be off to my doctor’s office as the damned MRSA thing on my lip showed back up this weekend. I look like some one botoxed me on one side. This stuff is no fun. I think it has something to do with this endless runny nose and weepy eyes I appear to have with this year’s horrible allergies.
New York Magazine‘s Gabriel Sherman has a potboiler article up called The Elephant in the Green Room: The circus Roger Ailes created at Fox News made his network $900 million last year. But it may have lost him something more important: the next election. There’s some really, really juicy bits. Here’s just one example.
All the 2012 candidates know that Ailes is a crucial constituency. “You can’t run for the Republican nomination without talking to Roger,” one GOPer told me. “Every single candidate has consulted with Roger.” But he hasn’t found any of them, including the adults in the room—Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney—compelling. “He finds flaws in every one,” says a person familiar with his thinking.
“He thinks things are going in a bad direction,” another Republican close to Ailes told me. “Roger is worried about the future of the country. He thinks the election of Obama is a disaster. He thinks Palin is an idiot. He thinks she’s stupid. He helped boost her up. People like Sarah Palin haven’t elevated the conservative movement.”
In the aftermath of the Tucson rampage, the national mood seemed to pivot. Ailes recognized that a Fox brand defined by Palin could be politically vulnerable. Two days after the shooting, he gave an interview to Russell Simmons and told him both sides needed to lower the temperature. “I told all of our guys, ‘Shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually.’ ”
It’ll take time to wade through it and you’ll learn more about Beck’s departure even if you just don’t want to, but it’s worth it. It’s sort’ve one of those karmic car wreck articles.
Economist and blogger Brad Delong delivered the harsh news with nifty graphs in Phoenix, Arizona. He calls his speech: The Economic Outlook as of May 2011: Yes, This Is Called the Dismal Science. Why Do You Ask?
But now we have a stubbornly persistent slump in the economy. Now we have economic growth at about our normal long-run pace, with very little signs of closing the gap between the productive capacity of the American economy and its current level of production. We have a Washington DC that is dysfunctional–out of ammunition to take any effective additional steps to boost the economy. There is now substantial fear of inflation–even though there are no signs of inflation gathering anywhere rather than energy and food prices, and we understand that those reflect China’s growing demand and not any domestic price spiral. There is now substantial fear of crowding out–that boosting US government spending or cutting taxes to get more money into the hands of the consumers would discourage private investment even though there are no signs of crowding out even at our rapidly-growing level of the national debt. It is a fact that a bunch of us–including me–think that there really should be signs of crowding out right now–that financial markets should be scared of the fiscal future of America–but they are not. And there is the problem that Washington DC has degenerated into pure Dingbat Kabuki theater on lots of levels.
It is a fact that if congress simply goes home–doesn’t do anything for the next 10 years except keep the federal government on autopilot, or if it does do things if it pays for whatever increases in spending it enacts by raising taxes and pays for whatever tax cuts it enacts by cutting spending–that we do not have a long run deficit problem. If congress goes home for ten years our program spending is matched to our tax revenues, which means a declining debt burden because the growth rate of the economy is larger than the interest rate on our debt.
Our belief that we have a long-run deficit problem is based upon the belief that congress will pass laws that increase spending and that cut taxes–that it will repeal the Independent Payment Authorization Board’s authority to try to make Medicare more efficient, that it will repeal the Affordable Care Act’s tax on high-cost health plans. Given that the fear is based on a belief that some future congress will bust the budget, it is hard to see how we can address this fear through any possible piece of legislation today–for no congress can bind its successors.
This is a problem.
Wow. What a downer. I bet he doesn’t get invited to any of the kewl kids’ cocktail parties there!
Spain continues to experience political unrest. Spanish Youth are demanding “real democracy now”.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Spain protesting a round of austerity measures and calling for a boycott of major political parties in Sunday’s regional elections. The protests began last week with a march denouncing high levels of youth unemployment. A large crowd established a tent camp in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol Square, defying an ordinance barring protests.
Protester: “I’ll attempt to stay here tonight, because I think it is very important to retake the streets that politicians have taken away from us to do their campaigning, preventing us from protesting. That is what we feel every day with lack of resources and a huge limitation of democracy. We cannot continue to tolerate this situation.”
The NYT has an interesting bible quiz up on sex and religion. A lot of it on the so-called social issues that cause all those right wing screeds. I found this question and answer particularly interesting.
The people of Sodom were condemned principally for [what]
“Sodomy” as a term for gay male sex began to be commonly used only in the 11th century and would have surprised early religious commentators. They attributed Sodom’s problems with God to many different causes, including idolatry, threats toward strangers and general lack of compassion for the downtrodden. Ezekiel 16:49 suggests that Sodomites “had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”
So, it wasn’t for being a haven for sex practices that offended puritans, it was for lack of compassion and generosity towards the poor. Some one should phone Pat Robertson STAT!
There was a horrible tornado in Joplin Missouri last night. It took out a hospital as well as many, many homes. Here’s some footage of the aftermath.
A tornado also hit Minneapolis. Both tornadoes have caused fatalities. As always, the Red Cross and other responders are in need of more funds and you can give easily via your cellphone these days. They are also responding to flood victims up and down the Mississippi. I wonder what Pat Robertson will say since all of this appears to be hitting the bible belt? Well, anyway, here’s a list of places accepting cash donations if you feel like taking up a collection. We’re supposed to get our share of the weather by Thursday. Hopefully it won’t add flash floods to the rising rivers and spillways.
Okay, well I have to go see a lady about some good drugs! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?