Posts Tagged ‘Fox News’

Avalanche On Bullshit Mountain

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

John Stewart’s classic look at the moment the Republicans realized they had lost and tried to justify it to themselves. 

What an incredible story to tell yourself: We would have won were it not for the moral failings of the non-real America. Fox lost because last night minorities, who feel entitled to things, came and took the country from the self sufficient white Medicare retirees and upper class tax avoidance experts, or as they’re also known, your audience.

Perfect.

Reality Pierces Republican Bubble

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Last week’s election was a big victory for President Obama and the Democrats.  But aside from a win for the Democrats, the election was also a win for the pollsters — you know, the trained statisticians who make their living surveying public opinion? These guys were under attack this year by Fox News and the conservative media. According to the perpetually paranoid over at Fox News, the pollsters who were showing Obama leading in the Electoral College for the entire year were just as liberally biased as the overwhelming number of scientists who believe in global warming and the statisticians in the Bureau of Labor Statistics who showed a decline in the unemployment rate in the run up to the election.

Even to the bitter end, Fox contributor and Harvey Fierstein impersonator Dick Morris was predicting an electoral college landslide for Romney, and the conservative media bought it hook line and sinker. I always try to keep Mark Twain’s maxim about statistics in mind, but when you have different polls with varied methodology all telling you something that’s at odds with your view of the world, that’s a pretty good indicator that your assumptions might be incorrect. Morris was contrite this week, explaining that he assumed a turnout more in line with 2004, but it’s not clear that there was any evidence to suggest this except the personal opinions of him and others on Fox.

I was having this debate months ago with my conservative uncle whose comeback for “the polls are showing you behind” was always “not according to Scott Rasmussen.” Rasumssen was was the king of the 500 person automated poll which assumed a strong Republican turnout based on responses to questions regarding party identification. Rasumussen’s polls consistently showed a Republican bias of a few points, which can make a real difference in a close election. But a little knowledge can be dangerous and Rasmussen’s polling bred a cottage industry of bloggers contesting the polling in the presidential race by adjusting the party identification mix the pollsters were predicting based on their interviews. The website unskewedpolls.com was the most prominent of the naysayers and they “specialized” in taking other peoples polls and recasting the results by adding more Republicans to the mix.

Meanwhile, the conservative media shills needed to find a visible scapegoat and they found it in Nate Silver, a statistician who turned to election prediction in 2007. Silver had a great record in 2008, predicting every state except Indiana for Obama. In the wake of that election, he was hired by the New York Times as a blogger, where (in case you were wondering) he did well predicting the Republican Congressional landslide year of 2010 as well.

Silver’s model was projecting an Obama win for most of the year based on his narrow but steady lead in the Electoral College polls. Oftentimes, his percentage prediction of an Obama win seemed over-optimistic, so you could quibble with the confidence level, but it’s hard to look at a guy who leads for most of the year in enough electoral college states to win the presidency and argue that he’s not the favorite. Plus, this is a statistical model. One assumes that if Romney was showing the same swing state resiliency, then it would have shown the same result for him.

By the Monday before the election, Silver had Obama at an 85% chance of victory. Meanwhile, the folks at Fox were still telling their viewers that Romney had the momentum and was going to win this thing. Dick Morris, George Will and others predicted a Romney landslide. Perpetually smarmy Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote a blog post that Monday in which she predicted Romney would win the election based almost completely on… a feeling she had. Business Insider called it “the most anti-Nate Silver column imaginable,” not because she spoke about or even alluded to Silver, but because her analysis was almost completely devoid of empirical facts. This seemed like bravado at the time — a way to embolden the troops before a big fight–but in the aftermath it looked like they spent so much time in their own bubble that they couldn’t imagine any other objective reality where a majority could vote for Obama. Last week James Fallows likened it to the dismay attributed to Pauline Kael in the wake of the 1968 election when she couldn’t imagine how Nixon could have won, since “no one I know voted for him.”

To a certain extent, this makes sense. If you spend all your time talking to white Republicans who think that Obama is leading this country on a dangerous slide to socialism, that’s going to color your analysis. To be sure, Romney did carry white voters by a big margin and if the electorate turned out to be as white as they all seemed to think it would be, then we would have been looking at President Romney. But with all of the evidence pointing the other way, these guys should have known better. I have to imagine that there’s more than a few Fox viewers this week who feel like they’ve been had.

Never Pick a Fight With A Comedian

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

I actually wrote this a while back, but it seemed a little off key with the whole Republicans-holding-the-United-States-economy-hostage-in-order-to-get-their-way-in-a-political fight, crisis. Now that the memories are fading slightly, here you go…

Thought this recent skirmish between Jon Stewart and Fox News was interesting.

On June 2oth, Stewart appeared on Fox News Sunday for an interview with Chris Wallace. The interview featured some mild fireworks as Wallace ran a number of clips from the Daily Show and attempted to tar Stewart as a hypocrite for having his own biases while criticizing Fox.

Wallace is usually sited as the best example of a legitimate newsman at a network full of partisan hacks, but I was somewhat surprised at how much Wallace appeared to have drank the Fox Kool Aid, actually making the argument that Fox’s overt partisan agenda is in the same league as the more subtle biases of other news organizations. As Stewart noted, MSNBC may have attempted to follow Fox’s model, but it is not even close to Fox as an effective propaganda tool of the left.

Wallace’s biggest mistake in the interview was this attempt to create some equivalence between Fox News and The Daily Show. Fox is a partisan organization that tries to pawn itself off as a ”fair and balanced” news outlet, while The Daily Show is a comedy show that has no obligation or pretense of being a fair arbiter of the news.  Right off the bat, Wallace begins the fight with a disadvantage.

The coverage of the interview on the left mostly focused on the fact that Fox edited out Stewart’s comments about Bill Sammon, a Fox News exec whose released e-mails show him encouraging Fox News employees to deliberately distort the news in order to score partisan points for conservatives.

Stewart also got dinged by the Right for saying that Fox viewers were “consistently” the least informed of all news viewers. Politifact checked this statement and found that, while a number of studies had shown this, others had not, so Jon Stewart’s statement had to be considered “false.” Fair enough, but later that week, Stewart hit back on his show (see above), with a scathing scroll of the most eggregious false statements by Fox over the past few years, including Politifact’s “biggest lie of the year” for both 2009 and 2010 (can they get the trifecta this year? Stay tuned…).

The Fox propaganda machine went into high gear. Over a period of just a few days, they went on the attack against Stewart over a piece that he had done on presidential candidate Herman Cain’s (hopefully tongue in cheek) statement that he would only approve bills that were 3 pages or shorter. The party line on Stewart for the week was that Stewart was racist, refused to admit his political bias and that a conservative wouldn’t have been able to get away with those jokes.

But once again, Fox undermined their own point. First of all, by releasing a clearly coordinated attack on Stewart, they provided yet aother example of how manipulated their “news” coverage is. Second, arguing that Jon Stewart is racist is laughable, and finally, of course there’s a double standard: One is a comedian whose show airs right after South Park and a show that features puppets having sex. The other is desperately trying to portray itself as a “fair and balanced” news organization despite all evidence to the country.

Stewart’s response, makes the point well.

The lesson for Chris Wallace:

Never pick a fight with a comedian. You’ll lose every time.

Glenn Beck off the Deep End

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

It seems like Glenn Beck may have finally gone too far.

The week that the Egypt protests broke wide open, Beck seemed to go off the deep end with his talk of how the peaceful protests in Egypt demanding the end of Mubarak’s rule could be a precursor to the eventual establishment of an Islamic Caliphate that would take over the entire Middle East and potentially spread into Asia and Europe.

If you didn’t know that Beck was a pasty faced huckster with no real sense of international politics or history, then you might get really freaked out watching him manipulate his touchscreen to create a phosphorescent Islamic Caliphate out of the entire Middle East and then explain how Spain, France, Britain and Italy could come under the sway of the new Caliphate because they also have some Muslims living in their countries. Beck goes on to weave a complex tapestry of conspiracy, which includes among its members both President Bushes, “the Left,” and labor unions, just to name a few. In fact,  throughout the week Beck tied the Islamic caliphate theory to quite an impressive list of Fox News villans, including Islamic Socialists, ACORN, Code Pink, Anarchists and Bill Ayers, all of whom Beck claimed were engaged in a  ”well orchestrated campaign” to pave the way for the caliphate.

The next week, Bill Kristol at the American Standard, the most idealistic (Pollyanish?) of the neo-cons, called Beck out. Kristol contrasted Charles Krauthammer’s words of caution about events in Egypt and Beck’s paraniod ravings, noting:

hysteria is not a sign of health. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.

In fact, as Chris Matthews pointed out, Beck’s paraniod ramblings seems to be cribbed directly from the John Birchers‘ recent talking points.

In the month that has followed, a number of prominent conservatives have joined Kristol in denouncing Beck. Joe Scarborough (no fan of Glenn Beck before) called him ”bad for the conservative movement” and said that he was “losing it before our eyes.” Peter Wehner, from the uber-conservative website Commentary, called him the “most disturbing personality on cable television,” and urged conservatives to distance themselves from him before he “blows apart professionally.” Time columnist Joe Klein noted that he had heard from more than a few conservative sources that “prominent conservatives” have approached Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes and pushed for his ouster at Fox.

While Fox has never been a network particularly concerned with the truth, perhaps a better motivator may be Beck’s declining ratings: January’s ratings were the worst he’s posted since his Fox show debuted in January 2009.

My own take on this is that two trends are driving this backlash against Beck and people like him:

First, the country has had a full two years of heart rending bitter partisanship. While Obama and Pelosi were running the country and the Right was fully mobilized against them, there was a strong tendency toward cohesion. The nutty conspiracy theories that Beck was spouting were tolerated because they were aimed at a common enemy. Now that the inexorable march toward liberal “tyranny” has been stopped, people are looking for a respite from the continual pitched battles between left and right. This has shown up not only in Beck’s declining ratings, but in public opinion about Sarah Palin after she clumsily and agressively went on the attack after Gabby Giffords was shot. At a time when the country needed healing, Sarah Palin showed the same pettiness that she has shown throughout her career, and the public took note. While Obama delivered a stirring speech on the need to come together as Americans and tone down the rhetoric, Palin once again seemed obsessed with her own public image and sense of victimhood.

In a similar vein, the Republican victory is revealing cracks in the facade of conservative unity that were obscured during the fight against a common enemy. These cracks were conspicuously on display during the Egyptian protests.  Neo-cons who still believe in Bush’s “freedom agenda” have a far different worldview from the cautious realpolitik that Repulicans like Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft used so effectively (and that Obama’s team has tried to emulate), and Glenn Beck’s Bircher influenced conspiracy theories are almost diametrically opposed to the neo-con worldview. As events unfolded in Egypt, you had people like Beck and others basically arguing that Muslims can’t be allowed to have democracy and neo-cons like Kristol arguing that Middle Eastern democracy is essential to achieving our national security objectives.   

While no faction has a monopoly on truth, Beck’s recent rantings are undeniably nutty and it is clear that it’s probably in the interest of the Republicans to distance themselves from him. As Kristol alluded to, we may finally be seeing a replay of the early 1960′s when William F. Buckley famously denounced the John Birch Society in the National Review.

The secretive Birch Society had views that were not far from Beck’s. It’s founder, Robert Welch had called President Dwight D. Eisenhower, ”a conscious, dedicated agent of the communist conspiracy” and he claimed that the US government was “under operational control of the Communist party” (can’t you hear Beck saying something like this on his show?).  

In his 1962 editorial, Buckley called Welch “idiotic” and “paranoid” and said his views were “far removed from common sense.” This effectively banished the Birchers from the conservative movement for almost 50 years, until  they re-emerged in 2010.

Could we be watching history repeat itself 5o years later? I won’t hold my breath, but this might be fun to watch. 

Fox Viewers Significantly More Likely to be Misinformed

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

What a surprise.

Fox News Makes it Official

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
News Corp. Gives Money to Republicans
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

It’s official.

Fox is now just a less responsible wing of the Republican party.

Fox News: Evil or Just Stupid?

Sunday, August 29th, 2010
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Parent Company Trap
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Jon Stewart’s been on fire with the his “coverage” of the Park 51 center in Lower Manhattan. Check here, here, here and here.

This one’s on Fox’s attempts to tie the Islamic Cultural Center and mosque to “dangerous Saudi financier” Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who has supported Imam Rauf’s causes in the past. You may have heard of this Saudi financier since he is a prominent investor in many American companies, as well as the largest shareholder in Fox News Corp–a fact that Fox News was either trying to conceal or was just clueless about.

You decide.  Fox News: Evil or Just Stupid?

Go Get ‘Em Rachel!!

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Rachel Maddow fillets Bill O’ Reilly on Thursday’s program.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This is the combination of intellect and guts that would have been nice to see out of the White House last week.

O’Reilly makes the “our ratings are higher than yours” argument fairly regularly and I have heard it parrotted from more than one conservative.

Pretty amazing. It’s like the fact that they regularly don’t tell the truth to their viewers must be okay because more people are watching.  How does that joke go? “We might be taking a loss on each transaction, but we make it up in volume”…

Maddow points out that O’Reilly’s statement about the ratings wasn’t really about the ratings at all:

You were trying to take the attention off of me saying that Fox News continually crusades on flagrantly bogus stories designed to make white Americans fear black Americans (which Fox News most certainly does for political purposes), even if it upends the lives of people like Shirley Sherrod, even as it frays the fabric of the nation, even as it makes the American dream more of a dream and less of a promise.

 But even if no one watches us at all…You are still wrong on what matters, and that would be the facts.

The Shameful Saga of Shirley Sherrod

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

A little more than a year ago, Shirley Sherrod addressed a meeting of a local NAACP branch and told a poignant personal story about how she successfully struggled to overcome her prejudices twenty four years ago and learned that the struggles that she had witnessed poor black farmers go through in rural Georgia were very similar to the struggles white farmers were facing. Her story was a beautiful modern day parable about overcoming pre-existing prejudices and dedicating oneself to the cause of assisting the poor regardless of race.

This past week, that speech was used as a political football in a cynical game that eventually cost Shirley Sherrod her job and once again ripped the scab off the race issue in America.

The backstory can be read here or watched here.

It is a story that is shameful on so many levels and in so many ways.

It is shameful that Andrew Breitbart posted the edited clip of a speech about an experience of racial reconciliation that occurred 24 years ago and twisted it into a claim that Sherrod was bragging about racial discrimination in her current job. It’s shameful that Fox News used its usual lack of journalistic integrity, not-so-subtly stoking white backlash with fears of pernicious “reverse discrimination” at the hands of the “liberal elite” in the Age of Obama.

By now, we’ve come to expect these kinds of things from the conservative media and it shouldn’t surprise us. What is surprising is the fact that the NAACP was so nervous about condoning “reverse discrimination” (after calling out the Tea Party for their racist elements) that they condemned Shirley Sherrod without apparently even watching the tape of the speech that occurred at their event.

But perhaps the most shameful part of this whole incident is the way that Tom Vilsack’s Department of Agriculture and–by extension–the Obama White House, so cavalierly threw this woman under the bus, demanding her resignation without doing a full investigation or even allowing her to defend herself. Sherrod reported that Cheryl Cook, an undersecretary in the Department of Agriculture, wouldn’t even allow her to return home, demanding that she pull over in her car and text her resignation to the department since she was “going to be on Glenn Beck tonight.”

Really? Glenn Beck?

They fired a woman for allegations of racism without looking into them because they wanted to preempt a pasty-faced huckster conspiracy theorist who regularly spouts paranoid fantasies about how Obama and his administration are part of a socialist plot to impose their “deep seated hatred of white people” on the country?

It’s not surprising that these nutjobs are trying to hijack our democracy with misinformation and lies. We knew that already. What is surprising is that the very people they are trying to throw out of office and discredit are playing right into their hands.

This incident would have been the perfect catalyst for a multiple point indictment of the right wing media, their pre-existing agenda and the lengths they will go to make facts fit their pre-existing narrative. It shows how they are so craven that they can take a great example of racial reconciliation and turn it into a Bizarro World accusation of racial discrimination. This would have been a perfect time for the Administration to dig in their heels and expose Fox News and Breitbart for what they are.

But they were so busy running away in fear that they surrendered without a fight.

They’re gonna need to be tougher than that if they want to turn those poll numbers around.

WWSD?

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Caught a few minutes of this interview as I was flipping through the channels the other night. Guess we can add Bill O’Reilly to the list of gotcha journalists who ask Sarah trick questions like: if you have so much criticsm, what’s your solution?

This lady is a piece of work. Even keeping with her careful strategy of only appearing on the Republican propaganda channel and at rallies with adoring fans, this “energy expert” is still out of her league when asked anything that deviates from her narrow talking points. 

Can’t believe she was that close to becoming Vice President of the United States