Fox News president Roger Ailes is big on loyalty. In the wake of criticism of Glenn Beck by members of the Fox News staff, Ailes told Howard Kurtz that it was "the first time in our 14 years we've had people apparently shooting in the tent, from within the tent." He added that "We prefer people in the tent not dumping on other people in the tent."
Ailes' message of unity has apparently been received by his staff. It's why, for example, Fox News host Andrew Napolitano can reveal himself to be a 9-11 truther and not a single Fox News staffer makes a peep (even after they had spent years enthusiastically attacking truthers as "mentally ill" "idiots.")
When Fox employees are confronted publicly with any of a wide variety of things their colleagues have done that should cause the network embarrassment, their response is often to obfuscate and defend their kin at all costs.
Last week, America Live host Megyn Kelly responded to the (inarguably correct) allegation that Fox's opinion hosts regularly traffic in Nazi analogies by claiming she watches the network "every night" and never hears anything like that. And, just as the news division covers for the "opinion" division, Fox's nighttime hosts are happy to return the favor.
On his radio show today, during a lecture to MSNBC and CNN about why their ratings aren't higher, Glenn Beck said that Fox's "news department doesn't have any opinion."
This is often the canard you hear from Fox execs when they are trying to distance people like Bret Baier and Chris Wallace from Beck's nightly fantastical conspiracy-mongering. Beck is clearly happy to play along in order to insulate his colleagues.
But no matter how many times Fox News personalities repeat variations of "our news is straight down the middle," it won't be true. In addition to their news programming regularly echoing the falsehoods and distortions from Fox's opinion shows (including following Beck's lead on stories), Fox's DC News Bureau is run by Bill Sammon.
The New York Times recently reported that frequent Glenn Beck target Frances Fox Piven has been receiving death threats. The threats against Piven are the latest in a growing series of threats and incidents of violence linked to Beck's extremist rhetoric.
Fox News' 2010 featured the network's hosts and contributors aggressively campaigning and fundraising for the GOP, trafficking in over-the-top rhetoric, and hyping an unending cavalcade of manufactured scandals (like Obama supposedly giving a major chunk of Arizona back to Mexico).
2010 also marked the network's hiring of Sarah Palin, their continued employment of serial misinformer Glenn Beck, and the revelation that Fox execs are deliberately slanting the network's news coverage.
In likely related news, Public Policy Polling released their second annual TV News Trust Poll, which found that, in contrast to a year ago, a plurality of Americans now distrust Fox News.
As they explain in their blog post about the poll's findings, this loss of support comes mostly from moderates and liberals. Trust among conservatives has fallen slightly:
A year ago a plurality of Americans said they trusted Fox News. Now a plurality of them don't. Conservatives haven't moved all that much- 75% said they trusted it last year and 72% still do this time around. But moderates and liberals have both had a strong increase in their level of distrust for the network- a 12 point gain from 48% to 60% for moderates and a 16 point gain from 66% to 82% for liberals. Voters between left and center tend to be more trusting of the media across the board, which is why a fair number of them were still rating Fox favorably even a year ago at this time. But it looks like with a lot of those folks it has finally crossed the line to being too political to trust.
Here's PPP's graph showing the highest net trust for networks to the worst:
It seems Newt Gingrich has some advice for fellow Fox News employee and potential presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Huffington Post reported:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took to morning television Tuesday to offer advice to fellow potential 2012 GOP presidential contender Sarah Palin, telling the former Alaska Governor to "slow down" and be more cautious in the wake of her response to criticism following the shooting in Arizona.
"I think that she's got to slow down and be more careful and think through what she's saying and how's she's saying it. There's no question that she's become more controversial," Gingrich said on ABC News's "Good Morning America." "But she is still a phenomenon. I don't know anybody else in American politics who can put something on Twitter or put something on Facebook and automatically have it become a national story. So she remains, I think, a very formidable person in her own right."
It's probably not a good sign when the guy who once told Bill O'Reilly that there is a "gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us" thinks you need to tone it down.
Here's the video, via Think Progress:
In one of the most cynical displays in recent memory, following the lead of Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft, several conservative websites - including Fox Nation and MRC arm CNS News - suggested that President Obama lied last night when he said that Rep. Giffords had opened her eyes for the first time shortly after his Wednesday night visit to the hospital.
In a recently-completed press conference, Giffords' doctor Peter Rhee explained that what Obama said last night about Giffords opening her eyes was "true."
In response to a question from a reporter about previous statements that Giffords could open her eyes, Rhee and Dr. B Michael Lemole, Section Chief of Neurosurgery at University Medical Center in Tuscon, explained the important distinction. Namely, Giffords previously opened her eyes in response to "stimulus," and yesterday she opened them spontaneously, which represented a "major milestone" in her recovery.
Watch the full press conference:
While it's depressing to have to parse this -- rather than simply be happy about the good news -- such is the state of the conservative media, where absolutely everything Obama says is fodder for their attacks. Instead of chalking up any potential discrepancy between what Obama said and previous statements by doctors to the complex nature of medicine, conservatives went ahead and accused the president of lying. It's as despicable as it is predictable.
Expect Jim Hoft to accuse Giffords' doctors of being in on the conspiracy shortly.
Giffords' doctors explained today that what Obama said was "true" and that while Giffords had previously opened her eyes in response to stimulus, yesterday she opened them spontaneously, which represented a "major milestone" in her recovery.
Last night during his speech in Arizona, President Obama revealed that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords "opened her eyes for the first time" shortly after Obama's visit to her hospital room, in the presence of Giffords' husband, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and other friends. The Arizona Republic, which described Obama's speech as a "a stirring tribute to the fallen and the living," labeled the revelation that Giffords had opened her eyes "the most emotional moment" during Obama's address.
But Gateway Pundit and Breitbart blogger Jim Hoft had a different take.
This morning, showing his steadfast commitment to smearing the president based on flimsy or manufactured "evidence," Hoft announced that it "Looks Like Obama Fibbed About Giffords 'Opening Her Eyes for the First Time" in his speech last night. Hoft wrote that it was a "very emotional moment" but "unfortunately it was not true." His evidence?
A blog post by a website called The Sonoran Chronicle -- which even Hoft acknowledged had since been taken down (he's linking to the Google cache) -- that reported that at a press conference on Sunday, Giffords' doctor Peter Rhee said that she can open her eyes. Unfortunately for Hoft, this is a complete misquote of what Rhee actually said in his press conference (emphasis added):
QUESTION: Has she -- you said it has been simple commands. Has she verbalized at all? And we were also told that there was a reviewing of sorts with her husband last night? And she did recognize him. Can you talk about that?
RHEE: No, we can't get into too much more detail than what we already have. But I can tell you right now with the type of surgery, her eyes, she can't open her eyes at this point, mechanical standpoints, and she's also on the ventilator, so she can't speak at this time.
Now, perhaps it should have given Hoft pause that the website he is sourcing has since pulled down the post. It also might have occurred to anyone with an iota of journalistic responsibility to go back and check the transcript of Rhee's press conference, or look for a single other media outlet reporting this information other than a blog that has since deleted their post.
But Jim Hoft doesn't care about accuracy. He has shown, time and again, that he is far more committed to smearing liberals and Democrats than he is in conveying accurate information to his readers. He's the worst kind of partisan hack.
Earlier this week, Hoft embarrassed himself by falling for an obviously fake Facebook profile for Jared Loughner in order to claim he was a "typical leftist nut" that "idolized Obama." Hoft sourced this information to a random Examiner.com blog post, whose only source was a commenter on the fringe message board Free Republic. (He later pulled the post from his website and lamented that the "Soros-funded" Media Matters took screenshots.)
How many times does Hoft have to do something like this before he is no longer treated as a reliable source of information in the conservative blogosphere? We're still counting.
PS: Before you pull your post, Jim, I took screenshots again.
Birther Central WorldNetDaily is home to several of the most unhinged writers in online conservative media. As just one example, columnist Erik Rush has been peddling his nonsensical brand of fearmongering for years. He has:
Being a WND writer, Rush is always quick to concoct outlandish conspiracy theories. As documented by Media Matters' Terry Krepel at his ConWebWatch blog, while the tragic events unfolded in Tucson on Saturday, Rush suggested that the shooting may have been "orchestrated" to justify tighter security for Congress:
Two things: "cynical" is not the right word to describe this thought.
And perhaps Fox News should think twice before they host someone like Rush in the future. Despite the fact that he has revealed himself to be completely untethered from reality, Rush has appeared as a guest on both Fox & Friends and Hannity (several times). While the network is apparently unperturbed by his anti-Obama screeds, Rush's suggestion that the government orchestrated Saturday's shootings should (hopefully) give them pause before they give him a platform in the future.
In the wake of Saturday's tragic shooting in Arizona, Gateway Pundit and Breitbart blogger Jim Hoft has been on a one man mission to prove that the deranged shooter was a "typical leftist nut." This morning, Hoft posted what he seems to think is bulletproof evidence supporting this thesis, but, as is usually the case with him, it is merely evidence that someone as hackishly irresponsible as Hoft should have no role in our national political discourse.
Hoft headlines his latest post "Whoops! This Changes Things- Loughner's Hero Was Barack Obama," then proceeds to breathlessly exclaim that "Killer Jared Loughner idolized Barack Obama."
He sources this scoop to "The Examiner" "via Free Republic" and links to a blog post by Anthony Martin at Examiner.com. In the portion of his post excerpted by Hoft, Martin writes:
Even more curious are Loughner's 'heroes.' He mentions by name Venezuelan Communist Hugo Chavez, Latin American Communist mass-murderer Che Guevara, American Socialist revolutionary Saul Alinsky, and even Barack Obama.
The link takes you to the Free Republic message board, where a commenter by the name of "Scanian" writes:
From facebook for a Jared Laughner from Tuscon, Arizona, the man named as the shooter. People who inspire him include Barack Obama, Saul Alinsky, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Huo Chavez, Noam Chomsky, Mao Tse-tung, Joseph Stalin, and Yassir Arafat. He writes "Fight the Right! Obama and the Progressives will overcome the tyrrany of big business and the racist Tea Party.
BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!
You'll notice a glaring problem with this assertion: namely, that the shooter's name was Jared LOughner, not "Laughner." (The spelling of his name was originally misreported by several media outlets.)
On Saturday, several people created fake profiles for the shooter, including this one, captured by Voices of Central Pennsylvania, a monthly community newspaper. Voices wrote that the Facebook page for "Jared Laughner" - since taken down - lists "People Who Inspire Jared" as including Obama and added: "With images of President Obama, various noted intellectuals and leftists, a statement indicating homosexuality preferences, and anti Tea Party and revolutionary slogans, it seems possible that it was a deliberate attempt to distribute disinformation."
That Hoft would reprint the outrageous assertion that Loughner idolized Obama - based on a random commenter on a fringe message board that provided no evidence for his assertion - says a lot about his complete lack of journalistic integrity. It's also completely in character for him.
Over the next three days, we'll be counting down the Most Embarrassing Failures of the Year by Conservative Websites.
As will become apparent, conservative sites regularly get themselves into trouble by having editorial standards that consist entirely of: "Does this story reflect poorly on Obama and/or liberals? Print it!"
For many prominent conservative online outlets, anything seen as reaffirming a conservative narrative is worth printing -- fact-checking is, at best, a minor annoyance to be handled after publication, if at all. This is the very definition of political hackery, yet many of these same conservative websites like to spend much of their time lecturing the "lamestream media" on how they are supposed to do their jobs.
No matter how many times conservative websites embarrass themselves by running completely false stories, they just can't help themselves.
This morning, Media Matters exposed a directive sent by Fox News Washington Managing editor Bill Sammon to the network's journalists questioning the "veracity of climate change data" and ordering them to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question." Sammon added that "It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies."
Sammon's email was sent during crucial global climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, and came amid the network's relentless promotion of the manufactured "Climategate" scandal.
It's important to point out that what Sammon calls "notions" about climate change are anything but -- as far as the science is concerned, the fact that the planet is currently warming is well-established. As the National Climatic Data Center explains, the warming trend "is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change" and "is also confirmed by other independent observations."
In contrast to Sammon, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has stated unequivocally that "climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats," and that "we certainly can't afford the risk of inaction."
In 2007, Murdoch announced an initiative to make News Corp. carbon neutral in the hopes that it would inspire their audience to also reduce their carbon footprint. In his words, "we can do something that's unique, different from just any other company. We can set an example, and we can reach our audiences. Our audience's carbon footprint is 10,000 times bigger than ours... That's the carbon footprint we want to conquer."
Murdoch is right. The carbon footprint of News Corp.'s audience is "10,000 times bigger than" the company's, which is why the benefits of his company's attempt to become carbon neutral pale in comparison to the damage done by the network's ongoing war on climate science.
For his part, Murdoch has repeatedly stressed the division between Fox's "news" and "opinion" programs in order to defend the network from criticism. But Sammon is firmly in the supposed "news" camp, and is using his position to order the network to poison the well of public opinion on an issue Murdoch thinks -- and the world's climate scientists agree -- poses "clear, catastrophic threats."
As CEO of News Corp., Murdoch can either profess to care about them setting an "example" for their audience on climate change, or he can employ a Washington managing editor that directs his staff to push phony stories to cast doubt on the science behind it.
He can't do both.