Fox News has recently received a healthy dose of criticism over the fact that they employ no less than five potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates. As we've documented, from the beginning of the year through September 18, the various Fox candidates spoke through Fox News in at least 269 appearances on the network.
And as we noted yesterday, the Fox candidates are open about reaping the benefits that come with a platform on the network. Likely presidential candidate and Fox contributor Rick Santorum told National Review last month that his role on Fox has "been big" and "helped folks remember who I am."
While much of the criticism has come from observers appalled at the lack of journalistic ethics inherent in a news network essentially paying political candidates while giving them a platform to address Republican voters, the network has also been targeted by the campaigns of non-Fox candidates considering presidential runs.
In September, Politico's Jonathan Martin and Keach Hagey reported that "officials with some of the other campaigns in waiting are plainly annoyed at the advantage they see the four potential GOP candidates have with Fox." They also quoted an anonymous aide - anonymous because "no one wants to offend a news outlet with a potentially outsize role in determining the next GOP nominee" - saying that "I wish we could get that much airtime, but, oh yeah, we don't get a paycheck."
So, now that the midterms are over and the media's attention inevitably turns to the GOP primary, how is Fox going to handle these complaints? By severing ties to its employees that double as putative presidential candidates, perhaps? No, that would be vaguely ethical.
Continuing in the long tradition of prominent conservatives admitting that Fox News is just the house organ of the GOP, this morning former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum told Fox host Neil Cavuto that Republicans are better-equipped to "fight" because they now "have Fox News" to "get a message out."
While Santorum's admission is noteworthy in its own right, it takes on added significance due to fact that Santorum -- along with at least four of his fellow Fox employees -- is mentioned among potential candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
Clearly, one of the most important roles for Fox going forward will be to "fight" and "get the message out" for the eventual GOP presidential nominee. However, it remains to be seen how the network is going to handle its various employees using their network as a platform to position themselves for a presidential run.
And make no mistake, Santorum has been open about using his Fox platform to bolster a potential presidential run. In an interview with National Review Online last month about his surely not-coincidental increased presence in Iowa, Santorum told NRO's Katelynd Mahoney that his role on Fox has "been big," and "helped folks remember who I am... It's a great platform, being able to talk about the current issues of the day."
As we documented, from the beginning of the year through September 18, the various Fox candidates spoke through Fox News in at least 269 appearances on the network. In September, Sarah Palin advised then-candidate Christine O'Donnell to "speak to the American people. Speak through Fox News."
Last month, Fox contributor and fellow potential presidential candidate Mike Huckabee hosted former Fox News employee John Kasich to plug the latter's then-candidacy for Ohio governor. During the interview Huckabee stressed to viewers the "importance" of Ohio in the "national political landscape," and noted that Obama "knows if he loses the governor's office in Ohio - which is ground zero - he's in deep trouble for 2012."
Fox News doesn't appear to be concerned that its employees are using network resources to position themselves for possible presidential runs. And it remains to be seen how the network will deal with its employees transitioning from theoretical candidates to actual candidates.
As we've documented extensively, Jim Hoft's pathological hatred for President Obama and all things liberal leads him to regularly make a fool out of himself. He often posts images that not only don't support his argument -- Obama "flipping off" John Boehner with two fingers comes immediately to mind -- but raise questions about how someone who is so intellectually bankrupt can manage to wield such influence in conservative media circles.
We have another embarrassment to add to the pile.
Last night, Hoft posted a story under the headline "BUMMER. Kid Dresses Up as Obama Joker For White House Halloween Party." He shows this picture (and embeds video) as evidence:
Hoft adds that "the kid forgot to write 'Socialist' on his T-shirt."
You know why he didn't write "Socialist" on his shirt, Jim? Because he isn't dressed as the "Obama Joker." He's just wearing what looks like Joker makeup. As far as I can tell, the only reason Hoft assumed he was dressed as the "Obama Joker" is because he is black.
Hoft also claims that the "president pushed the poor child on his way." If you watch the embedded video at Hoft's site, you'll see that Obama did nothing of the sort, unless you think placing your hand on a child's shoulder amounts to "pushing."
This staggering bit of idiocy -- which is entirely in character -- will not prevent Hoft from continuing to help lead the conversation in the conservative media. And of course, this being the conservative blogosphere, Hoft wasn't the only person to run with the "story." Weasel Zippers also posted the image and said it "[m]ust be like looking in the mirror, eh Barack?"
Fox Nation is now pushing this as well. Can one of these sites please explain in detail how they reached the conclusion that this kid was dressed as the "Obama Joker"? I'll wait.
Over the course of the past month, while promoting his new book that may "change the course of human events," radio host Michael Savage has announced that he has not only "saved talk radio" but is also the "foremost conservative intellectual."
Where does such a sharp mind get his information? Apparently, from Iranian state-owned TV.
Currently on the homepage of Michael Savage's website - underneath the giant ad for his new book - is the following story about how Obama is "unlikely to last 1st term":
This links to a story by Press TV, which is "sponsored by Iran's state-run television operation, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting."
As an added bonus, the story consists of quotes from Edward Spannus of the Executive Intelligence Review about people in the "Democratic Party who are seriously considering how to remove Obama from presidency." The Executive Intelligence Review is the weekly newsmagazine founded by fringe conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche.
Yet again, conservatives' vetting process for the stories they pick up seem to be: "Does this reflect poorly on the president? Print it!"
The last third of Glenn Beck's new book, Broke, is devoted to his "plan" to fix our supposedly broken country. (Spoiler alert: stop spending money, implement a flat tax, and privatize everything -- all while praying.)
Here's a rule of thumb: If you can Google something and find a private company to do that task, then that's probably where the responsibility for it should be. Profit motive has a funny way of making companies act efficiently. In fact, giving some tasks to companies can often run an expense item into a revenue item. [Broke, pg 308]
Beck proceeds to argue that we should consider privatizing, among other things, military arsenal production, ports, and air traffic control. After a brief, apparently irony-free section about rising health care costs -- remember folks, "profit motive has a funny way of making companies act efficiently" -- Beck announces a "War on Defense Dollars." As Beck explains it, "we must break free of this perpetual cycle of military operations that is helping to bankrupt us."
After announcing that he is "not an expert in this area," Beck turns to someone with more experience: Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater (now known as "Xe."). Beck repeats several of Prince's suggestions under the guise of Prince telling people "how to make the military more efficient."
Leaving aside the numerous other ethical scandals Blackwater has been involved in over the years, if Prince really wanted to help combat Pentagon waste, one of his first steps would have been to propose better-regulating companies like the one he founded.
In the lead-up to Glenn Beck's 8-28 rally in Washington D.C., Beck repeatedly tried to co-opt the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. Beck's motivation was clear: by cloaking himself and his band of small government rabble-rousers with King's legacy, he hoped to inflate the historical significance of their gathering while hiding behind the shield of the civil rights movement's moral authority.
As I documented at the time, Beck's co-opting of King was a complete farce:
King forcefully advocated for drastic action by the federal government to combat poverty; supported "social justice"; called for an "economic bill of rights" that would "guarantee a job to all people who want to work"; and stated that we must address whether we need to "restructure the whole of American society" -- all ideas that Beck has vilified.
After his rally, Beck was pressed by Fox News' Chris Wallace about how the "civil rights movement was always about an economic agenda." Beck responded by saying that "that's a part of it that I don't agree with." This represented a major backtrack for Beck, who had accused progressives of "perverting" King's legacy by tying it to economic issues. Apparently Beck hasn't learned his lesson.
In his new book, Broke, in a section about how "entitlements like Social Security and Medicare are murdering our finances," Beck has the audacity to quote Martin Luther King Jr. to make his point. He writes:
As Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, "No lie can live forever" -- well, these programs are based on the biggest lie of all: that money can be shuffled from person to person, from states to Washington and from trust fund to trust fund without consequence. It's time for that way of thinking (or, in this case, not thinking) to finally end. Progressive thought has brought us straight to the brink -- only an equal but opposite force can move us away from it. [Broke, pg 203-204]
Beck's invocation of King in this context is gratuitous and shameless.
This morning, the New York Times and Think Progress broke news that Koch Industries, the conservative/libertarian manufacturing conglomerate headed up by billionaires Charles and David Koch, is planning a meeting in January to "develop strategies to counter the most severe threats facing our free society and outline a vision of how we can foster a renewal of American free enterprise and prosperity."
As reported by the Times, the "Koch network meets twice a year to plan and expand its efforts." Their most recent meeting took place in Aspen, Colorado, in June of this year to strategize about the upcoming elections, and featured none other than Fox News' own Glenn Beck, who gave a talk about whether America is on the "Road to Serfdom."
The Aspen meeting took place the weekend of June 26-27. On Tuesday, June 29, Beck attacked Al Gore and his film An Inconvenient Truth on his Fox News program. In the middle of his screed about climate science and GDP, Beck said: "I want to thank Charles Koch for this information."
Beck did not explain to his audience who Charles Koch is. As we noted at the time, Koch Industries is heavily involved in the petroleum, chemicals and energy sectors. Charles Koch and other people affiliated with his organization spoke at the June meeting.
In the letter posted by Think Progress inviting people to the upcoming January meeting, Charles Koch explains that "this is a gathering of doers who are willing to engage in the hard work necessary to advance our shared principles." [emphasis in original] They've apparently found a helpful ally in Glenn Beck, who is willing to advance their "shared principles" on his Fox News show.
While Fox News has countless ethically dubious relationships with GOP candidates - Christine O'Donnell saying she has Hannity in her "back pocket" springs to mind - the network's promotion of Ohio gubernatorial candidate John Kasich stands out as uniquely absurd.
As we've documented, Kasich is the former Fox News host that is currently the GOP candidate for governor in Ohio. In addition to repeatedly using his platform as a Fox host to position himself for a run, Kasich continued to appear regularly - in at least 123 segments* - on-air as a Fox contributor from the time he announced that he was paving the way for a gubernatorial run in March of 2008 until he officially declared his candidacy on June 1, 2009. Since declaring his candidacy, Kasich has continued to reap benefits from his cozy relationship with the network, with several hosts campaigning for him and openly rooting for him.
As we noted earlier, Sean Hannity is currently under fire for allowing Kasich to promote his website and fundraise on Hannity's show on Thursday night. But Kasich's appearance on Hannity wasn't his only appearance on the network in the past few days.
On Saturday, Fox News host Mike Huckabee invited Kasich onto his show to field softballs about his modest upbringing and conservative bona fides. During the intro for the segment, Huckabee noted "in the interest of full disclosure" that he is "a friend of John and his wife Karen." He added that "as someone who has endorsed him, I am not the least bit objective." You don't say.
Tonight, Glenn Beck endeavored to teach his audience about the evils of environmentalists and environmental science with Wallbuilders Founder David Barton and Calvin Beisner, the Founder of the Cornwall Alliance.
As we've noted, as Beck has attempted to transform himself into a spiritual leader, he has surrounded himself with religious and secular figures that share a hatred for the "homosexual agenda." We can add Beisner to that list.
As reported by DeSmog Blog, in 1990, Beisner wrote an article arguing against the "militant homosexuals" that were calling for an increase in federal spending on AIDS research, treatment and education. Beisner asked if it was "rational" to increase funding to "fight a disease that is almost 100 percent self-inflicted by people intent on immoral and irrational behavior?"
Beisner was joined on Beck's show by David Barton, whom Beck has labeled "the most important man in America." Barton has written about "Why Should Homosexuality Concern a Society?" and once buttressed an argument against open service by homosexuals in our military by writing that homosexuality "was long considered too morally abhorrent and reprehensible to openly discuss." Barton also reportedly spoke at an event to promote and anti-gay marriage amendment, and his WallBuilders group published an election guide in 2008 fearmongering about Obama's supposed support for a "curriculum that promotes homosexuality."
Nice friends you have there, Glenn.
Have you heard about how Michael Savage "saved talked radio" and how his latest book could "change the course of human events"? If not, then you haven't been listening to Michael Savage lately.
Among the upper echelons of conservative media, there are a lot of big egos. Rush Limbaugh frequently proclaims that he is over 99 percent accurate (he isn't even close.) Glenn Beck thinks God arranged the date of his 8-28 rally so that it coincided with the anniversary of MLK's landmark "I Have a Dream" speech, and said the rally would mark a "turning point" in American history.
Savage has been giving both of them a run for their money this week with his effusive praise for himself and his new book, which, if he is to be believed, will soon take it's place alongside The Republic, The Communist Manifesto, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and other historic sociopolitical tracts.
It should be noted that Savage isn't alone in praising Trickle Up Poverty. This morning Ted Nugent reviewed the book in The Washington Times:
Michael Savage swings a literary crowbar of truth and writes with a sledgehammer style. He pulls no punches and goes right for the jugular with facts, not vacuous hyperbole like "hope and change." Mr. Savage is my kind of radio host and my kind of writer. I crave all things bold, unapologetic, defiant, witty and smart. "Trickle Up Poverty" satisfies my cravings and then some. Read it and then dance naked around the campfire of truth.
Michael Savage couldn't have said it better himself...though he'll certainly try.