Last night, Politico's Keach Hagey got a response from Rupert Murdoch about News. Corp.'s recent million dollar donations to the GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Governors' Association. Murdoch claims that the donation to the RGA "doesn't reflect on Fox News" and "had nothing to do with Fox News." Murdoch buttresses this assertion by stating that the gift was actually a result of his "friendship with John Kasich."
Murdoch apparently has an interesting definition of "nothing to do with Fox News." John Kasich is the former Fox News host who is currently running for governor of Ohio. Kasich was with Fox News for nine years and used his platform there to position himself for his eventual run for governor. Despite announcing in March of 2008 that he was paving the way for a gubernatorial run, Kasich continued to appear regularly -- in at least 123 segments* -- on-air as a Fox contributor and host until he formally announced his run on June 1, 2009.
After Kasich officially declared his candidacy, he has continued to benefit from his close relationship with the network, with Fox hosts and personalities campaigning for him, offering him easy interviews/infomercials, and openly rooting for his candidacy. As Hagey noted, Kasich's relationship with the network has raised ethical concerns in the past. The Democratic Governors Association "filed a complain with the Ohio Elections Commission accusing Fox News of making an illegal in-kind donation to Kasich by running a chyron featuring Kasich's website while he was on 'The O'Reilly Factor' soliciting donations."
RGA chairman Haley Barbour has previously said that he "asked Rupert Murdoch to help us, and he thought about it, and called me back, and said he wanted to help us. I'm very grateful."
Fox News is so far down the ethical rabbit hole that Murdoch apparently thinks "this donation had nothing to do with Fox News, I was only donating because I'm close friends with the former Fox News host running for Governor of Ohio" is a reasonable explanation. News. Corp's treatment of Kasich bodes well for their current stable of no less than five potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates.
And what about Fox's other million dollar donation to the GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce? Well, Murdoch has an explanation for that, too. See, he "didn't expect" it to become public, and News. Corp is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, so Murdoch "just thought [he] was being a good member."
Add another example to Rupert Murdoch's "see no evil" approach to his flagship news property.
*CLARIFICATION: This post has been updated to clarify that Kasich appeared in at least 123 segments on Fox News. When Kasich guest-hosted The O'Reilly Factor, Media Matters counted each segment.
Continuing her ongoing quest to embarrass herself and the media outlets that treat her as an expert (instead of an anti-Muslim bigot -- that means you, Fox Business), Pam Geller announced this morning that the design of the Park51 Islamic community center includes "Tumbling Star of Davids [sic]." Have a look for yourself:
Under the image, she announces that the "Islamic supremacists get more bold and naked in their motive." While Geller is content to play Magic Eye with artists' renderings in order to argue that the people behind Park51 are anti-Semites, in the real world, Imam Rauf reportedly said that he can "confidently assert that I am closer to my Jewish and Christian brothers...than the Muslim militants carrying a narrow view."
Geller has a long history of finding secret hidden messages in otherwise innocuous images. She has discovered imaginary Islamic crescents in the 2010 Nuclear Summit logo and the design of the Flight 93 memorial. In March, she claimed that a preponderance of "purple" -- actually blue -- neckties on Democratic officials meant that Obama and Democrats were "Flying The Gangsta Colors At The White House." However, if Geller wants to win the race to the bottom for finding absurd architectural reasons for opposing Park51, she'll have to work harder to outdo NewsBusters' "chilling" revelation that the center has four sides and is shaped like a building.
With a few exceptions, the upper echelon of the conservative blogosphere is a mess.
Breitbart's "Big" websites traffic in misleading non-scandals and have published people like 9-11 truther Michael Moriarty, racist penis-enlarger/vagina-tightener Kevin Pezzi, and former SNL actress/spouter-of-incomprehensible nonsense Victoria Jackson. NewsBusters and The Media Research Center spend a lot of time finding the liberal bias in television shows that don't treat their gay characters as ostracized sub-humans.
Atlas Shrugs is run by a woman that is haunted at every turn by Islamic crescents, and whose hatred for the president once compelled her to claim that his penchant for "purple" (actually blue) neckties meant that Democrats were "Flying the Gangsta Colors at the White House." Confederate Yankee Bob Owens - who also writes for Breitbart and the Washington Examiner - openly speculates about whether he and an army of "freshly-experienced combat veterans and graying patriots" are going to have to start killing people to combat the "slavery" of health care reform.
But despite all this stiff competition, Jim Hoft (aka Gateway Pundit) stands out as uniquely incompetent. Hoft runs with (or spawns) almost every inane story that bubbles up in the conservative blogosphere, has proven that he has absolutely no vetting process for the sources he cites, and apparently has a hard time with basic reading comprehension.
Hoft -- who has modeled for a John Deere catalogue and "played a cop on 'Unsolved Mysteries' twice" -- has "never had any training in politics or journalism," but now has the "#8 ranked political blog in the United States" that is "frequently mentioned on top national news shows."
Indeed, in spite of the fact that Hoft embarrasses himself on a near-daily basis and has shown time and again that he is either willfully dishonest or staggeringly inept, he has managed to carve out a role as one of the most-read, most respected writers in the conservative blogosphere. And his influence extends beyond the blogs. Hoft's stories are regularly featured on Fox News' Fox Nation website, and he has been cited as a source on-air by Fox News on multiple occasions.
Hoft's ongoing position of influence in the conservative media is evidence that the entire movement is intellectually bankrupt.
Like clockwork, another conservative-organized rally has led to hilariously overblown crowd predictions. In a post about the anti-Park51 rally she helped promote, Pam Geller announced in a headline that "AMERICA SPEAKS! HISTORIC 911 RALLY DRAWS 40,000." Writing about the crowd at the "historic" rally, Geller claimed that "There was no end. You could not see the horizon. The media pretends these tens of thousands [sic] people don't exist. It's criminal."
It's true -- the "criminal" media is apparently pretending these "tens of thousands" of people don't exist. According to noted liberal bastion The Wall Street Journal, "about 1,500" people attended the anti-Park51 rally. But perhaps the WSJ has been getting their information from biased sources, as opposed to Geller's more reliable numbers. The WSJ bases their estimate on "the police." Geller bases her estimate on...well, nothing.
She provides absolutely no citation for the estimate, other than this rather scientific observation about the reportedly larger pro-Park51 rally: "If the America haters had 4,000, we had ten times more. The media is playing the dueling rallies; it was no such thing."
Geller is no stranger to the conservative game of thinly-sourced hyper inflated crowd estimates. During the game of conservative telephone that turned the 9-12 crowd last year into "2 million" people, Geller cited someone who "claims to have overheard DC police discussing crowd numbers."
The crowd is now 40,000 (or 1,500 if you believe the biased police). Based on past experience, we can expect estimates to be up to around 200,000 or so by the middle of the week.
Evidence continues to mount that Glenn Beck's supposedly non-political Black Robe Regiment is, predictably, just a thinly-veiled attempt to boost conservative candidates in the upcoming midterm elections (and beyond).
As we detailed last week, two Black Robe members indicated that part of the group's mission is to boost voter involvement. And Beck, though he claims he would leave any church that "preach[ed] who to vote for," formed the Black Robe Regiment with the help of James Dobson, who has a long history of using churches to attempt to influence elections.
Now it appears that members of Beck's Black Robe Regiment -- including David Barton, whom Beck credits with helping form the idea for the group -- are closely tied to former Speaker of the House and putative 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and his "Renewing American Leadership" group.
As described on their "Who We Are" page, the mission of Renewing American Leadership (ReAL) is to "preserve America's Judeo-Christian heritage by defending and promoting the three pillars of American civilization: freedom, faith, and free markets." They explain that they are "dedicated to educating, organizing, training, and mobilizing people of faith to renew American self-government and America's role in the world."
In a U.S. News article from last year on the launch of ReAL, Gingrich spokesperson Rick Tyler - who doubles as "Founding Director" of ReAL - describes the group in explicitly political terms, saying that he wants to "prove" to Republican donors that "that mobilizing evangelical voters leads to the best economic policies."
David Barton - described in the article as having "spearheaded the Republican National Committee's rigorous outreach to pastors in 2004" -- is quoted expressing his hope that the group can help cease the "circular firing squad" between social and economic conservatives.
After Ann Coulter agreed to headline an event for gay Republicans, conservative publication WorldNetDaily axed her scheduled role as keynote speaker of their "Taking America Back National Conference." Since then, the two sides have been engaged in a war of words, culminating in Coulter labeling Joseph Farah "swine" and a "publicity whore" after he revealed details of a private email exchange he had with Coulter. Coulter also said that Farah "could give less than two sh-ts about the conservative movement - as demonstrated by his promotion of the birther nonsense."
Though Coulter -- who has a long history of anti-gay rhetoric - was apparently deemed insufficiently bigoted for WND, conservatives have a deep bullpen for this sort of thing. Enter "American phenom" Michael Savage, who not only hates gay people, but is also a big fan of the "birther nonsense."
In a blog post last night, WND announced that "talk-radio superstar" Savage is going to make a "rare public appearance" at the event. Savage has a long, long history of incendiary, bigoted remarks about the LGBT community:
So if WND was looking for someone that wouldn't embarrass them by showing signs of humanity and tolerance, it looks like they've found their man.
As he attempts to rebrand himself as a spiritual leader, Glenn Beck has surrounded himself with religious and secular figures who share a fervent opposition to the "homosexual agenda."
Following polls that show Americans increasingly believe (wrongly) that President Obama is a Muslim, conservative media figures predictably blamed Obama for this perception. There have been many lowlights, but you'd be hard-pressed to outdo Brian Kilmeade suggesting Obama should have "kept his name as Barry and not Barack" if he "was worried" about people thinking he's Muslim. In finding increasingly absurd ways to blame Obama for conspiracy theories about him, conservatives have conveniently ignored their own role in relentlessly promoting them.
Closely tied to the falsehood that Obama is a Muslim is the "birther" conspiracy theory that Obama has a fake birth certificate.
Despite the fact that this conspiracy is, you know, insane, it refuses to die. As we noted yesterday, Fox News military analyst Thomas McInerney told conservative publication/birther central WorldNetDaily that he believes there are "widespread and legitimate concerns that the President is constitutionally ineligible to hold office" and expressed support for an Army officer who is awaiting a court-martial for refusing to obey orders from commanding officers "until the president produces his original birth certificate." McInerney is far from the only birther associated with Fox News.
Sean Hannity - who has dipped his toe in the birther pool in the past by asking what's wrong with asking if Obama has a "legitimate birth certificate" - is hosting widely discredited smear artist, birther extraordinaire, and WND "reporter" Jerome Corsi tonight as part of his "Great American Panel."
Corsi has been one of the main promoters of Birtherism online, churning out countless articles on the subject for WorldNetDaily (sample headlines: "Doubts persist about Obama birth certificate, Considerable evidence still points to candidate's birth in Kenya"; "New doubts revealed in Obama's nativity story"; "Just who delivered baby Barack Obama?").
Last night, Fox News televangelist Glenn Beck railed on universities, declaring that "we have been setting up re-education camps. We call them universities." Beck also explained that "our children are being submerged in the filth of communism" at schools around the country.
While Beck lobs the usual conservative vitriol at the supposed indoctrination taking place on many campuses around the country, he apparently does not think all institutions of higher learning are evil.
In May of this year, Glenn Beck gave a tear-soaked commencement speech at Liberty University, the largest evangelical Christian university in the world. The speech included Beck's usual over-the-top rhetoric, including his advice to grads that they should "shoot to kill." In a preview of his dramatic recent turn towards hyper-religiosity, Beck declared that God's "finger was on the back of Columbus," and that "God's finger...wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution." He added, "This is God's country. These are God's rights."
Both before and after his commencement speech, Beck has hosted Jerry Falwell Jr. -- current chancellor of Liberty University -- to discuss issues like social justice and plug Liberty U.
But Beck has done more than allow Falwell Jr. to plug his university; Beck himself has explicitly endorsed Liberty as a "university where your kids are safe, and your kids can actually learn, and not be filled with a bunch of nonsense." During a June 25 segment on his radio show, Beck and Falwell Jr. discussed a donated four year scholarship to Liberty University that Beck was going to auction off as part of fundraising for Beck's then-upcoming "Restoring Honor" rally.
During the seemingly never-ending conservative freak-out over the proposed Park51 community center, right-wing media have dismissed the idea that the right's extreme anti-Muslim rhetoric has fueled "Islamophobia" throughout the country. As we've documented extensively, based on numerous hateful protests and vandalisms of mosques around the country, this is clearly not the case. Unfortunately, we can add another piece of evidence to the growing trend.
San Diego radio station KFMB, which features a lineup of conservative talk programming, is currently hosting the following poll on their homepage:
(Though it's never a great idea to place much stock in unscientific online polls, 63% of respondents have so far answered "Yes.")
Among others, KFMB broadcasts Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, and Dave Ramsey. Along with other major conservative media figures, Hannity, Beck, and Savage have worked hard to blur the lines between Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and the moderate Muslims behind the planned center and the radical extremists that attacked the U.S. on 9-11. Based on the recent anti-Muslim rhetoric of these hosts, perhaps this poll doesn't seem outwardly outlandish to regular listeners of this radio station.