Following Sen. Evan Bayh's surprise announcement of his intentions to retire, Fox News has wasted little time in attempting to influence the race. Yesterday, Fox & Friends hosted Tamyra D'Ippolito, a long shot Democratic candidate who was being promoted by right-wing bloggers who believed she would be an easily beatable candidate. D'Ippolito did not obtain enough signatures to be placed on the ballot for the Democratic primaries -- in fact, she didn't even come close -- despite the best efforts of Fox & Friends and the blogs to assist her in doing so.
Now that the race is wide open, Fox & Friends is already taking shots at Democrats who they think may end up choosing to run in Bayh's place. Today, Fox & Friends hosted two Indiana University journalism students who back in September 2009 were told that they could not videotape Rep. Baron Hill's town hall meeting, which they were attending. They claim Hill informed them that he had a policy of not allowing his town halls to be filmed because the films tended to end up being edited and exploited on YouTube. Judging by the town hall spectacles of last summer, it's easy to understand why Hill would hold such a position, unless, of course, you work at Fox (also, despite Hill's policy, Fox managed to find some video of the exchange between Hill and the student). Doocy repeatedly sniffed that most people probably wouldn't know about this story because the "mainstream media" didn't cover it. Doocy wasn't even subtle about his motivations for reporting on the story now: "[T]his got so little coverage from the mainstream media. We're bringing it up because it sounds like this guy is on the short list for Evan Bayh's seat."
So, imagine my lack of surprise when about an hour later, Fox hosted Dan Coats, the former Indiana senator who is likely to be on the Republican ticket for Bayh's old seat. Coats preemptively attacked whoever ends up being Democratic nominee because this candidate will be chosen by the Indiana Democratic Party, rather than the "people." Yesterday was the deadline for Democratic candidates to submit signatures to be added to the primary ballot. Given that Bayh announced his retirement on Monday, this didn't really afford prospective candidates much time to collect the neccessary signatures. No matter. Coats also attacked Obama for failing to deliver the hope and "change" that Indiana voted for and declared that "liberals" have steered this country on the "wrong track." Impressed, Doocy said to Coats: "Now, Dan, you have technically not officially declared yet. We have a camera, pointing right at ya. Anything you'd like to say?" Coats demurred from making a formal announcement, but all but announced his intentions to run anyway.
While interviewing Coats, Doocy did point out that there are "three other Republicans in addition to you" in the running for the Republican nomination. Any bets on how long it will take before they, too, get invited to appear on Fox & Friends?
It seems today, that all you see, is hypocritical half-term governors on Facebook and T.V. But where are those good old fashion values... On which she claims to rely?! Guess she's just a News Corp gadfly! Guess she's just a gal who, just can't live up to, all the things she should do, but please, don't you cry! She's just a News Corp gadfly!
Not long ago I wrote about Fox News contributor and half-term former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's politically motivated selective-victimhood, noting the hypocritical disconnect between her call for White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's resignation over his use of the term "retarded" and her defense of radio host Rush Limbaugh's repeated use of the same word as "satire."
Well, she's at it again.
Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Family Guy crossed the line this weekend with an episode taking aim at Sarah Palin and her family, specifically on the subject of Down syndrome children. The Associated Press reports:
Sarah Palin is lashing out at the portrayal of a character with Down syndrome on the Fox animated comedy "Family Guy." In a Facebook posting headlined "Fox Hollywood - What a Disappointment," the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and current Fox News contributor said Sunday night's episode felt like "another kick in the gut." Palin's youngest son, Trig, has Down syndrome.
The episode features the character Chris falling for a girl with Down syndrome. On a date, he asks what her parents do.
She replies: "My dad's an accountant, and my mom is the former governor of Alaska."
Palin resigned as Alaska governor last summer.
Palin's oldest daughter, Bristol, also was quoted on her mother's Facebook page, calling the show's writers "heartless jerks."
Palin and her family are right. The episode was "heartless," even cruel - just like much of the humor and satire found on other episodes of the highly rated Fox cartoon.
I don't for a minute believe radio host Rush Limbaugh was using "satire" when he said liberals who complained about health care reform "are retards." Nor do I think he was using "satire" when discussing flu prevention efforts he appeared to mock those concerned with the use of such language, saying, "[a]nything you can do to stop it or to arrest it or to retard -- sorry -- to 'Special Olympic' its duration, then it -- you should do it."
Ultimately, Palin has a choice. She can let Family Guy off the hook for its humor just like she did with Limbaugh or she can condemn them both. Failure to do either will only further expose her as a hypocritical political opportunist.
As someone whose mother has in the past volunteered countless hours with the Special Olympics in southern California, I can tell you that people with Down syndrome and their families could use more advocates with the star power and media pull of people like Palin. What they don't need are fair-weather friends who pull their punches and are more concerned about offending political allies who step over the same "kick in the gut" line than they are with being a consistent ally.
A Reality Check for Newsbusters
Weighing in on the Family Guy controversy, Newsbusters's Kyle Drennen has a post up taking MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan to task for observing, "If Palin really wanted to make a statement, she would reject her paycheck from Fox and remove herself from the network, wouldn't she?"
Drennen attempts to refute Ratigan's thought with this delusional claim:
Of course, Fox News has no connection to the Fox broadcast channel or any of its entertainment programming.
Well, yeah, he's right if you refuse to acknowledge Fox Broadcasting Co. and Fox News Channel are both owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Oh, he's also right if you conveniently forget that Palin gave her first free-pass to Limbaugh for his use of "satire" during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, which is heavily promoted each week by Fox News Channel and is broadcast by, drum roll please... Fox Broadcasting Co. And! And, his statement makes a lot of sense if you suspend intelligence and work for a media-hating website which regularly misleads its readers.
Over the weekend, Instapundit's Gleen Reynold unccorked the claim that over the past twelves months "millions of Americans" had taken to the streets to protest the Obama administration. The problem? Rather than millions, the actually number is probably in the low six-figures.
But mere facts have never stopped Glenn Beck, of course. So yesterday he endorsed the Reynolds fabrication and wallowed in the wonder of the "millions and millions of tea party people" who protested last year.
Punchline: Beck made the phony crowd claim while critiquing the New York Times' supposedly inaccurate Tea Party reporting!
UPDATED: Also last night on Fox News, Tea Party organizer Karin Hoffman eagerly spread more falsehoods about protests, claiming 1.7 million people showed up in D.C. last September. According to official crowd estimates by D.C. officials, that number misses the mark by 1.6 million.
Please note, the Tea Party movement is now building itself around an obvious, and provable, lie. Will the press ever point that out?
"Culture war" isn't a term we hear that often anymore because, well, the crucial center of American politics is sick and tired of the very idea of culture war.
But the concept (first coined by professor James Davison Hunter) still best explains where we are today in US politics -- where the vast center of America is stuck in a tug-of-war between two deeply competing visions of reality.
Cultural power, explains Hunter, is the power to "name reality." Culture is mostly created in urban centers and spread to the periphery. E.g.: Harvard Law School decides that gay marriage is a basic human right, which spreads through judges until it runs smack up into the one source of cultural power in America that isn't controlled by urban centers -- the American people.
We are by far the most democratic system on earth. A certain form of Euro-liberalism may capture the universities, reinforced by its dominant control over government money, influencing the media and Hollywood.
In Europe, the political leaders respond to this complex of cultural power mostly by submission to it -- it's easier. And then voters are deprived of choice. Where elite leaders cooperate to end the culture war by giving in, voters do not get to choose between competing visions.
But in America, leaders can spring up from nowhere, develop their own financial base, form a counter-academy through think tanks and a counter-media with talk radio and Fox News, and finally swarm into primaries to unseat party bosses who try to be an echo, not a choice.
From David Leonhardt's February 16 New York Times analysis:
Imagine if, one year ago, Congress had passed a stimulus bill that really worked.
Let's say this bill had started spending money within a matter of weeks and had rapidly helped the economy. Let's also imagine it was large enough to have had a huge impact on jobs - employing something like two million people who would otherwise be unemployed right now.
If that had happened, what would the economy look like today?
Well, it would look almost exactly as it does now. Because those nice descriptions of the stimulus that I just gave aren't hypothetical. They are descriptions of the actual bill.
Just look at the outside evaluations of the stimulus. Perhaps the best-known economic research firms are IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody's Economy.com. They all estimate that the bill has added 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs so far and that its ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, considers these estimates to be conservative.
Because the economy is still a long way from being healthy, members of Congress are now debating another, smaller stimulus bill. (They're calling it a "jobs bill," seeing stimulus as a dirty word.) The logical thing to do would be to examine what worked and what didn't in last year's bill.
But that's not what is happening. Instead, the debate is largely disconnected from the huge stimulus experiment we just ran. Why? As Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, the newest member of Congress, said, in a nice summary of the misperceptions, the stimulus might have saved some jobs, but it "didn't create one new job."
Given what people have been saying about a successful stimulus bill, just imagine what they'll say about one that doesn't accomplish much.
At least 80 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Here are his February 16 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Much to the delight of conservative activists and snark-fueled blogs everywhere, the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is kicking off this Thursday. And while many people will likely be distracted by the fair-tax hip hop and Stephen Baldwin, let's not forget that this year's CPAC is boasting as one of its sponsors the John Birch Society -- an organization that was founded on the principle that Dwight Eisenhower was a communist, and whose rank conspiracy mongering earned little respect among establishment conservatives until Glenn Beck's feverish paranoia infected the movement.
And so with CPAC right around the corner, I ambled over to the Bircher website to see what they've been up to in the past few days and came across CEO Art Thompson's thoughts on Sarah Palin's speech at the National Tea Party Convention. Now, before we get into Thompson's opinion of Palin, let's remember that the conservative movement does not tolerate criticism of the one-time Alaska governor. When they come from within their own ranks, harsh words aimed at Palin carry with them the label of apostate -- just ask Andrew Sullivan and Kathleen Parker.
So let's see what Art Thompson had to say about Sarah Barracuda (emphasis added):
Sarah Palin is an engaging personality. I do not normally listen to people in politics but in her case I made the exception.
In the case of Palin, since she is relatively new on the national political scene and was addressing a portion of the Tea Party movement, I decided to watch her speech.
Sarah Palin said a number of things with which any conservative could heartily agree - but these were for the most part glittering generalities without specifics.
Downsizing government was mentioned without examples of how or what to downsize. She talked about getting government to live within its means but there was no talk about eliminating the bureaucracy needed to lower taxes, such as the Department of Energy, Education or Homeland Security.
Homeland Security you ask? Should we really get rid of that agency? Yes, for if the American people really understood what was happening due to the war on terror, this would be a bigger issue than healthcare.
And here is where Palin entered unconstitutional waters, constantly invoking support for our troops as the excuse.
Support for our troops is a must. But support for our men has to come within constitutional parameters. Support for our troops also means only sending them into harm's way by a declaration of war.
And, Sarah Palin, knowingly or not, is supporting this policy. It is internationalist rather than constitutionalist.
In light of the fact that we appear to be preparing to go to war with yet another country, Iran, the war on terror is becoming a prolonged problem. Iran is a surrogate state of Russia, armed and supplied with nuclear capability from Russia and China. Its government is Islamic-Leninism. If we invade Iran while shaking hands with Putin, what will the next country be, and the next?
The real question is whether or not Sarah Palin really represents grassroots conservative America or if she is a creature of the "establishment." On this point, certain questions present themselves. For one, why would a Council on Foreign Relations-run McCain campaign pick Palin to begin with? Surely they understood that she would become a conservative icon regardless of the outcome of the 2009 election. And Alaska does not exactly have many electoral votes to have helped win the election. And why would Palin, if she is anti-establishment, run on McCain's establishment ticket?
Oh my... Sarah Palin is an "internationalist rather than a constitutionalist," and her "support for our troops" shows how she "entered unconstitutional waters." The irony here is that the John Birch Society is wondering whether Palin bears the "establishment" stain while they get ready to sponsor the year's gala event for the conservative establishment. Of course, the Birchers were able to get their foot in the establishment's door despite believing in the "North American Union" and the secret Rockefeller-Illuminati conspiracy to form a global New World Order. So if anti-Palinism gets them booted back to the fringe, then at least we'll have a better sense of where the conservative movement's priorities lie.
As Politico's Michael Calderone reported today:
Journalist and author Will Bunch is joining Media Matters as a senior fellow, and will be contributing to the progressive media watchdog's blog, "County Fair."
"After three decades as a highly respected journalist, Will Bunch brings to Media Matters a knowledge of media and politics that is unmatched," Media Matters president Eric Burns said in a release. "I am delighted that he will be joining us in the fight for a more honest, accurate media."
Bunch, in a release, said he'll be working with Media Matters "in support of my new book, 'The Backlash,' which looks at how the conservative media is driving the Tea Party movement."
"I'm also excited Media Matters is offering me a wider platform to push for better journalism, which in turn will lead to better democracy," Bunch said.
You can follow Bunch on Twitter here and don't forget to keep an eye out for his posts right here on Media Matters' County Fair blog as well as his continuing work at the Philly Daily News and the News' Attytood blog.
From the Hannity.com description of Sean Hannity's forthcoming book, Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama's Radical Agenda:
In Sean's first new book in six years - he issues a stirring call to action. Hannity surveys all the major Obama players-from the president's affiliation with radical theology to his advisers' history of Marxist activism, repression of the media, support for leftist dictators, and worse.
He exposes their resulting campaign to dismantle the American free-market system and forfeit our national sovereignty. But he draws on the examples of Ronald Reagan and the GOP's Contract with America to show how conservatives can unite behind this country's most cherished principles and act now to get America back on the right track - while we still can.