As he made clear during his final broadcast on CNN, Lou Dobbs doesn't intend to disappear. But while his future is unclear, it seems obvious that his departure from the network has made Dobbs all the more willing to advance conservative misinformation whenever given the opportunity.
His recent appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart may very well have been a foreshadowing of things to come. When asked to explain the basis of the newfound right-wing rage stoked by Fox News and other conservative broadcasters, Dobbs contrasted the Obama administration with that of George W. Bush.
"What is different this time," he said, "is an attorney general who actually began speaking about a few changes to the Second Amendment." He continued, adding that the administration is "not reflecting the majority view, whether it be health care or whether it be cap and trade."
All three of these assertions are commonly parroted by right-wing broadcasters -- and all three are false. The idea that the Obama administration intends to limit gun rights has been a focus of conservative fear-mongering since before Obama took office. Dobbs advanced it on CNN and on his radio program; Glenn Beck has pushed it, as has FoxNation.com, which accused Sonia Sotomayor of being an anti-gun judge. While such charges are baseless -- no significant legislation curtailing gun ownership has been advanced by President Obama, who this past May actually signed a bill containing an expansion of gun rights in national parks -- they are not inconsequential. For example, Richard Popolawski, the disturbed young man who shot three Pittsburgh policemen in April, was convinced that the government intended to take away his guns.
Dobbs' claim that the American people oppose Democratic health care reform proposals is similarly misleading. As right-wing broadcasters have routinely done, Dobbs intentionally ignored numerous polls indicating that a clear majority supports the creation of a public health care option, a central component of reform efforts.
Similarly, while support for cap-and-trade legislation has at times been split, an October CNN poll found that 60 percent of respondents supported the legislation, with only 37 percent opposing it.
Maintaining such falsehoods is necessary for broadcasters like Dobbs, who contend that the government is out of touch with the political "middle" that represents the true spirit of America. "Again, you're watching the body politic trying to bring this country back to the center," he told Stewart, "and they are frightened by extremism, whether it is left or whether it is right, and frankly I think everybody should be."
But as Media Matters has conclusively documented, on an issue-by-issue basis, consistent polling over a broad historical period has shown that a majority of the American people support progressive policy positions.
Of course, acknowledging such realities would make it impossible for Dobbs to play the role of political savior, rescuing the country from the grips of an unresponsive and out-of-control government -- which is exactly why he ignores them.
Eighty 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 of white people." Here are his November 19 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Yet more proof that the right-wing noise machine doesn't even reflect mainstream conservatives. It's just its own bizarre, fact-free world that whips up an endless stream of nonsensical allegations that only truly radical Obama haters care about.
Greg Sargent as the details on the latest polling numbers, which show a huge majority of Americans thought it was fine for Obama while greeting Japan's emperor. And yes, even Republicans thought it was appropriate.
In November 19 comments on Twitter, MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell responded to Glenn Beck's attacks on her over an interview she conducted the previous day with a Sarah Palin supporter. During that interview, O'Donnell asked the supporter about Palin's 2008 support for the economic bailout.
From RushLimbaugh.com, accessed on November 19:
Last week we learned that Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., the parent company of Fox News, agreed with Glenn Beck's assertion that the President was a "racist", because, in Murdoch's words, Obama made a "very racist comment." Of course, no one knows what "very racist comment" Murdoch was talking about.
Fox News was then forced to clean up the boss's mess issuing a statement saying that Murdoch "does not...think the president is a racist" regardless of what he may have otherwise said.
Statements and spin aside, we still don't know what "very racist comment" Murdoch was talking about. Perhaps if he was just asked directly, Murdoch would be able to clear up the confusion.
In an effort to do just that, Media Matters confronted Murdoch today on Capitol Hill for a little chat.
We are through the looking glass people. Murdoch isn't even spinning what he said about the president, now he's denying it outright. And to think we sometimes wonder where the folks at Fox News get their ethics from. Sigh.
And people still pretend Fox News is a serious outlet? Media Matters has been pointing out the truth for months now, but lots of Beltway media folks insist on pretending that somewhere, deep inside Fox News, in some undisclosed secret location, there exists a 'serious news' team that's doing the due diligence and pumping out top-notch journalism. Sorry folks, but it's a myth that Fox News doesn't load up its 'news' product with partisan, GOP spin. But it's a myth both Fox News and the press love to perpetuate.
Here's the latest example from the Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva, who lays on the naiveté extra-heavy. i.e. His sources tell him Fox News execs are really, really upset about the latest transgression and darn it, this time somebody's actually going to be disciplined!! ("Heads may roll"!)
Sorry, but I have to chuckle. I chuckle at the idea that Fox News big whigs care about journalism standards or ethics. And I chuckle reading reporters like Silva who happily play along: OMG, Fox is going to discipline someone for an egregious breach of standards? I guess my question is, why start now? I mean seriously, if Fox News started handing out demerits every time someone in front of, or behind, the camera trampled on journalism's code of ethics, Murdoch's cable channel would have to start out-sourcing to Bangalore because they'd have nobody left on staff to do the job.
But don't tell reporters like Silva, who want very much to play along with the charade that the latest bout of video misinformation was dramatic and different and serious. Really? Because the truth is staffers at Fox News have been monkeying around with videotapes all year. And the staff at Fox News has been shoveling out lies, smears, and misinformation all year. Why on earth would the latest flap be considered any different?
The point being, Fox News' latest deception was utterly routine. It's what they do. It's the culture. If Fox News takes journalism seriously and is going to discipline somebody for the latest embarrassment, than why didn't they reprimand somebody for this, or this, or this, or this?
UPDATED: The Fox News culture starts at the top with News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch. Recently he's been spreading a wealth of falsehoods about his embattled 'news' channel.
UPDATED: Fox News apologizes. But which heads are going to "roll"? Don't hold your breathe. Fox News has no track record of publicly holding accountable those employees who regularly commit all kinds of crimes against journalism.
Today's edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom featured a segment on the question everyone has been asking about Sarah Palin's memoir, Going Rogue: why, exactly, did the Associated Press assign eleven reporters -- eleven reporters -- to fact-checking it? Co-anchor Alisyn Camerota wanted to know whether it was a case of good old-fashioned liberal media bias, or just good old-fashioned Palin hatred from the media, saying that "AP assigned eleven [dramatic pause] reporters to fact-check the book ... but similar books by President Obama, Vice President Biden, even Bill and Hillary Clinton did not get that same kind of scrutiny."
The premise of the segment mimics a Facebook communiqué from Palin herself, who, when the AP's fact-check was published in advance of her book's release date, complained that "11 writers are engaged in this opposition research, er, "fact checking" research!" As we've pointed out, and as Stephen Colbert wryly observed last night, there's no arena in which Palin is more proficient than making herself a victim, and Fox News is more than willing to lend what tattered shreds of journalistic credibility they have to this pursuit.
There are several perfectly legitimate, non-biased reasons for the AP to assign eleven ... reporters to the book. The first, and most obvious, is division of labor -- it's a big book, and eleven ... reporters can fact-check it much more efficiently than one or two. Second, Palin, for better or worse, is a very high-profile and polarizing figure -- arguably of a higher profile than either the president or the vice president when their books were released -- and someone who, if Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are to be believed, will be the leader of the conservative movement going forward. She is deserving of scrutiny, no matter how much she and her defenders whine about it being unfair. Third, her limited track record thus far is pockmarked with blatant falsehoods, both big (Bridge to Nowhere) and small (the teleprompter at the Republican convention).
Strangely enough, the idea that Palin might need fact-checking was never considered by Camerota. The AP made just the first attempt at fact-checking the book, and additional analysis of Going Rogue by Media Matters and other outfits has turned up more falsehoods, distortions, and seemingly deliberate fractures of the truth. In short, the AP was completely justified in doing a thorough fact-check of Going Rogue.
That, in the end, is what is so interesting about the right-wing fascination with Palin, from Fox News down to the conservative blogs -- they are less interested in what Palin actually has to say than they are in what other people say about her. They do make some weak-kneed attempts at making her seem like a serious person, like Rush Limbaugh claiming her puffball of a memoir is a "substantive policy book," but for the most part she exists only as a vessel for outrage, someone through whom they can direct their anger at the "liberal media." And it's a role she's more than happy to play.
Here's a nice snapshot of the divide that exists within the Republican Party between serious people and the un-serious people.
The conservative noise machine, marching behind Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart's routinely unreliable site Big Government, has spent the last several months trying to turn ACORN into an all-purpose bogeyman that can be blamed for all the nation's ills. But it turns out that perhaps the only people they've convinced about ACORN are themselves. (Can you say echo chamber?)
Facing an absentee ballot recount defeat for the special election in NY-23, conservative Doug Hoffman is now adopting the right-wing media's anti-ACORN mantra. But local Republican officials aren't buying it.
From the Watertown (NY) Daily Times [emphasis added]:
With his prospect of winning the 23rd Congressional District race now almost zero, Conservative Party candidate Douglas L. Hoffman suggested Wednesday in a letter that "ACORN, the unions and the Democratic Party" "tampered" with results to deny him victory.
Mr. Hoffman provided no evidence to support his claims, but asked fellow conservatives to send donations his way to "ensure every vote is counted." Jerry O. Eaton, Jefferson County Republican elections commissioner, called Mr. Hoffman's assertion "absolutely false." "No one has touched those ballots or has access to those ballots except board of elections staff - and in a bipartisan manner," he said.
Mr. Hoffman provided no evidence to support his claims, but asked fellow conservatives to send donations his way to "ensure every vote is counted."
Jerry O. Eaton, Jefferson County Republican elections commissioner, called Mr. Hoffman's assertion "absolutely false."
"No one has touched those ballots or has access to those ballots except board of elections staff - and in a bipartisan manner," he said.