Right-wing media are acting as de facto political advisers for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, offering the candidate an array of advice that includes replacing his staffers, finding "his inner pit bull," and talking more about his faith.
The temptation to try to create campaign news during the slow summer months is one that journalists ought to resist. If not, they could end up looking like CNBC did on Tuesday when the business news channel lost its bearings (again) and invited disgraced birther Donald Trump on to weave his tired conspiracies about the president's supposedly hidden past. Worse, CNBC.com then wrote up Trump's appearance while touting as news a comically awful right-wing fantasy published this week about Obama's years at Columbia University.
Appearing on CNBC's "Squawk Box," Trump was pushing what he claimed to be a brilliant campaign maneuver for the Romney campaign, which finds itself under pressure to release the candidate's tax records, as all presidential candidates have done in recent years. According to Trump, Romney should finally release years of his tax returns, but only if Obama released his college transcripts.
What Trump apparently doesn't understand, and what nobody on CNBC bothered to point out, is that as a rule presidential nominees do release extensive tax returns, and as a rule they do not release their college transcripts. (Romney hasn't.) Trumps brilliant dare to the Obama campaign doesn't make any sense because tax returns and college records have never been treated similarly by campaigns from either party.
CNBC's Trump troubles were compounded online with a report that soft-peddled Trump's birther past, while claiming serious new questions have been raised about Obama's time at Columbia.
In his regular Monday appearance on Fox & Friends, Donald Trump promoted "Dine with the Donald," a fundraising contest for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in which donors to Romney's campaign are entered for a chance to win a stay at the Trump Tower and a dinner with Trump and Romney. During the segment, Trump touted a previous event in which he "raised a lot of money for Ann Romney" while the three co-hosts allowed Trump to promote his upcoming fundraiser. From Fox & Friends:
TRUMP: The big dinner is going to be the Trump dinner. You know that, dine with Donald, you know that. Well, Mitt Romney and the whole group came up with a plan. They were looking for a big celebrity, and then somebody said, "we have the biggest celebrity. It's Trump."
They said, "you're right." And they're having a dinner, dine with Trump, and it's going to be like in a month, and I'm going to be involved in a dinner. And I hear it's selling like hot cakes. And Mitt Romney is going to join us for the dinner. And I think it's going to make a lot of money.
This promotion of this Romney fundraiser comes less than a week after Fox & Friends aired a Fox-produced, four-minute anti-Obama attack ad. This is also hardly the first time that Fox and its guests have promoted pro-GOP fundraisers.
Fox News' Fox Nation website is now highlighting Donald Trump's interview this afternoon with CNN's Wolf Blitzer using the headline, "Trump Knocks Wolf Blizter [sic] Into Next Week." During the interview, Trump offered up a variety of debunked claims intended to cast doubt on President Obama's place of birth, while Blitzer responded by noting the mountains of evidence definitively proving that Obama was born in Hawaii. At one point, Blitzer responded, "Donald, you're beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you."
The Fox Nation post links to a Politico blog post reporting that Trump "took a shot at CNN's low ratings" during the interview.
From Fox Nation:
Donald Trump went on CNN this afternoon to do what has become his specialty of late: make a complete fool of himself. His appearance was precipitated by every sensible person on both sides of the aisle wondering why, exactly, Mitt Romney voluntarily chooses to associate with Trump, given the real estate mogul's vocal obsession with birtherism and his many years as the cartoonish avatar of repellant avarice.
So there he was, in the Situation Room, getting manhandled by Wolf Blitzer on President Obama's place of birth -- an issue that never actually was an issue and was unmercifully put to rest by the president himself when he released his long-form birth certificate. The highlight of the interview? After Trump questioned the birth certificate's authenticity, the presence of Obama's mother at the hospital, and the birth announcements in the Honolulu papers, Blitzer responded with admirable restraint: "Donald, you're beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you."
The new fuel for Trump's birther fire is the Breitbart.com "exclusive" about Obama's publisher wrongly claiming 20 years ago that he was born in Kenya -- the same "exclusive" that the Breitbart people said had nothing to do with birtherism. During an interview with CNBC earlier today, Trump referred to the Breitbart story, claiming that Obama told his publisher that he was "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia." He brought it up again in his CNN interview: "Obama hates the subject. When his publisher comes out with a statement from him made in the 1990s that he was born in Kenya and that he was raised in Indonesia, and all of the sudden it comes out, I think it's something that he doesn't like at all."
That's factually incorrect; the statement was not from Obama but was rather a "fact-checking error" by the literary agency, which told Political Wire: "There was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii."
Regardless, it's become the new shiny object for the incurable birther remnant. Who could have predicted?
Declaring that he "has had enough" of "national news programs" that mislead American voters, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said he will now aim to tell viewers "every time I see craziness in the national media during the campaign." However, the examples of "craziness" O'Reilly cited, including the myth that "Obama was not born in America," have all been promoted on Fox News -- something he did not mention.
From the April 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the April 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Right-wing media have defended the New York Police Department's (NYPD) surveillance of American Muslims throughout the Northeast, engaging in anti-Muslim rhetoric and dismissing concerns of civil rights groups while doing so. But law enforcement experts have said that the program has a "negative impact" on the ability to gather counterterrorism intelligence, and lawmakers from across the political spectrum have criticized the program.
From the March 12 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the February 3 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Lots of conservative opinion makers expressed dismay at the sight of Republican front-runner Mitt Romney appearing in Las Vegas Thursday to receive the endorsement of reality TV host, and full-time birther, Donald Trump. Livid GOP boosters denounced the move as "unseemly" and a "fiasco" that represents the "biggest blunder" of Romney's candidacy. They openly mocked the Republican for his "moronic" campaign maneuver.
Message: Trump is a joke and Romney looked small and un-presidential glad-handing the developer on stage.
The slings may be directed Team Romney's way, but who's really to blame for Thursday's campaign "fiasco"? Fox News.
Let's not forget it was Fox News that nearly twelve months ago decided that golf course owner Donald Trump ought to be elevated to national status as a Republican kingmaker and Very Serious Person. It was Fox News, desperate for new anti-Obama content, that embraced Trump's farcical birther charade.
Celebrating Trump last year, Fox News covered the birther story with endless "news" segments, only to watch the tale crash in spectacular fashion when the White House released the president's long-form birth certificate.
The original rise of Trump, not to mention his return this week, was bought and paid for by Roger Ailes and Fox News. They were the ones who couldn't stop pointing a camera at him last year when he went all birther. They were the ones who turned him into a GOP celebrity. (Sadly, other media outlets followed.) And Fox was the one that, yet again, moved to elevate celebrity above policy and common sense within the conservative movement.
Without Fox's incessant marketing last year, who would even care which candidate Trump is endorsing in this year's GOP primary? Likely nobody. But because Fox made the conscious decision to transform Trump into a right-wing celebrity, nominees-to-be like Mitt Romney now feel the need to embrace his "unseemly" and "moronic" endorsement.
Conservatives are shaking their heads. Maybe now they'll begin to understand how Fox News is destroying the Republican Party.
The right-wing media's hypocritical campaign to scapegoat lower-income families and those in need while simultaneously accusing President Obama and progressives of waging class warfare was on full display Monday night on Fox.
Here's Trump going On the Record to explain how unemployment insurance can create "incentives" for people who "don't want to go back to work because they can pick up many more months of their unemployment insurance and various other things."
Here's Trump a few minutes later chastising President Obama for waging "class warfare" and creating "a system where people dislike each other."
This morning, CBS' Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer interviewed Donald Trump about the businessman and reality television star's consideration of a possible independent run for president (consideration that, coincidentally, comes shortly before the season premiere of The Apprentice and publication of Trump's new book). Viewers learned that Trump doesn't want to run for president because he would "rather do what I'm doing now," but if he doesn't see a Republican nominated who he thinks can beat President Obama, he "would certainly think about doing it after the show ends."
CBS viewers heard nothing, however, about Trump's history of pushing debunked birther conspiracy theories. Somehow, in an interview almost entirely concerned with Trump's presidential aspirations, Schieffer did not ask a single question about the central facets of the pseudocampaign for the Republican nomination Trump ran in the spring of 2011: Trump's repeated suggestion that President Obama may not have been born in the United States (and thus could not hold the presidency under the Constitution) and his demands that Obama "show his birth certificate."
From the January 26 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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