Friday, July 01, 2011

Bye Bye Beck: Whew! Fox's Worst Is Gone, But It's Still Fox

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Glenn Beck's finale yesterday was pretty much what you'd expect: lotsa fond remembrances, beginning with Beck's own version of his "greatest hits" (we much prefer our version,, but you can't please everyone) and wrapping up with a few moments' preachiness and a list of credits on a chalkboard.

Of course, we've already given our thoughts on his exodus, and what more can you say that hasn't already been said -- and said well -- over at Media Matters?

Now, of course, the anticipation will be about seeing how Fox fills his time slot. Will Eric Bolling's months-long audition as someone nuttier and nastier than Glenn Beck finally pan out? Or will Ailes & Co. try to tone it down a bit?

Which only raises the more important point: Beck's show was only the worst of many awful things on Fox. Ultimately far more noxious -- and damaging to democratic discourse -- is the relentless lying and propagandizing that now permeates nearly every corner of the Fox News operation (Shep Smith's show being the lone possible exception).

Beck was especially bad because he so effortlessly transmitted far-right extremist ideas into the mainstream, and on such a massive level. But it still happens elsewhere on Fox. And one of the major effects of these kinds of transmissions -- to alienate ordinary people from factual reality, creating a kind of wedge with the real world, thus priming many of them, particularly those with mental illnesses or violent instabilities, for acting out in extreme and often violent ways -- in fact is also present with "newscasts" that deliberately falsify and distort. Disinformation can radicalize people as surely as conspiracy theories.

That's still very much ongoing at Fox. Beck may be gone, but the beat goes on. And so does the work of people keeping an eye on it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Glenn Beck's Last Fox Show: Our Long National Nightmare Is Finally Over

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

This afternoon, Glenn Beck broadcast his last Fox News show. We'll have some thoughts on the particulars in the morning. Meanwhile, I thought it might be useful to look back on his "greatest hits," as it were, and reflect on the mess he leaves behind:
Now, there are plenty of things to object to about Glenn's trainwreck of a career at Fox, particularly the noxious and yet little-noticed way he almost effortlessly mainstreamed extremist ideas and rhetoric, most recently with his full-bore descent into promoting John Birch Society conspiracism. Undoubtedly, Beck's relentless fearmongering and the vicious eliminationism of his rhetoric were important components of what made Beck so toxic. Media Matters has compiled an impressive list of the "50 Worst Things Glenn Beck Said On Fox News" that gives a pretty good rundown -- but is really only a start.

Ultimately, the worst damage he caused was to the shape of our national discourse -- from all these factors, but especially in the way he wrapped it up in a "zany" morning-zoo-show format, dragging that discourse down to the level of a prearranged pro-wrestling match.
Of course, he's planning to build on his apocalyptic cult, which is a disturbing prospect, no doubt. And Beck has been promising that his plans for Total World Domination will make us whining, mewling liberals "crap ourselves". We tremble in anticipatory fear.

Meanwhile, I'm drinking a nice cold beer and toasting his departure.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Turning Victims Into Perpetrators: Right-Wingers Defend Prosser's Chokehold By Claiming Assaulted Colleague Was The Aggressor

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
Greta Van Susteren already has a record of favoritism when it comes to Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, so it probably wasn't any surprise when she devoted a segment of her show the other night to suggesting loudly that Prosser was being set up by the woman he allegedly tried to throttle, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, as well as the court's Chief Justice, Shirley Abrahamson, whom he has previously attacked verbally as a "total bitch".

Indeed, that's largely a continuation of Van Susteren's previous narrative around Prosser -- namely, that Prosser is the innocent victim of a campaign cooked up against him by conniving feminist justices in Wisconsin. And the heated denials and countercharges coming from Prosser and his many ardent defenders (including the Planet Bizarro that is the Althouseosphere) have certainly played into that narrative.

It's almost as if they're colluding. Van Susteren is promising "more to this story". What's next? Some Breitbartesque e-mail thefts, perhaps? Well, it's their only possible narrative short of abject humiliation, so of course they're sticking to it.

Fox Talkers Dream Up Latino Votes For GOP By Focusing On Obama Immigration Failures -- But Omit Where Republicans Really Stand

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

This discussion on Fox Live the other day caught my attention, mainly because it featured a hopeful discussion by a Latino conservative, the Heritage Foundation's Israel Ortega, who was insisting that Republicans stand a lot to gain in the coming election cycle if they bash President Obama for his manifest failures at passing not just meaningful immigration reform, but even a simple measure like the DREAM Act.

Now, it's certainly true that Obama has abjectly failed on that front. Latinos know it better than anyone. And there's little doubt that pointing that out repeatedly to Latinos will help depress Latino turnout for his re-election.

On the other hand, it's hard to see -- as Ellis Henican gently tried to point out to Ortega -- how Republicans can stand to gain from pointing it out too loudly or too often: After all, it doesn't take much to remind Latinos just why Obama couldn't pass anything: Across-the-board Republican lockstep obstructionism, accompanied by a loud chorus of vicious right-wing Latino-bashing.

I think the Anonymous Radicalized Marginal House Democrat (who is an actual House Democrat) put it about perfectly in his discussion awhile back with the Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist (who is an actual GOP lobbyist) on this very topic:
PSLGOPL asked why "a filibuster proof Senate, bullet proof liberal Majority in the House and a President dedicated to Change" hasn't done anything about "Comprehensive Immigration Reform, or better yet, just the DREAM Act." ARMHD responded:

"Easy: because desperate Republicans two years ago had to swap dog whistles for bull horns to reach their virulent nativist base voters, and now nativism has become a litmus test for Republicans.

"Anti-immigrant groups were building blocks of the Tea Party. Tea Party Republicans foam at the mouth when they have to press one for English.They want to arrest and deport anyone buying Tecate beer with cash at WalMart. It's the culture, stupid.

"Republicans' open bigotry toward Latinos will be more and more of an electoral problem for them, of course, but when their party was in shambles two years ago they weren't thinking about the long run, they had to fire up their base right away, including their crazies...especially their crazies. So the people that Karl Rove tried to keep hidden because he was afraid they would completely creep out soccer moms are front and center.

"The Tea Party has made cowards of Republican politicians who used to hold themselves out as courageous statesmen, or more likely, revealed them to be cowards. The sainted John McCain, who worked with Ted Kennedy on a 'grand bargain' on immigration, beat J.D. Hayworth by making a hard right turn. Remember the 'danged fence' ad?

"Lindsey Graham will be practicing law with Bob Inglis unless he can get way right by 2014. Orrin Hatch and Dick Lugar are in deep trouble. Chuck Grassley is trying to explain that when he called for an 'individual mandate' for health care, he meant an individual mandate to prove citizenship in the emergency room.

"What a bunch of wusses.

"With every Republican opposing reform, whether from conviction or from cowardice, it only took one skittish Democrat to kill anything even in that brief window when Democrats had the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster, and Republicans filibustered everything.

"The good news for Democrats is that the electorate will be browner and browner, Latinos see the anti-immigration rhetoric as thinly veiled appeals to bigotry against them, and Asians and other minority groups are watching it all and wondering whether Republicans really like them any better. So enjoy anti-immigration politics now, PSLGOP, anchor babies will be voting soon, and so will their friends."
Republicans may want to wish away all the ugly rhetoric and right-wing lawmaking directed at Latinos (see the new Alabama laws for the most recent example). Lots of moderate Republicans have tried to point this out too. But they know, too, that bigotry pays dividends -- in the short run. That's what they do it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another Hannity Job: Cued-up Obama Clips Provide Bachmann All The Cover She Needs To Toss Off 'John Wayne' Gaffe

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
Sean Hannity had the excuses all ready-made for Michele Bachmann on his Fox News show last night, cuing up a number of minor verbal gaffes by President Obama as the softball he could lob to Bachmann when he asked her about her idiotic mixup of John Wayne's birthplace while campaigning in Iowa.

That's right: Once again, it's Obama's fault that Michele Bachmann is an idiot.
Perhaps just as noteworthy: Bachmann in fact fails to cop to the fact that she made a stupid mistake at any point. Hannity simply covers for her, saying: "It's obvious you misspoke." So this simply leaves Bachmann free to go on a rant attacking Obama once again.

This is what we call a classic Hannity Job.

I guess this sort of thing goes over well with Republican primary voters. Don't ask me why. They're beyond anything resembling rational human understanding.

Monday, June 27, 2011

CBS' Bob Schieffer Calls Out Bachmann For Her Lies On 'Face The Nation'. She Responds By Prevaricating.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Bob Schieffer interviewed Rep. Michele Bachmann on Face The Nation yesterday and actually tried to pin her down on her many and numerous outright lies, as PolitiFact recently examined in some detail.

And as usual, she did her usual blob-of-mercury routine:
SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you about something else. A lot of your critics say you have been very fast and loose with the truth. You know, the po-- PolitiFact, which is a website that won a Pulitzer, did an analysis of twenty-three statements that you made recently. Of these twenty-three, only one they said was completely true. Seven they call pants on fire kind of falsehoods. Four were barely true and two were half truths. How do you answer that criticism? Because here’s one of them, you know, you said on the record there had been only one offshore oil drilling permit during the Obama administration and, in fact at that time they had been two hundred and seventy. How do you explain that?

BACHMANN: Well, you know, I think that what is clear more than anything is the fact that President Obama does -- has not been issuing the permits, that he should have been issuing on offshore drilling that’s--

SCHIEFFER: Well, it’s more than three hundred now.


SCHIEFFER: At-- at that time there had been two hundred and something. And you said there had been only one.

BACHMANN: But as far as drilling goes, we hadn’t been drilling what we need to-- that’s why we just this week--

SCHIEFFER (overlapping): But that’s different, isn’t it?

BACHMANN: Well, that’s why this week it’s-- it’s ironic and sad that the President released all of the oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve because the President doesn’t have an energy policy.

SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Do you think that was a good move?

BACHMANN: He has a politically correct environmental policy.

SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Was that a good thing?

BACHMANN: It was a very bad move. It put-- it has made the United States more vulnerable. There’s only a limited amount of oil that we have in the Strategic Oil Reserve. It’s there for emergencies. We do not-- the emergency that we have is the fact that -- the fact that-- the President of the United States has failed to give the American people an energy policy. Here’s the good news that a lot of Americans don’t even realize. We are the number one energy resource rich nation in the world according to the Congressional Research Service. But the President of the United States has unfortunately put American energy resources off limits.

SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Did--

BACHMANN: We need to open those up so we can bring down the price of gasoline at the pump. The President has it exactly wrong when it comes to energy.

SCHIEFFER Just quickly though, the-- the original question I asked you is all of these statements that you have made that have later proven to be sort of true or-- or totally false in some cases, what is your answer when people say that to you? Do you feel you have misled people?

BACHMANN: No, I haven’t misled people at all. I think the question would be asked of President Obama. When you told the American people that if we borrow a trillion dollars from other countries and spend it on a stimulus that we won’t have unemployment go above eight percent and today as we are sitting here, it’s 9.1 percent and the economy is tanking. That is what’s serious. That’s a very serious statement that the President made. Did he mislead the American people? Not only did he mislead the American people, he’s caused our economy to go down to--

SCHIEFFER (overlapping): All right.

BACHMANN: --depths that we haven’t seen. That’s what’s serious.

SCHIEFFER: Again, I have to say congresswoman, I asked you a question and you-- you, to my knowledge I don’t believe you answered it, but I want to thank you.
Indeed, Bachmann simply would not answer any of Schieffer's points about her mounting record of falsehoods, trying instead to "pivot" the interview and make it about Obama's supposed misleading statements. It's like trying to talk to a trained robot, programmed never to admit to anything like lying -- so of course, it lies in order to do so.