Posts Tagged ‘Fox News’

Fox News changes its mind about the virus

March 18, 2020

I don’t know the reason for the sudden about-face by Fox News personalities on the coronavirus crisis.  Maybe a member of the Murdoch family, which owns the Fox network, laid down the law.   Or maybe they all changed when President Trump changed the party line.

I have to say that Tucker Carlson has been the honorable exception to this, as he has on other things, such as the Mideast war.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad of the change.  Fox News has been a major source of misinformation and a major impediment to dealing with the pandemic.


Fox News Moves Closer to the Truth as COVID-19 Crisis Deepens by Jason Kottke for

‘Dishonesty Is Always an Indicator of Weakness’: Tucker Carlson on How He Brought the Coronavirus Message to Mar-a-Lago in Vanity Fair.

‘We have a responsibility’: Fox News declares a crisis in abrupt U-turn by Adam Gabbatt for The Guardian.

Fox News Is Taking Coronavirus More Seriously, But Is Still Unserious by Jamil Smith for Rolling Stone.

The real question about U.S. election hacking

June 16, 2017

The important question about computer hacking of the American voting system is not:

  • Is there evidence that Russian computer hackers interfered with the 2016 presidential election?

The important question is:

  • Can the American voting system be hacked?

Because if the American voter registration rolls or vote counting systems are vulnerable to outside interference, sooner or later somebody is going to interfere.

It may be Russian agents.  It may be agents of some other foreign country.   It may be unscrupulous American political operatives or special interests.  But somebody will do it.

POLITICO magazine recently reported that last August, Logan Lamb, a 29-year-old cybersecurity specialist, accidentally gained access to the voting records and systems for the whole state of Georgia.   He reported the problem to the proper authorities, but was brushed off.

Bloomberg News reported that investigators said that, prior to the 2016 election, Russians gained access to voter databases and software systems in 39 states, including software designed to be used by poll watchers and, in one state, a campaign finance data base.

There is no evidence that 2016 election results were actually changed, according to Bloomberg.  Whatever happened may have been a training exercise for a future operation.

Vladimir Putin, in his interviews with Oliver Stone for a soon-to-be-released movie, accused the United States of interfering in Russian elections.  Putin denied allegations of Russian hacking, but, when asked whether there is a secret U.S.-Russian cyber war, he said that for every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction, which sounds like a semi-admission.


The passing scene – links & comments 10/21/2015

October 21, 2015

The Secret to Winning the Nobel Peace Prize: Keep the U.S. military out by Rebecca Gordon for TomDispatch.

Tunisia was the one country where the Arab Spring movement succeeded.  Four Tunisian organizations devoted to human rights deservedly won the latest Nobel Peace Prize.

Tunisia was the one country in which the U.S. government did not interfere, either militarily or politically, and it is the one country where the Arab Spring movement resulted in a stable, democratic government.

Rebecca Gordon, after reviewing U.S. policy in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Syria, concludes that this is not a coincidence.  There’s a lesson to be learned here.

Obama Just Signed a Blank Check for Endless War in Afghanistan by John Nichols for The Nation.

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, says it’s time to repeal the open-ended 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force and have Congress decide whether to continue military intervention in Afghanistan and other countries.

How Credit Scores Treat People Like Numbers by Frank Pasquale for The Atlantic.

I commented on how Chinese credit card companies and maybe the Chinese government are linking all kinds of human behaviors to credit scores, and how this can be a subtle means of suppressing nonconformity.  Well, it seems the same thing is going on in the United States—maybe not with that conscious intent, but with the same result.


The passing scene – August 11, 2015

August 11, 2015

The Artful Puppet Master by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.  How Fox News managed the Republican debate so as to minimize political damage to the GOP.

Game of Groans: How Focus on Trump Taunts Hides GOP War on Middle Class, Workers by Juan Cole for Informed Comment.

Get Ready for Scott Walker … and the Ruthless Politics of Walkerism by John Nichols for The Nation.

The United States Infrastructure Is Failing Dramatically But No One Is Paying Attention by Kendyl Kearly for Bustle.

Employee or contractor? Labor seeks to clarify rules by Christopher H. Rugiber for the Associated Press.

You Can Bet on These Racetrack Workers to Fight for a Raise From Their Billionaire Boss by Bruce Vail for In These Times.  (Bill Harvey)  Union organizing at Pimlico racetrack.

Why the GOP will never completely collapse

August 10, 2015

A Democratic friend of mine, watching the Republican debate on Fox News, said he enjoys watching the Republican Party collapse.

So do I.  I’ve watched the Republican Party collapse many times.  I watched it collapse under George W. Bush.  I watched it collapse under the leadership of Newt Gingrich.  I watched it collapse after the Watergate scandals.  I watched it collapse under the candidacy of Barry Goldwater.

But somehow it always keeps coming back.

As long that Americans are locked into a two-party system, both legally and psychologically, then neither political party is ever going to collapse for good.

There will always come a time when voters are fed up with the incumbent party.  Then they will turn to an alternative.  If there is only one alternative, that is the one they will choose.

If you really want the Republican Party to disappear – or the Democratic Party, for that matter – then work to change U.S. political system to allow for more than one opposition party.

Fox affiliate faked ‘kill a cop’ video

December 25, 2014

I think Fox News over the year has done more to stir up racial conflict than peaceful protesters ever have.

Why we shouldn’t panic about Ebola (yet)

October 18, 2014

I almost never watch Fox News, but I think this is a sensible and factual report.

While I as an individual am not fearful of the Ebola virus, I believe that my government and the rest of the world’s governments need to take action against the spread of this virus, and to be prepared for the emergence of new mutant diseases that are immune to our drugs and treatments.

I think we Americans need to do better in making sure our hospitals are prepared for such emergencies.  I think we should help poor countries maintain good sanitation and public health services, rather than siding with banks and international organizations who demand that public services be sacrificed so debt could be collected.

If nothing is done, someday there will be reason for Americans to panic, but that day is not here.

Bill O’Reilly wants anti-terror mercenary army

September 25, 2014


The above is from Bill O’Reilly’s Monday evening appearance on Fox News. Source: Media Matters.


The above is from O’Reilly’s Tuesday morning appearance on CBS News.  Source: Daily Kos.


For what it’s worth, the United States government already has an elite force for fighting terrorists.  It is called the Joint Special Operations Command.  Whatever can be accomplished through valor, training and military professionalism, they can do.

The problem is that if the U.S. government does not have a clear purpose in waging war, American troops can not accomplish that vague purpose, no matter how dedicated they are nor how skilled in use of deadly force.

The “global war on terror” does not have a clear purpose.  The U.S. government fights against certain terrorists under certain circumstances in the interest of advancing U.S. geopolitical power, while supporting other terrorists (and sometimes the same terrorists) when this fits the U.S. purpose.

Outsourcing U.S. military operations to mercenaries—and the dictionary definition of “mercenary” is “serving merely for pay or sordid advantage”—is intended to solve a political and Constitutional problem, not a military problem.

The political problem is that we the American people are not interested in fighting wars of geopolitical advantage.  We are only willing to fight when we think our own country is threatened.

Terrorism is not such a threat.  We Americans (and the world) are more in danger from the Ebola virus than we are from the Islamic States and its predecessors.  That is why our government has had to lie and exaggerate our perils in order to talk us into war.  Each time, the lies and exaggerations become less believable.

With a mercenary army, the political problem goes away.  Mercenaries would fight whomever they are paid to fight, no questions asked.  The drawback is that they wouldn’t necessarily be American citizens or have any loyalty to the United States.

We would face the historical problem of countries that depend on mercenary fighters, which is how to prevent mercenaries from turning against their employers when that is the more profitable option.

LINK [added later]

10 Frightening Facts About Private Military Companies by Pauli Poisuo for ListVerse.   Hat tip to djgarcia94.

Fox News secret offer to General Petreaus

December 26, 2012

Back in 2011, when David Petreaus was being considered as the new head of the CIA, an emissary from Roger Aiiles of Fox News called to urge him to run for President instead. She promised Petraeus the full backing of Fox News, and said Ailes would be willing to be his campaign director.

I know about this because I came across an article written by Bob Woodward of the Washington Post on Dec. 4. The on-line version of the article has audio of the actual conversation. But the article ran in the Post’s Style section, as if it were just a bit of interesting celebrity gossip.

For me, the article is much more significant, especially for what it says about the journalistic standards of Fox News. It is one thin to present the news from an avowedly conservative, or liberal, point of view. It is another to try to play kingmaker and put yourself in the bag for a particular candidate.

Fox footage shows palm trees in Wisconsin

March 2, 2011

Fox News reporter Mike Tobin in this Feb. 28 newscast complains about Wisconsin protesters with signs saying “Fox News lies.”  But then at the end of the segment, Fox shows protesters pushing and shoving, against a background with palm trees.  Evidently they took some footage from a California protest to make the Madison, Wis., protesters, who so far have been orderly and law-abiding, appear more rowdy than they are.

Fast-forward to 1:40 if you just want to see the palm trees.

Tobin sees something suspicious in “professional-looking” signs – which anybody these days can have made up at a Kinko’s store or its equivalent.

Exit Juan Williams

October 26, 2010

I don’t think any journalist or academic who is doing a good job should be fired for making a single offensive statement, however stupid.  In most cases, though, the statement that gets the person fired is not the real reason, but a last straw coming after a whole lot of other things.

One example is Lawrence Summers, who was fired as president of Harvard University after saying that women may have genetic limitations that keep them from the highest level of achievement in mathematics.  This came after he had antagonized just about every major constituency in the Harvard academic community.  Casey Stengel is supposed to have said that the secret of management is to keep the players who hate you away from the ones who haven’t made up their minds.  Summers hadn’t learned that lesson.  If he had, I think the controversy over his remark would have been allowed to blow over.

Some people seem to be able to get away with anything, and others lose their jobs over the least little thing.  In most cases, the difference has to do with their relative value to their employers.  There are exceptions.  Phil Donahue’s morning show was canceled by MSNBC in 2003, despite its being MSNBC’s highest rated show, because he was critical of President Bush.


Juan Williams

In the case of Juan Williams being fired by National Public Radio, the occasion for his firing was his statement to Bill O’Reilly on Fox News about how fear of people in “Muslim garb” was understandable.  I believe the underlying reason was the conflict of interest between his role as an anchor for NPR and his role as a commentator for Fox.  He took his credentials based on NPR’s reputation for objectivity and professionalism, and put them at the service of Fox News’ inflammatory propaganda aimed at stirring up ethnic and religious conflict.  NPR could have have tolerated this situation indefinitely.  Williams had to choose whether to be a journalist for NPR or a token liberal for Fox, and he chose the more lucrative option.

NPR put itself in a bad light in the knee-jerk way it responded to Williams’ statement.  It would have been smarter and classier to have quietly declined to renew his contract the next time it came up.  But I don’t think NPR would have acted as it did if management were not already displeased with Williams’ role on Fox.


Muslim garb

October 24, 2010

[10/24/10] Ex-NPR commentator Juan Williams last week commented as follows on Fox News.

I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous. Now, I remember also that when the Times Square bomber was at court, I think this was just last week. He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts.

Click on Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things or look below to see pictures of people in Muslim garb.


Republican presidential candidate quiz

October 20, 2010

Which of the following potential Republican presidential candidates is different from the others?

Newt Gingrich, disgraced former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas.

Mitt Romney, fomer Governor of Massachusetts.

Sarah Palin, former half-term Governor of Alaska.

Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania.


Fox News, lies and videotape

July 24, 2010

Andrew Breitbart

Most journalists remember Janet Cooke, the Washington Post reporter, who in 1980 wrote a fake story about an 8-year-old heroin addict.  We also remember Stephen Glass, who wrote fake articles for The New Republic in the mid-1990s and Jason Blair, who did the same in the New York Times.

They all have one thing in common – that they all were fired, and will never work again for a reputable publication.  In Jason Blair’s case, the editors who hired him went down with him.

It’s another story Andrew Breitbart of Fox News.  The only price he will pay for his transparent lies about Shirley Sherrod is a non-apology apology, and a resolution to stick to more plausible falsehoods in the future.

For those who don’t know, Shirley Sherrod is a 62-year-old black woman who works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  She grew up in rural Georgia; when she was 17, her father was murdered by a white man who was never tried for the crime.  She gave a speech to the NAACP about how she had overcome her bad feelings about white people, and come to the realization that poor whites and blacks are the same and equally deserve help.

Brietbart aired a videotape of the speech doctored to make it appear that she thought only blacks, not whites, deserved help.  The Obama administration immediately fired her, only to apologize the next day when the full videotape was aired and the truth was known.

Brietbart’s mistake was to air a lie that could be so easily checked.  In the case of James O’Keefe’s faked tapes of the community organization ACORN, which make it appear ACORN employees gave aid and comfort to a pimp, it took a number of weeks to uncover the truth.  By that time the damage was done, and the truth never was able to catch up with the lie.  ACORN lost its funding and most people believe the original false story.

The same pattern holds for the so-called “climategate” scandal, the Obama administration’s alleged dropping of a Black Panther voter intimidation case and many others.  By the time the charge is proved to be without any basis, the public and the press have lost interest.

Rupert Murdoch

The real responsibility for all this does not lie with Brietbart, nor with Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.  The responsibility lies with Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp., the parent corporation.  He could have devoted Fox News and his other radio-TV and newspaper outlets to reputable journalism.  He has made a deliberate choice to renounced journalistic standards and appeal to prejudice to further his right-wing agenda.

This does enormous harm.  How many lives might have been saved in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for example, if National Guard troops hadn’t held back on going in because of lying reports looters were shooting at rescuers and the city had become like Somalia?

I don’t wish harm to anyone, but Rupert Murdoch is an old man, and I hope his heirs think about their family’s reputation in history.