Saturday, February 05, 2011

Camille Grammer touches on Fox's toxic effects on our personal lives

-- by Dave

Normally I'm about as interested in Hollywood divorces as I am in grass-growing competitions and NASCAR, but I thought Camille Grammer's dissing of her ex-husband, wingnut actor Kelsey Grammer, was interesting for what it said about the state of our national discourse and how that filters down into our private lives and personal relationships.

Camille Grammer, interviewed early this week on Joy Behar's HNN show, indicated early on that she and her now-ex-husband no longer saw eye-to-eye politically. And that seemed to be part of a larger drifting apart in the relationship, because they no longer had sex, either:
BEHAR: Was it his fault or your fault or both?

GRAMMER: It could be both, but it was more on his end.

BEHAR: More on his end?


BEHAR: OK, well then again, good to be rid of him.

GRAMMER: [Laughs] You know. I miss intimacy. I think that's a really important part of a marriage, is to be intimate with your partner. And we didn't really have that.

BEHAR: It really is nice. But cuddling is fun.

GRAMMER: Oh, I love cuddling.

BEHAR: You didn't do that.

GRAMMER: He was too busy watching Fox News. He didn't want to cuddle.

BEHAR: Well, there's a real turn-on.

Of course, when Fox's Bret Baier ran an item on this yesterday -- minus any video -- he was properly appalled: "Fox News has been blamed for a lot of thing, but this probably takes the cake."

And on the superficial level of Hollywood divorces, it would be silly indeed to read too much into this. It is, after all, purely anecdotal evidence from a single relationship.

Nevertheless, the general phenomenon she's describing is a dynamic I believe has been repeated on a massive scale over the past decade and more: friendships, family relationships, marriages and other close personal relationships soured because one of the two people involved has become a fanatical devotee of movement conservatism, particularly through the cultlike auspices of talk radio and Fox News TV -- and the other person in the relationship does not.

We've all encountered it: former college pals, or hometown buds, or old flames, or coworkers, or brothers-in-law, or grandfathers -- all convinced now that you've become a bad person because you're aiding and abetting those evil liberals in their attempt to destroy America. And what happens on an interpersonal scale is often ugly. It happens at Thanksgiving tables, at weddings and family reunions, when you go home to visit and see your old friends, or at work with people you've been friends with for years.

There are several reasons for it. The first is that the relentless message of the right-wing talkers, whether at Fox or on the radio, is simple and unmistakable: Liberals are bad people, sick in their souls, and they want to destroy America and your way of life. Day and day out, that's the message the True Believers get. And boy, do they believe it.

The second is that, as Nicole reported awhile back, it's been definitively established that Fox News watchers are deliberately malinformed -- that is, they believe a broad array of things that are factually untrue, but have been told by Fox News that they are true:

Fox News is deliberately misinforming its viewers and it is doing so for a reason. Every issue above is one in which the Republican Party had a vested interest. The GOP benefited from the ignorance that Fox News helped to proliferate.

As we've explained on many occasions, this kind of rhetoric alienates people from reality -- including the people who choose to live in that reality. By functionally unhinging people -- there is no other way to describe the effect of persuading people to believe, doggedly and unshakably, in things that are provably untrue, even in the fact of irrevocable factual evidence -- it serves to drive a real wedge between them and everyone else, while conversely forging powerful bonds with the like-minded.

Finally, it must be understood that the mission of both Fox News and talk radio is not merely to propagandize with disinformation, but also to inflame. This is why conspiracy theories -- which, functionally speaking, are narratives intended to induce simultaneous feelings of powerlessness and paranoia -- abound on Fox News. There's no one quite as congenitally angry as a congenital Fox Watcher.

No wonder Grammer didn't want to snuggle. What Fox News does is make people want to go out and beat up liberals. As Joy Behar says: What a turn-on, eh?

This isn't a problem just affecting Hollywood marriages. It's affecting millions of personal relationships, and in a decidedly poisonous way. Fox News, as Bill O'Reilly likes to say about the "far left," really is bad for America -- bad for our politics, bad for national discourse, and really, really bad for our friendships and family ties, the very real fabric of our society.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Friday, February 04, 2011

Hannity and Bozell bash media -- especially Chris Matthews -- for insufficient fearmongering over Egypt

-- by Dave

The right-wing Media Research Center's Brent Bozell was on Sean Hannity's Fox News show last night to talk about how horrible the American media have been in covering the situation in Egypt. How have they been horrible? Why, apparently because they aren't being sufficiently Becklike in fearmongering over an imminent radical Islamist takeover:

BOZELL: What happens when the government crumbles? What happens when this country is reduced to utter anarchy? What happens when the killings begin and the death begins? Are they still going to credit Barack Obama's soaring oratory for that, or are they going to separate them? What happens if an Islamic caliphate takes over? Are they going to credit his soaring oratory at that point? No they won't.

And what happens, Brent Bozell, if the government remains standing but reconstitutes itself as a democratic republic? What happens when the violence subsides? Will you and Hannity be going on the air and abjectly apologizing to your audiences and the American public and President Obama and to your media colleagues for needlessly fearmongering and spreading panic?

Um, no. You won't.

But Bozell reserved his special reservoir of venom for Chris Matthews, who dared compare the Muslim Brotherhood to the Tea Party. This, of course, made Hannity's an Bozell's collective pea-sized brains explode:

BOZELL: Look, I listen to Chris Matthews and I have two reactions to that. My first reaction is, 'Let's put aside civility for just a minute and to say, I'm just so sick and tired of these disgusting, horrible, despicable attacks, I'm going to slug you and deck you one of these days.'

But that's wrong. That's the wrong reaction. The right reaction is to listen to him, and to listen to him clearly, and just start laughing at the guy.

Look, if a meteor came out of the heavens and hit New York City, he would blame the Tea Party for it. He would blame Michele Bachmann for it.

HANNITY: No. He would probably blame George W. Bush or Sarah Palin. Let's be honest.

BOZELL: Yeah, but if it hit Fox News, he would say it's OK.

Yeah, and if it his NBC News instead, Bozell and Hannity would say it was OK.

Especially because we know that "first reaction" is, for right-wing clowns like these two, the one we're going to get most of the time. Especially when it's being encouraged by top-tier pundits on a cable network with an audience of millions.

Oh, but if a liberal protester is overheard saying nasty things, why, that's proof positive that it's the "left" that cannot be civil.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Beck wonders about his Egypt/China/New Zealand/Europe theory: 'Is it so farfetched, really?' Um, yeah, it is.

--by Dave

Glenn Beck seems to be a little nonplussed that everyone is pointing and laughing at his typically GlennBeckian apocalyptic conspiracist take on the events in Egypt.

On his Fox News show yesterday he basically doubled down:

They were reacting with surprise afterwards, you know, like what? I've never heard that. Because she's 100 percent wrong.

First of all, that's not the network's theory. That's not Fox's theory. That's my theory. My theory. And it's not Van Jones or anything else.

Let me ask you this, let's start here. Since when is having a theory when you're trying to figure out what's going on a bad thing in America?

And it's really less theory than it is facts in their own words. But, just in case, let me show you what my "theory" is. And I stand by it. Everybody on the left, this is my theory and I stand by every word of it.

Groups from the hardcore socialists and communist left and extreme Islam will work together because of the common enemy of Israel and the Jews.

It's not just capitalism, it's not the United States, it's your way of life in the West. And I stand by that.

Groups from the hardcore socialist left and communism and extreme Islam will work together to overturn relatively -- relative stability because in the status quo, they are both ostracized from power and the mainstream in most parts of the world.

That's -- here, I'll even put it up for you -- Glenn's theory. Here it is. Got it?

That's it and I stand by it. Is it so farfetched, really?


This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Dick Morris thinks Obama administration should back Mubarak and his thugs, 'aggressively confront' protesters

-- by Dave

Dick Morris has always given me the creeps, because he just gives off this nasty toe-sucking-troll-who-lives-under-the-bridge vibe. I guess after last night, we can make that a fascist toe-sucking troll:

MORRIS: I think that what Mubarak should be doing and what the Obama administration should be doing is aggressively confronting the demonstrators. I think that if we encourage the military to stand down, if we encourage the Mubarak supporters to refrain from controversy or even from violence, we really are opening the door to Islamic fundamentalist domination.

That was Morris describing why President Obama is really to blame for the crisis in Egypt to Laura Ingraham last night on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor. Notice that Morris couches the words so that he's not directly calling for the American administration to engage in acts of violence, but he does clearly say we should openly condone and support a dictator's street thugs in committing acts of violence.

This came as part of Morris' ongoing campaign to claim the President Obama "lost Egypt", or as he put it last night, Obama "broke Egypt, and now he owns it" -- a claim that seems to be gaining some circulation at Fox, which is increasingly desperate for anything, anything it can grasp for attacking Obama in this situation.

Even Dick Morris's disgusting grunts from under the bridge.

Todd Gregory at Media Matters has more.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Bully BillO comes out to smack Colmes for daring to suggest liberals don't hate America

-- by Dave

Now here's an irony: Bill O'Reilly accusing Al Jazeera of being anti-Semitic because it includes guests who clearly fit that description. Meanwhile, the Glenn Beck Anti-Semitic Elephant in the room goes politely ignored.

Of course, what this was really about was, once again, right-wing Fox talkers like O'Reilly and Monica Crowley using unrest abroad as a way to smear liberal Americans as insufficiently patriotic. And so when Alan Colmes called them out for it, his reward was to get the BillO the Bully Full-On Nasty treatment.

It happened last night on O'Reilly's opening "Talking Points Memo" segment:

"Talking Points" could provide hundreds of examples of anti-Semitism and "hate America" rhetoric displayed on Al Jazeera, the network Sam Donaldson admires.

And he's not alone. Here's what Brian Stelter wrote in The New York Times on Tuesday: "As recently as Friday, the conservative Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly branded Al Jazeera as 'anti-America.' … But that view has been largely drowned out by people like [Sam] Donaldson who have hoisted up Al Jazeera English for its protest coverage."

Totally absurd. Any fair-minded person who follows Al Jazeera knows it is anti-American and anti-Semitic. Only on the far left can it find acceptance.

Sure. And it's true that it's there are many examples of anti-Semitic guests on Al Jazeera -- just as it's true that Fox has had on its airwaves a broad assortment of nativists and other far-right extremists over the years as well.

But even more important, one of Fox News' leading anchors -- and a frequent onstage and on-air cohort of O'Reilly's -- is under siege from Jewish rabbis outraged by Beck's anti-Semitic slurs of George Soros and his obscene overuse of Nazi and Holocaust comparisons and metaphors.

Oh well. That -- like any criticism of the network at all -- is NEVER mentioned at Fox.

Because as the segment that followed with Colmes and Crowley amply demonstrated, this was less about bashing Al Jazeera and was really all about bashing liberals -- as Crowley made explicit. And that set off the fireworks:

CROWLEY: Well, I -- I don't want to attribute this directly to Sam Donaldson but I would say to make a broader point that the far left in this country is essentially anti-American.

COLMES: Oh please, now that's disgusting.

CROWLEY: They are -- and so a lot of their -- a lot of their philosophy.


COLMES: That's disgusting. That's sickening.

CROWLEY: I'm not saying you, Colmes, I'm saying the broader far left has an anti-American agenda that in many ways dovetails…


COLMES: Who, who? Tell me who? Who on the left?

CROWLEY: …with the kind of reporting -- reporting that we see come out of Al Jazeera.

O'REILLY: She's saying the far left.

COLMES: Who? Who? Who are you calling anti-American? I'm so tired of people calling people on my side anti-American.


O'REILLY: Are you a far-left guy?

COLMES: I don't know. You have called me that.

O'REILLY: Sometimes your positions are far left.

COLMES: All right, fine. But am I anti-American?

O'REILLY: I don't think you're anti-American. But certainly the far left is taking anti-American positions.

COLMES: But look, but let's stop this name-calling. Let's stop demonizing anybody you don't agree with and call them anti-American.

O'REILLY: I just ran a "Talking Points Memo" that backed up, all right, with four specific things that this is an anti-Semitic, anti-American network and I could do 40 of them.

COLMES: But you said those were people on the network as guests.


O'REILLY: There is no counter. Why don't you grasp this? I'm getting a little mad at you. Grasp this! There is no counter on it, you got it? There is no counter on it!

COLMES: Yes, I hear what you say. It's free speech.

O'REILLY: So it's this, yes, it's free speech. Shouldn't be praised by a pinhead like Donaldson.

Nor should O'Reilly's speech be praised ... by anyone. Smearing, lying, and bullying should get you removed from the airwaves, not enshrined as one of cable's most prominent anchors.

Memo to BillO: There is a big "counter" hanging around your neck. And his name is Glenn Beck.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Right-wingers don't care if Planned Parenthood video was already exposed as a hoax -- they'll do it live!

-- by Dave

It tells you just how degraded our national discourse has become -- how utterly corrupted by the Fox Propaganda Channel it has been -- that two of its leading anchors can run an entire segment legitimizing a hoax video tape, even though its contents were exposed as a hoax even before they were released. And no one even so much as raises an eyebrow.

That's what happened last night on The O'Reilly Factor, when Bill O'Reilly and Fox's John Stossel devoted an entire segment to attacking Planned Parenthood as "disgusting" for the supposed behavior revealed in another Breitbartesque attack by video hoax on another liberal institution.

O'Reilly and Stossel, however, then use the affair to launch into attacking Planned Parenthood for receiving taxpayer subsidies -- and that really is what they're on about. Interestingly, Stossel uses the logic that because some people see abortion as murder, they are being forced to underwrite murder in their views -- a position O'Reilly ardently adopts as well.

Peculiar that neither of them apply the same logic elsewhere: Many people see killing innocent civilians in the course of a war as murder too -- something our tax dollars likewise heavily underwrite. But you'll never see an O'Reilly segment attacking taxpayer funding for the DoD.

But what's truly disgraceful that they then dismiss the overwhelming fact that Planned Parenthood had already reported these "sex traffickers" to authorities -- thereby exposing the hoax in progress. Here's their release of last week:

Last week, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) alerted federal authorities to a potential multistate sex trafficking ring. Over a five day period, visitors to Planned Parenthood health centers in six states said they were seeking information from Planned Parenthood about health services Planned Parenthood could provide to underage girls who were part of a sex trafficking ring. Subsequent to alerting U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Planned Parenthood learned the identify of one of those involved and believes these visits are likely a hoax by opponents of legal abortion seeking to discredit Planned Parenthood, which delivers preventive health care and abortion services to three million women each year.

Media Matters has the full details of the hoax.

Yet, in spite of all this, when Lila Rose and Co. published the video yesterday, it was widely treated through Unsurprisingly, the wingnutosphere ran whole-hog in embracing the video as legitimate, including the fine folks at National Review, RedState and Malkin's Hot Air.

Moreover, as Ned Resnikoff at Media Matters explored in some detail, Rose's video actually pretty clearly demonstrates the falsity of what she claims it shows:

In a so-called "sting" video professional hit artist Lila Rose claims to have uncovered evidence of systemic corruption within Planned Parenthood to cover up "child sex trafficking." Not only do Planned Parenthoods recent actions flatly contradict that claim -- so does the content of the video itself.

In fact, even if we were to assume that Rose's heavily edited smear job is accurate - and there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical - the video very clearly establishes that the alleged wrongdoing is counter to Planned Parenthood policy: the employee on Rose's tape makes it clear that the actions in question would have to be concealed from others at the organization.

You can judge for yourself. Here's the video:

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People for the American Way also has a terrific rundown of the facts:

Anti-abortion activist Lila Rose, a photogenic young activist who Religious Right leaders hope to make the new face of the anti-abortion movement, claims that the video Religious Right groups are circulating “proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Planned Parenthood intentionally breaks state and federal laws and covers up the abuse of young girls it claims to serve.” False. In fact, far from proving a pattern of illegal activity, the Live Action project demonstrated that Planned Parenthood has strong institutional procedures in place to protect young women. When Live Action activists appeared at numerous facilities presenting themselves as seeking help with a child sex trafficking ring, Planned Parenthood wrote to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder requesting an FBI investigation. Live Action attempted its “sting” across the country; the one Planned Parenthood staffer who violated those procedures and is featured in Live Action’s video was fired.

There's a lot more on Rose's background there as well.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Planet Beck nears critical mass with wingnutty theory about Egypt uprising,

-- by Dave

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Like Steve Benen, I'm beginning to wonder if our favorite Big-Time Wingnuts are about to implode under the critical mass of their own overpowering wingnuttery. It seem as though Sarah Palin's bizarre "WTF" rant of the other night -- while not particularly spectacular in the context of a political career rich with embarrassing moments -- may have been the pebble that finally tipped even her reflexive defenders in the other direction. (You sure can't find anyone outside of Planet Palin who will defend it.)

Then there's Glenn Beck in the past couple of days. Conor Friedersdorf's reaction reflected the consensus: "the fact that Roger Ailes and his associates air this kind of nonsense –couched in these kinds of assurances! – is indefensible." As Benen says:

Over the last year or so, Fox News' Glenn Beck has lost about a third of his audience, which is a pretty significant drop, and may very well lead the deranged media personality to think of ways to bring viewers back.

One way, for example, may be for Beck to be even more creative when sharing crazy visions of global affairs. Yesterday, the strange man did his best to explain events in Egypt with a take that really has to be seen to be believed. Chris Hayes called it "a tour de force of paranoid ignorance," which sums it up nicely.

As you can see, all he's really doing is reinforcing what even some of Beck's Believers are now beginning to realize: that he's an ignoramus peddling cockamamie conspiracy theories with no regard to facts or truthfulness.

You see, Beck believes that events in Egypt are the culmination of conspiratorial forces he's been railing about for some time now -- essentially revolving around an obscure book by French anarchists that nobody is actually reading, The Coming Insurrection.

Basically, Beck foresees a Middle Eastern "Caliphate" overtaking Europe and China controlling big chunks of new territory, all fueled by a "Marxist" and "Islamist" conspiracy:
I believe that I can make a case in the end that there are three powers that you will see really emerge. One, a Muslim caliphate that controls the Mideast and parts of Europe. Two, China, that will control Asia, the southern half of Africa, part of the Middle East, Australia, maybe New Zealand, and God only knows what else. And Russia, which will control all of the old former Soviet Union bloc, plus maybe the Netherlands. I'm not really sure. But their strong arm is coming. That leaves us and South America. What happens to us?

Then Beck went on Bill O'Reilly's show and explained the nutshell version:

BECK: No, I think we're actually possibly the witnessing Archduke Ferdinand moment. Archduke Ferdinand was the guy who was killed -- shot, a few months later started the First World War. I think we're in real danger.


BECK: I understand that, but what you're not taking into account is that that is what the average person thinks, just like the average person on the street of -- of Cairo thinks they're swept up in some freedom movement. It is not about freedom. It is being orchestrated by the Marxists, communists and primarily also the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sean Easter and Todd Gregory at Media Matters have a thorough roundup of the madness, and conclude by observing:

All of this was offered up in service of his theory that the protests in Egypt are the manifestation of The Coming Insurrection, an obscure book that French police believe was written by a member of a small group of anarchists. Beck has repeatedly described the anonymous author (or authors) of the book as "communists." He's tied George Soros and President Obama to The Coming Insurrection, as well.

So, a diverse group of the Egyptian people are in the streets protesting an autocratic leader, and Glenn Beck has decided that this is directly connected to an anonymously written anarchist tract from France that he's been obsessing about for the past two years?

Normally, we are in the business of debunking the falsehoods and smears that Beck promotes. But how do you debunk pronouncements that quite obviously bear no relationship to reality?

The real question is: Why would anyone ever take this man seriously on any subject?

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]