Earlier in the year when it was announced that Sarah Palin would be joining Fox News as a contributor, the former half-term Alaska Governor was quoted as saying, "I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News...It's wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news."
Then on March 2, during Jay Leno's first week back at the helm of NBC's Tonight Show, Palin appeared as a guest. Responding to Leno's question about having joined the media -- i.e. Fox News -- Palin said (emphasis added):
"I had studied journalism...my college degree there in communications and now I am back there wanting to build some trust back in our media. I think that the mainstream media is quite broken and I think that there needs to be the fairness, the balance in there...that's why I joined Fox."
"Those years ago that I studied journalism, it was all about the who, what, where, when and why. It was not so much the opinion interjected in hard news stories. So, I would like to see, in order to build trust in the media, because it is a cornerstone of our democracy, Americans deserve to have more of that factual fairness."
If Palin did join Fox News to "build some trust back in the media" harkening back to the good old days when reports were "not so much the opinion interjected in hard news stories," then why does she spend so much time on what Fox News describes as its "opinion" programs?
According to a quick Nexis search, Palin has appeared on the following Fox News "opinion" shows since joining the network:
1/12/2010 - The O'Reilly Factor
1/13/2010 - Glenn Beck
1/14/2010 - Hannity
1/19/2010 - On the Record with Greta Van Susteren
1/20/2010 - The O'Reilly Factor
1/20/2010 - Hannity
1/27/2010 - Hannity
1/27/2010 - On the Record with Greta Van Susteren
1/28/2010 - On the Record with Greta Van Susteren
2/16/2010 - The O'Reilly Factor
2/25/2010 - Hannity
Don't get me wrong, I don't for a second buy the idea that there is a distinction between what Fox News purports to be its "news" and "opinion" programming, but the conservative network certainly makes that case, without much to show in terms of evidence, at every turn.
The latest Newsweek has a friendly Liz Cheney profile, coming in the wake of the "shameful" attack she helped orchestrate last week against the "Al Qaeda Seven" DOJ attorneys. The thrust of the Newsweek article is that the controversy, which sparked a backslash among conservatives, had been a boon for Cheney politically, as she ponders possibly running for public office.
According to Newsweek, the "Al Qaeda Seven" attack "may have only turbocharged" her fledgling political career.
But where was Newsweek's proof that Cheney's attack campaign paid off for her politically? That it had "turbocharged" her standing? After all, Cheney doesn't represent any constituents. She's not running for office. She's not out raising money. Basically, her job is to go on TV and say mean things about Democrats. So how do journalists quantify her ups and downs. How do they determine if last week her career was "turbocharged"?
Here's Newsweek [emphasis added]:
Cheney's aides could barely contain their glee last week at the ruckus they had stirred up. "For $1,000, we've driven the debate for over a week," said one political adviser, who asked not to be identified because the group, co-led by conservative commentator Bill Kristol, wanted to speak only through official statements. Or as one of Liz Cheney's biggest fans, Rush Limbaugh, put it on his radio show: "It sure as hell got everybody's attention, didn't it?"
Oh, I see, Cheney's aides told Newsweek the "Al Qaeda Seven" ad had been a homerun, so the weekly reported that as fact. Seems a bit fishy to me.
UPDATED: Note that in the lede, Newsweek portrays Cheney as being on a roll.
When the Republican Jewish Coalition hosted its annual winter conference at Las Vegas's splashy Palazzo hotel earlier this month, party luminaries such as Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham showed up to hobnob with some of the GOP's most generous donors. But the guest who seemed to excite the audience the most was a diminutive, former mid-level State Department official who has never held elected office. Introduced by Miriam Adelson, wife of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Elizabeth Cheney delivered a rousing attack on Barack Obama's foreign policy that won her a standing ovation. It was an impressive performance by Cheney, a policy wonk, law-school grad, and mother of five who may now be bidding to establish America's next political dynasty.
But what exactly was was "impressive" about her performance? That Cheney bashed Obama and won a standing ovation from a right-wing audience? Talk about setting the bar too low.
With the health care reform debate hitting the closing stretch (in theory), Fox News is taking their role as the "voice of the opposition" very seriously. As Eric Hananoki detailed a few weeks ago, Fox News has spent much of the past several months actively promoting falsehoods and smears about reform:
But Fox News has made defeating health care reform its top priority, as the channel's hosts, reporters and pundits have pushed a steady stream of falsehoods and smears about "death panels," euthanasia, deficit explosions, the public option, constitutionality, rationing, abortion, and socialized medicine. Fox News served as the chief promoters of anti-health care reform disruptions of town halls, the anti-health care "Code Red" rally and Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) anti-health care demonstrations.
In the past day, the usual torrent of Fox News health care misinformation has become a deluge. Fox & Friends ran a video comparing the reform process to Alice in Wonderland (with Speaker Pelosi as the Red Queen); Steve Doocy, Bill O'Reilly, Bill Hemmer and Brian Kilmeade lied about abortion funding in health care legislation; Greta Van Susteren allowed Bart Stupak to lie about the same thing; Fox News employee Sarah Palin posted another falsehood-laden Facebook policy paper (dutifully reprinted by Fox Nation); Glenn Beck attacked the mother of an uninsured woman who died; and Sean Hannity declared "Princess" Nancy Pelosi and "Prince" Harry Reid the losers in the health care debate.
Apparently not content with letting their parade of misinformation do the work of opposing health care reform, Fox News has repeatedly promoted their own employees' anti-reform activism. If you are a Fox viewer, you are likely aware of the anti-reform protest in D.C. today, thanks to Fox & Friends promoting it this morning.
If you don't have access to a TV, fear not: Fox has all of your anti-health care reform needs covered online, as well. Here's Fox Nation promoting today's anti-reform protest:
See, Fox Nation is just quoting their employee telling people to attend the rally. They aren't directly telling people to go -- that would be unbecoming of a news organization. It's such a good trick, they went with a variation of it this morning:
If you click on the link, you are directed to a page on Fox Nation that reprints Fox contributor Laura Ingraham's list of targets in Congress (along with phone numbers) that people should call and encourage to vote against reform. If you want to email instead, Fox Nation includes this helpful pointer for people contacting members from out-of-district: "Please note: Most representatives' email contact forms require you to enter a zip code and address located within their district."
And then there's Fox News "political analyst" Dick Morris, who throughout the health care debate has been a one-man anti-reform fundraising and organizing machine thanks to the generous amounts of air time.
Recently, Dick Morris has encouraged Fox viewers to visit his website for information on how to oppose health care reform. The solicitations have paid off, as Morris bragged in a February 26 email that he raised $200,000 in three days for his anti-Dem ads.
Since then, Fox has continued to help Morris promote his anti-reform activism. Yesterday, Morris went on Fox Business to promote his anti-reform campaign. Later that night, Morris went on Hannity and implored the audience to "get off your couch" and "donate for ads" to oppose reform.
On Saturday, Fox host Mike Huckabee cut out the middle man and urged his viewers to "call, email, write" Congress to oppose health care reform bill.
Maybe Fox would have a better claim to being a legitimate news organization if they weren't so shameless about their blatant activism.
There really are no dark depths that fringe haters online won't go in the name of bashing health care reform. And specifically, in the name of ridiculing Americans who face traumatic, life-changing medical emergencies and the mountainous bills that often follow.
The latest pathetic example comes from (surprise!) Gateway Pundit who attacks a cancer patient (i.e. a "prop") who made news when President Obama started publicly discussing the woman's plight. The Ohio woman's name is Natoma Canfield and in December she wrote Obama to detail how she was diagnosed with treatable cancer 16 years ago but that recently she had to drop her insurance because of the sky-rocketing premiums, and that she worries about possibly debilitating medical costs. Since writing that letter, Canfield was diagnosed with leukemia and is being treated at a Cleveland hospital.
But now Gateway Pundit mocks the leukemia patient (read that phrase a few times for a chill up the spine) because he claims her medical costs will be covered. Implication: She a faker!
But that's a lie. Either that, or Gateway Pundit can't read too good.
Because for proof that Canfield's enormous medical costs will be covered, Gateway Pundit links to a Fox News article, which basically lets a local Cleveland hospital administrator put the best possible hospital spin on the situation [emphasis added]:
Though Canfield's sister Connie Anderson said her sibling is afraid she'll lose her house and Obama warned at an Ohio rally Monday that the patient is "racked with worry" about the cost of tests and treatment, she is already being screened for financial help.
Lyman Sornberger, executive director of patient financial services at the Cleveland Clinic, said "all indications" at the outset are that she will be considered for assistance.
"She may be eligible for state Medicaid ... and/or she will be eligible for charity (care) of some form or type. ... In my personal opinion, she will be eligible for something," he said, adding that Canfield should not be worried about losing her home.
Read those quotes carefully. According to a hospital administrator, Canfiled's expense might be covered. It's the administrator's opinion that the patient may be eligible--she might be considered-- for financial assistance.
But Gateway Pundit, super anxious to ridicule a leukemia patient, invents his own facts and claims that Canfield absolutely "qualifies for financial aid."
Not according to the hospital that's treating her.
UPDATED: OMG. From another RW blogger:
Now here is the catch. Gateway Pundit finds that Natoma isn't the hard luck story she pretends to be.
Speechless. Canfield is on the hospital being treated for leukemia and has no insurance, and this right-wing nut online is crowing about how the story's not as bad as she pretends it is.
As a commenter asks below, how do these people sleep at night?
UPDATED: Here's another right-wing blogger mocking the cancer patient and lying about how Canfield "is eligible" for Medicaid.
UPDATED: Another online hater who unloads on the leukemia patient, mocking her mercilessly.
Today, CNSNews.com's Fred Lucas brings a fresh angle to the attacks on Obama education official Kevin Jennings: Apparently, he was "recruited" by the administration. Cue up the Drudge siren.
But wait, there's more! According to Lucas, the Obama administration recruited Jennings in spite of the following "well-documented" matters:
Jennings became a lightning rod of controversy last year because he was the co-founder and president for a decade of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which promoted homosexual clubs in high schools.
Moreover, Jennings has been scrutinized for how he handled a 1988 incident by advising a 15-year-old to use a condom in a sexual affair with an older adult man, rather than reporting the possible case of statutory rape to authorities.
I am going to assume that when Lucas says that GLSEN "promoted homosexual clubs in high schools," he's referring to their work creating Gay-Straight Alliances, which are "student clubs that work to improve school climate for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression." But that doesn't sound as scary.
Homophobic fearmongering aside, Lucas' handling of Jennings' counsel with a student is extremely mendacious. It is not "well-documented" that Jennings had "advis[ed] a 15-year-old" and thus failed to report a "possible case of statutory rape." Indeed, the sole sourcing Lucas provides to support his false claim that the student Jennings advised was 15 is that ten years ago, while recounting events that occurred twelve years before that, Jennings said in passing that the student was a "High school sophomore, 15 years old."
That's apparently the CNSNews.com definition of "well-documented." The idea that Jennings may have misremembered or misspoken is not considered; it was said once, and it makes him look bad, therefore it is gospel.
For CNSNews.com's edification, between that passing reference in a speech and the present, GLSEN's lawyer stated in a 2004 letter that the "conversation" Jennings had was with "a sixteen-year-old student" and that there "is no factual basis whatsoever for" the "claim that Mr. Jennings engaged in unethical practices, or that he was aware of any sexual victimization of any student, or that he declined to report any sexual victimization at any time." Moreover, Jennings' telling of the story in his 1994 book, One Teacher in Ten, strongly suggests that the student was 16 or 17 at the time Jennings counseled him.
It gets better. Lucas' falsehood that the student in question was 15 comes in the third paragraph of his article. He somehow manages to drop this into paragraph 16:
In October, a person came forward alleging he was Brewster and told news organizations that he was 16 at the time of his conversation with Jennings, which would have been the age of consent.
"alleging he was Brewster." Isn't that precious?
Here's what actually happened.
In late September and early October, right-wing media jumped on Jennings' 2000 speech in which he said the student he had spoken to was 15 to accuse Jennings of covering up "statutory rape," ignoring both his account in his book and the lawyer's letter.
On October 1, FoxNews.com's Maxim Lott contacted the former student via Facebook, seeking to confirm his network's already-reported falsehood that the student had been 15 when he spoke to Jennings. The next day, the former student responded to Lott, stating that he "was 16 when Kevin gave me the advice he gave me," adding that "[i]t has actually been quite distressing to have heard otherwise on your broadcasts."
The same day, Media Matters published a statement from the former student as well as a scanned image of his current drivers' license, conclusively proving that he was 16 at the time of the incident in question.
That's what Lucas is referring to when he says that "a person came forward alleging he was Brewster and told news organizations that he was 16." I guess that sort of evidence pales in the face of Jennings' "well-documented" passing recollection of events from more than a decade before.
The sniping came in the wake of Howard Kurtz's Monday piece about how some (anonymous) Fox News staffers have doubts about Glenn Beck's on-air shtick and are concerned that it might undermine the cabler's credibility. And oh yeah, how they watch Beck practice crying during his afternoon rehearsals.
Kurtz clearly captured an internal Fox News rift. And here's how the network responded:
A Fox News spokesperson tells Mediaite: "Howie's use of anonymous sources is stunning from a paper with the reputation of the Washington Post's. Glenn Beck has the 100% support of Fox News management."
Do Fox News flaks even know how journalism works? Not likely. And this blame-the-messenger sniping clearly captures that embarrassing fact, because Kurtz's use of anonymous sources in his piece was not "stunning." In fact, it was the opposite of stunning, it was completely appropriate and routine. In other words, it was Journalism 101
But apparently at Fox News, they're incapable of recognizing the very craft they're supposed to practice.
Time-honored guidelines, moral traditions, social taboos - all have just about evaporated, not even considered much anymore. Scandals and revelations and shattered images are so commonplace, in virtually every area of life, that we forget them almost as soon as they occur. Marriage itself, as a compact between a man and a woman, is under incessant attack, and over half of adult women in America aren't married now anyway!
The biggest teachers' unions are promoting the tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality, right down into grade school, where our kids shouldn't even be thinking about anything like that. Why? Because union officials who think like President Obama's "safe-school czar," Kevin Jennings, are determined that all the old taboos against sexual aberrance must be erased, and that our children must grow up without any reservations about anything sexual -- possibly including pedophilia.
From a March 16 Big Government post:
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs wore a purple bracelet on his weekend TV appearances to show support for a 9 year-old girl who has cancer. But a deep thinker at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government didn't know the facts and thought it was to show solidarity for SEIU, or to send a "signal" to the union, and wrote up a painfully dumb, conspiratorial post about it.
Best part? Big Government refuses to update its post and tell its readers the embarrassing truth about the purple bracelet, which of course, simply confirms that Big Government is so dumb it hurts.
Behold "conservative journalism."
UPDATED: If nothing else, the comments posted at Big Government are priceless as outside critics, clued into the truth, note just how badly the site botched this story.
WOW. What an EPIC FAIL of a post. How sad and pathetic.
An ounce of research as opposed to partisan knee-jerk-conspiracy-theory-over-reaction found here would show just how foolish the author and essentially every commenter here (not including myself) is. Disgraceful.
From The Fox Nation, assessed on March 15: