Fox Business Network's Eric Bolling is taking a lot of heat for this performance from last Friday, in which he called Gabonese president Ali Bongo, who had recently visited the White House, "a hoodlum in the hizzouse," and inexplicably linked Bongo's visit to the rapper Common's appearance at a White House poetry event in May. It was the second time in less than a month that Bolling had attacked Obama using racial stereotypes; during Obama's state trip to Ireland, Bolling also said the president was "chugging a few 40s" instead of tending to tornado-ravaged towns in Missouri.
That Bolling would use his Fox News pedestal to deploy racially tinged attacks against the president is monstrous. But it's not surprising, given that Bolling is a late convert to the birther movement.
After the president released his long-form birth certificate in April, Bolling put together an obscene segment for his Fox Business program, Follow The Money, in which he proudly declared his birther curiosity:
BOLLING: We haven't touched this birth certificate issue since it began. We haven't touched it, but there is a legitimate question as to whether or not the president of the United States is allowed to be president of the United States. It is written in the constitution. You have to be a natural born citizen of America. I mean, it's an issue.
JUAN WILLIAMS: No, it isn't an issue, Eric. This issue has been settled since he was running for president even when he's in the Senate and produced the short form for people. Just never been an issue.
It's been something that has been elevated to some kind of -- they've used this as a surrogate I think to belittle the president. People who don't like his policies who think that they never voted for him, how can this guy be president. It is racially tinged. It is a damaging subject.
BOLLING: I just have tell you for purposefully, we didn't touch it because we didn't think it was an issue until I saw this document. When I saw the green border, the Photoshop border around the birth certificate, I said wait a minute.
This thing isn't a pure copy from a book, a ledger from Hawaii. This thing has been altered. Someone's playing with it. Once that came out, I said we have to at least ask the question Juan.That's all. We're not claiming it is ill legit whatever, but someone is playing around with this document. [Follow The Money, 4/27/2011, via Nexis]
Later in the same episode, Bolling conducted some "forensic analysis" of a large-scale blow-up of Obama's birth certificate with the assistance of Pamela Geller, an extremist Islamophobic bigot and leader of the birther movement.
That Bolling is given airtime on Fox Business to promote this race-baiting swill is bad enough. What's worse is that he's rumored to be among the candidates to fill the high profile 5 p.m. Fox News timeslot soon to be vacated by Glenn Beck.
Beck's own record on racial issues isn't exactly commendable. But at least he's not a birther.
With Glenn Beck's coveted 5 p.m. time slot set to open up with his June 30th departure from Fox News, Eric Bolling appears to be in the running as Beck's replacement. (He, among others.) It's been Bolling, along with Andrew Napolitano, who has most often filled in for a vacationing Beck in recent months. And it's Bolling who has been enjoying a higher profile on Fox News with a steady stream of appearances on The O'Reilly Factor and Fox & Friends, for instance. (Bolling's day job is hosting Follow The Money on the Fox Business Network.)
A move into Beck's 5 p.m. slot would be a career-changer for Bolling, instantly upping his profile both on Fox News and within the conservative media. But how to generate the kind of right-wing, Obama-hating buzz that would convince Roger Ailes that Bolling is the best person to carry on the Beck fearmongering legacy? In recent months, Bolling seems to think race baiting is his ticket to cable TV success.
From the insidious implications about President Obama's birth certificate, to insinuating Obama was "chugging 40s" in an Ireland pub (while Americans suffered hardship back home), and now employing obvious race baiting language about "hoods" visiting Obama's "Hizzouse," Bolling's full-court press for the Beck job is getting downright ugly.
Note that Bolling's latest racially charged attack on Obama did not take the form of a random tweet. Instead, it was a pre-planned, televised discussion that Bolling hosted, complete with "hoodlum" graphics, in which his guest accused the President of the United States of defecating on America's allies.
And that was on a business news channel.
Glenn Beck set a whole new standard for cable news crazy during his two-plus years at Fox News. Now, as successors jockey to fill his positions, it seems Beck's tradition of race-based Obama hate would be proudly carried on if Bolling were tapped for the 5 p.m. slot.
During the opening of Fox Business' Follow the Money on Friday, Eric Bolling teased a segment about the White House hosting the president of Gabon by saying, "Guess who's coming to dinner? A dictator. Mr. Obama shares a laugh with one of Africa's kleptocrats. It's not the first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse."
During the tease, an image appeared of Obama meeting with the Gabonese president, Ali Bongo, at the White House:
As Bolling said that Obama had previously hosted "a hoodlum in the hizzouse," footage of the rapper Common aired:
The inclusion of Common may not make much sense to people who aren't regular viewers of Fox News -- it's a reference to the right-wing media's ginned-up smear of him as a "'cop killer' rapper" in the days before his recent performance at the White House.
Later in the show, Bolling teased the segment again: "Smile for the birdie. Our president's sitting with one of Africa's most wanted. It's not the first time he's had a hood in the big crib."
This time, an image of Bongo with a flashing tooth showed up as Bolling said, "Smile for the birdie":
Download Fox News' brand new iPad app and you'll notice something curious: there's an ExxonMobil advertisement on nearly every page, sometimes filling the whole screen. Click on it and you can watch a video of a smiling ExxonMobil geologist touting the natural gas boom. As the tech news website Mashable reported, this is because "Exxon is the exclusive launch partner for Fox News' iPad app":
"We decided we wanted to work with one sponsor," [Fox News' Jeremy] Steinberg said, explaining that there are always question marks surrounding a launch, so Fox News wanted a partner comfortable with that. He said Exxon, which is in the midst of a new branding campaign, thought the app was a perfect platform for broadcasting its message.
It makes sense that one of the biggest funders of interest groups that obfuscate the threat posed by global warming would team up with the news outlet that has done more than any other to promote misinformation about climate science.
The partnership further undermines ExxonMobil's 2008 pledge to stop funding groups "whose positions on climate change could divert attention" from the need to develop secure, clean energy. As an internal email revealed last year, it has been the policy of Fox News to question even the basic fact that the planet has warmed in recent decades.
Climate change is not the only issue on which ExxonMobil might find Fox News' coverage agreeable. Last month in the midst of both soaring profits for big oil and attempts by Congressional Democrats to roll back oil companies' tax breaks, ExxonMobil's spin could be heard on Fox News.
With the notable exception of Bill O'Reilly, many on Fox eagerly passed along talking points first outlined by ExxonMobil vice president of public affairs Ken Cohen in a series of blog posts designed to preempt any backlash against Exxon's massive first quarter earnings report.
Right-wing media have attacked President Obama for his decision to stop receiving daily in-person economic briefings. In fact, Obama still receives a daily economic briefing on paper and regularly meets with members of his economic team as well as outside economists and experts.
From the June 3 edition of Fox Business' Follow the Money:
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From the June 3 edition of Fox Business' Follow the Money:
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From the June 3 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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There's been a lot of hand-wringing from the right-wing media this week about a possible "double-dip" recession. See Dick Morris on yesterday's Fox & Friends, during an epic rant about how President Obama can't possibly win a second term:
MORRIS: I think that Obama definitely can be defeated and will be defeated. I think that the -- it is impossible for him to avoid blame for this economy. At some point, does this guy look in the mirror and understand that everything he's done about the economy is wrong? That he's causing the second housing crisis by cutting out the mortgage interest deduction, that he's causing this double-dip recession by threatening tax increases on consumers? Doesn't he understand that he's causing the deficit with this gigantic government spending?
Or witness this exchange between guest host Martha MacCallum and Fox Business host Stuart Varney on the June 2 broadcast on America Live:
MacCALLUM: A lot of folks in the financial world very concerned that the economy is actually getting weaker at this point. They're dropping words like meltdown, double-dip recession and even depression. Just today we got word out for the new unemployment claims. They dropped by about 6,000 last week. Economists were expecting those claims to fall by almost twice that number. So here is the big number for today -- 422,000 people walked into unemployment offices and filed for claims for the first time last week.
Stuart Varney joins me now, of the Fox Business Network. Stuart, what's going on here? Why are we still struggling so much?
VARNEY: All of a sudden, the economy seems to have hit a brick wall and is weakening on all fronts. Let's go through them. Housing prices down 33 percent from a couple of years ago and still falling. Manufacturing orders falling off a cliff very recently.
[A]nd this economy is growing at less than 2 percent per year. That's almost at stalling speed for an economy which is supposed to be roaring out of a recovery. Martha, that is why you've got people like Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton, saying that we are, indeed, heading towards a double-dip recession. Big negatives on the economy.
It is indeed true that economist Robert Reich recently penned a gloomy Financial Times op-ed, though what he wrote was, "It is unlikely that America will find itself back in recession but the possibility of a double dip cannot be dismissed."
What does Reich, who served in three administrations and was Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, think is causing our economic woes? From his op-ed (emphasis added):
Right-wing media figures have attacked John Bryson, President Obama's nominee for Commerce secretary, as a "radical green activist" and an "eco-terrorist." In fact, Bryson is a former energy company executive who sits on the boards of several major corporations, and his nomination has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The June 2 broadcast of Fox & Friends devoted two segments to hyping GOP lawmakers' and oil companies' claims that a Texas lizard will cost "thousands of Texas oil jobs" and could cause "the price of gas [to] go up as well."
The segments centered on this: environmental groups have long been asking the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to list the dunes sagebrush lizard -- whose habitat in New Mexico and Texas has been severely threatened by "oil and gas activities, and herbicide treatments" -- as an endangered species. Oil companies and Texas lawmakers say the listing would harm the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin, an area of prolific oil fields in which the lizards' habitat is located. Environmentalists say such claims are greatly exaggerated and that the area of affected land is very small.
Of course, you can guess how this unfolded on the very environmentally-unfriendly Fox News Channel. First, co-host Steve Doocy invited Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a vocal opponent of designating the lizard as an endangered species, on the show to explain how the designation could, in Doocy's words, cost "thousands of Texas oil jobs" and cause "the price of gas [to] go up." From the show:
From the June 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox's Eric Bolling repeated a long-debunked talking point that federal workers' total compensation is twice that of private-sector workers. In fact, the comparison does not account for occupation, education, or experience, and government salaries are based on private-sector pay for comparable occupations in a given region.
MSNBC host Ed Schultz will be placed on unpaid administrative leave for a week after he made sexist comments on his radio show directed at conservative commentator and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham. Schultz issued an apology for the comments Wednesday night.
Holding employees accountable when they make unacceptable comments as Schultz did, is how a news organization behaves. Indeed, it's the way that any responsible organization behaves.
But accountability for unacceptable rhetoric has no apparent place at Fox.
Beck infamously accused President Obama of being a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture." Beck faced no demonstrable accountability at Fox for this statement.
Just this week, Fox's Eric Bolling criticized Obama for traveling to Europe for the G-8 summit, outrageously claiming that Obama was "chugging a few 40s" rather than attending to tragic tornadoes in Missouri. (Local officials have praised the White House for its response to the disaster.) Bolling has been widely criticized for making "racially tinged" comments, but to date there has been no accountability for his comments at Fox.
There was no apparent accountability for Sean Hannity when in 2009 he refused to criticize "friend and frequent guest of the program" Ted Nugent for calling Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a "worthless bitch."
Or when Glenn Beck accused George Soros of helping to "send the Jews" to "death camps," and repeatedly invoked anti-Semitic stereotypes in attacking Soros, leading to condemnation from several Jewish groups.
Or when Fox's Brian Kilmeade referred to women as "babes," "chicks," and "skirts" during a discussion of consumer car preferences.
Or when Fox's Dave Briggs said that women in Congress might secure more "pork" for their home districts because they are "more irrational," and that men in Congress "are thinking through this more."
Or when Kilmeade discussed sanctuary spaces created in homes for men and women and asked co-host Gretchen Carlson, "Didn't men give you the kitchen?"
Accountability is what happens at a real news network. But Fox isn't news.
As Media Matters has documented, conservative media figures have attacked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for using the pension funds of federal workers to ensure that the government continues to meet its legal obligations while the White House and lawmakers attempt to strike a deal to increase the debt limit.
Media Matters also noted several reasons why these attacks don't hold water. First, Geithner's actions are in line with those of the Treasury Department under former Presidents Bush and Clinton. Second, federal workers and retirees will not be affected by these measures as the Treasury is legally required to reimburse the program once the debt limit is increased. And third, economic disaster could have occurred had Geithner not taken these measures.
It's impossible to know how many members of the right-wing media knew all these facts but decided it was too good to pass up the cheap shot against Geithner. What is extremely, unlikely, however, is that the right-wing media have the best interests of public employees at heart. That is because the conservative media have a long history of attacking public workers -- including blaming financial problems on their pensions.
One of the ways in which conservative media have attempted to vilifying public workers is by pushing the falsehood that public sector workers earn more than their private sector counterparts. Fox's Mike Huckabee, for example, has claimed that "public union workers [make] 30% better wages [and] 70% better benefits than their private sector counterparts." Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson has likewise said that public sector workers "make more than you do" and "won't even consider taking any kind of cut."
Conservative media have also attacked public sector workers for their supposed incompetence and for having it too cushy.