Former Great News Organization CBS Has Become The Conservative BS Network

CBS once was a major news organization. When Lyndon Johnson lost Walter Cronkite on Viet Nam, public opinion turned against the war. Dan Rather as White House correspondent contributed to bringing knowledge of the Watergate scandal to the public. Then the network turned to the right. They sought to appease conservatives during the Bush years, dropping the story on Bush’s National Guard years and even considered turning to people such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter to form an independent panel to evaluate Dan Rather.

CBS turned into the Conservative BS Network.

We saw this again with their erroneous coverage of Benghazi, which they have finally retracted. The erroneous report on 60 Minutes has been cited by many right wing sources who have been trying to keep Benghazi alive, long after the evidence made it clear there was no scandal there. As former CBS News producer Mary Mapes speculated, “They appear to have done that story to appeal specifically to a politically conservative audience that is obsessed with Benghazi and believes that Benghazi was much more than a tragedy.”

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Another Conservative Writer Breaks From The Extremism Of The New Hysterical Right

In recent years the conservative moment has been taken over by the types of extremists which former conservative leaders such as William F Buckley, Jr. worked to keep out of the movement. Conservative publications and blogs have replaced serious arguments in favor of their views with distortions of facts and attacks on anyone who disagrees with them (left or right). We’ve seen a number of more honorable conservatives leave the conservative movement, including Andrew Sullivan of  The Dish, Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, John Cole of Balloon Juice, and David Brock, author of Blinded By The Right. Today another conservative writer, Michael Fumento, has broken away from the extreme right. His full post is well worth reading, but here are some excerpts:

I was always way ahead of the curve. And my exposés primarily appeared in right-wing publications. Back when they were interested in serious research. I also founded a conservative college newspaper, held positions in the Reagan administration and at several conservative think tanks, and published five books that conservatives applauded. I’ve written for umpteen major conservative publications – National Review, the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, among them.

But no longer. That was the old right. The last thing hysteria promoters want is calm, reasoned argument backed by facts. And I’m horrified that these people have co-opted the name “conservative” to scream their messages of hate and anger.

Nothing the new right does is evidently outrageous enough to receive more than a peep of indignation from the new right. Heartland pulled its billboards because of funder withdrawals, not because any conservatives spoke up and said it had crossed a line.

Last month U.S. Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican recently considered by some as vice-president material, insisted that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party, again with little condemnation from the new right.

Mitt Romney took a question at a town hall meeting this month from a woman who insisted President Obama be “tried for treason,” without challenging, demurring from or even commenting on her assertion.

And then there’s the late Andrew Breitbart (assassinated on the orders of Obama, natch). A video from February shows him shrieking at peaceful protesters: “You’re freaks and animals! Stop raping people! Stop raping people! You freaks! You filthy freaks! You filthy, filthy, filthy raping, murdering freaks!” He went on for a minute-and-a-half like that. Speak not ill of the dead? Sen. Ted Kennedy’s body was barely cold when Breitbart labeled him “a big ass motherf@#$er,” a “duplicitous bastard” a “prick” and “a special pile of human excrement.”

The new right loved it! Upon his own death shortly after, Breitbart was immediately sanctified and sent to lead the Seraphim. He was repeatedly eulogized as “the most important conservative of our time never to hold office,” skipping right past William F. What’s-his-name Jr.

There was nothing “conservative” about Breitbart. Ever-consummate gentlemen like Buckley and Ronald Reagan would have been mortified by such behavior as Breitbart’s – or West’s or Heartland’s. “There you go again,” the Gipper would have said in his soft but powerful voice…

A single author, Ann Coulter, has published best-selling books accusing liberals, in the titles, of being demonic, godless and treasonous. Michelle Malkin, ranked by the Internet search company PeekYou as having the most traffic of any political blogger, routinely dismisses them as “moonbats, morons and idiots.” Limbaugh infamously dispatched a young woman who expressed her opinion that the government should provide free birth control as a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

As a conservative, I disagree with the political opinions of liberals. But to me, a verbal assault indicates insecurity and weakness on the part of the assaulter, as in “Is that the best they can do?” This playground bullying – the name-calling, the screaming, the horrible accusations – all are intended to stifle debate, the very lifeblood of a democracy.

Meanwhile, these people who practice shutting down the opposition through shouts and smears accuse President Obama of having dictatorial dreams? A recent email I received, based on accusations from umpteen right-wing groups, blared in caps-lock fury: “BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA HAS SIGNED A MARTIAL LAW EXECUTIVE ORDER!” This specific message, from a group calling itself RightMarch.org, goes on: “THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! BARACK OBAMA IS TRYING TO VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION, BECOME A DICTATOR, AND TAKE AWAY OUR RIGHTS!”

Outrageous, indeed. Obama’s order updated a National Defense Resource Preparedness act, which was essentially identical to one signed 19 years earlier and actually originated in 1950. It granted no authority to Obama that he did not already have under existing laws.

President Obama is regularly referred to as a Marxist/Socialist, Nazi, tyrant, Muslim terrorist supporter and – let me look this up, but I’ll bet probably the antichrist, too. Yup, there it is! Over 5 million Google references. There should be a contest to see if there’s anything for which Obama hasn’t been accused. Athlete’s foot? The “killer bees”? Maybe. In any case, the very people who coined and promoted such terms as “Bush Derangement Syndrome, Cheney Derangement Syndrome and Palin Derangement Syndrome” have been promoting hysterical attitudes toward Obama since before he was even sworn in.

No, I’m not cherry-picking. When I say “regularly referred to,” interpret literally. Polls show that about half of voting Republican buy into the birther nonsense (one of the more prominent hysterias within the hysteria). Only about a fourth seem truly sure that Obama was actually born here. In her nationally syndicated column Michelle Malkin wrote regarding Limbaugh’s slut remarks, that “I’m sorry the civility police now have an opening to demonize the entire right based on one radio comment.” In a stroke she’s expressed her disdain for civility and declared the new right’s sins can be dispatched as an itsy-bitsy little single faux pas, “one radio comment.”

No, Michelle, incivility – nay, outright meanness and puerility – rears its ugly head daily on your blog, which as I write this on May 23 has one item referring in the headline to “Pig Maher’s boy [Bill Maher]” and another to “Jaczko the Jerk,” [former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko]. She calls Limbaugh target Sandra Fluke a “femme-agogue” and her supporters “[George] Soros monkeys.” Pigs? Monkeys? Moonbats? It’s literal dehumanization.

One problem in blogging about the right wing is that it isn’t feasible to insert the same disclaimer in each post: I am referring to the extremists who now dominate the conservative movement, not all conservatives. In contrast, I attempt to run posts on more rational conservatives who seek to compromise, look at facts as opposed to blind adherence to ideology, and seek real solutions to our problems. Perhaps I can borrow from Fumento and use the term hysterical right to refer to the extremists. Unfortunately I’m finding far fewer examples of sane people remaining in the conservative movement since Obama was elected, with most of the remaining sane ones abandoning the conservative movement). While at one point it might have been useful to have a term to differentiate the sane conservatives from the extremists, there appear to be so few sane conservatives left that this might not be necessary.  Of course there are a number of lunatics on the left who are just as crazy as those on the right. The difference is that such people are generally ignored and have no influence, while on the right the lunatics dominate the movement and the Republican Party.

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Ann Coulter Revives Glenn Beck’s Attack on Malia Obama

While Glenn Beck realized he went too far in attacking Barack Obama’s daughter and apologized, Ann Coulter has no qualms about reviving this in the title of today’s column:  Did You Plug The Hole With A Blue Dress Yet, Daddy? The rest of the column, like all her columns (or for that matter everything else in Human Events) isn’t worth reading but the title does show that Coulter is as vile a person as we’ve always suspected.

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Charles Johnson’s Reasons For Leaving the Right

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has been rejecting the excesses of the right wing movement for several months. Today he issued a list with the following reasons why he has parted ways with the right:

1. Support for fascists, both in America (see: Pat Buchanan, Robert Stacy McCain, etc.) and in Europe (see: Vlaams Belang, BNP, SIOE, Pat Buchanan, etc.)

2. Support for bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism (see: Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Robert Stacy McCain, Lew Rockwell, etc.)

3. Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism (see: Operation Rescue, anti-abortion groups, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, the entire religious right, etc.)

4. Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.)

5. Support for homophobic bigotry (see: Sarah Palin, Dobson, the entire religious right, etc.)

6. Support for anti-government lunacy (see: tea parties, militias, Fox News, Glenn Beck, etc.)

7. Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (see: Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Birthers, creationists, climate deniers, etc.)

8. A right-wing blogosphere that is almost universally dominated by raging hate speech (see: Hot Air, Free Republic, Ace of Spades, etc.)

9. Anti-Islamic bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing radical Islam, into support for fascism, violence, and genocide (see: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, etc.)

10. Hatred for President Obama that goes far beyond simply criticizing his policies, into racism, hate speech, and bizarre conspiracy theories (see: witch doctor pictures, tea parties, Birthers, Michelle Malkin, Fox News, World Net Daily, Newsmax, and every other right wing source)

The reasons are similar to those I have frequently written about here. There is some hyperbole here. For example, while I have had a few posts disagreeing with Robert Stacy McCain I have never thought of him as a fascist.  McCain responds to Johnson here). Even in the case of Pat Buchanan, while he has certainly shown sympathy for the Nazis, I’m not certain that he outright supports fascism.

One irony here is that much of what he writes here could have applied to his own blog in the past, but he still deserves credit for rejecting that mind set.

To be fair, some of what he says could apply to some on the extreme left. I’ve noted some of the anti-scientific views of people such as Bill Maher on medicine and vaccines, but this is far less prevalent than the belief in creationism and denialism of climate change on the right. I’ve also criticized some on the left for conspiracy theories of their own,  but again this is far less prevalent than on the right.

The significant difference between the right and the left with regards to extremism is the degree to which the extremists dominate on the right. The extremists on the right have driven out virtually everyone else. They dominate the major organs of the right from the right wing media to the Republican Party. The left has a handful who, in their own ways, are as nutty as the extremists of the right but they are marginalized rather than the dominant players.

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Book Provides More Stories About Palin

Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe followed Sarah Palin during the 2008 election campaign and have published their account in an upcoming book, Sarah from Alaska. CNN has described some of the items in the book, such as this report about Palin on election night:

According to a copy of the book obtained by CNN, Palin’s speechwriter Matthew Scully had prepared a brief speech for the then-Alaska governor to deliver while introducing McCain, before he gave his concession speech at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. But after conferring in his suite with senior advisers Mark Salter, Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt, McCain nixed the idea of having Palin speak before him.

Schmidt then broke the news to Palin. But she told no one on her staff, the authors write, setting off a series of staff miscommunications that went unresolved until moments before McCain took the stage to concede the election.

Palin did not inform her adviser Jason Recher, who was planning out Palin’s movements that night, about Schmidt’s directive.

“I’m speaking,” Palin told him, according to the book. “I’ve got the remarks. Figure it out.”

Palin’s deputy chief of staff Chris Edwards, meanwhile, was also unaware that Palin had been told she was not to speak. Edwards, ready to load the speech into teleprompter, bumped into Schmidt, who told him McCain would be speaking alone. Edwards relayed Schmidt’s order to Palin, but she once again did not let on that Schmidt had already spoken to her.

The governor could not understand why she was not being allowed to speak. “This speech is great,” she said, according to the authors. “It’s all about how John McCain’s an American hero.”

The confusion continued until the final minutes before the concession speech, when Palin – still shuffling through her speech notes – gathered with McCain, family members and senior staff outside McCain’s villa at the resort.

Sensing uncertainty, Salter finally put his foot down. “You’re not speaking,” the longtime McCain adviser told Palin. “John has decided it’s unprecedented.”

Other incidents mentioned include how the McCain team used flash cards to bring Palin “up to speed on foreign affairs and major national issues.” This included a card to teach her that the Prime Minister of Great Britain is Gordon Brown. During the campaign she wanted to bring up Jeremiah Wright, believing it would help prevent the defeat which had become inevitable the day McCain chose Palin. Apparently Palin wanted very badly to win, on one occasion being quoted as saying, “I just don’t want to go back to Alaska.” Perhaps that foreshadowed her eventual resignation as governor.

November 3, 2009
Posted: November 3rd, 2009 08:03 AM ET
From

Palin was concerned about the cost of the wardrobe that was purchased for her during the campaign, according to the new book.

Palin was concerned about the cost of the wardrobe that was purchased for her during the campaign, according to the new book.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Tensions within John McCain’s presidential campaign boiled over on Election Night last November when Sarah Palin, McCain’s running mate, repeatedly ignored directions from senior staffers who told her she would not be delivering her own concession speech.

Those fresh details on the conflict between Palin and members of the McCain team come in a new book – “Sarah from Alaska” – by Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, two members of the press corps that traveled with Palin during the 2008 presidential race. The pair spent much of the following year reporting on the campaign turmoil and the vice presidential nominee’s difficult return to Alaska after the election.

According to a copy of the book obtained by CNN, Palin’s speechwriter Matthew Scully had prepared a brief speech for the then-Alaska governor to deliver while introducing McCain, before he gave his concession speech at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. But after conferring in his suite with senior advisers Mark Salter, Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt, McCain nixed the idea of having Palin speak before him.

Schmidt then broke the news to Palin. But she told no one on her staff, the authors write, setting off a series of staff miscommunications that went unresolved until moments before McCain took the stage to concede the election.

Palin did not inform her adviser Jason Recher, who was planning out Palin’s movements that night, about Schmidt’s directive.

“I’m speaking,” Palin told him, according to the book. “I’ve got the remarks. Figure it out.”

(more…)

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Dan Rather on Fox

The goal in taking on Fox is not to prevent them from airing propaganda shows but to ensure that people realize that Fox is pure propaganda and does not air true news shows. The best thing to do is probably to mock them, and perhaps Democrats should refuse to appear on some of their shows. Some on the right have responded to criticism of Fox with unsubstantiated comparisons to Nixon’s enemies list or to claim First Amendment issues are in play here. The reality is that nobody support taking the types of actions against Fox which Richard Nixon took against members of the press. Dan Rather is one of many examples of liberal critics of Fox who do not support any restriction of their right to air their views. From The Dallas Morning News:

At a journalism awards luncheon at the Headliners Club in Austin, Rather was asked about cable news programs that have devolved into shows where hosts quiz opinionists about other opinionists (The question posed a Fox News trifecta: Glenn Beck quizzing Ann Coulter about Rush Limbaugh). Said Rather:

“One entertainer interviewing a second entertainer about a third entertainer isn’t my definition of news.”

Rather called the press “the red beating heart of freedom and democracy” and lamented that consolidation and corporate influence have encroached on journalism. He said four or six corporate entities control much of American journalism today – a trend that militates against its fundamental responsibility of holding powerful institutions accountable.

Rather said he’s confident Americans know the difference between the news and the infotainment on some cable news shows. And he said he would oppose any effort to curtail Fox News or any other opinion outlet on radio or TV. He said even if there were a cable station of pure propaganda – “and we may be near that now” – he would oppose censoring it in any way. Sounds like Fox News and talk radio – who warn the Obama administration wants to do them in – has a First Amendment friend in Dan Rather.

I generally agree but he might be over estimating the ability of some Americans to differentiate from real news and the propaganda presented on outlets such as Fox. We have seen too many examples which show that the more someone watches Fox, the more poorly informed they are about the issues. This even extends to Dan Rather himself. I’ve seen many blog comments from conservatives who believe that Dan Rather himself make fake documents about George Bush’s avoidance of his National Guard obligations–which is quite a distortion of the actual controversy.

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Advertisers Drop Glenn Beck Following “Racist” Comment on Obama

Glenn Beck has been working hard to challenge right wing talking heads such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter to become the best known and most extreme representative of the far right. Personally I suspect that all of them realize that virtually everything they say is nonsense but see this act as an easy way to make money. Regardless of what they actually believe, all are in a contest to make the most outrageous comments to excite their extremist (and generally delusional) followers. Beck’s comments have now led to some advertisers to drop his show (most likely without any significant impact on Fox). TV Newser reports:

Three companies who had run ads during Glenn Beck‘s Fox News show have distanced themselves from Beck, including LexisNexis-owned Lawyers.com, Procter & Gamble and Progressive Insurance. We’re told a P&G spot inadvertently aired during a weekend Beck broadcast, but that the company never had a regular buy for the show.

The group ColorofChange.org called on their members to pressure advertisers to pull ads from Beck’s show after he called Pres. Obama a “racist” who “has a deep-seated hatred for white people.”

A Fox News spokesperson told TVNewser that the advertisers simply moved their spots from Beck to other programs on the network, “so there has been no revenue lost.”

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Meghan McCain Receives Book Deal

meghan-mccain-banana-phone

Meghan McCain has created some interest in the blogosphere with her criticism of Ann Coulter and the direction the Republican Party is going. She has now received an advance for her book which is in the high six figures. The New York Observer writes:

While we haven’t quite nailed down what Ms. McCain’s book will be about—no one at Hyperion nor Ms. Brophy returned calls this afternoon—if her recent columns for Tina Brown and Barry Diller’s Web site The Daily Beast are any indication, it will probably have something to do with the future of the Republican party, and how it must change to attract the votes of modern young people.

Ms. McCain has flexed her essayist muscles on The Beast in pieces like Why Republicans Don’t Get the Internet and Looking for Mr. Far Right. Mostly, she’s used the site to wage a few battles, as in My Beef With Ann Coulter and her response to Laura Ingraham’s jibe about her being a ‘plus-sized model’, headlined, Quit Talking About My Weight, Laura Ingraham. She’s also used it to prop up some friends, like Louisana’s First Lady Supriya Jindal and G.O.P. “hottie” Aaron Schock.

The interest in McCain’s book is clearly influenced by relationship to her father, but I sure can’t blame her for taking advantage of the publicity and making something out of it. I hope that she is also successful in changing the Republican Party, but that will be even more difficult than selling a book.

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Conservatives vs. Meghan McCain

meghan-mccain

Meghan McCain has come under tons of criticism from the right wing since she criticized Ann Coulter. Most of the attacks have centered around trivial matters such as her weight. McCain responded yesterday.

Michelle Malkin wrote today about what she sees as The Trouble With Meghan McCain. To her credit Malkin did avoid criticism based upon her weight. That, after all, is a trivial matter. Instead she attacked Malkin for her choice of comedians.

Malkin argues “The trouble with Meghan McCain is that, like her father, she has no fixed ideological principles — conservative, liberal, or otherwise.” I really haven’t paid very much attention to Meghan McCain’s writings until all the controversy in the past week so I’m not sure if this is a fair criticism or not. I am interested in seeing McCain’s response.

It is possible that, if we were trying to view Meghan McCain as a serious political pundit, this might be an issue. It is a different story if we try to see her as a typical young woman with a Republican background who just happens to be the daughter of their last presidential candidate. In this sense McCain might have some lessons for them as to why the Republicans are turning into a regional party of the south and Mormon belt, and why young people are abandoning them in tremendous numbers.

Is the problem that McCain has no principles, or that she will not adopt the extremist principles which are required of anyone staying in the Republican Party? The Republican Party has been driving out their moderates and taking on an extremist philosophy which even Barry Goldwater was highly critical of in his later years. Maybe they don’t mind that John McCain’s daughter doesn’t accept their extremism, considering they also see John McCain as a heretic, but in addition we saw two of Barry Goldwater’s granddaughters back Barack Obama this year, along with many other Republicans.

It is one thing for a political party to think they are adhering to a consistent philosophy. It is a problem for that party when their views become so narrow and out of touch with reality that many of their supporters leave the party. When a generation is becoming lost to them, they must seriously question if they are in danger of going the way of the Whigs.

Meghan McCain is certainly not a flaming liberal. If conservatives desire to have any chance of building a majority party which has the support of the young they would be far better off listening to her objections as opposed to attacking her weight or choice in comedians. The Republicans received Meghan McCain’s vote in 2008 because her father was on the ticket. They can hardly expect to win the youth vote if this is the only way many young people (or rational people of any age) will have anything to do with the GOP.

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Ann Coulter’s Sales Down

While there’s still far too many people taking her seriously, it is good news that sales of Ann Coulter’s latest book are less than expected. Many aspects of the conservative media are doing well due to increased interest and intensity  from those who oppose Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress. It is good to see there is at least a little selectivity.

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