Bill O’Reilly Latest To Be Out At Fox

It is now official that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to Fox following multiple allegations of sexual harassment. This is another example of the increasing influence of Rupert Murdoch’s more liberal sons. Roger Ailes, who was responsible for much of the right wing propaganda at Fox, was forced out last summer following complaints of sexual harassment. Fox also lost another of their major stars, Megyn Kelly, as a consequence of the culture at Fox which permitted such sexual harassment, along with comments from O’Reilly

It is not clear what will happen to O’Reilly, who does have a large fan base. He very will might wind up elsewhere, but it is doubtful that either a major network or another cable news network would take him. Most likely he will wind up at an outlet with much less exposure than he received at Fox.

The bigger question is whether the loss of such stars will reduce the ratings, and influence, of Fox. It will take time to see if other hosts can build as large a following. Current plans are for Tucker Carlson, who now has Megyn Kelly’s old 9 pm time slot, to move up to O’Reilly’s 8 pm time slot.  The Hollywood Reporter also reports that a show now on at 5 pm, The Five, will take over the 9 pm time slot. They describe The Five as a “panel show hosted by a rotating panel including Dana Perino, Bob Beckel, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greg Gutfeld, Juan Williams and O’Reilly Factor contributor Jesse Watters.” Considering the structure of the prime time “news” shows, I wouldn’t be surprised that if one of these people, or somebody else, should achieve a larger following, Fox changes to a single anchor prime time show in the future.

Following What Donald Trump Says And Tweets

The miracles of modern technology now provides a simple tool to keep up with everything Donald Trump has said on any topic. A searchable database can be found here which contains all of Donald Trump’s public statements, including tweets, videos, and material from his campaign website. This even includes deleted tweets, and an indication of the time since his last tweet. At present there are 2,457,084 total words, 254.3 hours of video, 30,379 tweets, and 153 deleted tweets. You are on your own to sort out the contradictions and absurdities.

They are testing the system with Donald Trump, with plans to possibly extend this to others in the future.

For those who prefer a more curated report on what Trump has said, or prefer a pro-Trump, source, there is always Fox. For a while, especially with Megyn Kelley there and Roger Ailes gone, it looked like there was a chance that Fox might be less partisan, or at least not be a pro-Trump organ comparable to the Bush years. While Megyn Kelley has her faults, she would at least present news critical of both Trump and Clinton during the presidential campaign–often making her preferable to both others on Fox, and to MSNBC during prime time. However, her time slot is now being given to Trump supporter Tucker Carlson.

The long term bias of Fox remains uncertain. Rupert Murdoch is more centrist and less partisan than Ailes, and tends to back the party in power. It is conceivable that he might support future Democratic administrations, or possibly even break with Trump, not having been so favorable towards Trump at times during the campaign.

British Press Mocks Romney as “Mitt the Twit” And Compares Him Negatively To Sarah Palin

Mitt Romney’s lack of qualifications to handle economic matters appears to be exceeded by his incompetence in foreign affairs. Fortunately for the reputation of the United States, he is being referred to “Wannabe President” by the Rupert Murdoch tabloid, The Sun, which is running a headline of Mitt the Twit. It is far better for this to come from a “Wannabe President” than an actual President. If only Murdoch’s media outlets in the United States would adopt the nickname given to Romney by The Sun.

Other British publications are comparing Romney negatively to both George Bush and Sarah Palin. I have no doubt that Mitt Romney is more intelligent than Sarah Palin, but this cannot be seen from Romney’s stream of gaffes while in Great Britain.

Former American sprinter and gold medal winner Carl Lewis advised Romney to “stay home if you don’t know what to say.”

Romney’s book No Apology has received little attention due to being based upon a fabricated attack on Obama for nonexistent apologies, but it is now receiving attention for this passage:

England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn’t been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler’s ambitions. Yet only two lifetimes ago, Britain ruled the largest and wealthiest empire in the history of humankind. Britain controlled a quarter of the earth’s land and a quarter of the earth’s population.

In citing this passage, The Independent further mocks Romney: “Its roads and houses are small? The trees probably aren’t the right height either. ”

Romney is also looking foolish with his attempts at damage control. Yesterday I heard this claim played on NPR’s Morning Edition as Romney tried to avoid looking elitist due to the expense of owning a horse competing at the Olympics:

I have to tell you. This is Ann’s sport. I’m not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event. I hope her horse does well.

Andrew Sullivan was as amazed by this claim as I was:

WTF? If your spouse’s horse were in an Olympic contest, would you not even watch? This is either a fib, designed to insulate him from whatever minimal fallout there is from owning a dressage horse; or it’s true and he’s just unlike other human beings. I mean, Obama makes sure he sees his daughters’ high school sports games. But Romney won’t even watch his wife’s horse at the Olympics?

A bizarre response such as this does more harm than another reminder of Romney’s wealth, which is well known. I see this as another example of how Romney will say anything he believes will help him without any regard for the truth. Saying that he is unaware of when the event is and that he will not be watching does not have any bearing on what Romney actually knows or whether he already plans to watch the event.

Fox Tries To Connect Occupy Wall Street To Violent Anarchist Group

The FBI has broken up a plot to blow up a bridge. Fox’s web site used this as an opportunity for a slur against Occupy Wall Street. The last line of their news story says:

It is unknown if the bridge incident was connected to Occupy Wall Street’s plans for nationwide protests Tuesday.

It is unknown only in the sense that there is no reason to connect Occupy Wall Street with an anarchist group planning a violent act. By the same logic it might be said that it is unknown if the bridge incident is related to anything planned by Fox, the Republican Party or any Tea Party group. However, Fox’s goal is to spread false narratives, such as that Barack Obama is a Muslim socialist and that Occupy Wall Street is a terrorist organization. Neither fair nor balanced. Certainly not true, but discrediting Occupy Wall Street is consistent with the conservative movement’s top priority of redistributing wealth to the ultra-wealthy.

Incidentally, while I wouldn’t try to confuse Fox with a terrorist organization, there is something both uncomplimentary and true which can be said about Rupert Murdoch today In the UK, members of Parliament are saying that Rupert Murdoch “is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company” and showed “willful blindness” to what was going on at News Corporation.

Returning to the bomb threat, MSNBC News  did not mention Occupy Wall Street but the article does say:

The five were “controlled by an undercover FBI employee,” and agents had them under extensive surveillance for a long period of time.

On the one hand I have questions as  to the degree to which the FBI is taking credit for, and utilizing resources for, stopping terrorist threats which might never have been meaningful without FBI involvement. On the other hand, publicity such as this might spread mistrust and paranoia among would-be terrorists, making them afraid to cooperate with others out of fear that they might be FBI undercover FBI agents.

Update:  In light of the reports of violence at some of the demonstrations today, I would add that while I have sometimes been displeased with the tactics of Occupy Wall Street, there is no comparison between demonstrations (even those which do unfortunately become violent) and acts such as bombing a bridge. Occupy Cleveland canceled May Day protest plans following the news of the arrests to avoid  “any implications in this nonsense.”

Quote of the Day

“The British government may cancel Rupert Murdoch’s $14 billion satellite deal because they’ve discovered that he’s evil.” –Craig Ferguson

Inside The Fox Propaganda Machine

Fox (I refuse to call it Fox News) has always been a rather curious outfit. We have often seen authoritarian political parties utilize propaganda outfits comparable to Fox, but I do not believe we have ever had a situation where the propaganda outfit has come to dominate the party. New York Magazine has an article on the founding of Fox and events there, including the removal of Glenn Beck.

The full article is well worth reading. The article, like many I have read about Fox, shows that Roger Ailes as opposed to Rupert Murdoch (who considered endorsing Obama over McCain) is the bigger problem there:

Even Rupert Murdoch, sensing the shifting tectonic plates, contemplated a move to the middle. In the summer of 2008, Ailes confronted Murdoch after he learned Murdoch was thinking of endorsing Obama in the New York Post; Ailes threatened to quit. It was a politically vulnerable time for Ailes. Murdoch’s children were agitating for a greater role in the company. Ailes surely understood that their politics, along with those of then–News Corp. president Peter Chernin and communications adviser Gary Ginsberg, differed greatly from Murdoch’s. The tensions surrounding Ailes played out in the publication of Michael Wolff’s Murdoch biography. Matthew Freud, husband of Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth and a London-based PR executive, encouraged Wolff to portray Fox as a pariah wing of the News Corp. empire. Ailes was furious with Wolff’s account, which was critical of Fox, and Rupert, seeking to quell the turmoil, offered Ailes a new contract. This corporate victory, not to mention Fox’s profits, ensured that Ailes remained unscathed by the succession games playing out among the Murdoch children.

By October 2008, Ailes recognized that Obama was likely to beat McCain. He needed to give his audience a reason to stay in the stands and watch his team. And so he went on a hiring spree. By the time Obama defeated McCain, Ailes had hired former Bush aide Karl Rove and Mike Huckabee and went on to assemble a whole lineup of prospective 2012 contenders: Palin, Gingrich, Santorum, and John Bolton.

It was, more than anything, a business decision. “It would be easy to look at Fox and think it’s conservative because Rupert and Roger are conservative and they program it the way they like. And to a degree, that’s true. But it’s also a business,” a person close to Ailes explained. “And the way the business works is, they control conservative commentary the way ESPN controls the market for sports rights.

Not surprisingly, the Obama administration was great for Fox, which pandered to paranoia about a liberal black president. It was not good if Fox desired to be seen as a legitimate news outlet:

Fox’s record ratings during the beginning of Obama’s presidency quickly put an end to Ailes’s fears that he would be bad for business. The network’s audience hit stratospheric levels as the tea-party rebellion provided a powerful story line that ran through Fox’s coverage. Sometimes Fox personalities took an active role in building the movement, something that Ailes was careful to check if it became too overt. In April 2010, Fox barred Hannity from broadcasting his show at a Cincinnati tea-party rally. “There would not have been a tea party without Fox,” Sal Russo, a former Reagan gubernatorial aide and the founder of the national Tea Party Express tour, told me.

But as Fox was helping to inflate the tea party’s balloon, some of the network’s journalistic ballast was disappearing. Starting in July 2008, a series of high-level departures began when Brit Hume, Ailes’s longtime Washington anchor, announced his retirement inside Fox. Then, three weeks after the election, David Rhodes, Fox’s vice-­president for news, quit to work for Bloomberg. Rhodes had started at Fox as a 22-year-old production assistant and risen through the ranks to become No. 2 in charge of news. His brother was a senior foreign-policy aide to Obama, and Rhodes told staffers that Ailes had expressed concern about this closeness to the White House. Rhodes privately told people he was uncomfortable with where Fox was going in the Obama era.

Fox managed to move even further to the right with the addition of Bill Sammon:

Meanwhile, Hume’s replacement, Bill Sammon, a former Washington Times correspondent, angered Fox’s political reporters, who saw him pushing coverage further to the right than they were comfortable with. Days after Obama’s inauguration, an ice storm caused major damage throughout the Midwest. At an editorial meeting in the D.C. bureau, Sammon told producers that Fox should compare Obama’s response to Bush’s handling of Katrina. “Bush got grief for Katrina,” Sammon said.

“It’s too early; give him some time to respond,” a producer shot back. “This ice storm isn’t Katrina.”

While the major bad guys of the article are Roger Ailes and Bill Sammon, another villain emerged: Hillary Clinton. During the primary campaign I had often noted how Hillary Clinton began to resemble a creature of the right wing far more than a liberal. The article confirmed what we had suspected about her:

There was bad blood left over from the campaign. In the bitter primary fight for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton’s advisers, led by Howard Wolfson, courted Fox and fed them negative research about Obama and John Edwards. “She made some kind of compact with Murdoch,” Obama’s former media adviser Anita Dunn told me.

As Fox continued to promote false right wing narratives, the White House attempted without much success to respond. Beyond the public response, David Axelrod attempted to utilize more quiet diplomacy, but found that this was futile:

While Dunn and others publicly engaged Fox, David Axelrod worked back-­channel diplomacy as the good cop. About a week before Dunn’s CNN appearance, Axelrod secretly sat down with Ailes at the Palm in midtown. They met before the restaurant opened to avoid drawing attention. Axelrod told Ailes they should try to defuse things and work together.

Going back to the 2008 campaign, Axelrod had maintained an off-the-­record dialogue with Ailes. He had faced off against Ailes in a U.S. Senate campaign in the early eighties and respected him as a fellow political warrior and shaper of narrative. But early on, Axelrod learned he couldn’t change Ailes’s outlook on Obama. In one meeting in 2008, Ailes told Axelrod that he was concerned that Obama wanted to create a national police force.

“You can’t be serious,” Axelrod replied. “What makes you think that?”

Ailes responded by e-mailing Axelrod a YouTube clip from a campaign speech Obama had given on national service, in which he called for the creation of a new civilian corps to work alongside the military on projects overseas.

Later, Axelrod related in a conversation that the exchange was the moment he realized Ailes truly believed what he was broadcasting.

News Corp will ultimately be controlled by younger, less conservative, members of the Murdoch family, and Ailes will not remain forever at Fox. There is question as to what will happen to Fox after Ailes retires, and of his legacy:

In the halls of Fox News, people do not want to be caught talking about what will happen to Fox News after the Ailes era. The network continues to be Ailes’s singular vision, and he’s so far declined to name a successor. One possibility in the event Ailes departs when his contract is up in 2013 is that Bill Shine could continue to oversee prime time and Michael Clemente would run the news division. But more than one person described fearing Lord of the Flies–type chaos in the wake of Ailes’s departure, so firm has his grip on power been.

This spring, the announcement by News Corp. that James Murdoch was being promoted to deputy chief operating officer triggered another round of speculation that the accession of the next generation would be problematic for Ailes. So far, James has had little interaction with Ailes. The last time the pair worked closely together was in the late nineties, when James was overseeing News Corp.’s dot-com properties and was briefly in charge of Fox’s website.

James likely witnessed his older brother Lachlan’s frustration over clashing with Ailes (one of the factors that caused Lachlan to leave the company). James has smartly avoided any major interactions with Ailes. Last year, when Matthew Freud criticized Ailes in a Times article, James immediately e-mailed Ailes to say that Freud wasn’t speaking for him. At a budget meeting with Ailes and Rupert a couple of weeks ago, James, who clearly hopes to run the company some day, praised Ailes for his outsize profits. But the future could be different. Rupert’s wife, Wendi, recently agreed to host an Obama fund-raiser with Russell Simmons. “She’s a big fan,” Simmons told me.

Last week, Ailes turned 71. He’s spending considerable time thinking about his legacy. It bothers him that he’s still regarded as an outsider. “He doesn’t want to be hated,” a GOPer who knows Ailes well said. “It really bothers him. You can’t gross a billion a year and retain an outlaw sensibility forever.”

Rupert Murdoch Gave $1 Million To The Republican Governors Association–Are You Surprised?

Liberal blogs have spent the day acting shocked that News Corp, owner of Fox, contributed $1 to the Republican Governors Association. Don’t believe them. They are no more shocked to read this than Captain Renault was shocked to find that there was gambling going on at Rick’s in Casablanca.

Do I have draw this out on Glenn Beck’s blackboard? Fox, the Republican Party, and the Republican Governors Association are all parts of the same organization. Fox is one of the main propaganda organs for the Party. It’s just like how Pravda, the Communist Party, and the government of the USSR were all the same group. Pravda and Fox have the same function in promoting an authoritarian political party. It was like an interdepartmental shift of money.

So really, there’s nothing all that surprising about one arm of the conservative movement moving some money to another. It’s not even anything new. Rupert Murdoch gave $1 million to the California Republican Party in 1996.

Glee Makes Fun of Dumb Cheerleaders and Sarah Palin, Upsetting Conservatives

The above scene from Glee contains one of the best lines from network television this week. The video was obtained from Crooks and Liars where I found, not surprisingly, that conservatives are very upset over the way it mocks Sarah Palin. Susie Madrak pointed out this post by Patrick Goldstein of The Los Angeles Times:

I’m not the world’s biggest “Glee” fan, but from what I’d heard from my 11-year-old’s school chums, the musical show is a fun, lighthearted look at a fictional high school glee club in Lima, Ohio. Or, as the San Francisco Chronicle put it, the show is a “quirky, sweet, humorous, non-partisan funfest.”

But now the pundits in the conservative blogosphere, always quick to pull the trigger whenever they see Hollywood trying to hypnotize America using its all-powerful left-wing propaganda machine, have raised the alarm about “Glee,” citing a disrespectful slam at Sarah Palin in the show’s Tuesday night return to the airwaves. As the Newsbusters website described it, Jane Lynch, who plays a conniving high school cheerleading coach, told two of her cheerleaders: “You may be two of the stupidest teens I’ve ever encountered. And that’s saying something. I once taught a cheerleading seminar to a young Sarah Palin.”

“Glee” was already in hot water with the right wing, since the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, had in previous episodes made fun of abstinence education and, as Newsbusters puts it, “tried to normalize teen homosexuality.” Apparently on the right, treating gay kids as regular folks, instead of as scary deviants, is cause for alarm.

Not to be outdone, over at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood website, John Nolte has also weighed in with his usual light touch, claiming that the Palin gag was part of a concerted liberal effort to mesmerize your children with lefty propaganda. Here’s his not-quite-so-entirely levelheaded take:

“Glee” is millions of dollars of sound and fury aimed squarely at your children. And as we can now see, the creators are all about getting between you and your kids with their political and social agendas. They know Palin is a growing political force and nothing’s off the table when it comes to marginalizing her — even at the expense of their own show’s entertainment value — even at the expense of audience share.

Poor Ryan Murphy. I guess it would’ve been oh-so-much simpler if he’d just had Jane Lynch tell the silly cheerleaders that they were the dumbest teens she’d ever seen. And that was saying something, since she’d once taught cheerleading to … Megan Fox. It would’ve gotten a nice knowing laugh without prompting any hysterical shrieks of angst from the right-wing blogosphere, which is so paranoid about Hollywood’s oppressive Marxist-Obamaism that it seems bent on getting worked up every time anyone in show business shows any signs of liberal bias.

(As you may recall, the righties were up in arms for weeks when Tom Hanks seemed to imply, while doing interviews promoting HBO’s “The Pacific” series, that there was some link between our war against Japan during World War II and the modern-day war on terrorism.)

But guess what? I’m betting that Murphy is a liberal and he liked the idea of a Sarah Palin joke. The same goes, in reverse, if you listen to right-wing-dominated talk radio, where you can hear Rush Limbaugh, pretty much any day of the week, making jokes about his favorite liberal whipping boys. Ditto for Fox News. The conservatives rule talk radio and cable TV, the liberals rule Hollywood and that’s the way it goes.

What I did find intriguing is that in all the attacks on “Glee,” none of the conservative bloggers got around to mentioning that, despite their constant drumbeat of charges that regular Americans don’t like Hollywood leftist entertainment, “Glee” is a huge hit, with its Tuesday night show drawing 13.7 million viewers, a huge leap forward from the average viewership of its first 13 episodes. And even more intriguing, the conservative bloggers somehow forgot to mention that this leftist propaganda show is, ahem, airing on Fox TV, which is owned, ahem, by arch conservative Rupert Murdoch.

Does that make Rupert a traitor to the cause? Or is he one of those conservatives who actually believes in creative freedom, where show-runners can offer their own special slant on the world as long as they attract enough eyeballs to have a hit show? Does that make Rupert a turncoat? Or is he just the kind of guy who, when it comes to entertainment, believes in different strokes for different folks?

As Madrak  points out, “the creative, talented kids have always sniped at the dumb cheerleaders.” And intelligent people have mocked Sarah Palin ever since she became known nationally, and will continue to mock such a dumb former half-term governor.

Yet one more thing is true. Conservatives will always complain about how they are the victims.

Richard Dawkins Misquoted By Murdoch-Owned Newspaper

You cannot trust what you read in a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch. The Times of London is running this false headline:  Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI. The newspaper erroneously reports:

RICHARD DAWKINS, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain “for crimes against humanity”.

Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.

The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.

Dawkins writes that this is untrue:

Needless to say, I did NOT say “I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI” or anything so personally grandiloquent. You have to remember that The Sunday Times is a Murdoch newspaper, and that all newspapers follow the odd custom of entrusting headlines to a sub-editor, not the author of the article itself.

What I DID say to Marc Horne when he telephoned me out of the blue, and I repeat it here, is that I am whole-heartedly behind the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope’s proposed visit to Britain. Beyond that, I declined to comment to Marc Horme, other than to refer him to my ‘Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope’ article here:

Here is what really happened. Christopher Hitchens first proposed the legal challenge idea to me on March 14th. I responded enthusiastically, and suggested the name of a high profile human rights lawyer whom I know. I had lost her address, however, and set about tracking her down. Meanwhile, Christopher made the brilliant suggestion of Geoffrey Robertson. He approached him, and Mr Robertson’s subsequent ‘Put the Pope in the Dock’ article in The Guardian shows him to be ideal:
The case is obviously in good hands, with him and Mark Stephens. I am especially intrigued by the proposed challenge to the legality of the Vatican as a sovereign state whose head can claim diplomatic immunity.

Even if the Pope doesn’t end up in the dock, and even if the Vatican doesn’t cancel the visit, I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope’s visit, let alone pay for it.

New York Times Again Planning To Charge For On Line Access

The New York Times is reportedly on the verge of announcing plans to charge for access to their site again. They have not decided how they will charge:

The Times has considered three types of pay strategies. One option was a more traditional pay wall along the lines of The Wall Street Journal, in which some parts of the site are free and some subscription-only. For example, editors and business-side executives discussed a premium version of Andrew Ross Sorkin’s DealBook section. Another option was the metered system. The third choice, an NPR-style membership model, was abandoned last fall, two sources explained. The thinking was that it would be too expensive and cumbersome to maintain because subscribers would have to receive privileges (think WNYC tote bags and travel mugs, access to Times events and seminars).

On line advertising has not been enough to support print media which offers their content on line but it is difficult for newspapers to charge when so much material is available free on line. Only newspapers with unique material stand a chance at being successful with charging. The Wall Street Journal is one paper which has been successful. Initially I considered it a bargain to subscribe to the on-line version as a far less expensive to my previous  hard copy subscription. Since Rupert Murdoch purchased the paper I have considered not renewing but so far have renewed.

I also subscribed to the previous attempt by The New York Times to charge for content but they took the opposite approach compared to The Wall Street Journal. The Times provided news content for free and charged for their columnists while the WSJ charges for much of their informational content while providing their editorial pages for free.

I was not surprised that people were willing to give up reading columnists if they had to pay. This ultimately hurt them by reducing international consideration of their viewpoints. For columnists, wide spread discussion of their views is part of their value and reducing access was counter productive. The Times has a better chance of getting away with charging for news content if they provide enough samples to demonstrate its value, especially if other top papers should also begin to charge.

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