Friday Evening Open Thread: Fox News, Enemy of Democracy

Given First Amendment protections, Fox News can do pretty much what it wants on the air. It can shrug at Hannity’s excesses. It can allow Tucker Carlson’s misleading rants on immigrants and crime. It can constantly undermine special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Trump.

But for mainstream journalists to suggest that there be no consequences or even recognition is willfully blind — and smacks of an unseemly inside-the-Beltway solidarity.

What Fox News has become is destructive. To state the obvious: Democracy, if it’s going to function, needs to be based on a shared set of facts, and the news media’s role is to seek out and deliver those facts…

… Fox News can continue to function as something close to Trump TV. It can go on spreading disinformation.

But everyone ought to see it for what it is: Not a normal news organization with inevitable screw-ups, flaws and commercial interests, which sometimes fail to serve the public interest.

But a shameless propaganda outfit, which makes billions of dollars a year as it chips away at the core democratic values we ought to hold dear: truth, accountability and the rule of law…

Did someone say ‘Tucker Carlson’?

Late Night SJW Open Thread: Women Aren’t *Supposed* to Be the Heroes

As always, click on any of these tweets to follow the whole thread…

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Fox News: “Servile Propaganda Operation”

Jane Mayer, arguably America’s best investigative reporter, exposes Fox News as the “servile propaganda operation” it is in a blockbuster story in the current edition of The New Yorker:The Making of the Fox News White House.”

It’s not that we didn’t already know or suspect much of what Mayer covers in her report; it’s that she brought new facts to the surface, shed light on shadowy relationships and connected many dots, all in a single story. Here are some highlights Mayer herself tweeted or retweeted:

We’ve said more than once around here that if Fox News had been around in Nixon’s day, he might have survived Watergate. The final graf of Mayer’s story reiterates that point:

Jerry Taylor, the co-founder of the Niskanen Center, a think tank in Washington for moderates, says, “In a hypothetical world without Fox News, if President Trump were to be hit hard by the Mueller report, it would be the end of him. But, with Fox News covering his back with the Republican base, he has a fighting chance, because he has something no other President in American history has ever had at his disposal—a servile propaganda operation.”

That doesn’t go far enough. Leaving aside the Mueller report, Trump’s public antics to date should have caused his “presidency” to collapse in scandal.

Fox News has been a cancer since its inception, but its fusion with Trump made it more reckless and powerful. The GOP has leveraged stupidity and hate to fight democracy and advance the interests of plutocrats for generations, but its merger with Trump made it more openly racist, sexist, xenophobic and greedy, as it mirrors the qualities of the demagogue it animated and sustains. Mayer skillfully lays all this out in a must-read story.

I have no idea how to address our nation’s Fox News problem, but blowing the lid off the network’s shenanigans as Mayer did seems important. One thing Fox News relies on — it’s founding principle, really — is the timidity of the mainstream Beltway press, most members of which have long pretended that Fox News is just a regular old cable news network.

Remember when the Obama administration correctly observed that Fox is “not a news organization,” sending cable news personality Jake Tapper and others to the fainting couches? Well, the Obama administration was right then, and the problem is even worse now.

Tapper and Co. righteously (and rightly) harangue Trump for painting targets on the backs of reporters; maybe a glimpse of how seamlessly Fox News amplifies and justifies Trump’s attacks will cause the Tappers of the world to reevaluate their “sister network.” Haha, nope, probably not!

Anyhoo, in my more optimistic moments, I hope Trump’s shit-Midas touch will boomerang back, causing the lies he flings as artifacts of projection to stick to their rightful objects. It’s Trump who’s the fucking crook. It’s his Republican lackeys who engage in witch hunts. Voter fraud that supposedly benefits Democrats isn’t a real problem, but election fraud to benefit Republicans damn sure is. There’s a crime wave alright, but it’s not undocumented immigrants — it’s corrupt white collar crooks and influence peddlers. And Fox News is fake news.

I don’t have a lot of hope that any of this will come to pass, but Mayer’s latest piece sure wraps up the last bit neatly. If the “view from nowhere” media yappers and Fox News reporters who still regard themselves as actual journalists are going to keep pretending that Fox News is legitimate, their delusion must be classified henceforth as “willful.”

PS: Sorry about the Twitter chain above — that’s not my preferred format. But since all of these tweets are from Mayer’s feed, it seemed like the simplest way to highlight what she thought were the most important aspects of the story. But do read the whole thing!

#CNN Townhall Open Thread: Bernie Should Definitely Run… in the *GOP* Primaries

Thanks so much, CNN media person, for your clarifying insight!

Shallow impression: Unless CNN’s makeup crew is moonlighting from their Industrial Light & Magic gig, Somebody seems to have had some work done. But has he, as they say, done the work?

Well, he’s had two years to come up with a better response than ‘My wife ate my homework does our taxes, also: printer glitch!’… and yet, here we are…

Sounds like the current Republican Squatter-in-Chief, yes?

Also: Nothing says I’m the real progressive! like screaming at a young woman who *dares* question you about your campaign’s history of mishandling sexual harrassment issues…

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“Who’s a good debate moderator? You are!” (Open Thread)

Like me, you’re probably expecting the upcoming primary debates to be a shit-show thanks to crappy moderators angling for click-baity soundbites. Someone in my Twitter timeline (can’t remember who, and Twitter doesn’t make backtracking easy) asked folks to suggest unconventional debate formats.

I think a Puppy Bowl-style forum would be revealing since dogs are generally good judges of character; here’s Elizabeth Warren cavorting with the Obama Bros’ dogs during a podcast appearance:

I’m only half-kidding. Trump claims he doesn’t have a dog because he doesn’t have time for one, but we know that’s a lie because a) Ivana’s dog hated his guts, and b) he has time to tweet nonsense like this every day:

Of course, the rest of us know Sanders entered the race yesterday, but Trump just found out this morning during the Fox & Friends Presidential Daily Briefing. Anyhoo, fuck that motherfucker — back to debate formats.

A while back, someone here suggested allowing the League of Women Voters to run them, which is a fine idea, IMO. But the networks aren’t going to let that cash cow out of the barn.

If I were running the DNC, I’d start working the refs now to demand a substantive debate. Or, failing that, maybe a Puppy Bowl. It would be more entertaining and revelatory than watching Jake Tapper — or, God help us, Hugh Hewitt — ask inane, loaded questions. And with all the women running this time, you know the sexist knobs at the networks will be unable to restrain themselves from attempting to provoke a “cat fight.” Yeah, dogs would be better.

Open thread!