Distort, Attack, Repeat: The Fox Propaganda Machine in Action
Fox may look like a news broadcast, but it’s really the advance guard of the GOP distortion machine. An hour-by-hour look at how Fox turns Obama into the second coming of V.I. Lenin
In a new Rolling Stone story, Tim Dickinson tells how onetime Nixon henchman Roger Ailes built Fox News into the most profitable propaganda machine in history. A master of dirty tricks, Ailes has amassed enormous power in the Republican Party – and the country – by pioneering a new form of political campaign, one in which Fox functions as a "giant soundstage created to mimic the look of a news operation,” disguising GOP talking points as journalism.
On the day after the president gave his State of the Union address in January, Fox News swung into full campaign mode, hammering Obama with five GOP talking points that have come to define the budget debate. The baldfaced distortions came not just from a parade of Republican politicians – who outnumbered Democrats by 3 to 1 – but from the network's own anchors.
Look through for an hour-by-hour rundown of the day's relentless Obama-bashing.
Every Day these clowns build their shows around the GOP talking points. Never a break, just the Republican line.
GOP Doesn't Have A Mitt Romney Problem, It Has A Fox News Problem
how President Obama won re-election by promising government-funded "gifts" to minority groups and young voters. As
Republicans jab Romney though, they're missing the larger, more pressing point: They don't have a Mitt Romney problem. They
have a Fox News problem.
Romney's "gifts" put-down echoed the infamous claim Romney made during the campaign that 47 percent of Americans see
themselves as "victims" and are overly dependent on the government. With the campaign concluded, lots of fellow Republicans now feel free to bash Romney:
• "It's nuts," said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
• "I absolutely reject what he said," announced Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
• "When you're in a hole, stop digging. He keeps digging," complained Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Though prominent conservatives are now lashing out at the former presidential candidate, the truth is Fox News has loudly championed the divisive philosophy behind Romney's "47 percent" and "gifts" comments for months and practically authored them for the Republican candidate. Last week Fox talkers cheered Romney's "gifts" post-election critique, treating it as a universal truth. (According to Fox Business host Stuart Varney, Obama was "buying votes with taxpayer money. Handouts all over the place.")
And it's not just a Fox News problem. Republicans have an even more expansive right-wing media problem (television, radio, Internet, etc.), which now doubles as the face and voice of the GOP and which celebrates the kind of toxic "47 percent" and "gifts" rhetoric that's being condemned within the party. The far-right press is convinced Obama won re-election by "offering" voters a "check" in exchange for their support.
As Media Matters noted:
Fox host Bill O'Reilly said that voters feel economic anxiety and just "want stuff," while Fox host Eric Bolling said Obama
is a "maker versus taker guy." Fox contributor Monica Crowley said that the election showed that "more people now are dependent on government than not." Rush Limbaugh compared the president to Santa Claus, saying that "small things beat big
things" in the election and "people are not going to vote against Santa Claus."
In fact, O'Reilly and Limbaugh rushed to take credit for Romney's "gifts" comments last week, since both of them had been pushing the "maker vs. taker" narrative in the wake of Romney's election loss.
The split over Romney's "gifts" remark highlights the larger divide within the conservative movement between two distinct camps: activists and politicians who want to get more Republicans elected vs. right-wing media players who want to grow their audience.
Note that after the Republican flop on Election Day, talk radio's Laura Ingraham dismissed conservative hand-wringers who
worried about the political future by stressing that "talk radio continues to thrive while moderate Republicans like John
McCain and to some extent Mitt Romney continue to lose presidential elections." That's how hosts like Ingraham view the
political landscape. That's how they determine success and failure, not by tallying the wins and losses posted by Republicans candidates, but by counting up the number of radio stations that carry their syndicated show.
The same is true with Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson. Asked why the conservative media completely failed in their attempt to "vet" Obama, who easily won re-election despite four years of hysterical, far-right claims about him, Carlson told BuzzFeed his publication's work had been a success because traffic to the site was up. (Carlson also blamed the "legacy media" for being hostile to his site's supposed "journalism.")
I'm sure that's comforting news to RNC leadership. And I'm sure the Daily Caller chasing inane, anti-Obama conspiracy theories for the next four years will put the Republican Party on firm footing for 2016.
For now, it's easy to blame Romney. That's what losing parties often do after an election, they pile-on the vanquished candidate. The part that would take some guts and fortitude would be calling out the right-wing media that are generating the type of hate rhetoric that Romney embraced and routinely used during the campaign.
Republicans won't because they're intimidated by the right-wing media's power. That's why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie quickly got on the phone with Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch after Murdoch tweeted that Christie, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and his bipartisan appearances with Obama, needed to re-endorse Romney or "take the blame" for the president's re-election.
Murdoch: Jump! Republicans: How high?
That unhealthy relationship is the reason why, when it comes to the simple question of whether America is divided between "makers and takers," and if the 62 million Americans who voted for Obama represent a decaying nation of moochers in search of handouts, there's a wide gulf within the conservative movement. The right-wing media consider the claim to be a central tenet, while Republican leaders think saying it out loud is completely batty and a prescription for an electoral losing streak.
So yes, those are conspicuous handcuffs the GOP is wearing: Fox News has hijacked the party's communications apparatus and
is pushing the type of paranoid, blame-the-voter rhetoric that loses elections, and the type of rhetoric Romney's now being blamed for.
But the GOP can't turn it off. In fact, most Republicans can't even work up enough courage to ask Fox News to turn down the volume.
Unwilling to acknowledge the GOP's future poses a long-term media problem (the topic is not to be discussed), Republicans
pretend they have a short-term Romney one.
A political party in which its main leaders are afraid to even state the obvious about science/evolution theories that have been around for a century can NOT lead the nation into the future. The GOP has become is a parody of their conservative values.
FOX Can't Get the Job Done Any More
Fox News understands its audience. Viewers tend to be older, white, male and, crucially, affluent. But this audience is no
longer politically dominant. The GOP must look beyond Fox to remain relevant.
5:24PM EST November 20. 2012 - Walk into the offices of almost any member of Congress and somewhere in the lobby you'll see
at least one TV screen. If it's tuned to Fox News, you can be reasonably certain you're visiting a Republican. Former Vice
President Dick Cheney famously required his advance teams to tune all the TVs in his hotel suites to Fox. Even in my own
bipartisan consulting firm you can tell the partisan leaning of who you are visiting with a quick "Fox Check" of their TV monitor or computer home-screen.
As a Democrat who once worked in media, I am filled with admiration for Fox. Don't get me wrong, the ideological bent of
the programming annoys me to no end, but it's supposed to because I'm a liberal. Therein you find the magic.
The folks at Fox have been hugely successful in tying their brand to a single political party and tying that party to them.
Republican voters nationwide know, in their heart of hearts, that to get the news they can use the only place to go is Fox.
Similarly, Republican politicians know that if Fox hosts take a stand on something the only smart thing to do is agree with them or face the ire of Fox's largely white, older and quick-to-anger audience – aka, the modern Republican base.
Dear Republicans, this has to end. For its very survival, the Republican Party must file for divorce from the Fox network.
Just as there is nothing wrong with a cable TV network, such as BET, targeting a mostly African American audience, there is
nothing wrong with Fox programming for a mostly older white and largely male audience. Both demographic groups have tremendous spending power which enables those networks to sell that advertising at profitable rates. That's what cable TV is about – selling advertising to make money.
Back before 2008, when that Fox demographic was sufficient for the Republican party to win national elections, it made perfect sense for the GOP to align with Roger Ailes' programming outlet.
We all may love our American way, but what political party wouldn't want a U.S. version of the old Soviet Izvestia, a "news" outlet that promotes the party line while ferociously attacking the other side? That's what the Republicans got with Fox and, while this might infuriate my fellow lefties, there was nothing wrong with that. Politics is about winning, and at one time the Fox/GOP combo was a victorious one.
Not any more.
If election night told us anything, it told us that attempting to win a national election by focusing your energy on an older, white and mostly male voter base was a loser's gamble. The coalition President Obama put together of younger women, African Americans, Hispanics and Asians is the coalition of the American future. The Fox/GOP base is the coalition of the American past – its votes are important, but no longer to the exclusion of everyone else's.
This isn't a Fox News problem. In fact, Fox should not do anything right now to broaden its base. Older white men will
always be a sizable portion of our population, and they'll continue to have money to spend on the products they see advertised on Fox.
That means huge revenues for Roger Ailes, the Murdochs and the whole Fox network.
It is, however, a Republican problem. The days of this being a mutually beneficial relationship are over. Demography is electoral destiny, and the demographics of Republican electoral victory are no longer aligned with the demographics of Fox profitability. I can only say to my Republican friends that it's time for Fox to go. Pick up the clicker and change the channel and do it soon, before the American people pull the plug on your party's future.
"My view is that Fox News is a propaganda outlet of the Republican Party and that I don't comment on Fox News."
6th Congressional District
Amherst Virginia Headlines
McCain Skipped A Briefing On Benghazi To Hold A Press Conference (on Benghazi)
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is demanding a special select committee to investigate the events leading up to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya and has held around-the-clock television appearances pressing for a complete review of the incident.
But all of the senator’s media interviews and press availabilities may be interfering with his ability to gather information about the event. On Thursday morning, CNN’s Dana Bash reported that McCain chose to hold a joint press conference with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) rather than attend a closed-door briefing about the attacks:
I have to tell you something that just happened on Capitol Hill, and that is our senate producer Ted Barrett just ran into John McCain and asked about something that we’re hearing from Democrats, which is John McCain is calling for more information to Congress, but he had a press conference yesterday instead of going to a closed briefing where administration officials were giving more information. Well, Ted Barrett asked John McCain about that, and it was apparently an intense very angry exchange and McCain simply would not comment on it at all.
McCain would not offer comment to CNN. When pressed by CNN’s Ted Barrett reporter to explain his absence, the Senator
responded angrily: “Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or
At least one Republican senator is criticizing McCain for skipping the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee briefing, The Cable’s Josh Rogin reports. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), “who was there at briefing, and Senator McCain,
who was not, are members of our committee, and I know they would play very important roles,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and other Republicans have dismissed the need for a select committee.
John McCain has reached the point where he is not even a shadow of a senator. His staff does all the work and carries him as best they can. McCain screams out for attention and when not talking from staff notes makes a complete fool of himself. He is foul tempered and useless and most likely medics will tote him off the senate floor. McCain will never recover from the thumping President Obama gave him and the worst decision of his life, Sarah Palin. A foul tempered old man spending his last days seeking attention and promoting war with other countries. Arizona must be very proud.
Lieberman on McCain, Graham: ‘My two amigos’ wrong on Benghazi hearings
security policies but on Sunday said that “my two amigos” were wrong to call for a Watergate-style investigation into September attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi.
with the demand that Congress create a joint select committee like those used to investigate Watergate and the Iran-Contra affair.