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In describing pushback on the delayed oversight killing, Kevin Drum quotes from the Washington Post:

The House GOP moved to withdraw changes made the day before to official rules that would rein in the Office of congressional Ethics. Instead, the House will study changes to the office with an August deadline.

"Oh please," he comments:

Trump didn't object to Republicans gutting the ethics office. He just thought they should do it later, when fewer people might notice. And that's what they're doing. They'll "study changes" and then gut the office in August, when everyone is on vacation.

Meanwhile, media outlets are falsely giving Trump credit for the reversal:

According to CNN, "President-elect Donald Trump dramatically strong-armed House Republicans into line Tuesday in his first Washington power play."

While it is true that Donald Trump criticized congressional Republicans, so did many other people.

And it is not true that he opposed gutting the OCE. His response this morning was only to say that while the OCE's existence was "unfair" to Republicans, that there were more important priorities to focus on.

We need to keep hammering on his unparalleled unpopularity, writes Eric Boehlert, who observes that "Trump's contrast with Obama in late 2008 is stunning:"

Obama entered 2009 with a 68 percent favorable rating. Today, Trump's favorable rating stands at an anemic 43 percent. And if history is any indication, that rating is almost certain to go down once the new president takes office.

Given the plurality of Americans who expect Trump to be a "poor" or "terrible" president, he wonders "what explains the press's passive, often genuflecting coverage of Trump since November?"

If Trump had just posted a 49-state, Reagan-esque landslide victory, I could more readily understand why the press would be acquiescing so regularly. But Trump just made history by losing the popular tally by nearly three million votes and remains, without question, the least popular president-elect since modern-day polling was invented.

Yet members of the press seem unduly intimidated by his presence, and have even rewarded him with chatter of an invisible "mandate." (He has none.)

Then he asks the big question:

Does anyone think that if Hillary Clinton had won in November while badly losing the popular vote to Trump, and then posted historically awful approval ratings during her transition, that story would not dominate Beltway coverage day after day, week after week?

And don't forget the press's entrenched fascination with Obama's public approval during his presidency, particularly the desire to depict "collapsing" support when, in fact, Obama's approval rating remained stubbornly stable for years.

There's a glaring Trump transition story hiding in plain sight: He's historically unpopular. The press ought to start telling that tale on a daily basis.

Crooks & Liars snarks that WSJ editor Gerard Baker won't report Trump's lies as "lies" because...reasons:

When Donald Trump says things that are undoubtedly lies, not even just hyperbole, Mr. Baker is of the opinion that calling a lie a lie will alienate readers, as if "readers" are also Trump supporters. You are also forbidden to have any controversial opinions, no matter how factual you are, because certain people don't like the truth. Being honest in a way they perceive as derogatory will cause them not to 'trust' you.

Here is Baker's statement:

GERARD BAKER: I'd be careful about using the word, "lie." "Lie" implies much more than just saying something that's false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.

As long as these returning champions come back every Sunday, it's okay to sugar coat lies as something the consumer decides is true or false, because you gotta get those advertising dollars. [...]

Thanks to this failure to call a lie exactly what it is, Trump's supporters believe the most outlandish fallacies to be true and by golly, no one will convince them of the facts without being labeled something awful, like 'educated' or 'intellectual elitist' or a 'thinker.'

Daily Kos's 9 craziest things that Trump voters believe refers to an Economist/YouGov survey (PDF); here are some of the lowlights, beginning with the question "Is the country better off now than it was eight years ago?"

Most Americans recall that eight years ago the nation was descending into an economic abyss. The stock market dropped 46 percent. Unemployment shot up to 10.1 percent. Home foreclosures hit record figures. And total household wealth declined by more than $19 trillion.

Yet somehow a whopping 60 percent of Trump voters responded to this question saying that the country was better off eight years ago than today. Another 19 percent say there is no difference. That's after stocks climbed back from about 7,000 to nearly 20,000. And unemployment dropped to 4.9 percent. The auto industry that was on the brink of collapse is reporting record profits. And the delusions of the Trumpsters are unique to their breed. Only 21 percent of Democrats thought 2009 was a better year.

That's not the only example, either. Only 36 percent of them realize that climate change is real, "only 26 percent of Trump voters correctly said that [the number of] persons without insurance decreased," and "68 percent of them said that it was definitely/probably true that Saddam had WMDs." Also, Obama's birth certificate is fake ("52 percent continue to say that Obama is definitely/probably a native Kenyan") and Pizzagate is real("46 percent of Trump voters said that this ludicrous fiction was definitely/probably true").

As Daily Kos reminds us, "this epidemic of ignorance was not accidental:"

It was a deliberate act of disinformation by Trump and the Republican Party. And the media bears its share of responsibility for putting ratings and profit before journalistic ethics.

MediaMatters quotes from CNN's Reliable Sources to make a point about skeptical journalists:

BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Let's tell some truths about lying, because the way Donald Trump lies has people rethinking some of the basic premises of journalism, like the assumption that everything a president says is automatically news. When President-elect Trump lies so casually, so cynically, the news isn't so much the false thing he said, it's that he felt like he could just go ahead and say it, go ahead and lie to you. That's the story. Why does he bend and flex and twist and warp and distort the truth? Personally I'm curious because I think Trump does it differently than past presidents. His lies are different and deserve scrutiny.

"I think fact-checking is important," Stelter continues, "but the framing of these stories is even more important." Digby concurs, writing that "what Stelter is saying is true:"

There's a lot of data out there showing that when people are shown facts it only tends to reinforce their own biases. [...] Journalism cannot rely on simply fact-checking, although it's important to do it. It has to try to promote truth, not just facts, and that means they have to think hard about ways to talk about politics and government that successfully does that.

"We are in big trouble," she observes, "if we don't figure out a way to govern from a common reality."

Hemant Mehta defends Snopes against distractions:

It's been a rough PR week for the people behind fact-checking website Snopes.com. There was a nasty piece against the site's founders and staffers at the Daily Mail and an article drawing attention to those attacks at the New York Times.

Ignore the distractions for a moment. The only question that matters is whether Snopes is reliable. Does it do a good job of setting the record straight on urban legends and (actual) fake news?

Mehta admits to having "no interest in the personal lives of the couple that founded the site:"

The people who accuse Snopes, or PolitiFact, or any other similar site of being biased -- often conservatives unhappy to have their pet conspiracy theories debunked by people who know better -- have no understanding of how fact-checking works. [...]

The personal lives of the people behind it are irrelevant, and anyone who brings that subject up as a reason to discredit the site are simply trying to distract you.

Don't fall for it.

Salon points out that all news is fake news in the Right's war on truth. "Conservatives," writes digby, "are launching an attack on the concept of reality itself"--one that's been brewing since the Reagan Era:

Conservatives learned to challenge the media's alleged liberal bias as a tactic to make reporters leery of any news that reflected negatively on conservatives. It was very effective. By the time right-wing talk radio came along and later Fox News, with its pretensions of being "fair and balanced," conservatives had convinced millions of people that their version of reality was the truth and that mainstream media and major newspapers were all catering to the liberals.

"The right-wing media complex," she writes, "is all-in on this:"

According to the Times, everyone from Laura Ingraham to Erick Erickson to Donald Trump himself is labeling anything they disagree with, including the fact-check sites like Snopes or Factcheck.org, as "fake news." Millions of people have been conditioned to believe their claims for years, which means polarization is only likely to get worse. If Americans can't even agree which facts are real, it's hard to see how we're going to be able to govern ourselves.

Michael Shermer offers some hope by explaining how to convince someone when facts fail:

Have you ever noticed that when you present people with facts that are contrary to their deepest held beliefs they always change their minds? Me neither. In fact, people seem to double down on their beliefs in the teeth of overwhelming evidence against them. The reason is related to the worldview perceived to be under threat by the conflicting data.

He lists Creationists, anti-vaxxers, 9/11 truthers climate-change deniers, and birthers as instances of this tendency:

In these examples, proponents' deepest held worldviews were perceived to be threatened by skeptics, making facts the enemy to be slayed. This power of belief over evidence is the result of two factors: cognitive dissonance and the backfire effect.

For another example, we can consider the question what does the science say about torture's efficacy?

The US president-elect Donald Trump has on several occasions insisted that torture is a good idea and that procedures such as water-boarding are not "tough enough" when dealing with terrorist groups like Islamic State.

"The view is clearly morally and ethically questionable," the piece continues:

Torture has a long history, and despite being prohibited worldwide (in 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations inserted the prohibition against torture in the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights), the use of torture appears to be increasing worldwide.

"The evidence that torture works appears to be anecdotal [and] the available science simply does not support the argument that torture is effective." Sadly, the Right's anti-objectivity efforts have been quite effective. Sometimes I'm not sure which campaign is more dangerous.

TPM's Josh Marshall expresses skepticism, calling fake news "the bright, shiny object of the post-2016 election America:"

I think there's a legitimate question about how much many people actually 'believe' what we call 'fake news'. In many cases, 'fake news', the latest manufactured outrage, functions as a kind of ideational pornography, ideas and claims that excite people's political feelings, desires and fears and create feelings of connection with kindred political spirits.

NYT's look at conservatives' Bizarro world mentions that Breitbart News "dismissed reports on the intelligence assessment as "left-wing fake news:"

Rush Limbaugh has diagnosed a more fundamental problem. "The fake news is the everyday news" in the mainstream media, he said on his radio show recently. "They just make it up."

The piece notes that "top Republicans and even Mr. Trump himself, incredulous about suggestions that fake stories may have helped swing the election, have appropriated the term and turned it against any news they see as hostile to their agenda:"

In defining "fake news" so broadly and seeking to dilute its meaning, they are capitalizing on the declining credibility of all purveyors of information, one product of the country's increasing political polarization. And conservatives, seeing an opening to undermine the mainstream media, a longtime foe, are more than happy to dig the hole deeper.

Trumpian dishonesty

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Trump bragged that 100% of donations to his eponymous foundation go to "wonderful charities," but PoliticusUSA points out that his claim is ridiculous:

Trump's dishonesty is breathtaking in scope, given how he used his foundation to buy portraits of himself to hang in his own properties and an autographed Tim Tebow helmet, not to mention, as Rebecca Berg was quick to point out, "A large chunk of money went to advance Trump's political prospects."

Also, "The Trump Foundation gave a quarter of a million dollars to settle lawsuits involving @realDonaldTrump's businesses." In addition, MSNBC noted about that Trump's announcement "that he would dissolve his namesake foundation to avoid any potential conflict of interest during his time as president:"

The plan may quickly run into a snag, however. [...]

"The Trump Foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete," New York Attorney General spokesperson Amy Spitalnick said in a statement released Saturday.

"We know Trump's lying," the piece continues, "in part because the Trump Foundation has already admitted that some of its money covered non-charitable expenses:"

Trump used foundation money to buy giant portraits of himself. Trump used foundation money to make illegal campaign contributions. Trump used foundation money to settle private-sector lawsuits. Trump used foundation money to support conservative political entities that could help further his partisan ambitions. [...]

A month ago, the Trump Foundation admitted in official documents that "it violated a legal prohibition against 'self-dealing,' which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity's money to help themselves, their businesses or their families." The materials, filed with the IRS, were signed by Trump himself - so it's not as if he can credibly claim he had no idea what was going on.

It's not just the dishonesty, though; "what's alarming about Trump's latest deception is how brazen it is:"

The president-elect knows his claims are false, and he must realize that anyone with a passing familiarity with current events knows it, too. But Trump just doesn't care about getting caught lying, in part because his followers don't care, in part because he's counting on news organizations to push back against his lies with kid gloves, and in part because he assumes much of the public will reject any evidence published by journalists. [...]

The more inclined Trump is to keep this up-is-down experiment going, the more mind-numbing the next four years are going to be.

In other news, Kevin Drum dissects another Trump tweet, this one even more self-serving:

The world was gloomy before I won - there was no hope. Now the market is up nearly 10% and Christmas spending is over a trillion dollars! -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2016

"In a mere 26 words," Drum notes, "Trump has managed to mislead his audience in three separate ways without quite lying about anything:"

In the grand scheme of things, this doesn't matter. But it's still a fascinating little insight into how Trump gaslights his followers and the nation into believing that he's the savior of the country. Most people have no idea about any of these numbers, so he can say anything he wants and he's likely to be believed. Nor will fact checking change this even a tiny bit.

Is he warming up to be 2017's Misinformer of the Year?

Matthew Yglesias' letter to future historians sounds an ambivalent note about our current situation. "I hope it will all turn out for the best," he writes, "But I fear that it will not:"

The election of a man temperamentally unfit to the presidency and lacking in the basic qualifications to perform the job, backed up by congressional allies who seem determined to ignore his flagrant corruption, is an alarming situation. The odds that he will systematically corrupt American institutions and install an authoritarian kleptocracy or blunder into some kind of catastrophic war seem simply too high to entirely discount.

"No matter how stupid it sounds," he points out, "the dominant issue of the 2016 campaign was email server management." He then reminds us that "Email fever reached its peak on two separate major occasions:"

One was when Comey closed the investigation. Instead of simply saying "we looked into it and there was no crime," Comey sought to immunize himself from Clinton critics by breaking with standard procedure to offer extended negative commentary on Clinton's behavior. He said she was "extremely careless."

Comey then brought the email story back to the center of the campaign in late October by writing a letter to Congress indicating that the email case had been reopened due to new discoveries on Anthony Weiner's laptop. It turned out that the new discoveries were an awfully flimsy basis for a subpoena, and the subpoena turned up nothing.

His details are damning:

• The New York Times dedicated 100 percent of its above-the-fold space to coverage of Comey's letter to Congress.
• Throughout the campaign season, network newscasts dedicated more time to Clinton's email server stories than to stories about all policy issues combined.
• Donald Trump's campaign rallies featured regular "lock her up" chants, centering the email server as the opposition's main criticism of Clinton.
• Across five television networks and six major newspapers, 11 percent of campaign coverage was stories about Clinton's email server.

"Indeed," he continues, "research from Gallup indicates that emails dominated what voters heard about Clinton all throughout the campaign," as these wordclouds demonstrate:

20161226-wordcloud.jpg

Even at the time, some of us found it hardly credible that a decision as weighty as who should be president was being decided on the basis of something as trivial as which email address the secretary of state used. Future generations must find it even harder to believe.

Digby makes a great point--that "It's actually a testament to her rectitude that a vague scandal called 'emails!' was all they came up with:"

They had certainly tried over the course of 25 years to come up with something real and they ended up having to make up this ridiculous fake scandal to justify their Javert-like obsession. Unfortunately, it worked as perfectly as any Clinton-scandal ever worked. It was a complicated story that added up to nothing but fit the "didn't pass the smell test" narrative for the media so they pimped it and pimped it and pimped it like it was Watergate.

Speaking of not passing a smell test:

Now we have Trump, the horror story some of us were screaming about until we were hoarse for the last 18 months, knowing that he could and might very well win unless the media, the Republican establishment and some very silly voters sobered up. They didn't. And now we all have to deal with the hangover.

Eric Boehlert presents the disgusting mental image of NBC in bed with Trump:

The parent company for NBC News, one of the largest news organizations in America, is going to maintain its business relationship with the president of the United States; the same Donald Trump whom NBC announced last year didn't reflect the company's "core values," which was why NBC publicly terminated its business relationship with him.

But now after winning the White House, it turns out Trump is going to stay on as executive producer for the latest incarnation of The Apprentice reality show, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. And all of this we're learning just days after Trump made a big public show about how he was going to remove himself from his business conflicts. [...]

It's impossible to suggest those conflicts for NBC will soon evaporate when Trump's sworn into office. In fact, they'll only multiply.

"Meanwhile," Boehlert writes, "a key point is that this is just the latest in the media's rampant normalization of Trump's wildly abnormal behavior:"

Every modern-day president before Trump, and every modern-day nominee before him, pledged to make sure not only wouldn't there be any conflicts of interest surrounding their presidencies, but there wouldn't even any appearances of conflicts; of cashing in on the Oval Office. (Cue Richard Nixon: "People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.")

Now Trump does the opposite by openly flaunting obvious conflicts and the D.C. press largely shrugs its shoulders.


"false flag" at Fox

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John Bolton is suggesting that Russian hacking is a Democratic false-flag op. "This afternoon on Fox News," John Marshall reports, "John Bolton, the expected incoming Deputy Secretary of State suggested that reports of Russia hacking intervention in the 2016 election may actually be a false flag operation." Here are some tidbits from Bolton's interview with Eric Shawn:

BOLTON: It's not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag operation. [...]

SHAWN: For those who are bothered by your claim of a potential false flag, that's very disturbing as an American.

BOLTON: We would want to know who else might want to influence the election and why they would leave fingerprints that point to the Russians.

Has he been studying the Alex Jones playbook?

The Intercept's Robert Mackey writes that disinformation, not fake news, got Trump elected--reminding us that "a man with an assault rifle had stormed into a Washington pizzeria to 'self-investigate' an online conspiracy theory for which there is no evidence." Mackey writes, "I decided to confront some of the alt-right bloggers who had played a role in spreading the hoax on the social network:"

I'll admit there was something quixotic about the premise behind my intervention, namely the hope that people who have devoted hundreds of hours to spreading falsehoods intended to boost Donald Trump by tarnishing Hillary Clinton would suddenly transform into responsible adults when confronted by the dangerous behavior of a man who mistook the fantasy they peddled for reality.

But watching the campaign of disinformation that lifted Trump to the presidency continue and even accelerate after Election Day poses an obvious challenge for professional journalists, whose careers are dedicated to the premise that facts matter.

He quotes Sharif Silmi, who was at Comet Ping Pong with his family when the "self-investigation" occurred:

I hold @RogerJStoneJr and @RealAlexJones responsible for putting my family in danger today at the @cometpingpong -- Sharif Silmi, Esq (@bayreef) December 4, 2016

Mackey notes that "it is important to realize that the phenomenon we are confronting here is not simply fake news of the sort peddled for profit by apolitical entrepreneurs on Facebook:"

This is something different: a hoax created and released into the darker reaches of the internet for the express purpose of damaging the reputation of the Democratic candidate for the presidency.

When shoveling bullshit leads to flying bullets, we must do more to combat it.

Mark Ames notes that WaPo's blacklist appears to be linked to Ukrainian fascists:

What the Washington Post did in boosting an anonymous blacklist of American journalists accused of criminal treason is one of the sleaziest, and most disturbing (in a very familiar Kremlin way) things I've seen in this country since I fled for home. The WaPo is essentially an arm of the American deep state; its owner, Jeff Bezos, is one of the three richest Americans, worth $67 billion, and his cash cow, Amazon, is a major contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency. In other words, this is as close to an official US government blacklist of journalists as we've seen--a dark ominous warning before they take the next steps.

"WaPo's key source," Ames writes, "was an anonymous online group calling itself PropOrNot (i.e., "Propaganda Or Not"):"

The Washington Post cited PropOrNot as a credible source, and granted them the right to anonymously accuse major American news outlets of treason, recommending that the government investigate and prosecute them under the Espionage Act for spreading Russian propaganda.

Because the PropOrNot blacklist of American journalist "traitors" is anonymous, and the Washington Post front-page article protects their anonymity, we can only speculate on their identity with what little information they've given us.

Amanda Marcotte sees fake news spiraling out of control, although it remains "a big deal:"

Recent research suggests that the proliferation of conspiracy theories and other urban legends, vaguely disguised as real news and disseminated widely on social media, played a significant role in helping elect Donald Trump as president.

She notes that "the problem, at least in recent years, is much worse on the right:"

The hoaxers, conspiracy theorists and urban-legend generators have also become far more sophisticated than they used to be. Instead of disseminating their bullshit through ALL-CAPS emails and poorly designed right-wing blogs, they have learned to package urban legends with photos and headlines to create articles that look indistinguishable from legitimate news sources.

"Now that we know fake news is not harmless [after the Comet Ping Pong incident]," she continues, "what can we do about it?"

How should reality-based humans react when they encounter people spreading fake news stories on Facebook or hear someone sharing a dangerous urban legend in person? [...] Conspiracy theories aren't born from rational thought processes, and therefore can't really be addressed or debunked through rational thought processes.

"A lot of Americans hold what we call 'magical beliefs,' beliefs that are not substantiated by empirical evidence or contradict empirical evidence," said Eric Oliver, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, in a phone interview. "Magical beliefs serve as emotional palliatives. They are ways to explain the world that actually make us feel better."

This explanation is particularly evocative:

As an example, Oliver talked about his son's fear of monsters, which is the grade-school version of fake news.

"My 5-year-old, I tell him there's no monster in the closet," Oliver said. "And he says, 'If there's no monster in the closet, why am I afraid?'" [...]

"There's no amount of reasoning that's going to convince the 5-year-old there's not a monster in the closet," Oliver said. "What they're looking for, at that point, is acknowledgment that they're having this emotional experience."

The problem, though, is that emotions aren't self-justifying. How much placating to fear is necessary here: How far away from correspondence with reality must they get before we can call it a problem?

CounterPunch's CJ Hopkins looks at the process of manufacturing normality and asks, "Who's behind this "fake news" menace?"

Well, Putin, naturally, but not just Putin. It appears to be the work of a vast conspiracy of virulent anti-establishment types, ultra-alt-rightists, ultra-leftists, libertarian retirees, armchair socialists, Sandernistas, Corbynistas, ontological terrorists, fascism normalizers, poorly educated anti-Globalism freaks, and just garden variety Clinton-haters.

Hopkins writes that "what we are experiencing is the pathologization (or the 'abnormalization') of political dissent, i.e., the systematic stigmatization of any and all forms of non-compliance with neoliberal consensus reality:"

Political distinctions like "left" and "right" are disappearing, and are being replaced by imponderable distinctions like "normal" and "abnormal," "true" and "false," and "real" and "fake." Such distinctions do not lend themselves to argument. They are proffered to us as axiomatic truths, empirical facts which no normal person would ever dream of contradicting.

However, he continues, "binary oppositions like 'real' and 'fake,' and 'normal' and 'abnormal,' denote nothing:"

They are weapons deployed by a dominant group to enforce conformity to its consensus reality. This is how they're being used at the moment. [...]

In any event, we can all look forward to some serious pathologization of dissent throughout the coming four (and perhaps eight) years. And I'm not referring to Trump and his boys, though I'm certain they'll be in there slinging it too. I'm referring to our friends in the corporate media [who] will be monitoring liberals' every thought to ensure that fascism does not get normalized ... which God have mercy should that ever happen. Who knows how America might end up? Torturing people? Attacking other countries that pose no threat to it whatsoever? Indefinitely imprisoning people in camps? Assassinating anyone the president deems a "terrorist" or an "enemy combatant" with the tacit approval of the majority of Americans? Surveilling everyone's phone calls, emails, tweets, and reading and web-browsing habits?

Imagine the dystopia we would all be living in ... if things like that were considered "normal."

Joseph Natoli's rumination as to whether fake news is subjective quotes Jean Baudrillard and eventually admits that "This all amounts to a very sad situation:"

The scientific method is still around; empirical and rational methodologies are still around. And yet we are now have suddenly stuck our head through a curtain, like John Bunyan's pilgrim, and see nothing sacred or reliable beyond our own subjective responses, as if an objective world we could all rationally determine had vanished and what we now see are conspiracies of truth manipulation supported by equally spurious facts and evidence. Much of this fragmentation of truth and the methods and words that reveal it have been bred and nurtured in cyberspace where everything indiscriminately finds a place. A great democratization not unlike the chaos of an abyss.

A fundamental case of the lopsided world of political propaganda is that "liberals never take the bait" of fake news:

Given the proliferation of fake news, NPR spent some time tracking down one of the kings of this new industry in order to find out more.

Jestin Coler, owner of the fake news site Denverguaridan.com, commented:

"We've tried to do similar things to liberals. It just has never worked, it never takes off. You'll get debunked within the first two comments and then the whole thing just kind of fizzles out."

Meanwhile, Will Oremus implores us to stop calling everything fake news:

Fake news is a real, specific problem. But in all the furor around who's making it, who's sharing it, its impact, and how to stop it, it's easy to lose sight of something more fundamental: what it is. The broader the definition, the less useful the concept becomes--and it's already verging on counterproductive.

He notes with disdain that "the top fake news stories are often shared even more widely than the actual news [while] right-wingers stopped ignoring the fake news discussion and began to co-opt the phrase as a synonym for liberal bias:"

...throwing the term fake news back at the mainstream media allows the right-wing fringe not only to insult their specific targets, such as CNN, but to devalue the term itself and along with it the idea that there is any clear distinction between truth and fiction. It's no surprise that those on the right who have embraced the meme most enthusiastically include conspiracy-mongers such as Infowars, which built its reputation by suggesting that the U.S. government helped orchestrate the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 attacks. We're now faced with a grim irony in which mainstream news outlets reporting on "Pizzagate" as a fake news story are themselves being labeled fake news outlets by the conspiracy theorists that propagated it. [emphasis added]

At this point, no one can stop right-wing nuts from attaching fake news as an epithet to every CNN report that bothers them. But there may still be time for the reality-based community to find enough common ground to tackle the original problem. If we can't collectively find a way to counter misinformation so egregious that even its authors admit it's a hoax, the outlook for the media--and the truth--in the Trump era is bleak indeed.

Buzzfeed's look at where Trumps gets his news reveals many problems:

Since winning the presidential election, Donald Trump has reportedly skipped out on the majority of his intelligence briefings; this past Sunday, Trump made headlines after sharing false information blaming his loss of the popular vote on mass voter fraud -- a claim previously reported by the conspiracy news site Infowars. It's been widely reported that Trump is an obsessive consumer of cable news ... [...]

To better understand Trump's media consumption, BuzzFeed News turned to the president-elect's largest source of public proclamations and shared news: Twitter. While Trump's media consumption and methods appear opaque and unconventional, the stories he chooses to share with his now 16 million-plus followers offer a unique window into the news and commentary that catch his eye.

"BuzzFeed News reviewed 26,234 of Trump's 34,062 tweets," the piece continues, as well as "the 2,687 hyperlinks tweeted by Trump's personal Twitter account since he announced his candidacy in June 2015:"

The news stories Trump tweets share several characteristics: 1) They often favor sensationalism over facts and reporting; 2) They frequently echo direct quotes from Trump himself or his closest advisers; and 3) They routinely malign his enemies and vindicate his most controversial opinions.

"During campaign season," Buzzfeed continues, "Trump shared more Breitbart links to his more than 15 million followers than any other news organization:"

Trump's preferred content seems to be right-leaning, hyper-partisan sites and opinion blogs including Daily Caller (21 links), Newsmax (18), the Gateway Pundit (14 links), the Conservative Treehouse (11), the Political Insider (1), Conservative Tribune (1), Infowars (1), newsninja2012.com (5), and westernjournalism.com (1).

"Frequently, stories shared by Trump from hyper-partisan outlets sacrifice facts for convenience of narrative," which helps explain why "engagement from his account outperformed Hillary Clinton's substantially:"

In the three months leading up the election day (Aug. 9 to Nov. 8), Clinton's account tweeted 2,449 times with an average of 3,964 retweets; Trump tweeted 587 times with an average of 10,863 retweets.

both sides

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Slate's Jeremy Stahl suggests that liberals have a fake news problem, too:

A BuzzFeed analysis found that 38 percent of posts from three large right-wing politics pages featured "false or misleading information," compared to 20 percent from three large left-wing pages.

Stahl continues by observing that "it has become increasingly clear that the right wing does not have a monopoly on believing things that aren't true [and] don't even have a monopoly on being fooled by propaganda:"

As the Washington Post reported last week, one organization has started to catalogue the worst media offenders in disseminating anti-western Russian propaganda that has proliferated from Putin-sponsored media organs like Russia Today. Many of the offenders called out as "useful idiots" for picking up on and spreading this propaganda are alternative media sites with a left-wing bent like Naked Capitalism, Black Agenda Report, Consortium News, Truthdig, and Truth Out. (Some alternative media outlets have pushed back against the claim that some among them are witlessly spreading Russian disinformation.)

Sorry, but those liberal sources are apples and oranges--or chalk and cheese, if you prefer--compared to right-wing sites. Having said that, however, the Buzzfeed piece is worth perusing. Its sample is limited to a mere nine news sources (three liberal, mainstream, and three conservative) over the course of seven weekdays, but "the least accurate pages generated some of the highest numbers of shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook -- far more than the three large mainstream political news pages analyzed for comparison:"

Our analysis of three hyperpartisan right-wing Facebook pages found that 38% of all posts were either a mixture of true and false or mostly false, compared to 19% of posts from three hyperpartisan left-wing pages that were either a mixture of true and false or mostly false. The right-wing pages are among the forces -- perhaps as potent as the cable news shows that have gotten far more attention -- that helped fuel the rise of Donald Trump.

Here's the breakdown:

20161130-bothsides.jpg

It's no surprise, of course, that the Right lies more than the Left, so a factor of two to three is no surprise. I would like to see a follow-up study that's both wider (more news outlets) and over a longer time frame.

Chris Floyd looks at "the modern McCarthyite morass" of PropOrNot, where "long-time critics of various aspects of American foreign policy...were all mixed in with obvious propaganda mills and clickbait factories:"

The story is a smear piece just like Tailgunner Joe and Roy Cohn used to make. It makes a direct equation between dissent and treason, using the crudest, stupidest kind of cod-reasoning...

And here's another odd fact: PropORNot's list of those who peddle "fake news" doesn't include Breitbart.com, which is one of the master bullshit purveyors of the age.

Floyd snarks that, "fortunately, we have the Washington Post and its anonymous experts to guide us through the modern McCarthyite morass." Andrew O'Hehir writes that the 1933 scenario is no longer hypothetical, because Trump's "badness goes well beyond vulgarity, greed and bad hair:"

We don't know whether the election of Trump is an American echo of the winter of 1932-33 in Germany, when a fragile democracy collapsed into tyranny and an infamous demagogue rose to power on a promise of economic renewal and restored national pride, with an unmistakable racial subtext. It's an inflated comparison in many ways: Trump is too lazy and stupid to be a good Führer, and lacks any semblance of a consistent ideology; his true believers are nowhere near a majority, and are unlikely to participate in any form of mass mobilization that involves leaving the sofa. Kristallnacht is more likely to come back as a hashtag than a physical event. But if you're anything like me, the parallels seem far-fetched first thing in the morning and way too plausible in the middle of the night.

"Resistance and renewal and rebuilding," he writes, "will take many forms, and will take a long time:"

It took years for American politics to deteriorate badly enough that Donald Trump could be elected dogcatcher, let alone president. There's plenty of blame to go around. None of us did enough to stop it from happening, quite obviously. So now we confront a national emergency that must not be denied and an old question out of the history textbooks that cannot be avoided: Whose side are you on?

Trump miscellany

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Charles Blow's statement that no, we can't just get along refers to Trump's recent meeting with the publisher and staff of the New York Times:

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn't seek to prosecute Hillary Clinton. But he should never have said that he was going to do that in the first place.

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn't encourage the military to use torture. But he should never have said that he would do that in the first place.

He said that he would have an "open mind" on climate change. But that should always have been his position.

You don't get a pat on the back for ratcheting down from rabid after exploiting that very radicalism to your advantage. Unrepentant opportunism belies a staggering lack of character and caring that can't simply be vanquished from memory. You did real harm to this country and many of its citizens, and I will never -- never -- forget that.

His parting assessment is bluntly brutal:

You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything -- no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts -- to satisfy your ambitions.

Charles Sykes predicts that the Alt-Reality media is about to get worse:

As a #NeverTrumper, I had hoped that the election would prompt a moment of reckoning and introspection, not merely about conservative values but also the role of the conservative media. As someone who has spent much of his career promoting conservative values on my radio show, I was depending on it.

Clearly, that is not going to happen now. In fact, it's going to get a lot worse.

Trump's victory means that the most extreme and recklessly irresponsible voices on the right now feel emboldened and empowered. And more worrisome than that, they have an ally in the White House. [...]

It's possible that a Trump loss would have led to an exorcism of the worst elements of the conservative media. But they saw Trump's victory as their victory too. The newly weaponized conservative media genuinely believe that they have changed the paradigm of media coverage.

Alex Jones, Fox, and the other right-wing propaganda outlets have forged "the new alt-reality bubble"

This may suggest the role of the new right media--which includes talk radio, websites like Breitbart, the Drudge Report, and dozens of ScamPacs--is to keep dissenters in line. The media outlets function best when the dial is set at outrage and since they are too deeply invested to be outraged at any failures or reversals from Trump world, the anger will inevitably be focused on attacking the left and launching purges of the saboteurs and dissenters on the right.

Salon's look at the crony capitalism of Trump's con notes how "Republicans turned around and put Trump, the ultimate crony capitalist, into the Oval Office:"

To the surprise of exactly no one who paid attention during the campaign, the race had barely been called before the pile of xenophobic tangelo rinds was taking full advantage of his new position to work on business deals that will enrich himself, his family and any business owner wealthy enough to fly a private jet to New York and kiss his ring.

Part of Trump's pitch to Republican voters during the primary revolved around the idea that his wealth had come in part from his ruthless exploitation of this crony capitalist system. That his donations to politicians and cultivation of close relationships with them, for example, had helped him build his enormous business empire. Now, he told the voters, he was ready to fix this corrupt system, which had allowed a genius like him to conquer it and make it work for all Americans.

This is, to put it simply, utter bullshit. Even if you were inclined to believe it, everything Trump has done just in the two weeks since the election puts lie to it, from his staffing decisions for his administration to his continuing to conduct private business related to his empire, to his announced policies, like his infrastructure plan.

In fact, the infrastructure plan will likely go down as one of the biggest cons of the early Trump era.

Rebecca Gordon sees no new normal in the impending era, noting with dismay that "the terror that's shaken us the most is that, in the coming years, we might witness the final collapse of the rule of law in this country." Although "the past two administrations at least gave lip service to the rule of law," she continues, Trump is "a president-elect who has said he will simply ignore the law if it gets in his way:"

In a primary debate last March, he insisted that the military would follow any order he gave--whether to torture detainees or to "take out" the families of suspected terrorists. When debate moderator Bret Baier pointed out that soldiers are prohibited from obeying an illegal order, Trump answered, "They won't refuse. They're not gonna refuse me. Believe me. I'm a leader. I've always been a leader. I've never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they're going to do it." Apparently he got some advice about saying such things in public; the following day found him walking back the comments, acknowledging that "the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws." But it's pretty clear what he really thinks about the binding power of law.

There's so much to worry about with a Trump presidency.

She mentions the SPLC's counting 437 hate-crime incidents since the election, and makes a personal observation:

I've been remembering the times I've been yelled at, contemptuously addressed as "sir," or chased down the street by people who'd discerned that I'm a lesbian. Donald Trump has spent the last year telling people that their hatred is a good thing, and to feel free to express it with physical violence. It's no wonder some of us are a little scared.

The full-time faculty at my university has been working for months without a contract. We've had a change of administration, and the new regime is fighting hard against a demand for a very modest salary increase. To put the struggle into words, my colleagues have made buttons sporting a red circle and the words "new normal" with a red slash through it. I've been wearing one to show solidarity with my full-time colleagues. Since Donald Trump's election, I've taken to wearing it off campus as well. It seems like a particularly appropriate slogan these days for those of us who don't want the new normal to mean a return to a very old normal. Having it on makes me feel a bit braver and a bit more hopeful.

She concludes with a welcome bit of optimism that "Hope is the wall we can build, stone by stone, to fence in a future Trumpian autocracy."

NCRM discusses how the Secret Service will lease space in Trump Tower:

The U.S. Secret Service is expected to lease two full floors at New York City's Trump Tower to protect the incoming president and is family. One floor is currently empty, the second currently houses Trump's campaign HQ. The cost to taxpayers for the real estate rental will be $3 million each year, the New York Post reports. [...]

New York City taxpayers are reportedly paying more than $1 million a day to help secure what has become the Fifth Avenue fortress.

Oliver Willis notes that the Russian propaganda campaign "was behind fake news efforts designed to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, according to a Washington Post report:"

According to the paper, Independent researchers say the fake news flood was aided by "a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy."

WaPo's Craig Timberg concurs:

The flood of "fake news" this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

Russia's increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery -- including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human "trolls," and networks of websites and social-media accounts -- echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia. [...]

The tactics included penetrating the computers of election officials in several states and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed Clinton in the final months of her campaign.

Additionally, "researchers used Internet analytics tools to trace the origins of particular tweets and mapped the connections among social-media accounts that consistently delivered synchronized messages:"

Identifying website codes sometimes revealed common ownership. In other cases, exact phrases or sentences were echoed by sites and social-media accounts in rapid succession, signaling membership in connected networks controlled by a single entity.

PropOrNot's monitoring report, which was provided to The Washington Post in advance of its public release, identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans. On Facebook, PropOrNot estimates that stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.

Some players in this online echo chamber were knowingly part of the propaganda campaign, the researchers concluded, while others were "useful idiots" -- a term born of the Cold War to describe people or institutions that unknowingly assisted Soviet Union propaganda efforts.

"The speed and coordination of these efforts," the piece concludes, "allowed Russian-backed phony news to outcompete traditional news organizations for audience:"

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied interfering in the U.S. election or hacking the accounts of election officials. "This is some sort of nonsense," Dmitry Peskov, press secretary for Putin, said last month when U.S. officials accused Russia of penetrating the computers of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations.

Sapna Maheshwari demonstrates how fake news spreads with this case study:

Eric Tucker, a 35-year-old co-founder of a marketing company in Austin, Tex., had just about 40 Twitter followers. But his recent tweet about paid protesters being bused to demonstrations against President-elect Donald J. Trump fueled a nationwide conspiracy theory -- one that Mr. Trump joined in promoting.

Mr. Tucker's post was shared at least 16,000 times on Twitter and more than 350,000 times on Facebook. The problem is that Mr. Tucker got it wrong. There were no such buses packed with paid protesters.

But that didn't matter.

"The next morning, the frenzy began," the analysis continues, as the rumor spread from Reddit to Free Republic and beyond. "By about noon, Mr. Tucker's initial post had been retweeted and liked more than 5,000 times:"

Around 6 p.m., the conservative blog Gateway Pundit posted a story using Mr. Tucker's images under the headline "Figures. Anti-Trump Protesters Were Bussed in to Austin #FakeProtests." The post, which included a mention of "Soros money," has been shared on Facebook more than 44,000 times, according to statistics on the website. [...] Then, shortly after 9 p.m., Mr. Trump sent this tweet:
Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair! -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2016

Snopes and other debunked their tall tale, but "None of this seemed to have much impact:"

Mr. Tucker's initial tweet continued to generate thousands of shares on Facebook through Free Republic and pages like Right Wing News and Joe the Plumber.

When this crap flourishes so rapidly, what happens to our crops?

representation

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GLAAD's annual report on LGBT characters on TV, the "Where We Are on TV" study, "looks at the number of LGBTQ characters on cable networks and streaming services for the 2016-2017 TV season:"

  • Of the 895 series regular characters expected to appear on broadcast scripted primetime programming in the coming year, 43 (4.8%) were identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer. This is the highest percentage of LGBTQ series regulars GLAAD has ever found. There were an additional 28 recurring LGBTQ characters.

Racist and sexist under-representation are still evident:

  • While this year's report marks a record-high percentage of black series regulars on broadcast (20%), black women remain underrepresented at only 38% of all black series regular characters.
  • This year, 44% of regular characters on primetime broadcast programming are women, which is an increase of one percentage point from last year but still greatly underrepresents women who make up 51% of the population.

The Advocate proclaims that "TV has never been queerer," although LGBTQ Nation notes that "More than 25 lesbian and bisexual female characters died on scripted broadcast, cable and streaming series this year:"

While TV remains far ahead of film in gay representations, the medium "failed queer women this year" by continuing the "harmful 'bury your gays' trope," the report said. [...] It's part of a decade-long pattern in which gay or transgender characters are killed to further a straight character's storyline, GLAAD said, sending what it called the "dangerous" message that gay people are disposable.

Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD's CEO, comments that:

"While it is heartening to see progress being made in LGBTQ representation on television, it's important to remember that numbers are only part of the story, and we must continue the push for more diverse and intricate portrayals of the LGBTQ community," said Ellis.

Salon's Chauncey DeVega wrote a piece on peak propaganda which points out that Fox's viewers:

...are much more critical of Obama; are afraid of Hillary Clinton; and have a much more negative attitude about the future of the United States than the general public. Fox News viewers are also much more likely to believe that the presidential election will somehow be manipulated or subjected to fraud and that the American news media is conspiring against Donald Trump. [...]

In all, Fox News is extremely dangerous to the public discourse and consensus politics in America because it creates a feedback loop among conservatives, one that is almost impossible to break.

"This has a deleterious impact," he continues, "on the ability of Republicans to legislate and govern in a responsible manner:"

CNN and other outlets in the American corporate news media are complicit in perpetuating this alternate reality -- they are reluctant to speaking plainly about Fox News and its role in disseminating Right-wing lies and disinformation because they have been bullied into submission by the myth of the so-called "liberal media."

The sum effect of this is that CNN and other major American news outlets elevate Right-wing talking points and falsehoods to the level of factual "news." This legitimizes them as now being worthy of inclusion as an "alternative point of view" that should be spoken to in serious discussions of politics. CNN and the so-called liberal media then circulate Right-wing propaganda to a broader public outside of the Fox News echo chamber.

"It is clear that Donald Trump is good for ratings," he writes with resignation, "in the fantastical world created by Fox News and the Right-wing media:"

This is also true at CNN and for too many other outlets in the news media as well. Unfortunately, the Fourth Estate should be functioning as a watchdog for American democracy but is instead more beholden to money and profit than it is to civic virtue and truth-telling.

Sophia McClennan describes he entire 2016 election as an insult to our intelligence, and writes that "the real problem [is] not just that we don't have our facts straight:"

It's that we have collectively lost our ability to process information and make good judgments. To be truly stupid, you need to have poor reasoning skills. So our problem isn't just that we have lies substituted for facts; it is that we don't even know how to process information anymore.

In the era of Fox "News," she laments, "lying has become a common part of our political life:"

Now some 15 years into the era of constant political lying, it is time to realize that we don't only have a war on truth; we have a war on logic. If we focus only on the lies and miss the faulty logic, we get only part of the picture of why we have gotten so stupid. To be truly stupid, you have to have no grasp of what legitimate evidence looks like and no ability to process the information you do have.

She writes that "The Trump campaign is literally a lesson in stupidity and poor logic," and "Our political conversations have become dominated by either/or thinking, false binaries, hasty generalizations, slippery slopes, circular arguments, straw men and red herrings:"

As we have moved towards greater fundamentalism -- market fundamentalism, political fundamentalism and religious fundamentalism -- we have lost the ability to practice critical reasoning. Everything we think now is a belief rather than a reasoned judgment. Ideas can't be questioned, critiqued or debated because to do so would be to shake the foundations of our mind palace. [...]

In our current political climate, any correcting information is considered suspicious and threatening. Facts are no longer to be trusted. We live in echo chambers where our biases become truth claims. Any effort to point them out feels like an affront and leads to conflict rather than conversation. Rather than hone our skills of debate, we sharpen our spears to fend off our challengers.

TruthDig's Paul Street looks at the ubiquitous "PBS NewsHour" program and how it is funded:

The claim [of neutrality] has long been contradicted by the string of corporate-image commercials (purchased by leading financial, defense, auto, insurance and rail corporations) that appear before the network's nightly "NewsHour" broadcast--along with a list of corporate-sponsored foundations and superwealthy individuals who pay for the show, along with "regular viewers like you."

It is important that PBS news products exist within "the narrow capitalist parameters of acceptable coverage and debate that typify the more fully and explicitly for-profit and commercialized corporate media:"

Whatever the global issue of the day or week, "NewsHour" anchors and their invited "experts" can be counted on to report and reflect in accord with the doctrinal assumption that Washington always operates with the best of intentions. They almost uniformly treat the U.S. as a great, benevolent and indispensable force for freedom, democracy, security, peace and order in a dangerous world full of evil and deadly actors.

"Today's PBS, Street continues, "is not about to blow the whistle on the moral contradictions:"

There is a natural connection between the "P" in PBS standing for "Plutocracy" and it standing for "Pentagon." The core economic interests of the nation's superwealthy corporate and financial elite have long been global in nature. And, as the arch-neoliberal guru and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman explained in New York Times Magazine on the eve of the U.S.-led bombing of Serbia, "The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist--McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps." Friedman is a PBS favorite. He has appeared on "NewsHour" and other PBS productions at least 50 times by now.

Of such bricks is a media elite edifice constructed.

The idea of secret Hillary clubs, writes Slate's Michelle Goldberg, is an encouraging one:

One of the emerging themes of the last weeks of the presidential campaign is the resurgence of the right's "unskewed polls" theory, which holds that when Republicans are behind it's because the pollsters are sampling the wrong people. [...]

But the idea that Trump voters are hiding their true allegiance in large numbers strikes me as implausible. It just doesn't track with the swashbuckling, politically incorrect, in-your-face ethos of the Trump movement. Considering the huge gender gap, one would have to assume the shy voters would be a hidden group of Trump men who are telling pollsters they're voting for Hillary Clinton. If you're the kind of man who likes Trump, you're probably not the kind who feels the need to hide it.

On the other hand, there could be some "shy" Clinton voters out there who say they are voting for Trump in order to keep the peace with their aggressively pro-Trump husbands and maintain their standing in their conservative communities.

As usual, the scenario less comforting to conservatives is also far more likely to be true.

Indeed, Goldberg "spoke with several Hillary voters who said they had just decided to keep quiet to avoid confrontation:"

Clinton is the first female presidential nominee from a major party, and the opposition chose an aggressive, rank misogynist to oppose her. The fact that some women are reluctant to support her openly in the face of Trump's overheated followers -- especially women who normally vote Republican -- is a perfect example of why the secret ballot is so important. No matter what your community or your family or your employer says, your vote is your private decision. There may be quite a few women like those Iowa evangelicals who will cast a vote for Hillary Clinton this year, and never tell a soul.

Perhaps they won't even tell exit pollsters, which could drive losing Trumpites mad.

Speaking of the Trumptards, Neal Gabler explains how the media manufactured hatred of Hillary--pointing out that "Hillary Clinton wasn't unpopular when she announced her decision to run in April 2015:"

If you look at the Gallup survey in March of last year, 50 percent of Americans had a favorable impression of Clinton, only 39 percent an unfavorable one. So there was clearly no deep reservoir of Clinton hatred among the general public at the time. On the contrary: Americans liked her; they liked her quite a bit.

Already by June, however, her favorability had not only taken a hit. It had plummeted. By July, according to Gallup, her favorability hit an all-time low with only 38 percent positively and 57 percent viewing her negatively -- putting her 19 points underwater [while] "Trump's deficit was 24 percent"

Gabler writes that misogyny "certainly doesn't explain why her numbers nosedived last July," because "policy wasn't what the media were focused on:"

They were focused on emails. There was a court-mandated dump of Clinton's emails late that month, and the media leapt on it with alacrity. This certainly wasn't the first time the public had heard about Clinton using a private email server while Secretary of State. That news had come out in March 2015 and hadn't affected her favorability at all. But the fixation on emails, which had long been an addiction among Republicans and the right-wing media, suddenly became an addiction in the mainstream media as well.

Gabler writes bluntly, "You could say that Clinton was sabotaged:"

And that wasn't all. As reported in a study by Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on media coverage in the pre-primary period, Clinton received especially negative coverage -- overwhelmingly negative. At the same time, both Sanders and Trump received extremely positive coverage. As the report put it: "Whereas media coverage helped build up Trump, it helped tear down Clinton. Trump's positive coverage was the equivalent of millions of dollars in ad-buys in his favor, whereas Clinton's negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end."

Andrew Marantz's analysis of trolls for Trump looks at an allied dynamic among the more rabid conservative media outlets:

In late August, Hillary Clinton announced that she would soon give a speech, in Reno, Nevada, linking Donald J. Trump to what has become known as the alt-right--a loose online affiliation of white nationalists, neo-monarchists, masculinists, conspiracists, belligerent nihilists, and social-media trolls. The alt-right has no consistent ideology; it is a label, like "snob" or "hipster," that is often disavowed by people who exemplify it. The term typically applies to conservatives and reactionaries who are active on the Internet and too anti-establishment to feel at home in the Republican Party. Bizarrely, this category includes the Republican nominee for President. It also includes extremist commentators, long belittled or ignored by the media, whom mainstream pundits are now starting to take seriously.

Mike Cernovich of Danger and Play pushed the #HillarysHealth meme, and claimed that "Donald Trump has proven me right. People are tired of pussies." Despite asserting "I'm not a pure troll," Cernovich is unabashedly partisan: "If there's a story that can hurt Hillary, I want it in the news cycle," he said. One only wishes that his gleeful taunts that "We're going to make a whole new news cycle about her fucking e-mails again!" weren't enabled quite so vigorously by the "liberal" media.

Salon's look at Clinton's ongoing donor mess is much ado about very little--"once again, the Clinton Foundation's fundraising practices have churned up some politically fraught news coverage and questions about the ethical standards put in place for the former president's global philanthropy:"

In August, the foundation announced that should Hillary Clinton win the presidency, it will cease accepting foreign and corporate donations and spin off the majority of its projects to other charities. That was a good first step toward preventing conflicts of interest and also a recognition that the charity's fundraising practices pose political and ethical problems for the Clintons.

Now comes this Doug Band memo, detailing the ways in which Bill Clinton's personal financial endeavors were intertwined with his charity's fundraising efforts. That memo was written shortly before Chelsea Clinton voiced complaints that Band and his associates were misusing her father's name and influence to drum up business for themselves overseas.

It turns out Chelsea was right to be wary of Band. The memo was basically a how-to guide for leveraging a former president's profile into financial gain with as little ethical oversight as possible.

The piece summarizes the problem by writing that "documents like the Band memo make it impossible to completely separate the Clinton Foundation's charitable activities from the Clintons' personal finances:"

That's a perception problem, which the Clintons -- as political figures and philanthropists -- should have been going to every length to avoid. And it's one of many other ethical gray areas that seem to persistently crop up regarding the Clinton Foundation.

out the window

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The system is rigged, writes the Socialist Worker, but not against Trump:

DONALD TRUMP is lining up his excuses for why he's going to lose: the media is against him, Democrats are faking ballots from undocumented immigrants and dead people, blah, blah and blah.

In reality, few people have ever caught as many breaks in life, and for less good reason, than Donald Trump. But like a five-year-old-playing Candy Land, he has never known how to lose without crying foul...

Not surprisingly, the piece makes a pitch for Green candidate Jill Stein:

While Trump complains about biased media personalities serving as moderators--even after he received an estimated $2 billion in free airtime during the primaries alone, courtesy of the supposedly biased media--it was the Green Party's Jill Stein and the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson who weren't even allowed to participate, because the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) only invites candidates averaging 15 percent in national polls.

The piece sees "a vote for Stein is the most practical step you can take in this election towards building a third party alternative." Laura Marsh gives us an overview of the Overton Window (see Wikipedia), which essentially defines the Democratic-to-Republican spectrum (lamented above) as the range of acceptable discourse:

Best known until recently as the title of an overheated political thriller by Glenn Beck, in the last year the Overton Window has been cited everywhere from The New York Times to The Rachel Maddow Show. Despite its peculiar origins and limited applications, pundits increasingly invoke it to describe not only Trumpism, but the Sanders surge, Brexit, and more.

The Overton Window refers to the range of policies on any given issue that are, at that moment, popular enough for a politician to campaign on successfully. Just outside of the window lie "acceptable" policies, and beyond those the "radical" and "unthinkable."

"Where we once talked about shifts in public opinion," writes Marsh, "we now talk about the Overton Window moving, implying an unfair tampering with the consensus:"

There is now a window of policies that are acceptable to the Republican base, and another for Democrats, but on the national level, there is no window. Instead of a consensus edging one way or another, we have a choice between two poles. The Overton Window is ultimately a name for what we have lost, not an indication of where we are headed. Its popularity today represents a powerful nostalgia for the center. It doesn't help us overcome fragmentation or rebuild a consensus. Its attractiveness lies in its reassurance that a middle ground once existed.

In contrast, however, I would say that this election is less a contest between two poles than it is between the center and the far-right fringe.

During the aftermath of a rather casual meeting at work today, the subject of the impending presidential election reared its all-too-ugly head. I sometimes lament the absence of a certain former co-worker, almost to the point of missing the steady stream of right-wing misinformation that she could be counted on to recount--and which I could reliably debunk, much to her chagrin. My lamentations were somewhat premature, as her place in the information ecosystem has been at least partially filled.

Today's tawdry tidbit was a vague tale of Wikileaks exposing an alleged Hillary Clinton quid-pro-quo deal regarding Algeria making donations to the Clinton Foundation and her subsequently removing them from the State Department's "terror list." (Clinton's folks also allegedly crowed about getting away with it.) The word "treason" was even bandied about--which is somewhat of a red flag for me.

As often happens in these situations, I took a step back from questioning the details (have we declared war on Algeria, thus making them an enemy to whom acts of "treason" could potentially apply?) to asking questions about the source of the claims. I wasn't free to research the allegations at the time, but the whole miasma of imprecise invective struck me as resembling the typical emanations from conservatism's propaganda swamp.

Later, after a brief bout of rigorous Google-Fu, I found the Wikileaks email in question--but that was the most exciting part of this research excursion. It turns out, not surprisingly, that this whole media molehill (which Gateway Pundit and other even less reputable outlets tried to spin into a "bombshell" or even "treason") was not the mountainous scandal that had been alleged.

In fact, as could be seen in the contemporaneous news stories that were mentioned in the Wikileaks email, this non-scandal is an 18-month-old slander on the part of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. (Yep, it's that "liberal media" at work again--carrying water for conservatives by making up negative stories about Democrats!)

The tl;dr of the story (based on the work of PunditFact and MediaMatters) is as follows:

• Algeria was never on a "terror list," so
• Hillary never removed them from it, therefore
• there was no "quid pro quo" situation to carp about.
• Joe Scarborough, whose baseless speculation started the story, delivered a "heartfelt apology" for his error, and
• Clinton staffers didn't express joy over exploiting "a legal gray area" (that was a paraphrase of Scarborough's words), but merely referred to him being exposed as a liar as "Really great" and "excellent!"

As usual, corrections receive much less media attention that the inflammatory claims--making this yet another example of a "liberal" network doing the GOP's work. Consider also that it takes longer to research and rebut these tales than it does to create them, thus ceding media time to their spin. Perhaps it's a tactic in conservatives' playbook to get us all (however reluctantly) singing from their infernal hymnal.

Is it any wonder that people are burned out on this election?

MediaMatters sees Chris Wallace's debate moderation as an example of the banality of conservative dishonesty, showing "the extent to which conservative spin has become normalized in national politics:"

Wallace also exposed his audience to a large dose of right-wing misinformation:

• His question about the economy began with the false premise that President Obama's 2009 stimulus plan damaged the economy.
• His question about immigration took Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's 2013 comments about "open borders" grossly out of context.
• His question about abortion access invoked the right-wing myth of "partial-birth" abortion, a non-medical term invented by anti-abortion groups.
• His question about the national debt falsely alleged that programs like Social Security and Medicare are going to run out of money and add to the debt absent short-term cuts, echoing Republican talking points about entitlements.

Wallace also failed to fact-check Trump's frequent falsehoods -- following through on his promise not to be a "truth squad" during the debate.

MediaMatters' summary is telling:

It's easy to challenge bullshit when it's being delivered wildly by Trump on a debate stage. It's much harder to challenge it when it's being subtly baked into questions from a moderator whose employer has spent years trying to blur the lines between serious journalism and right-wing fantasy.

Salon also looks at how Wallace's right-wing agenda "grossly misled the audience:"

It was a coup for Fox News to have one of its anchors moderate a debate, something conservatives have been pushing the Presidential Debate Commission to do for years now. And in Chris Wallace, they found a seemingly fair-minded talking head. But he also brought all the baggage of Fox News with him -- that is, the worst traits of the post-fact, post-truth moment in political discourse that we are living through, that has found its ultimate vessel in the form of Donald Trump.

In other words, Wallace's questions were another example of right-wing talking points taking a stroll outside the usual bubble that encloses them. Unfortunately in a debate, there is no one, save the Democratic candidate, to push back on them.

John Nichols writes in The Nation that "Wallace's wrongheaded recitations of false premises were every bit as absurd as the Republican nominee's repetition of discredited claims about 'rigged' elections," citing Wallace's statement to Clinton that:

"I want to pursue your plan. Because in many ways it is similar to the Obama stimulus plan in 2009, which has led to the slowest GDP growth since 1949."

Nichols eviscerates Wallace here:

The moderator asked a series of questions based on false premises about everything from Social Security and Medicare to debt-service payments. He concluded by repeating the "grand bargain" talking points of billionaire-funded austerity advocates who seek tax breaks for wealthy and "shared sacrifice" from everyone else. [...]

Even when questions appear to be substantive, they are often based on partisan talking points and the "concerns" generated by the billionaire-funded campaigns that seek to get everyone talking about their latest austerity schemes.

The question what has conservatism conserved? needs to be asked far more often. "In the Obama era," notes Commentary, "two successive midterm wave elections resulted in Republicans enjoying their largest congressional majorities in over half a century." Despite this,

The GOP in the Obama years failed to communicate to its voters what it could achieve, preferring instead to focus on the chambers it could win. That's a tragedy, because the party has achieved quite a lot.

This "achievement," sadly consisted primarily not by accomplishing anything, but by obstructing everything--as the piece admits: "Republicans in Congress have effectively blocked Barack Obama's agenda since 2011." In addition to the Obamacare repeal failures,

The GOP passed a bill to keep Guantanamo Bay open, [...] passed anti-Net Neutrality legislation, expanded funding for the military, the de-funding of Planned Parenthood, and new measures to vet refugees fleeing war in the Middle East, none of which Obama allowed pass into law.

"Trump will lose," the piece concludes, "but, despite his best efforts, he may not succeed in taking the GOP's congressional majorities with him."

He might also fail in creating a media conglomerate. TNR notes that "there are many reasons a Trump TV channel or a Trump Media Group makes no sense as a business proposition:"

...but the most important one is best reflected in the fact that Donald Trump is the Republican Party's nominee for president. The GOP itself may have been ripe for disruption and coopting, but that's in large part because of the excellent job conservative media has done Trumpifying the party's base. [...]

Trump won the GOP nomination because the conservative media was already heavily Trumpified, and a Trump media conglomerate makes no sense because the conservative media will remain Trumpified once the election is over.

TNR also writes that, although the media can't rig the election, they can expose Trump's lies:

"I have no doubt the national media is trying to rig this election with their biased coverage in Hillary Clinton's favor," Mike Pence said Monday in Ohio. On ABC News on Sunday, Newt Gingrich--who actually contradicted Trump by saying it's "not about election officials at the precinct level"--nevertheless said that "without the unending one-sided assault of the news media, Trump would be beating Hillary by 15 points."

TNR disposes of this quickly, pointing out that "the media can't rig an election:"

If Trump wants to argue that the press is biased against him, a trope Republicans return to every election cycle, then fine. The media does lean left, and it's certainly true Trump is getting more critical coverage than Clinton. Of course, in this case, it may be because he's asked for it. He flunks every conceivable character test, flouts the norms of American democracy, and seems eager to transform America into an ethno-nationalist, quasi-fascist state.

To my mind, the contrary case is the stronger one:

There's also a case to be made that the press, particularly cable television, has been too kind to Trump. His rallies have run endlessly on TV, earning him billions in free media. Networks were baited into covering a glorified infomercial for his Pennsylvania Avenue hotel in Washington, D.C. CNN is receiving well-earned criticism for paying four Trump defenders to routinely deny facts on air and engage in trolling, to the increasing frustration of the actual journalists employed by the channel. [...]

The audience he's built is frightening; as a new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows, 41 percent of the country believes the election could be "stolen" from him. We're living in an age of misinformation, making it all the more fortunate that the media--though powerless to rig an election--still has enough power to spread the truth. Whether it's sufficiently exercising that power is another question altogether.

MediaMatters discusses two decades of Fox, which launched on 7 October 1996, and discusses the network's "torrent of hateful messages, misogyny, and fraudulent smears, all in the guise of journalism:"

Fox News is an enforcement arm of the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

Fox News has time and time again been a malignant force, utilizing its airwaves to attack progressive activists and politicians, elevate conservative activists and officials, and slant facts and information -- sometimes completely inventing it out of whole cloth -- in service of a right-wing conservative agenda.

Whether it was providing TV platforms for Matt Drudge and Glenn Beck, broadcasting Bill O'Reilly's claim that the Iraq War would "not last more than a week," stoking fears of Christmas being "under siege;" and promulgating nonsense that a young Barack Obama "went to a madrassa" and became a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people," Fox was on the wrong side of pretty much every event of the past two decades. Their propaganda promoted the "tea party" protests, toed the GOP party line as needed, including plagiarizing a GOP press release, and bolstered Trump's BS conspiracy theory about a "rigged" election.

I can hardly wait to see what they make up next.

Milo Y's "puff piece"

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ThinkProgress issued a condemnation of Out's Milo Y puff piece, writing that "the profile negligently perpetuates harm against the LGBT community:"

Here is a white supremacist whose entire career has been built on the attention he can get for himself through provocation. His attacks against women, people of color, Muslims, transgender people, and basically anybody who doesn't like him are as malicious as they come, and he catalyzes his many "alt-right" followers to turn on any target he deems worthy of abuse. This puff piece -- complete with a cutesy clown photoshoot -- makes light of Yiannopoulos's trolling while simultaneously providing him a pedestal to further extend his brand of hatred. Indeed, he does so in the profile itself, openly slurring the transgender community, which Out published without any apparent concern.

The Advocate talked to Out magazine editor Aaron Hicklin:

"If LGBTQ media takes its responsibilities seriously we can't shy away from covering queer people who are at the center of this highly polarized election year," he wrote, "and we ask you to assess Milos Yiannopoulos, the focus of this profile, on his own words without mistaking them for ours."

Hicklin has taken to social media to insist that Out's profile is actually an example of the best of journalism.

Iraq War + 10

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On the tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, Consortium News reprinted Peter Dyer's 2008 piece on propaganda as a war crime:

On Oct. 16, 1946, Julius Streicher was hanged, a historical precedent that should hold considerable interest for American journalists who have written in support of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" - the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Streicher was one of a group of 10 Germans executed that day following the judgment of the first Nuremberg Trial - a 40-week trial of 22 of the most prominent Nazis. Each was tried for two or more of the four crimes defined in the Nuremberg Charter: crimes against peace (aggression), war crimes, crimes against humanity, and conspiracy.

All who were sentenced to death were major German government officials or military leaders. Except for Streicher. Julius Streicher was a journalist.

Editor of the vehemently anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer, Streicher was convicted of, in the words of the judgment, "incitement to murder and extermination at the time when Jews in the East were being killed under the most horrible conditions clearly constitut(ing) ... a crime against humanity."

Ominously,

The next year [1947] another General Assembly Resolution was adopted: Res. 110 which "condemns all forms of propaganda, in whatsoever country conducted, which is either designed or likely to provoke or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression." [..]

The existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was central to the Bush administration's campaign for war. Other important elements were Saddam Hussein's ties with Al Qaeda and the strongly implied association of Iraq with the tragedies of 9/11. All were false. In propaganda, though, selling the product trumps truth.

The role played by American mainstream media during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq was marked by widespread unquestioning submission to the Bush administration and abandonment of the most fundamental journalistic responsibility to the public.

The piece notes the eerie parallel of "Some prominent American media figures [...] passionately encouraged Americans to commit and/or approve of war crimes, before and during Operation Iraqi Freedom." Prominent among these was Fox's Bill O'Reilly and right-wing media figure Ann Coulter. In contrast to the war-0crimes cheerleaders, consider the 2003 firing of Phil Donahue, who was canned "on the eve of the war by MSNBC because he was allowing antiwar voices on the air:"

The problem was not Donahue's ratings, but rather his views: An internal MSNBC memo warned Donahue was a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war," providing "a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." Donahue joins us to look back on his firing 10 years later. "They were terrified of the antiwar voice," Donahue says.
PHIL DONAHUE: They [MSNBC] were terrified of the antiwar voice. [...] I had to have two conservatives on for every liberal. I could have Richard Perle on alone, but I couldn't have Dennis Kucinich on alone.

Despite the facts (such as "intelligence officials said they found no evidence "indicating that WMD or significant amounts of components and equipment were transferred from Iraq to neighboring Syria, Jordan or elsewhere"), Fox spun numerous conspiracy theories related to Iraq's WMDs:

Fox News suggested that an attack in Syria might have involved chemical weapons from Iraq, pushing a conspiracy theory that Saddam Hussein hid WMD in other countries prior to the Iraq war. Fox made a similar claim just two days ago.

AlterNet's piece 10 years after the invasion notes with dismay "the web of myths, euphemisms and ever-growing secrecy behind which our leaders feel compelled to hide their war policies" and praises "The brave efforts of Julian Assange, Wikileaks and Bradley Manning to let us honestly examine the record for ourselves and draw our own conclusions are met with vindictive terror in the halls of power."

"Our military leaders may be chronically unable to win a war in another country," the article snarks, "but they sure know how to wage a propaganda war in America." It also links to:

- A leaked report from the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2004, based on 27 visits to 14 U.S. prisons in Iraq

- Human Rights First's "Command's Responsibility" report investigated 98 deaths in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. These included at least 12 people who were definitely tortured to death, 26 other cases of suspected or confirmed homicide and 48 more that escaped official investigation altogether. [...] The paper trail already in the public record appears sufficient to convict Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, their lawyers and senior military officers of capital offenses under the U.S. War Crimes Act.



Chris Hedges talked to The Nation's reporter Barbara Bedway in May 2003:

"We don't have a sense of what we have waded into here," said Hedges. "The deep divisions among the varying factions could be extremely hard to bridge, and the historical and cultural roots are probably beyond the American understanding.... Now that the feel-good, flag-waving part of war is over, the real culprits, the commercial-broadcast media, are going to pack up and leave. What they've done is a huge disservice to the nation. They have no sense of responsibility to continue reporting as the story gets more complicated and difficult to report."

Andrew Sullivan reflects on his post-9/11 smear of the Left, writing that "My horror at 9/11, combined with crippling fear, compounded by personal polarization was a fatal combination. This is not an excuse. It's an attempt at an explanation:"

When I really examine my emotional state that year, I can see better now why my anger at the left in general came out so forcefully in the wake of such a massacre. It was a foolish extrapolation from a handful of haters to an entire political tradition. Again, this is not an excuse. But if I am to understand my own personal anger at the anti-war left, it is part of the story.

"That epistemic closure, that surrender of the mind to the gut, that replacement of analysis with anger," he continues, "was the mother of all confirmation biases:"

It was also the very beginning of the blogosphere, and I had not yet learned the brutal lessons of writing instantly with reason-crushing emotion pulsing through my brain. The one silver lining was this blog - and the necessity to write every day in real time for the years that followed. That effectively denied me cover for my massive misjudgment and bias. You forced me to confront a reality I had never wanted to see, or had blinded myself to.

I cannot undo the damage and do not seek to put this behind me. Instead it is in front of me, a constant reminder that fixed convictions are dangerous, that premises should not be mistaken for conclusions, that confirmation bias is real ...

If only other pro-war partisans would be half as honest.

Politico's VandeHei and Allen report on GOP cries of "blatant bias," adoringly quoting Haley Barbour and Ari Fleischer and observing that "Republicans cry 'bias' so often it feels like a campaign theme:"

It is, largely because it fires up conservatives and diminishes the punch of legitimate investigative or narrative journalism. But it also is because it often rings true, even to people who don't listen to Rush Limbaugh...

Not that it is true, mind you--just that it supports their persecution complex. At American Prospect, Paul Waldman points out that working the refs continues to work for the Right:

VandeHei and Allen's article is a masterpiece of unsupported claims, false equivalences, speculations about what news stories "imply," and Republican complaints taken not as complaints but as truths. [...]

Let's examine this, shall we? The bias charge, they say, "often rings true." But is it true? Well, that's a complex question, so why bother trying to answer it at all? It feels true, so that's good enough. The "imbalance" in coverage, which has been alleged by Republicans but we don't know is actually true, is nevertheless doing "unmistakable damage to Romney." Really? Any evidence for that? Nah, but it sure feels true.

Media Matters explains what 'liberal bias' claims are really about, snarking "Republicans? Alleging liberal media bias? Pardon me while I find some pearls to clutch:"

The conceit behind this whole affair is that Haley Barbour and Ari Fleischer told Allen and VandeHei that "liberal bias" is real and it's devastating, and Allen and Vandehei believe them...

People who level the "bias" charge aren't looking for balance. They're not interested in journalistic good practices and they certainly don't give a damn where a story appears in the Washington Post. They're looking to game the refs.

It's all about discouraging journalists from turning a critical eye on Republicans and conservatives, lest they be tarred with the "liberal bias" epithet.

Salon calls the Politico article a "deeply stupid piece" that "could be the latest installment of Breitbart's whiny, posthumous 'Nobody Vetted Obama So We Have to Do It, By Printing Stuff We Know is False!' investigative series." It's useful to remind ourselves that these same "liberal media" outlets haven't given Obama a week of positive coverage in almost a year (h/t: Eric Boehlert), as the conservative "cottage industry" of media grievance "that pays the bills for talk radio, fills endless hours of commentary on Fox News, and produces content for right-wing authors" remains dominant. Pew studied the media from January to early April this year, concluding the following:

Of all the presidential candidates studied in this report, only one figure did not have a single week in 2012 when positive coverage exceeded negative coverage--the incumbent, Democrat Barack Obama. [...]

While Republicans have jockeyed for their party's nomination for the last year, the Democratic president has been hammered with negative press coverage. And it's coverage whose harsh tone has been matched only by its week-in and week-out consistency.

Behold the liberal media.


update (6/1):
James Fallows examines Pew's research into press coverage of Obama and Romney, noting that "At no time in the past year has coverage of President Obama been as positive as that of Governor Romney:"

Indeed, at no time in the past year has it been on-balance positive at all.

You can argue that negative coverage of the administration is justified. You can argue that incumbents are -- and should be -- held to a tougher standard, since they have a record to defend. But you can't sanely argue that the press is in the tank for Obama, notwithstanding recent "false equivalence" attempts to do so.

Politicus USA comments on the latest fact-free factoid floating around the conservative media cesspool, that Obama's consumer protection adviser Elizabeth Warren "is basically a Communist [because] she's a supporter of everything conservatives hate." Of course, as Politicus points out, "most of us know that communist (like Nazi and socialist) is a term conservatives like to throw around without really comprehending what it means:"

And not just the average ignorant Tea Partier but congressmen like Allen West, who is convinced that there are between 78 and 81 Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party.

On the surface, it would seem both West and Carmenker are on agreement: a communist is one who is diametrically opposed to conservative ideology. This is all very Cold War and McCarthyesque and it's no wonder it's an attractive thesis to conservatives. It's a simple appeal - emotional and "patriotic" and it requires little thought - everyone knows that those commies were the enemies of American democracy and since conservatives are "real Americans" communism must be its opposite, right? (remember too that witch-hunts have historically been conservatism's response to people getting uppity and thinking for themselves).

Politicus comments on the factoid's source:

They claim that "For a refreshing and informative change in where you get your news, log on to OneNewsNow.com." If by informative they mean dishonest and misleading, they are apparently spot on and certainly in good company... [...]

Apparently, conservative viewers and readers want to be liberated from the world of facts and from the millstone that is a fact-based universe where fantasy is not allowed to have its way with reality. If one hate-filled group says something the hate-filled news service has to report it and certainly won't violate the precepts of the agreed upon fantasy universe to question it. Why introduce facts when the fantasy is so congenial?

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