Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Obama Was Correct: FOX Watchers Are On "Another Planet"

In an atmosphere wherein leaders toss out lies like party favors it is essential citizens know  to which truthful and objective sources they can turn with confidence. It is critical they know their leaders are lying to them whenever it occurs, and also which pseudo -news sources seek to support the liars. Such has been the case in the past few days where a trifecta of liars - including Trump himself, Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Tom Cotton - tried to claim Donnie Dotard never made the "shithole countries" comment. Not at all, and one major network keeps providing cover for these liars, as surely as Pravda did for the commies in Cold War years, and Nazi radio for Hitler before that. The culprit?   FOX News. Otherwise known as "Trump TV".

In this context it was amusing to watch (at a BK restaurant) the three Fox and Friends trained monkeys  Saturday morning - with heads exploding in indignation -  reporting that Obama had referred to their fans as "living on another planet".   This was on a Friday night interview with David Letterman (on Netflix) where Barack  had come right out and called FOX News the propaganda machine it is. Hence, the nickname "Trump TV"  - because their hacks and cronies defend the maggot in the White House relentlessly  They've also declared the Mueller probe an attempted "coup" on their little idiot master while insisting the Steele Dossier is  "dirty" and being illegally used by Mueller and the FBI to persecute Trump.

Obama, for his part, didn't hold back saying that those who watch FOX news are "living on a different planet from those who get their information from other sources." Of course, any sane and educated person who watches FOX News- even for five minutes - would see whay that remark is spot on.   The complete remark made was:

"One of the biggest challenges we have to our democracy is the degree to which we don’t share a common baseline of facts.  If you watch Fox News, you are living on a different planet than you are if you are listening to NPR.'"

I  have posted on this bifurcation of news- information sources for some time, warning it creates two distinct national perspectives  and no nation can last for long if it contains two populations accepting widely divergent realities. I have also singled out FOX News as the biggest culprit in gutting the febrile and already gullible brains of a segment of the populace,  dividing our nation more with each passing month.

The FOX News role in deforming perceptions was first brought to attention some 12 1/2  years ago by surveys of voter perceptions (in conjunction with the Iraq war) on how many believed al Qaeda was part of Saddam's force. Nearly all those who believed this to be true (nearly 67%) were Fox News viewers, compared to barely 22% who obtained their news from other sources (e.g. CNN, ABC, NBC etc.)

How could there have been such a huge disparity on an issue that really ought to have been a no-brainer, since - whatever Saddam was- he emphatically was NOT a religious Islamic fundie of the type that allied with al Qaeda! One needed only to survey and learn recent Iraqi history to know that, and to understand Saddam was a secularist who consolidated power by ensuring the two Islamic religious factions (Shiites and Sunnis) remained divided. He understood the first rule of control: divide and conquer!

Yet a preponderance of Fox News zombies actually believed he was in league with the Saudi Wahabbi  sect fundies who blew up the Towers on 9-11! What this discloses is that it may only partly be true to say that Fox succeeds in brainwashing educated people. The truer fact may well be that the less well educated are attracted to Fox News. Which elicits the question: Why?

What we know from studying the art of propaganda and the ease with which it is spread, as my late German friend Kurt (formerly a Hitler Youth) pointed out, is that one must appeal to the pre-conceived beliefs of the audience. Thus, to reach his putative audience Hitler appealed to numerous lies about the Jews (already present in the culture via the Völkisch tradition)including that they were less than human, and were usually also communists or at least socialists. He also tied them to bankers, and exploiting people via high interest loans, etc., although how he got so many to buy into this is beyond me! I mean, accepting at once the Jews are in league with bankers, and also commies and socialists? Seems rather disjunctive!

A  2011 example tied into the rancor over the then budget cuts, and Foxites had falsely inflated he role of Planned Parenthood in terms of providing abortions. What you heard from  FOX Newa and the Republican House floor over and over was the lie that more than 90% of Planned Parenthood's services were allocated to abortions. A total, bare-faced lie! The actual data showed that barely 3% were abortion services, the remaining 97% were for health screenings such as mammograms, pap smears, and even prostate exams for males. None of this was disseminated by the Rs, but when one traced the source, he located the lie most often being repeated at Fox

Another endlessly recited FOX News  lie in 2011 had been applied  to  Obama's birth certificate and attacking the legitimacy of his citizenship and hence right to be President.  This slander was fueled by Donald Trump putting in his two cents, including referring to Obama's step-grandmother and  repeatedly claiming Obama was born in Kenya. Not mentioned, and doubtless inciting too much fact for Fox zombies, was that this was debunked in 2008. Evidently, a repuke congress critter had made a long distance phone call to the step-grandmother in Kenya, two years before, and the connection was so bad that her reply was mistranslated. "Lost in translation" anyone? So the Foxite Birthers didn't want to hear it!

The current propaganda push from FOX News has focused on the  alleged "Uranium One" conspiracy, the Steele Dossier as a means to unfairly investigate Trump, and the Mueller Probe as a Democratic concocted effort to oust a duly elected President.  

In the first, the Right's fruitcakes at FOX  claimed   that Hillary Clinton and Obama were behind a plan to allow a Russian nuclear energy agency to  purchase controlling interest in Uranium One - a  Canadian based mining company - with the proceeds to go to the Clinton Foundation.  The warp and woof of this cockeyed conspiracy has been thoroughly exposed by FactCheck.org, e.g.

In the case of the Steele dossier  the loony tunes at FOX News  have repeatedly claimed following Trump and his cabal, that it's all a fictional creation of a former British MI-6 spy working on behalf of the Democrat. The object being to blow enough smoke Bob Mueller's way to instigate a full tilt investigation.  At the core of this nonsense is the claim that Fusion GPS worked on behalf of the Dems to conspire against Trump and his campaign doing oppo research via the Steele Dossier.

This claim was first made by Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump's outside legal counsel. Corallo - as per Michael Wolff's new book,  has since abandoned the Trumpies as if they were the Black Death (or at least the killer H5 N1 Bird flu).  But what the FOX News cohort ignore is the fact that Fusion GPS was initially hired in October 2015 by unnamed Republican clients (associated with the Washington Free Beacon) in order to develop opposition research on Trump to be used during the GOP primary.  These Republicans were part of the old (e.g. pro-Jeb Bush) order who respected norms and traditions. They detested the fact that a two bit Queens real estate weasel and lowlife like Trump could possibly become President.

That is the hard fact.  Once Trump won the nomination, the research was dropped by the "Never Trump" conservos and continued by Democrats on behalf of Hillary Clinton and the DNC. That proves nothing more than Fusion GPS is a firm that is happy to be employed by either side.  If you want, call them a bipartisan oppo research outfit. But don't call them conspirators. Indeed, Hillary would have been guilty of utter moral negligence to have not used Fusion GPS' oppo on Trump given what we've since learned of his networking with Russian Mafia figures to bankroll his assorted projects.  As noted in The New Republic (Aug./Sept. p. 29):

"A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, or even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money .....Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics....It's entirely possible that Trump was never more than a convenient patsy for Russian oligarchs and mobsters."

Of course, this very background helps explain why Trump is hyper paranoid now about Bob Mueller digging into his money trail, including leading right through his family finances.

On the issue of Christopher Steele himself, while the FOX News hacks sought to impugn his character - and two Republican Senators (Grassley, Graham) have even sent a "letter of referral" to the FBI about him- the fact is he has more moral fiber in his pinky finger than the entire Republican Party. This is given the GOP continues to run interference for Trump, even confabulating fake probes to throw attention off and undermine the Mueller investigation.

Truth be told, it was Steele who alerted the FBI to a possible crime in progress, based on his sources and the potential for a hostile foreign power blackmailing an American presidential candidate. Loopy? Lies? Baloney? Not on your life! Steele himself has impeccable character and would be exactly the person you'd want testifying on your behalf in a high profile criminal case - or testifying against the bad guys. As per a Financial  Times account (Feb. 16):

Steele was the "UK intelligence expert on Russia".   James Nixey, the head of Chatham House's Russia and Eurasia program, informed the AP that sections of the dossier document created by Steele "read exactly as reports from the secret services".

In other words 100 percent legit.  Thus, the efforts of the Foxites and the two Repuke Senators to tar and incriminate him are pure propaganda ploys.  But to be expected from a "news" outfit that peddles lies and unsupported conspiracy bunkum 99 percent of the time.

So no surprise either the FOX News bunch is assiduously working overtime to  derail the Mueller Probe. This has been by using a number of tactics - most of which have since been adopted by certain columnists in The Wall Street Journal as well.  In either case the constant mantra blurted out endlessly is “There is NO COLLUSION!”.  Also, the people indicted so far by Mueller are little "nobodies" who don't matter

The classic format of hit job used at FOX News is based on a template offered by the WSJ's William McGurn ('Bob Mueller's sideshow, Oct. 31, p. A15)..  To wit, concerning the Steele Dossier, "the same people who pushed it have now lost all interest in it".    McGurn - like the FOX News hacks - also tries to pump up Devin Nunes' bogus investigation, e.g. writing such codswallop as:

"What has Mr. Nunes' committee  found?  Turns out that in the Obama years, especially in 2016, officials made many requests to unmaks the identities of Americans, including Trump campaign officials who were caught up in foreigsurveillance."

Then there is the tack used by Holman Jenkins ('Trump and the Russia Racket', WSJ)  who tried to dismiss the import of George Papadopoulos by asserting "his name appeared on a  throwaway list of campaign advisers" .  But the kicker was this demonstrable lack of insight:

"Notice the particulars of his case actually belie the theory of meaningful Trump-Russia collusion"

Like their compatriots at FOX News (also owned by Rupert Murdoch)  the WSJ's liar's stable of Jenkins, McGurn, Kim Strassel and Dan Henninger have worked overtime to try to diminish or mock the Mueller investigations as convincingly as their forerunners tried to besmirch and delegitimize Obama based on an imagined lack of American bona fides. 

All of the above in the context of FOX News and its allies, cries out for education in media literacy of the American public.  At the forefront now, lawmakers in several states have introduced or passed bills calling for public school education  to impart media literacy skills they say are critical to democracy. (Denver Post,  'States Push For Media Literacy Classes', Dec. 31, p. 10A).  The effort has been bipartisan but so far has received little attention. One wonders why this is so, but perhaps there are reasons many refuse to accept. Including that most "news" on FOX is absolutely counter to any media literacy or critical thinking.

Noted in the above referenced article was a study by researchers at Stanford which warned that "students from middle school to college were easily duped and ill -equipped to use reason and online information".   Even today in The Denver Post, an article appeared describing how nearly 60 percent of Americans were "confused" about the information and news received and didn't know who or what source to trust. Most also claimed they paid attention to Trump's tweets but this is the worst thing they cold do.  As I pointed out previously these are crude cartoon media that are meant for ten year olds with limited vocabularies than adults. Most importantly, they are the ideal vehicles for the spread of disinformation.

In line with this the Stanford researchers have warned that "democracy is threatened at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish."

Again, this is precisely because people - too many citizens - don't know enough, whether of history, civics, basic science or electoral politics. Too many citizens are unable to even name their two state Senators or their congressional (House) reps.  Many others can't even name 5 of the Bill of Rights. If they can't do the latter then it's little wonder so many fall into Trump's authoritarian trap of wanting to repeal them. Look at Trump's recent bombast about changing the libel laws because he didn't like the Michael Wolff book and its distasteful portrayal of him.

Of course, for those who know our history, Thomas Jefferson conveyed warnings about the erosion of democracy more than two centuries ago if people didn't read and think critically. In his 'Notes on Virginia' he warned:

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. AND TO RENDER THEM SAFE, THEIR MINDS MUST BE IMPROVED."

What Jefferson meant by "their minds must be improved" was continued learning even after one's formal education, and most importantly continued attention to the events of the day and application of critical thinking.  This included the proper questioning of one's leaders and their actions not just accepting them blindly. But, in order to do that, one had to be familiar with the Constitution, its Bill of Rights, the key amendments and certainly our own history. One must not allow fake facts or history to intervene in any of these as occurs regularly now.

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