Posts Tagged ‘Bill O’Reilly’

‘Me Ne Frego’, Fascism, Trump and Vulgarity

March 9, 2016

There was a bit of mild controversy a few days ago about the low tone the rivalry between Trump and his rival for the presidential nomination, Marco Rubio. Rubio had made a speech stating that while Trump was a big man, about 6’2″, he had small hands. He then implied that another part of Trump’s anatomy was similarly petite, adding, ‘And you know what they say about men with small hands.’ Trump responded at one of his rallies a day or so later by claiming that he was very well endowed in a certain direction.

This had caused something of a stir, with Bill O’Reilly talking on Fox News about whether or not this piece of vulgarity was justified, or if it had been too crude for public taste. O’Reilly himself didn’t think so. His partner in the debate did.

Actually, this seems to me to be par for the course for Trump. Trump’s rhetoric is violent, full of put-downs, threats and vitriolic attacks on his opponents. Trevor Noah on the Daily Show pointed out how similar his attitudes as expressed in his rhetoric were to Fascism. It occurs to me that his vulgarity is another aspect of this. One of the formative elements in Mussolini’s Fascist movement were the arditi, elite Italian soldiers with a reputation for reckless bravery. The name means something like ‘Daredevils’. After the First World War, these and other discontented ex-servicemen, unable to adjust to civilian life, formed bands to beat their political opponents. And they had a slogan, ‘Me Ne Frego’, which means, ‘I don’t give a damn.’

Trump doesn’t just share the Fascists racial and nationalistic intolerance, or their taste for violence. He also has their crudity and vulgarity. And unfortunately, it seems to be winning him votes.

Advertisements

The Young Turks: Alex Jones Freaks Out, Challenges Bill O’Reilly to a Boxing Match

February 28, 2016

I’m putting this piece from The Young Turks up simply as a piece of light relief from some of the more serious issues. It shows some fine, table-pounding ranting from the conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, and from the Turks’ own anchor, Cenk Uygur. Jones was furious because Bill O’Reilly included a clip from Alex Jones’ Infowars programme on a piece he was presenting on hate speech on the internet, and how Facebook was under pressure to take it off. Jones, never one to keep his own anger in check for too long, then begins a long rant about what a bully O’Reilly is, and finally challenges him to a boxing match. In fact, he invites O’Reilly to bring a friend, as with two fighting him he might just keep awake.

The piece also shows Uygur losing his temper big time with USA today. His anger was provoked by that newspaper publishing the lies that Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaeda, and partly responsible for 9/11, thus justifying the western invasion. Uygur makes the point amongst the ranting that 58 per cent of Americans are against the war in Iraq. Or at least, they were when that clip was recorded. Unfortunately, 43 per cent believe that somehow Hussein was responsible for 9/11. He wasn’t. Bremner, Bird and Fortune on their show on Channel 4 pointed out that Hussein wasn’t involved, and that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein loathed and detested each other, not least because Hussein’s Iraq was an officially secular state. In fact, they even played part of a propaganda message from Osama bin Laden threatening Hussein. It was in Arabic, but they supplied an English translation. Bin Laden was ranting about how he’d destroy Hussein in extremely florid tones. At one point he starting going on about how Hussein’s towers would fall. Uygur makes the point amid his own furious shouting that if USA Today had actually done its job, the number of people, who believe the lie about Hussein and bin Laden would be far less, and the number of people opposed to the war would be greater.

Uygur has a point, and while the rant is not quite what you’d expect from a professional news presenter, it’s entirely justified. The war was manufactured through lies, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, have died as a result. Not just Iraqis, but also US troopers sent in to fight for the enrichment of America’s leading corporations, the paymasters of the Neo-Cons and their lackeys in the White House and Pentagon. Uygur’s own background is Turkish Muslim, and my guess is that his rage was also partly due to the fact that it hits close to home. He’s very definitely American, but Bush’s war and the devastation it has wreaked on the Middle East and its people is clearly much more immediately painful to him.

I’ve even got some sympathy for Alex Jones. Jones is an extreme right-winger. He’s an opponent of Obamacare, and has made some extremely violent verbal attacks on Bernie Sanders. On the other hand, he does talk about the corporate takeover of America, and he is right when he attacks the globalists plans to subvert and reduce national governments for their own corporate profits. And Bill O’Reilly, one of the main presenters on Fox News, is a paid shill for Murdoch, and so deserves all he gets.

So sit back and enjoy the show!

Secular Talk on Bill O’Reilly’s Grovelling to Get Trump on Fox Debate

January 31, 2016

This yet more on the walking political disaster known as Donald Trump. It’s a piece from the atheist news show, Secular Talk, analysing an interview on Fox News between Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump. In it, Bill O’Reilly, one of the channel’s leading presenters, does some of the most outright, craven grovelling before a politician I’ve ever seen by a TV presenter. He fawns, pleads, flatters, telling Trump how great and wonderful he it. And when that doesn’t work, he reminds Trump of all the vanilla milkshakes he bought him.

Yum!

It’s hilarious, creepy, and definitely cringe-making, and shows how little honour or self-respect the newsboys and girls at Fox have before their right-wing idols. And with all the grovelling and pleading before Trump, it shows the hollowness behind Fox’s slogan of ‘Fair and Balance Reporting’. There’s nothing fair or balanced about this craven grovelling before Trump. It’s almost as unbalanced as Trump’s own weird psychology. Or that of his voters.

Secular Talk’s host, Kyle Kulinski, also makes some good points when he points out how The Donald’s most common defence against any criticism is to flip it, and turn it back against the opposing side. No, he’s not running away from the debate. They – his opponents – are. He isn’t afraid of Megyn Kelly. She’s afraid of him. It’s all manifestly untrue, but as Kulinski shows, Trump does it so brazenly that it actually works. At one point a crowd booed something Trump said, but he turned it into a joke about how much they supported him, and the crowd laughed, and were immediately back on his side again. This also shows how fickle crowds are, but there’s no doubt that Trump knows how to play human beings like a master. But then, so did Goebbels and Hitler.

On a positive note, if you despise Bill O’Reilly and Fox News, you will probably enjoy the spectacle of O’Reilly abasing himself before his idol absolutely hilarious. Trump has, in his way, done the world a great service by showing the true face behind Fox News: fearful and wheedling before its political masters. It’s only harsh and combative against the Left and people they think they can bully.

 

Secular Talk on Trump Running from Fox Debate, because Afraid of Moderator Megyn Kelly

January 29, 2016

This is another video from the atheist news show, Secular Talk, about the true-life political comedy known as Donald Trump. Fox News has been desperate to get The Donald on their show, debating with the other presidential candidates. There’s an excruciating video of Fox’s anchorman and serial liar, Bill O’Reilly, virtually grovelling before Trump trying to get him to come on. So far the Nazi of Trump Tower has refused. And the reason is hilarious.

He’s scared of Megyn Kelly.

She was the journalist, who had the audacity the last time Trump was on Fox to ask him about his Tweets, in which Trump made disparaging comments about women and ethnic minorities. She did so nicely and sympathetically, not directly criticising Trump, but simply asking how he would respond to his enemies attacking him for them. This extremely mild questioning was too much for Trump’s fail ego, and he has decided to take his ball and go elsewhere.

Trump has made a point of posing as the enemy of political correctness, but as the show’s host, Kyle Kulinski, shows, Trump himself here shows the very worst aspects of it. The refusal to debate, the demands for sympathy, for ‘safe spaces’ against ‘microaggressions’, all the censorship and emotionalism of Politically Correct culture. Unfortunately, this will be lost on Trump’s fans and followers, who somehow think that he’s an awful male, and this kind of petulant cowardice is the masterful way real, alpha-male men behave.

Tolstoy’s The Law of Violence and the Law of Love

January 24, 2016

Tolstoy Law Love

(Santa Barbara: Concord Grove Press, no date)

As well as being one of the great titans of world literature, Leo Tolstoy was a convinced anarchist and pacifist. The British philosopher and writer, Sir Isaiah Berlin, in his book, Russian Thinkers, states that Tolstoy’s anarchist beliefs even informed his great work, War and Peace. Instead of portraying world history as being shaped by the ideas and actions of great men, Tolstoy’s epic of the Napoleonic Wars shows instead how it is formed by the actions of millions of individuals.

The writer himself attempted to put his own ideas into practise. He was horrified by the poverty and squalor, both physical and moral, of the new, urban Russia which was arising as the country industrialised, and the degradation of its working and peasant peoples. After serving in the army he retreated to his estate, where he concentrated on writing. He also tried to live out his beliefs, dressing in peasant clothes and teaching himself their skills and crafts, like boot-making, in order to identify with them as the oppressed against the oppressive upper classes.

Tolstoy took his pacifism from a Chechen Sufi nationalist leader, who was finally captured and exiled from his native land by the Russians after a career resisting the Russian invasion. This Islamic mystic realised that military resistance was useless against the greater Russian armed forces. So instead, he preached a message of non-violent resistance and peaceful protest against the Russian imperial regime. Tolstoy had been an officer during the invasion of Chechnya, and had been impressed by its people and their leader’s doctrine of peaceful resistance. Tolstoy turned it into one of the central doctrines of his own evolving anarchist ideology. And he, in turn, influenced Gandhi in his stance of ahimsa – Hindu non-violence – and peaceful campaign against the British occupation of India. Among the book’s appendices is 1910 letter from Tolstoy to Gandhi. I also believe Tolstoy’s doctrine of peaceful resistance also influence Martin Luther King in his confrontation with the American authorities for civil rights for Black Americans.

Tolstoy considered himself a Christian, though his views are extremely heretical and were officially condemned as such by the Russian Orthodox Church. He wrote a number of books expounding his religious views, of which The Law of Violence and the Law of Love is one. One other is The Kingdom of God Is Within You. Tolstoy’s Christianity was basically the rationalised Christianity, formed during the 19th century by writers like David Strauss in Germany and Ernest Renan in France. In their view, Christ was a moral preacher, teaching devotion to a transcendent but non-interfering God, but did not perform any miracles or claim He was divine. It’s similar to the Deist forms of Christianity that appeared in the 18th century in works such as Christianity Not Mysterious. While there are still many Biblical scholars, who believe that Christ Himself did not claim to be divine, such as Geza Vermes, this view has come under increasing attack. Not least because it presents an ahistorical view of Jesus. The Deist conception of Christ was influenced by the classicising rationalism of the 18th century. It’s essentially Jesus recast as a Greek philosopher, like Plato or Socrates. More recent scholarship by Sandmel and Sanders from the 1970’s onwards, in works like the latter’s Jesus the Jew, have shown how much Christ’s life and teaching reflected the Judaism of the First Century, in which miracles and the supernatural were a fundamental part.

In The Law of Violence and the Law of Love, Tolstoy sets out his anarchist, pacifist Christian views. He sees the law of love as very core of Christianity, in much the same way the French Utopian Socialist Saint-Simon saw universal brotherhood as the fundamental teaching of Christianity. Tolstoy attacks the established church for what he sees as their distortion of this original, rational, non-miraculous Christianity, stating that it’s the reason so many working people are losing their faith. Like other religious reformers, he recommends his theological views, arguing that it will lead to a revival of genuine Christianity. At the same time, this renewed, reformed Christianity and the universal love it promotes, will overturn the corrupt and oppressive rule of governments, which are built on violence and the use of force.

Among the other arguments against state violence, Tolstoy discusses those, who have refused or condemned military service. These not only include modern conscientious objectors, such as 19th century radicals and Socialists, but also the Early Church itself. He quotes Christian saints and the Church Fathers, including Tertullian and Origen, who firmly condemned war and military service. For example, Tertullian wrote

It is not fitting to serve the emblem of Christ and the emblem of the devil, the fortress of light and the fortress of darkness. One soul cannot serve two masters. And besides, how can one fight without the sword, which the Lord himself has taken away? Is it possible to do sword exercises, when the Lord says that everyone who takes the sword shall perish by the sword? And how can a son of peace take part in a battle.

Some scholars of the Early Church have argued that its opposition to military service was based on opposition to the pagan ceremonies the soldiers would have to attend and perform as part of their duties. As believers in the only God, these were forbidden to Christians. Nevertheless, despite his condemnation, Tertullian admits elsewhere that there were Christians serving in the Roman army.

Other quotations from the Church Fathers make it clear that it was opposition to the bloodshed in war, which caused them to reject military service. Tolstoy cites Cyprian, who stated that

The world goes mad with the mutual shedding of blood, and murder, considered a crime when committed singly, is called a virtue when it is done in the mas. The multiplication of violence secures impunity for the criminals.

Tolstoy also cites a decree of the First Ecumenical Council of 325 proscribing a penance to Christians returning to the Roman army, after they had left it. He states that those, who remained in the army, had to vow never to kill an enemy. If they violated this, then Basil the Great declared that they could not receive communion for three years.

This pacifism was viable when the Church was a small, persecuted minority in the pagan Roman Empire. After Constantine’s conversion, Christians and the Christian church entered government as Christianity became the official religion. The Church’s pacifist stance was rejected as Christians became responsible for the defence of the empire and its peoples, as well as their spiritual wellbeing and secular administration. And as the centuries progressed, Christians became all too used to using force and violence against their enemies, as shown in the countless religious wars fought down through history. It’s a legacy which still understandably colours many people’s views of Christianity, and religion as a whole.

This edition of Tolstoy’s book is published by the Institute of World Culture, whose symbol appears on the front of the book. This appears from the list of other books they publish in the back to be devoted to promoting mysticism. This is mostly Hindu, but also contains some Zoroastrian and Gnostic Christian works, as well as the Zohar, one of the main texts of the Jewish Qabbala.

Pacifism is very much an issue for your personal conscience, though it is, of course, very much a part of the Quaker spirituality. Against this pacifist tradition there’s the ‘Just War’ doctrine articulated and developed over the centuries by St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and other theologians and Christian philosophers. This examines and defines under which circumstances and for which reasons a war can be fought, and what moral restrictions should be imposed on the way it is fought. For example, combatants should not attack women, children and non-combatants. Despite this, the book is an interesting response to the muscular Christianity preached during the days of the British Empire, and which still survives in the American Right. Many Republicans, particularly the Tea Party, really do see Christianity as not only entirely compatible with gun rights, but as a vital part of it. Bill O’Reilly, one of the anchors on Fox News, has stated that Christ would fully approve of the shooting of violent criminals, even in circumstances others find highly dubious. These include some of the incidents where teh police have shot unarmed Blacks, or where such resistance from the suspect may have been the result of mental illness and the cops themselves were in no danger. In the Law of Violence and the Law of Love, you can read Tolstoy’s opinion of the official use of lethal force, and his condemnation of the capitalist statism O’Reilly and Fox stand for.

Young Turks on Fox New’s Attacks on Homeless Black People in New York

July 19, 2015

Okay, it’s been some time since I posted anything up here. As I’ve said, this is partly because I’ve been depressed by the Tory victory at the election, and partly simply because I’ve been caught up doing other stuff. However, time waits for no man and the sheer pressure of events calls on me to start commenting again.

This is another piece from the American internet news programme, The Young Turks. In it, John Iadarola and Anna Kasparian comment on another squalid piece from Fox News. In this piece, Bill O’Reilly, one of Fox’s main anchors and a notorious liar, talks to their journalist Jesse Watters about the increasing numbers of homeless people sleeping rough in New York’s Penn Station.

Watters interviews travellers using the station about seeing homeless people seeking shelter in the station. These people are mostly sympathetic to the rough sleepers. Including a Black child, who says they feel upset seeing people, who don’t have enough money for food and can’t afford a home of their own. It’s a sweet piece of simple, innocent compassion and pity. Unfortunately, as the programme goes on, it most certainly ain’t shared by Watters or his fellow perp, O’Reilly.

The rail passengers interviewed are nearly all White. The homeless people Watters and O’Reilly shows are all Black. As The Turks point out, this seems to be quite deliberate. It’s to paint homelessness as essentially a Black problem. They also show those with some kind of government income, like a stipend, and drug problems. You can hear Fox News almost shouting at you ‘Look! It’s their own fault. They’ve got money! They’re on drugs! They could get their act together, but they just don’t want to. It’s their fault, not that of the system!’

The answer to that one is the old Bill Hick’s line about coming to New York and being surprised by the sheer numbers of the homeless. ‘Now, what makes you think our system doesn’t work.’

Iadorola and Kasparian point out that you don’t know why one man has a government stipend. It could be because he’s a military vet. In which case, it’s probably no surprise he’s got problems that have led to him being homeless. As for drug use, they point out that people turn to drugs for escape, and so it points to there being a larger problem in their lives, rather than simply addiction being the result of personal choice.

Then Watters comes to the real point of his investigation. He doesn’t have any interest or sympathy with the homeless themselves. He’s just annoyed that White people see them. He states that it’s against the law for them to be sleeping in the station, and asks why they aren’t in the homeless shelters. The Turks point out that one reason is that the homeless shelters may not be safe.

They may well be right. This was certainly a very urgent problem two and half decades ago in the 1990s when New York began to suffer the massive increase in homelessness that has ultimately led to this situation. The city started closing down and moving people out of its homeless shelters and into private institutions due to the crime and personal violence that was breaking out in the municipal shelters.

Finally, there’s a party political angle in this nasty piece of biased reporting. Watters and O’Reilly seem to be covering the story in order to get at New York’s mayor de Blasio. But as they point out, it isn’t de Blasio’s problem. The rise in homelessness began long before, in 1991. New York’s population as a whole grew by 16 per cent from 1991 onwards, but the number of homeless people tripled.

They also point out a solution to the problem that Watters does not mention: building homes for the homeless. Arizona was faced with putting up their homeless in ER Rooms. This cost the state $16,000 dollars per person, while building a house for them only cost $11,000. So they built homes for them as that was by far the most cost effective strategy.

But not, it seems for anywhere else in America, or for the Tories over here. They’ve decided that homes should only be for the very rich, and everyone else should go back to living with their parents, or in cellars and basements, like they did in the 19th century before the Victorians started slum clearances and building improved homes for the poor.

As for homelessness being a Black problem, clearly, it ain’t. There’s a large number of hidden homeless in New York, including university graduates and young people staying on friends’ floors after failing to find places of their own after graduation. It may well be the case that a larger proportion of homeless people are Black, because of the economic deprivation and lack of opportunities for Black Americans in general. But the problem isn’t going to be unique to them.

It suits, however, Fox’s racist attitude towards the issue to present it as such. There’s a viciously racist streak running right through Fox News, reflecting the same bias in the Republican party. This sees Blacks very much in the same racist terms as previous centuries – morally weaker than Whites, and strongly inclined to criminality. Hence, many of their viewers would be inclined to shrug the problem off if it’s presented as a condition from which only Blacks suffer, or bring about on themselves. They’re not going to show the White poor or homeless, because that would destroy the illusion they’re so carefully trying to create. And they definitely aren’t going to show any White folks, who lost their jobs or businesses under Dubya.

Here’s the show:

I’ve reblogged this because, although it is an American programme commenting on American issues, it’s acutely relevant to what’s happening over here.

This includes both the despicable attitudes to homelessness, and the real danger of what will happen to responsible news reporting if the government get their way and privatise the Beeb.

One of the major issues in American homelessness is how it’s ceased to be a political issue, despite the fact that it’s increased since the 1990s. Back then it was very much a pressing issue, yet after Bill Clinton won the presidency it dropped from public consciousness. My guess is that it’s partly because the homeless became such an obvious presence in American streets. They were swept away from city cores to more marginal parts of the urban landscape.

Pretty much the way the government and local authorities are doing their best to clear Britain’s homeless out of town, and away from the eyes of the public. Go and see Johnny Void’s Blog for his very detailed and passionate coverage of this and the issue of homelessness in general.

It’s also important because Fox News could very much be the future of British broadcasting, if the Tories have their way. Fox is part owned by Murdoch, who has consistently attacked the BBC, largely because it’s the biggest impediment to him acquiring a commanding monopoly over British broadcasting. As for ITV, the formerly independent broadcasting companies swallowed each other up, one by one in the 1980’s and ’90s, and the network itself seems to have been bought, or come under the control of American companies.

The Tories this week made another attack on the BBC and the licence fee in what looks very much like a very partisan attack to see it sold off to their private backers, including multinational donors like Murdoch.

If that happens, then not only will far more of our television consist of American imports, but there’s a real threat that even the semblance of political impartiality now presented by British broadcasters could disappear. Murdoch claims his wretched propaganda outlet is, in the words of its slogan, ‘fair and balanced reporting’. Like so much of his channel’s content, it’s a lie. So much so, that Fox were incensed when, of all the news broadcasters, they were not given an interview with Obama on the grounds that they were ‘a hostile political advocacy group’. Which is exactly right – the network blatantly supports and has donated extensively to the Repugs. They just don’t want people to know it. And especially not when it becomes a major political embarrassment.

As for the BBC, it’s certainly not free of political bias by any means. I’ve covered before the way Nick Robinson, the Macclesfield Goebbels, flagrantly altered the reporting of his questions to Alex Salmond during the Scots Referendum debate. This was to give the impression that Salmond hadn’t answered his question, when in fact he’d given a fairly detailed rebuttal to Robinson’s objection.

And that isn’t the only case of the Corporation’s bias. Academic media watchdogs have found it to be consistently biased against Labour. It has also repeatedly either ignored, or deliberately under-reported, protests against austerity, including one held right on its very own doorstep. Even as it is, it’s far better than Fox News and the avowedly Right-wing media that would replace it.

Outfoxed: Documentary on Corrupt Journalism in Fox News

April 6, 2015

This is another documentary I found on Youtube. It’s about the massively biased reporting and complete lack of any kind of journalistic integrity on Fox News, the American news channel owned by Rupert Murdoch. Amongst the speakers are journalists, free press activists, politicians and ordinary people, who were interviewed by Murdoch’s hacks. The documentary sets the tone in the very first minutes by comparing Fox news and its management to a scene in the Godfather. Murdoch and his cronies are the gangsters of television journalism.

Among the programme’s revelations is the fact that the executives at Fox News sent memos to their staff every morning laying out what the stories they wanted covered that day, and how they wanted it presented and slanted. The journalists themselves were spied on and punished, if they did not follow the party line. Murdoch himself when he was negotiating to take over the channel, assured the federal authorities that he would bring ‘diversity’ to news broadcasting.

He didn’t. In fact, he did anything but. He was always a supporter of the Republican party, and fervently admired Reagan. As a result, Fox News acted as an arm of the Repugs, broadcasting press releases from the Bush’s administration almost unedited and without any kind of factual analysis.

This could get awkward for the journalists themselves, as they were expected to present the actions of Murdoch’s political heroes as those of heroic grandeur, even when nothing impressive or remotely grand was happening. One journalist talks about the problems he had doing this for Dubya, on days when Dubya wasn’t acting heroically. Another journo talks about the grief he was given by the studio executives for not giving a sufficiently grand and impressive image of the celebrations of Reagan’s birthday. There were a couple of schools there at the Ronald Reagan Memorial Library to valorise the old brute, but nothing much was actually going on. The hack did his best, trying to present the crowds there as far larger and the celebrations more impressive than they actually were. But you can’t make up what isn’t there, and the hack’s attempts to do so were judged inadequate and insufficient by Murdoch’s minions.

The speakers on the documentary go on to describe the subtle bias in the selection of guests or opposing speakers on the News. When covering political conferences or gathering, Fox News made sure they showed the big, well-known Republican politicians. When it came to the Democrats, they gave airtime only to the unknown, obscure figures in the party. The Channel also made sure that Republicans were on there commenting on the news fives times more than Democrats.

Those Democrats that were invited on were very carefully selected. One of the former Fox journalists describes them as ‘Faux Democrats’. They had a liberal fa├žade, but were actually Conservatives. They were chosen because they didn’t really disagree with the Conservative line the network was taking. They even extended this bias down to the personal appearance of two of Fox’s anchors, Hannity and Colmes. Sean Hannity, the Conservative, was big, good-looking bloke. His liberal partner on the programme, Colmes, was described as ‘weaselly’. It’s harsh and ad hominem, but the comment’s a fair one in a society and industry where celebrities and politicians are carefully chosen and judged on their physical attractiveness.

And then there’s Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly is one of their main anchors, with a highly confrontational manner and an absolute disregard for anything like objective truth. He’s been caught out recently lying about his early career in journalism, when he claimed to have covered the Falklands War, Northern Ireland and El Salvador from the combat zones. In reality, he wasn’t anywhere near the fighting. The man lies so often that he’s collected the nickname, Bill O’Liely. There’s even a video around of Fred Phelps, the pastor of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church, denouncing O’ Reilly as a liar. How much of a skunk do you have to be, when even a monomaniac, pathological bigot like Phelps looks down on you?

O’Reilly is shown trying to rebut his reputation for telling his guests to shut up. This happened only once, a few years ago, he tells the audience at a news convention. Wrong! And the documentary gleefully shows O’Liely exploding over and over again, telling everyone to shut up.

They also interview a young man, Jonathan Glick, who managed to hold his own while being interviewed by the old bully. This so infuriated O’Reilly that Glick had to be rushed out of the building before O’Reilly turned violent. And for months afterwards, O’Reilly returned to the interview to lie and twist what Glick had actually said.

Glick’s father was one of the victims of the 9/11 Twin Towers attack. Glick himself was one of those, who signed a letter against the invasion of Afghanistan. When questions about this by O’Reilly, by Glick states calmly that the people of Afghanistan didn’t carry out the attack. It was a group of mujahideen, who had been funded and equipped by the US.

This is absolutely true, but not something that O’Reilly wanted to here. He started shouting at Glick to shut up, and tried to invoke Glick’s father and respect for the other victims of the atrocity. Glick calmly stated that he loves and respects his father, and is following his father’s views, and criticises O’Reilly for invoking the victims’ memory in support of his own views. This was all too much for O’Reilly, who angrily ended the interview.

Glick was told to get out of O’Reilly’s sight for his own safety by a couple of producers. He then went up to the green room, and was then urged to leave the building by another couple of staff, who were afraid that if he stayed around, O’Reilly would be hit with a legal writ.

Over the next four months or so, O’Reilly began lying about the interview in subsequent broadcasts. He claimed that Glick was some kind of far-left Communist, and a Troofer. Glick was neither. He contacted one of the media monitoring groups, and told them he was thinking of suing O’Reilly for lying. The group’s lawyer told him that it would be difficult to get a conviction, as he’d need to prove that O’Reilly knew he was lying. And as O’Reilly was such an inveterate liar, he may well have been pathological and actually believed what he said.

Going on to political campaigns, the documentary describes how Fox uses the headlines and small, running snippets of news presented in the text at the bottom of the screen to frame the bias for the rest of the news. They were also less interested in important issues like health, education and welfare, which lacked the emotional impact that would appeal to right-wing groups. They preferred to concentrate on highly controversial, ‘hot-button’ topics, like abortion and gay rights, that would generate and provoke right-wing attention and support.

The issue of gay marriage actually proved more difficult for the Channel to manipulate than it thought. Rather than the outrageously costumed, theatrical sexuality of gay pride parades, which Fox was used to covering, most of the gay men and women, who came forward to get married were middle aged and looked severely normal. Fox couldn’t get any mileage out of presenting them as sources of outrage and a major threat to American society, so they ditched the issue and concentrated on religion instead.

When it came to individual politicians, they took every opportunity to denigrate the Democrats. When Bill Clinton was in office, they consistently attacked him, only to reverse their bias against the president when their boy, George Dubya, won. When it came to John Kerry, they concentrated on the issue of whether or not he had thrown away his medals after serving in Vietnam. If there was a downturn in the economy, it was because the markets were worried about Kerry. In fact, there were a number of issues that would have effected the markets, but the line Murdoch wanted pushed was that it was all down to Kerry, who would be a disaster for America.

Unlike the disaster for American, and global journalism, that is Rupert Murdoch.

And the network was responsible for extremely biased reporting when it came to the Bush’s election. At the time Fox made the announcement that Bush had won, the actual stats were still unclear and it was undecided. The ethical response from traditional, mainstream journalists would be to admit that. Fox didn’t. They declared Bush the winner. And within minutes, this was parroted by the other channels, who clearly hadn’t done their own, independent research.

The documentary makes it clear that this one of the most pernicious effects of Fox News: it’s corrupting the other networks, from MSNBC to CNN as they attempt to copy its style and political bias. And this is alarmingly destroying journalistic standards in America. The documentary gives the stats showing that Fox viewers actually know less about the world, and believe that their government’s actions are right, far more than other Americans. The journalists commenting on this state that for other channels, this would be a source of shame and an indication of failure.

It also has had an effect in making the number of journalists and presenters from ethnic minorities coming into television much smaller. A Black journalist in the documentary describes how this has effected not just Blacks, but also Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians. Their numbers have declined, as Fox has centralised its broadcasting, and cut down on local stations.

One of the positive things that has come out of Fox News, however, is that more people are aware of media bias. The producers warn of the dangers of television journalism being concentrated in the hands of five or so networks. They urge viewers and listeners to write and contact their local stations demanding that they report the news better and more objectively. They also report a few cases where communities have set up their own radio stations out of dissatisfaction with the bias of the existing broadcaster.

It’s a fascinating expose of Murdoch’s corrupt journalism. Several times in the show they describe Murdoch’s channel as like Soviet propaganda under Stalin. Unlike Stalin’s media, Fox News is far more pernicious. In the Soviet Union, it was clear the news was bias. In the West, the news claims to be independent, and so its bias is far more hidden. Especially on a channel that keeps boasting that about it’s ‘fair and accurate journalism’.

This is a show that’s clearly more relevant to Americans. But it’s also important over here. Murdoch would like to see the BBC sold off, so he could purchase it, or expand to fill the vacuum left by its demise. At the moment we have legislation prohibiting biased reporting. So did the Americans until the 1980s, when Reagan repealed the ‘fairness doctrine’.

A few weeks ago the Radio Times carried an article by one of its journos arguing that British broadcasters should similarly be able to abandon any pretence of objectivity, and so create the kind of vigorous material that has supposedly rejuvenated American journalism with Fox. This documentary shows the reality: a horrendously biased network, that keeps the public ignorant while celebrating the actions of the Right.

And it hasn’t rejuvenated American journalism. The average age of the Fox viewer is 68, and the network has been described as less of a broadcaster, and more of a retirement community.

Whatever Fox is, it shouldn’t be the future of journalism, either here or in America.

Rachel Maddow on the Republican’s ‘Southern Strategy’ and Fox’s Demonisation of Blacks

March 27, 2015

Rachael Maddow is an American left-wing news anchor and political commentator on American television. I found this extremely interesting video from her show on Youtube. In it, she talks about the Republicans’ ‘Southern Strategy’. This was formulated in 1970s by Kevin Phillips. Phillips believed that after desegregation, the Republicans would get no more than 10 to 20 per cent of the Black vote. He advised the party that this should not concern them, and that they shouldn’t even try. Instead, they should target White voters, playing on their fears of Blacks and that they would be disadvantaged and discriminated against in their favour.

She shows a 1990s Republican party political broadcast which featured a pair of white hands clenched in rage and despair over a job rejection letter. The White man in the broadcast had been turned down for the job because of ethnic quotas introduced to give more jobs to Blacks and supported by a named politician. The job then urges Whites opposed to this new form of discrimination and fearing their own displacement and victimisation to vote for the Republican candidate. She then goes on to discuss Kevin Philips’ invention of the strategy before moving on to report its latest manifestation in Fox News.

She gives for examples of the way Murdoch’s American network deliberately demonised and played on White fears about individual Black politicians and organisations in order to get White votes. Fox News boasts, and has even copyrighted, the slogan ‘fair and balanced reporting’. It’s anything but. In the four cases she discusses, the broadcaster actually lies to smear its victims.

It attacked Obama’s czar on renewable energy, Van Jones, claiming that he had been jailed for waving a club around during the Rodney King riots. He hadn’t. She talks about how it presented ACORN, a scheme which promoted mostly ethnic minority causes, as one long festering morass of corruption. The scheme has long since collapsed, but in other videos she shows how the Republicans were still mentioning it in order to scare and drum up support from White voters long after its demise.

They also attempted to create political capital out of the New Black Panther Party shouting at and haranguing voters at a local polling station. This was presented as a new form of Black militancy targeting and intimidating White voters. In fact, they weren’t. Maddow herself states that far from being a new, terrifying political force, the New Black Panther Party was ‘a couple of whackjobs’. They certainly look aggressive and extremely intimidating in the footage Fox showed of them. The federal authorities investigated them, however, and found that they weren’t. The other news agencies didn’t bother with this non-story. Fox was one of the exceptions.

And then there was the supposed case of a Black federal official, Sheren Sherad (sp?), who supposedly was found guilty of discriminating against White farmers. That was another lie.

Among the faces repeating these barefaced lies and propaganda were the usual offenders against truth, decency and a genuinely moral, civil society: Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Malkin and the original, archetypal swivel-eye loon himself, Glen Beck.

Maddow concludes by saying that this isn’t about the victimisation of Black per se, it is about the use of the fears of the supposed threat from Black to get Whites to vote Republican. Here’s the video.

I’ve posted it here, as although it deals with American history and political issues, this tactic has cross the Atlantic. Anti-racist legislation here in Britain and the fact that we don’t have a written constitution defending freedom of speech means that such blatant fear-mongering is simply impossible over here. Nevertheless, the Tories and Farage’s UKIP have tried something very similar. Despite it’s claims to be a non-racist, non-sectarian party, UKIP is full of racists, Islamophobes and, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, bigots with a bitter hatred of Roman Catholics. It has the full backing of groups like Britain First, and its members also support other far right organisation like the BNP and EDL. It is a party, which is founded on White fears of Blacks and Asians, and particularly Islam. It is also fiercely misogynistic and homophobic. As for playing on White fears, remember the poster they put up showing a builder in hardhat and high-visibility clothing? This was put up on hoardings up and down the country with a slogan about how British people were being laid off in order to employ cheap immigrant labour. It’s a line that goes all the way back to the British Brothers’ League and the fears about Jewish immigration just before the First World War.

And the Tories very definitely are no better. I’ve blogged before about how they too have used an approach very similar to the ‘Southern Strategy’, but of necessity less overt. The Daily Mail has been running pieces attacking ‘affirmative action’, positive discrimination quotas and other forms of ‘political correctness’, since these first appeared in the 1980s. Other Tory papers and magazines have also repeated this line. In 2004 the Spectator published a piece that stated that the only section of the demographic not welcome in London were White males. It also ran a piece ‘Blackened Whites’, attacking the way anti-racism campaigns portrayed Whites as evil and racist. It’s the same approach the Repugs ran under Dubya attempting to play on the fears and hatred of ‘angry White men’. And it’s significant that for all the more liberal verbiage with which Farage comes out, he attended the CPAC Republican convention.

Maddow shows what’s going on in America. But it’s also only the most extreme and overt manifestation of what Cameron, Farage, and their media friends, like the Dirty Digger and Richard Desmond, are doing over here.