Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's "Entertainment" NOT News!!!

... and I use the term "entertainment" lightly ... the propaganda department of the right-wing also gets a big chunk of their money from a Saudi Arabian stock holder (who is the biggest investor after Rupert Murdoch) ... from today's Progress Report:


The Fox News Factor

At a strategy meeting earlier this month, Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell reportedly told party insiders skeptical about her campaign that she had Fox News' "Sean Hannity in my back pocket, and I can go on his show and raise money by attacking you guys." The fact that Fox News and its right-wing news personalities favor conservative candidates is not a secret to many people with a cable box, but amidst the current discussion over how big money is influencing this election cycle, Rupert Murdoch's highly rated "news" channel is rarely placed in the discussion. It should be: Fox News, part of the multi-billion dollar News Corporation, uses its $1.21 billion budget to provide a 24-hour propaganda and fundraising outlet for conservative candidates, many of whom confess the channel is their preferred method of "getting their voice out." The channel hosts or straight-out employs more conservative politicians than any other outlet, and provides a constant stream for their misinformation, which is often abetted by Fox News personalities, many of whom campaign for or advise GOP candidates off the air. The right-wing billionaires who are the financial backbone of the Tea Party movement have a partner in Fox News, which has been instrumental in propagating its message, even hosting live Tea Party rallies from outdoor Fox News studios. And in recent months, News Corp. has simply handed over millions of dollars to conservative campaign outfits like the Republican Governors Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

GETTING THEIR VOICE OUT: O'Donnell received instruction on how to use Fox News to her political advantage from the master: paid Fox News contributor Sarah Palin. "[O'Donnell] is gonna have to dismiss that, go with her gut, get out there, speak to the American people, speak through Fox News, and let the independents who are tuning into you, let them know what it is that she stands for, the principles behind her positions," Palin explained. Palin herself turned to Fox News during the 2008 campaign after embarrassing interviews with other mainstream outlets, and in the time since, retained Fox News personality Greta Van Susteren's husband as a political adviser. In fact, every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination that's not currently in office is on the Fox News payroll, with the exception of Mitt Romney, and all but one speak only on that network. According to Media Matters research, these potential candidates made a whopping 269 appearances on Fox News through the end of September. So far this year, none of the potential contenders on the Fox News payroll have appeared on any other television news outlet with the exception of Newt Gingrich. "We have tried to book many of them, but they have always refused, saying they are exclusive to Fox," one rival network staffer told Politico. This election cycle, numerous Republican congressional candidates have also chosen to "speak through Fox News." For example, Washington Senate candidate Dino Rossi has given at least five interviews to Fox News just in the past month, including having Fox News cameras on the campaign trail with him twice, while giving no interviews to any other national cable news outlet. During these interviews, Rossi has stood up to questioning that can generously described as "helpful" -- like this probing question from Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum: "That's a lot of pressure on you, Mr. Rossi. How [are] you holding up under that?" Or this one from Hannity: " So what story is it that you want to tell in this election that's going to make the difference and push you over the top?"

MISLEADING CONTENT: Fox News coverage of this election cycle is no more balanced than its guest list. The list of falsehoods and bogus story lines advanced by the network is too long to catalogue entirely, but just a few examples from recent weeks: Bill O'Reilly said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "may have come out of the closet" in support of "socialistic philosophy;" the hosts of Fox & Friends later wondered if a Pelosi speech struck a "socialist tone." Hannity also opined that House Democrats passed health care reform "with, basically, what I consider to be the moral equivalency of a bribe," and Neil Cavuto asked Republicans to promise "destroy" health care reform on the campaign trail. Even ostensible straight news reporters like Carl Cameron assert things like Obama's "liberal agenda caused" an "uproar" in Indiana. The Fox effect has a real impact on the nation's business, extending beyond elections to the passing of legislation.When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was negotiating to join Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) in their attempt to craft an energy bill, the Republican warned Lieberman and Kerry that they needed to get as far as they could in negotiating the bill "before Fox News got wind of the fact that this was a serious process," one of the people involved in the negotiations said to The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza.

SHOWING THEM THE MONEY: When conservative politicians appear on Fox News, they don't just get softball questions -- they also get money. During his frequent appearances, Rossi was sure to note several times that viewers could visit his website, and that he "needed the help." Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle, another politician who gives interviews almost exclusively to Fox News, explained that she doesn't do interviews with other mainstream outlets because "Well, in that audience, will they let me say I need $25 dollars from a million people go to send money?" But on Fox News, when she made a fundraising pitch on Hannity's show, she made $40,000 "before we even got out of the studio in New York." Fox News has provided tremendous helps towards organizing and fundraising for the Tea Party movement as well -- Sean Hannity, Greta Van Susteren, and other Fox News personalities actually hosted the first tax day Tea Party rallies, in 2009, and just this week have been relentlessly promoting the Tea Party Express campaign bus.When candidates aren't raising money on Fox airwaves, the parent company is often just forking it over to conservative causes: News Corp. has given repeated donations to the Republican Governors Association and has also given $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is running an aggressive ad campaign against Democratic candidates. There's a benefit for Fox News in this too -- it made $534.8 million in pure profit last year. The Fox News political and money machine is hard to even categorize. Few reasonable people would call it a journalistic outfit. As Center for American Progress senior fellow Eric Alterman wrote, "Fox is something new -- something for which we do not yet have a word. It provides almost no actual journalism. Instead it gives ideological guidance to the Republican Party and millions of its supporters, attacking its opponents and keeping its supporters in line. And it does so at a hefty profit, thereby turning itself into the political equivalent of a perpetual motion machine."

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Meg ... Meg ... Meg ...

I haven't posted on my blog for quite some time ... I keep meaning to and then I end up posting stuff over on Facebook ... I heard on NPR yesterday that Meg Whitman is 54 years old (someone was commenting that Jerry Brown actually looked younger than she did and he's in his 70's) ... what kind of life has this woman been leading if she looks TEN YEARS older then she actually is ... this is from yesterday's Progress Report:


Meg Whitman's Gran Problema

On Wednesday, California Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman's former housekeeper -- Nicky Diaz Santillan -- held a press conference with her lawyer Gloria Allred to announce that Whitman employed her for nine years and knew she was an undocumented immigrant, but turned a blind eye and exploited their relationship. According to Diaz Santillan, Whitman knew for years that she was undocumented, but fired her just a few months before she announced that she was running for governor. "From now on you don't know me and I don't know you," Diaz Santillan claims Whitman told her in the summer of 2009. Santillan also alleges that Whitman "exploited, disrespected, humiliated and emotionally and financially abused" her and that she was not fully compensated for wages and transportation. Whitman has flatly denied knowingly employing an undocumented worker, telling reporters that she terminated Diaz Santillan's employment as soon as she learned of her immigration status. Whitman has also pinned the blame on opponent Jerry Brown (D), describing the allegations as "smear politics" motivated by Brown. Whitman has said she will take a lie detector test when Brown and Diaz Santillan submit to a lie detector. However, Whitman can't deny that she employed an undocumented immigrant for almost a decade, whether she knew it or not. Given Whitman's own politicization of the immigration issue throughout her campaign, she has largely dug this hole for herself. Her campaign has been marked by flip-flops and deception on the immigration issue -- and now possibly hypocrisy.

PRIMARY WEDGE POLITICS: Whitman once said that she favored a "program in which people would go to the end of the line, pay a fine, and do things that would allow for a path to legalization." Then, her primary race against immigration hardliner Steve Poizner tightened. When Poizner began portraying Whitman as soft on immigration, she went out of her way to clarify that what she really "meant" was that she supports reform that "secures the border first and includes a temporary guest worker program" and declared herself "100 percent against amnesty, no exceptions." She also proposed "holding employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers," and advocated for "a more efficient system" to verify the immigration status of workers seeking employment. Whitman and Poizner agreed that they would cut or end Assembly Bill 540, a state bill enacted into law in 2002 that allows undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements to pay resident fees at colleges and universities. Whitman then proceeded to release an ad featuring her campaign chairman and former Gov. Pete Wilson (R-CA) who affirmed that Whitman will be "as tough as nails" on immigration. As the governor who backed Proposition 187 -- an Arizona-type law that was ultimately deemed unconstitutional -- Wilson's endorsement was meant to give Whitman credibility amongst the Republican right-wing base. In June, Whitman defeated Poizner "in the most expensive campaign in California history."

GENERAL ELECTION FLIP-FLOP: Once Whitman nabbed the Republican nomination, she quickly realized that she had to start focusing her efforts on repairing relations with the Latino community. On June 17, Whitman reminded California Latino voters of her opposition to Arizona's controversial immigration law in an ad that aired during the Spanish-language broadcast of the Mexico-France World Cup game. The ad would be the first of many. State Senator Gil Cedillo (D) called Whitman's Latino outreach "Orwellian" because of her "complete saturation" of Spanish language radio and television airtime. Billboards in Spanish also started to pop up all over California proclaiming that Whitman would have opposed Proposition 187 and opposes the controversial Arizona immigration law. For the first time in 30 years, Whitman opened a GOP gubernatorial office in the Latino-heavy and predominately Democratic East Los Angeles neighborhood. Meanwhile, Wilson quietly slipped behind the scenes. Rather than talking about "amnesty" or securing the border, Whitman began telling Latinos, "I'm engaging the Latino community early, because I understand and value the contributions you make to our state. My door is open. I really can't do this job without your support." However, her campaign was delivering a very different message to the rest of the California electorate. In English, Whitman reasoned that the Arizona law should be able to stand in Arizona -- explaining that the only reason she opposes implementing the Arizona law in California is because it is a "much bigger state with much bigger geography." In an interview with conservative radio hosts, Whitman explicitly affirmed that she opposes a path to legalization for undocumented workers despite the fact that she proclaimed in a Spanish-language editorial that she and Brown share an almost identical immigration platform. Brown, however, does support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a legalization program. In a debate against Brown just this week, Whitman vowed to crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers and reiterated her opposition to legalizing undocumented immigrants. Unsurprisingly, these tough immigration messages were never broadcasted by her campaign in Spanish.

THE POWER OF THE LATINO VOTE: Particularly in the wake of Arizona's SB-1070 bill, Latino voters care deeply about the immigration issue. A recent poll found that "since the end of 2009, immigration has catapulted to the top issue of personal concern among 1 in 4 Latinos." The same poll revealed that 68 percent of Latinos said they would support candidates who favor immigration reform, while only 19 percent said they would be willing to support a candidate who opposed it. In California, Republicans are still hurting from the effects of Proposition 187. In a report released by the Center for American Progress, CAP policy analyst Gebe Martinez writes, "after 1994, California Democrats won every presidential, U.S. Senate, and gubernatorial election until 2003" -- largely thanks to a Latino electorate that was deeply offended by Wilson and his party. How Whitman presents her immigration views to Latinos is especially critical given that they represent 21.1 percent of California’s registered voters. Meanwhile, 44.6 percent (or 4.4 million people) of California's immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens. Even before the controversy involving her housekeeper broke, Latinos were already skeptical of Whitman. Polls show Brown at anywhere between a seven to 19 point lead amongst Latino voters. This week's events probably won't help. Fernando Espuelas of Univision writes, "Whatever the merits of the case now being litigated in the media by suffering victim specialist attorney Gloria Allred, the optics of this issue are horrible, and possibly fatal for Whitman's candidacy." The Service Employees International Union captures the hypocrisy of Whitman's posturing on the immigration in a Spanish language radio ad: "Whitman attacks undocumented workers to win votes, but an undocumented woman worked in her home for nine years." Whitman has already had a tough time trying to explain her shifting position on immigration reform to the general electorate. Chances are it's going to be even harder now that she has to justify her recently articulated zero-tolerance immigration policies and lack of support for reform despite her firsthand experience with the broken immigration system.