Fox News Admits Lying, Trump Lies to CPAC, Tucker Carlson Hates on Trump, GOP Hates on Tucker Carlson, Walgreens Gets Boycotted, Racism Among Louisville Police, and More
A Troubling Week in News Media…
This has been a troubling but revelatory week concerning the news media. Fox News admitted they lied for ratings money (more on that later). This is not a hysterical socialist conspiracy theory but verifiable facts from the mouths of Fox’s owners, executives, and on-air hosts. They lied. For years. They admitted it. You can’t spin that (though they and their viewers will try).
The good news is that what many in the press have been accusing Fox News of—biased reporting and outright lying—has been proven true. The bad news: it probably won’t matter. Their demographic prefers the lie—the feel-good blue pill of illusion. In 2021, Tucker Carlson admitted on The Rubin Report that he lies: “I lie. If I’m really cornered or something, I lie. I really try not to. I try never to lie on TV. I just don’t, you know, I don’t like lying. I certainly do it, you know, out of weakness or whatever.” The “or whatever” is the $35 million a year Fox pays him to lie.
Conservative broadcasters used to call legitimate press sources “mainstream media” as a way of positioning themselves as underdogs fighting The Big, Bad System. Everyone roots for the scrappy Rocky-like underdog. But as the numbers were released showing that conservative media actually had higher ratings and more social media subscribers than most “mainstream” sources, they had to change their wording to “legacy media” (technically meaning meaning media that started in print or broadcasting, but has taken on a pejorative slant meaning liberal). Ironically, conservatives in general promote tradition and legacy as being preferable. Double ironically, some of the most conservative media are also “legacy media”: The Wall Street Journal was founded in 1889, The New York Post was founded in 1801.
Here’s what most critics of the news media get wrong. When people complain about the news media they usually mistakenly lump news reporting together with editorial opinions. Because they don’t like the editorial opinions, they condemn the entire news organization. Part of the reason is that news organizations sometimes let their editorial opinions seep into their news writing. In previous newsletters, I have pointed out several examples of this specifically in news media that I trust. The difference is that it happens rarely in news sources with journalistic integrity and when it does happen, they try to rectify it. Not so with Fox News.
To be clear, the public is bombarded daily with opinions (mine included) that aren’t news and therefore shouldn’t be thought of as news. Commentators like Rachel Maddow, Jake Tapper, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, Steve Crowder, etc. are not impartially reporting the news. They interpret the news the way the Catholic clergy used to interpret the Bible because it was only in Latin until 1522. But they are separate from the news departments that are supposed to give you the un-fluffed facts. You want to judge the news media, judge the departments separately.
If you don’t like Maddow’s opinions, don’t use them to judge MSNBC. Unless she openly lies or perverts the truth. Then the network that supports her should be held accountable. I’ve never seen her do that which is why, even when I disagree with her on a particular issue, I respect her opinion and the network.
That’s not the case with Fox. Almost everyone involved purposely broadcasts lies or misdirections from the truth.
That’s what makes last week’s quote from Trump’s former campaign manger Kellyanne Conway on Fox’s Hannity so revealing. “…I want to challenge people watching tonight who don’t wear red hats, who don’t consider themselves ’MAGA’ [and] don’t consider themselves race-drawn political people,” Conway said. “Ask yourself how many times you’ve been lied to not just by this government, but how many times you’ve been lied to by the people whose job it is to tell you the truth in the media—all in the service of getting the president.” Remember that Conway coined the dubious phrase “alternative facts” when Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer lied about the size of the inauguration crowd. More to the point, she made this latest appeal on the network who’s just been caught repeatedly lying.
It’s like the famous scene in Say Anything when Lily Taylor’s character angrily sings “Joe Lies”: “He'll tell you what you want to hear, but it's never the truth.” (How’s that for obscure pop culture reference?)
Rupert Murdoch says Fox stars 'endorsed' lies about 2020. He chose not to stop them (NPR)
SUMMARY: “In the heat of the moment, right after Election Day 2020, media magnate Rupert Murdoch knew that the hosts on his prized Fox News Channel were endorsing lies from then-President Donald Trump about election fraud.
“And he did nothing to intervene to stop it.
“Instead, Murdoch, the network's controlling owner, followed the lead of the network's senior executives in sidestepping the truth for a pro-Trump audience angered when confronted by the facts.
“Asked whether he could have told Fox News' chief executive and its stars to stop giving airtime to Rudy Giuliani — a key Trump campaign attorney peddling election lies — Murdoch assented. ‘I could have,’ Murdoch said. ‘But I didn't.’
“…Behind the scenes, however, Fox News chief executive Scott had been wooing Mike Lindell, the MyPillow founder, major advertiser and pro-Trump conspiracy theorist, according to Dominion's filing. Scott sent Lindell a personal note and a gift while encouraging Fox shows to book him as a guest to ‘get ratings.’
“On Jan. 26, Tucker Carlson had Lindell on his show. Rupert Murdoch told Dominion's attorneys he could stop taking money for MyPillow ads, "‘[B]ut I'm not about to.’
“An attorney for Dominion suggested, ‘It is not red or blue, it is green.’
“According to the filing, Murdoch agreed.”
MY TAKE: The main thing we learned from the testimonies of all the top people at Fox is that they lied, and not in a noble but misguided effort to promote some sort of political justice, but to win back an audience that was abandoning them when they actually told the truth. They did it for the money.
After Fox rightfully called Arizona for Biden during the 2020 elections, the network held an emergency meeting in which the CEO, Suzanne Scott, complained that “if we hadn’t called Arizona, those three or four days following election day, our ratings would have been bigger” because “the mystery would have been still hanging out there.” Sean Hannity was angered that the news division’s reporting of the facts went against their financial interests: “news destroyed us.”
‘Just a lie’: Senate Republicans blast Tucker Carlson’s Jan. 6 narrative (The Washington Post)
SUMMARY: From Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to rank-and-file lawmakers, Republican senators largely rejected Fox personality Tucker Carlson’s vision of the deadly insurrection as a mostly peaceful protest that involved little violence.
“Appearing at his weekly news conference, McConnell denounced the leadership of the conservative cable network for airing the entertainer’s vision of the assault on the Capitol, holding up a letter from U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger that accused Carlson’s show of being ‘filled with offensive and misleading conclusions.’
“‘It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here in the Capitol thinks,’ McConnell told reporters.
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), once a vocal supporter of former president Donald Trump who has consistently denounced the attack, was blunt in his assessment of Carlson’s narrative: ‘To somehow put [Jan. 6] in the same category as a permitted peaceful protest is just a lie.’
“…I can’t forecast what Speaker McCarthy was thinking about but if you’re going to give footage, give it to all the networks, not just one,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who voted to convict Trump in the 2021 impeachment trial that stemmed from Jan. 6. “I think it’s a very dangerous thing to do to suggest that attacking the Capitol of the United States is in any way acceptable and is anything other than a serious crime against democracy and against our country.’
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) agreed that a wide distribution of the video would have been better and echoed his colleagues, saying: ‘I was there on Jan. 6. I saw what happened. It clearly was violent. It was an insurrection.’”
Tucker Carlson on Trump: ‘I Hate Him Passionately’ (The Daily Beast)
SUMMARY: “Two days before the violent Jan. 6 insurrection that he’s currently whitewashing as a ‘peaceful’ gathering, Fox News host Tucker Carlson privately said that he hated former President Donald Trump ‘passionately.’ This text exchange and hundreds of pages of other private messages involving Fox News stars and executives were released Tuesday night as part of the latest tranche of documents in Dominion Voting System’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit. ‘I hate him passionately,’ Carlson texted an unknown staffer… He then added: “We’re all pretending we've got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it's been is too tough to digest. But come on. There isn't really an upside to Trump.” This is far from the only time Carlson, a Trump-sympathetic host on the air, has raged against the ex-president behind the scenes. In a text to one of his show’s producers as the Capitol riots raged, Carlson called Trump a ‘demonic force’ and a ‘destroyer.’ He also worried just after the 2020 election that the then-president ‘could easily destroy’ the network, saying that’s ‘what he’s good at.’”
MY TAKE: So, two more articles about Tucker lying. In the first one, he lies so blatantly that even some Republicans can’t stomach his distortions. In the second, he reveals what he really thought about Trump—”destroyer”, “demonic”—even as he promoted him on TV to reclaim the presidency. He pushed the lies about the election to advance the political agenda of a man he hated passionately because his audience wanted him to.
The fact that he, Jeanine Pirro, and Sean Hannity are still on Fox testifies that Fox has not changed its commitment to providing news as reflected through the distortion of their funhouse mirrors. They’re more street-corner pimps than journalists.
For the same cost as one Nacho Fries Box from Taco Bell you can subscribe to my Substack and have your brain nourished for a month. C’mon!
Kareem’s Video Break
Exclusive: Fox News’ new training video for all on-air commentators.
Fact check: Trump delivers wildly dishonest speech at CPAC (CNN)
SUMMARY: “As president, Donald Trump made some of his most thoroughly dishonest speeches at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
“As he embarks on another campaign for the presidency, Trump delivered another CPAC doozy Saturday night.
Trump’s lengthy address to the right-wing gathering in Maryland was filled with wildly inaccurate claims about his own presidency, Joe Biden’s presidency, foreign affairs, crime, elections and other subjects.
“Here is a fact check of 23 of the false claims Trump made. (And that’s far from the total.)
Crime in Manhattan
While Trump criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who has been investigating Trump’s company, he claimed that ‘killings are taking place at a number like nobody’s ever seen, right in Manhattan.’
“Facts First: It isn’t even close to true that Manhattan is experiencing a number of killings that nobody has ever seen. The region classified by the New York Police Department as Manhattan North had 43 reported murders in 2022; that region had 379 reported murders in 1990 and 306 murders in 1993. The Manhattan South region had 35 reported murders in 2022 versus 124 reported murders in 1990 and 86 murders in 1993. New York City as a whole is also nowhere near record homicide levels; the city had 438 reported murders in 2022 versus 2,262 in 1990 and 1,927 in 1993.
“Manhattan North had just eight reported murders this year through February 19, while Manhattan South had one. The city as a whole had 49 reported murders.”
“The Obama administration and Ukraine
“Trump claimed that while he provided lethal assistance to Ukraine, the Obama administration ‘didn’t want to get involved’ and merely ‘supplied the bedsheets.’ He said, ‘Do you remember? They supplied the bedsheets. And maybe even some pillows from [pillow businessman] Mike [Lindell], who’s sitting right over here. … But they supplied the bedsheets.’
“Facts First: This is inaccurate. While it’s true that the Obama administration declined to provide weapons to Ukraine, it provided more than $600 million in security assistance to Ukraine between 2014 and 2016 that involved far more than bedsheets. The aid included counter-artillery and counter-mortar radars, armored Humvees, tactical drones, night vision devices and medical supplies.”
MY TAKE: I included only two of the lies because of space limitations. But reading them is like watching a police interrogation of a pathological liar. You just stare in wonderment at the arrogance of openly lying, knowing the facts are all within the reach of anyone’s phones. His arrogance is earned because his adulating audience will never fact-check him. They are so relieved to have someone they can blindly follow that they can’t take the chance of actually Googling anything he says. He knows he can tell them anything, and they will lap it up like puppies nibbling treats from his hand.
Many of his followers think he will make their lives better. But if they embrace as a leader a man who constantly lies to them (remember the good old days when he deliberately didn’t tell Americans how bad COVID-19 was and let us die?), then maybe their problems start with their own way of thinking.
Warning: Trump leads in the polls as the Republican nominee for president.
Kareem’s Short Takes
California won't renew $54M Walgreens contract over company's abortion pill decision (NBC News)
SUMMARY: “Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that California will not renew its multimillion dollar contract with Walgreens after the company said it would not dispense abortion medication in multiple states where abortion is legal.
“The California Department of General Services issued a formal notice ‘withdrawing a planned renewal of that agreement set to take effect on May 1, 2023’ and ‘will explore other options for furnishing the same services,’ according to a statement from Newsom’s office.
“‘Under this contract, Walgreens has received about $54 million from the State,’ the statement said.
“‘California will not stand by as corporations cave to extremists and cut off critical access to reproductive care and freedom,’ Newsom said. ‘California is on track to be the fourth largest economy in the world and we will leverage our market power to defend the right to choose.’”
MY TAKE: Walgreens’ decision is a political one, since it is refusing to dispense the medication in states where it is legal. As such, Walgreens is taking a clear stand against women’s rights. It’s refreshing to report on a state standing by those who are being marginalized rather than sitting by and doing nothing in fear of alienating people intent on alienating others.
Want to support women beyond paying lip service during International Women’s Day? Boycott Walgreens (#boycottwalgreens) until they rescind this offensive policy. Every dollar spent in Walgreens is a vote to support oppressing women. No one who is for equality for all people should step foot inside Walgreens.
ALSO READ: “Walgreens drew a line on abortion pill access and is paying a price” (The Washington Post)
Louisville police failed to protect Black people, inquiry launched after Breonna Taylor death finds (The Guardian)
SUMMARY: “Louisville police engaged in unlawful practices that violated residents’ civil rights and discriminated against Black people and people with behavioral health deficiencies, the US justice department concluded on Wednesday following an investigation prompted by the killing of Breonna Taylor in a botched police raid in 2020.
“The city of Louisville agreed to a consent decree to reform policing practices.
“…The justice department’s civil rights division has now concluded that Louisville police and city government ‘failed to adequately protect and serve and discriminated against Black people’ and deployed ‘unjustified neck restraints’ and ‘unreasonable use of police dogs and Tasers’.
“Announcing the findings, the US attorney general, Merrick Garland, said officers had ‘demonstrated disrespect for the people they were sworn to protect’, some videotaping themselves ‘throwing drinks at pedestrians from their cars, insulting people with disabilities, and calling Black people, “monkeys, animal and boy”’.
MY TAKE: This is probably not news to any Black person in Louisville (or America). As the son of a decorated police office, I feel both shame and anger at stories like this. I like to believe that people choose to join the police because they want to serve their community and are dedicated to helping everyone live their best lives. I know that’s Pollyannish, but I’ve seen so many exceptional officers that I live in hope. Clearly, this is not a case of “a few bad apples.” It’s systemic racism—which White Republicans love to deny exists—and has to be rooted out with finality. A national database must be established that lists cops who have been fired for racist behavior so they won’t be hired in that capacity ever again.
Among seniors, Black men more likely to die after surgery than their peers, new study suggests (CNN)
SUMMARY: “Among older patients, Black men may have a higher chance of dying within 30 days following surgery than their peers, according to a new study.
“The study, published Wednesday in the medical journal BMJ, suggests that this inequity could be driven by outcomes following elective surgery, for which death was 50% higher for Black men than for White men – information that can be helpful for physicians as they plan procedures for patients.
“Previously, separate research published in 2020 came to similar findings among children, showing that, within 30 days from their surgeries, Black children were more likely to die than White children.
“‘While a fair bit is known about such inequities, we find in our analyses that it’s specifically Black men who are dying more, and they are dying more after elective surgeries, not urgent and emergent surgeries,’ study lead Dr. Dan Ly, assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a news release.
“‘Our findings point to possibilities such as poorer pre-optimization of co-morbidities prior to surgery, delays of care due to structural racism and physician bias, and worse stress and its associated physical burden on Black men in the United States,’ Ly said in the news release.”
MY TAKE: The past few years I’ve faced some serious medical challenges—heart surgery, leukemia, etc.—and am thankful to the medical professionals who have literally saved my life. I know how lucky I am as a Black man to be a celebrity. No one wants me dying on their watch. Bad publicity. That’s one of the reasons I have reached out to the medical community many times to provide guidance on how best to interact with the Black community who have justified hesitancy when it come to trusting the medical establishment.
Again, how much more evidence do some people need that systemic racism exists and it’s killing Black people? This is what Republicans don’t want taught in schools because it makes White people feel bad. Well, having Black children and seniors die unnecessarily makes us feel bad. Feel bad at the preventible loss and feel bad that all Americans aren’t outraged at the inequity enough to fight for change.
Kareem’s Jukebox Playlist
Lakecia Benjamin: “New Mornings”
Lakecia Benjamin’s music is as audacious and vibrant as her album cover. She played with Missy Elliot and Alicia Keys as well as for President Obama at his 2009 Inauguration. Her new album, Phoenix, is rich and loud and insistent. I selected “New Mornings” for my Jukebox Playlist because I feel like the notes enter my ears and then course through my veins with a passionate energy that gets me wanting to move to the beat. This is joyful jazz at its best.
Kareem, since we’re dealing with facts, Kellyanne’s correct phrasing was “alternative facts.” And whereas, one may disagree with Rachel Maddow’s opinions, I like the fact that she primarily does investigative research of her material, in an attempt to be factual-based, fair and honest.
Re: Fox News and lies, let’s go back. Does anybody remember the Bush-Gore Florida call, that landed in the lap of the Republican Supreme Court? Originally, Gore was declared the winner. In real time, we were told that Barbara Bush had Jeb to call Katherine Harris (Sec’y of State for FL) and Fox to undo the call. They did! Manning the Election Desk at Fox News, and the person to whom the Bushes were talking all night, was their FIRST COUSIN, John Ellis. Hours into the night, he called FL for George W. The other stations followed, although all later rescinded. However, once that call was made, the ILLUSION was that Bush had won, and as they say, the rest is history. My point is, Rupert Murdoch’s FOX, has been impacting the country for years, with their lies, distortions, and slander: Hillary’s emails, Obama’s birth certificate, The Big Lie, the insurrection. They are finally being taken to task, so my hat is off to Dominion for having the gumption and fortitude to pursue this lawsuit! I wish them well!
As a Gen Xer from the Boston area, I remembered you as one of the people who helped serve up some great disappointment to my teenaged self in 1985 and 1987!
But now I am happy to have found your excellent newsletter, and I have great appreciation for your commentary on current events. Thank you!