Saturday, October 16, 2010


It is really surreal to emerge back into the world after 12 years in prison to find that there is more corruption and dishonesty permeating American politics than can be found in the average prison cellblock. And it is so blatant nowadays. Okay, maybe transparency is good, but I don't think its advocates meant that you should openly bribe candidates, or have them state provable lies that can be preserved forever on video.

The O'Reilly Falsehood Factor

Take Bill O'Reilly, please. On his recent widely publicized brouhaha on The View, Barbara Walters caught him and called him on a direct lie. He claimed he hadn't said we were attacked on 9/11 by "all Muslims" but just Muslim radicals. But he actually said "Muslims killed us on 9/11." O'Reilly's exact words (I just watched the video again), which he repeated two more times.

But that was not nearly the biggest O'Reilly lie of the past week. After Bill Clinton told an audience that Fox News "carried water for Republican candidates," O'Reilly went on the air and said only "leftwing loons" believed Fox supported and endorsed Republicans. I don't like Nazi analogies, but since Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's "Information Minister" was the most famous proponent of "The Big Lie", I am compelled to assert that even Goebbels never put out as big a whopper as this O'Reilly statement--the Nazi propaganda master was more subtle than that.

Here are some facts about Fox News and the Republican connection thereof. The founder and owner of the network, Australian-born Rupert Murdoch and his News Corporation gave $1 million to the Republican Governors' Association two months ago. Then, just the other day, he gave $1 million more to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for their work in supporting Republican Congressional candidates (In fairness, I should note that there are two fairly conservative Democratic candidates they are supporting along with dozens of GOP members). No money to any Democratic organization from the "fair and balanced" network.

And then there's the fact that the head of Fox News is none other than one of the most notorious Republican operatives/consultants of the past three decades, Roger Ailes.

I knew Roger Ailes in the old days. We both worked in the Walnut Street building owned by Westinghouse Broadcasting in Philadelphia. I worked as a newsman for KYW NewsRadio, and he was an executive producer at KYW-TV, and was primarily producing The Mike Douglas nationally syndicated talk show. In 1967, the co-host for a week was Richard Nixon. (Douglas was fair--Hubert Humphrey was co-host another week that year--I even had a long chat with him on the plush leather bench in the lobby at KYW--the most loquacious politician I ever met.)

During conversations with Ailes in that week, Nixon liked what the producer had to say about how to present himself on TV and hired Ailes to be in charge of his TV appearances. Ailes went on to work on a number of major Republican campaigns. He's even widely believed, though he denies it, to be the creator of the infamous Willie Horton racist ad that helped elect George H.W. Bush as President.

But none of this factual background is really necessary to figure out that Fox is a major propaganda arm of the Republican Party--just listen for a few minutes to most of their on air personalities. Of course, there are many who think it's the other way around and that the Republican Party is a subsidiary of Fox News.

On to more deviousness. Another current controversy has to do with a mistake President Obama or someone on his staff made. They claimed that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was using foreign money to fund U.S. political campaigns--which would be a major felony. At this moment, while this may or may not be true, there is no evidence anyone can cite that it is so, so at the very least Obama jumped the gun. And even if proof is found, the impact has been diminished by his gaff. Oh, the Chamber, which funds mostly GOP candidates, does receive a lot of money at offices overseas, but they claim they keep this separate when it eventually arrives at their U.S. headquarters.

Of course this whole area is pretty blurry nowadays, since the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can give huge undocumented funds for political purposes without having to identify themselves. Billions are pouring in, and by one estimate, 9 to 1 in favor of Republicans. has stated that about 85% of the claims made in these ads funded by these funds that don't have to be labeled are false.
Let me point out that this is not so with the ads where the candidate says, "I'm so and so and I approved this ad, " where the claims are often true.

And, of course, you have Rupert Murdoch, Australian-born and very involved in British politics as well as American and Australian, giving that $2 million to Republicans.
And, in another tangential aside, what do you think right wing talk shows would have to say about a foreign religious cult operating a major Democratic-leaning national newspaper?

Well, we have the strange case of The Washington Times, home to such iconic conservative columnists and commentators as Tony Blankley, Frank Gaffney, Jr. and Tony Snow (it's no coincidence that many of their columnists appear regularly on Fox News). The Times is controlled and was founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon of Korea, head of the controversial Unification Church, the Moonies, and their original mission statement was "To teach America about God." Since he and his followers consider Moon himself to be divine, this seems rather self-serving.

The Washington Times was also largely founded in Washington, D.C. to counter the influence of The Washington Post, which the Moonies claimed was the most powerful anti-Unification Church voice in America because of the Post's many investigative reports on abuses and aberrations of the church. The first president of the newspaper was Moon's top aide, and 25% of its initial staff of 125 reporters were members of the Unification Church.

Moon has, by his own reckoning, lost several billion dollars backing The Washington Times, a widely influential but very low circulation newspaper. Being quoted by many conservative outlets is probably why the paper is so powerful, because its daily circulation is less than 40,000 while The Washington Post tops half a million.

I really don't mind that a Korean cult leader and Australian media mogul have so much impact on U.S. politics, but I cannot respect them as they continue to consider truth with such condescending contempt.

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