Tag Archives: Fox News Channel

The cat’s out of the bag, Sean Hannity

Sean Hannity isn’t a journalist. He’s a talking head with lots of opinions. He works for the Fox News Channel and has a radio show on which he gets to bloviate and bellow his right-wing screeds.

I don’t begrudge him that privilege. He’s even won some awards for his on-air work. He also has earned some condemnation for his promoting of false conspiracies, aka “fake news.”

Oh, but now we know that his defense of Donald J. Trump and his relentless attack on the FBI raid on Trump’s lawyer’s office has a qualifier that, um, should have been disclosed when Hannity began unloading on the FBI. Hannity and Michael Cohen, the lawyer in question, have a professional relationship.

Cohen also represents Trump. He paid out $130,000 to Stormy Daniels to keep the porn queen quiet about a tryst she had with Trump in 2006. The FBI is looking for more information relating to that payoff. So, it obtained a search warrant from a federal judge and seized some documents.

Hannity has gone ballistic over it.

But don’t you think viewers and listeners deserve to know about Hannity’s particular interest in this matter? The tenets of full disclosure require it. Journalists know it.

According to The Hill: Hannity downplayed his interactions with Cohen, asserting that he’d never formally represented him in legal proceedings.

“I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective,” Hannity tweeted, adding that those conversations “dealt almost exclusively about real estate.”

Fine, young man. Any dealings with a lawyer in the news — let alone one who is involved in a sleazy, tawdry controversy involving the president of the United States — need to be disclosed to ensure that viewers and listeners can put what they’re hearing in a more complete context.

Not that it likely would matter to Sean Hannity’s fans in TV and Radio Land.

But, still …

Hypocrisy infects the media, too

Media critics, pundits and commentators love to blast politicians for their hypocrisy. Goodness, there’s so much of it out there.

But a stunning compilation of criticism and commentary began making the rounds on social media not long after Donald J. Trump announced his intention to meet with Kim Jong Un, the brutal dictator of North Korea.

It comes from the Fox News Channel.

Fox paraded a number of commentators and “contributors” who were simply aghast — aghast, I tell ya — that Barack Obama said he would be willing to meet with the enemies of the United States.

How could a U.S. president say such a thing? How could he want to meet with Kim Jong Un? Doesn’t he know what kind of monster Kim Jong Un is, how he treats his people, how he denies them the rights that should be afforded to all human beings?

That was the sum of the Fox News commentary at the beginning of the Obama presidency.

Take a look at it here.

Ah, but then Donald Trump announces that he has accepted Kim’s invitation to meet. He wants to elevate “Little Rocket Man” to the same level as the Leader of the Free World.

How did that go down in the Fox News Channel newsroom? Hey, it’s a show of statesmanship. It’s an act of boldness. Trump is exhibiting international leadership.

That’s how the Fox team assesses a U.S.-North Korea summit now.

Hypocrisy? Certainly!

I believe the Fox News Channel needs to be, um, more circumspect when it considers whether to unload on politicians for their own hypocritical displays.

Hoping that Sarah remains MIA

Not quite five years ago, I posted a blog item that discussed the departure of former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin from the Fox News Channel.

That was in 2013. She is still missing in action.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t wish her to be found. I prefer the national discussion to be void of Sarah Palin’s voice.

Fox says, “So long, Sarah”

The government is shut down. Donald J. Trump — whom Palin endorsed early in his presidential run — is making a mess of the presidency.

The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee has been silent. It’s not that I miss hearing her. It’s just that after Fox cut her loose I feared she wouldn’t go away quietly.

Silly me. I believe she has.

Yeah, some of her adult children continue to get mixed up in entanglements with the law on occasion. Her son, Track, recently got into a big-time beef with his father — Sarah’s husband — that allegedly involved a firearm.

Palin does hold a kind of special place in our recent political history. She made huge headlines when she joined Sen. John McCain on the GOP ticket in 2008. She became an immediate star. Her stardom lasted for just a little while and began to fade when it became apparent to millions of Americans that Sen. McCain’s desire to shake up his race for the presidency turned out to be, um, a big mistake.

The past is past. The present day has produced a different type of political climate dominated by another highly unconventional politician. I refer to the president of the United States.

My hunch is that Donald Trump wouldn’t dare tolerate another politician hogging the limelight. Just maybe, Sarah Palin has gotten the message.

Trump vows to bring Christmas back into vogue

Donald Trump must be channeling Bill O’Reilly.

You see, O’Reilly is fond of declaring annually that the “liberal mainstream media” are declaring war on Christmas. The former Fox News Channel host would rail constantly about the alleged war, chiding merchants across the nation for their habit of wishing “happy holidays” to their customers.

Now comes the president of the United States. He spoke to the Values Voter Summit and said that, by golly, we’re going to forgo “political correctness” and start saying “Merry Christmas.”

Where does one begin with this one? I’ll start a discussion.

War on Christmas?

I am a practicing Christian who understands the meaning of the Christmas holiday. Do I take offense when someone wishes me a happy holiday? Not in the least! The merchant who wishes me a happy holiday has no idea of my faith. He or she doesn’t know me.

I am more likely than not to wish the individual who offers me the generic holiday greeting a Merry Christmas in return.

Then I go on my way. No harm no foul.

Why, though, does the president choose to make such a big deal of it? I guess it’s because he can and because he seeks to appeal to the more narrow-minded among us who take offense at those who wish them happy holiday rather than Merry Christmas.

I do respect the fact that this nation comprises many millions of citizens who don’t celebrate Christmas. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, agnostics, atheists — you name them — don’t relish the holiday’s religious significance the way many millions of others Americans do.

While campaigning for the presidency, Trump once promised he would ensure that merchants would display “Merry Christmas” signs in their places of business … as if the president has any real authority to mandate such a thing. He doesn’t.

The president, though, is now declaring war against some non-existent culture conflict.

As if Donald Trump or Bill O’Reilly don’t have enough conflict already on their respective plates.

One more time on 'War on Christmas'

Sexual harassment: the ‘norm’ at Fox News?

Eric Bolling has joined a growing list of Fox News talking heads to take a fall because of sexual harassment allegations.

I believe it’s a fair point to ask here what others in other forums have asked already: Is there some kind of corporate culture at Fox that promotes  — or perhaps condones — this kind of thing?

I’m going to go easy on Bolling, whose son has just died suddenly. The man is hurting.

But we’ve had the late Roger Ailes resign as the head man at Fox News in the wake of sexual harassment charges brought against him by the likes of former anchor Gretchan Carlson.

Then the big fish got caught on the sexual harassment hook: Bill O’Reilly was shown the door, again after sexual harassment charges were leveled against the prime-time star. Bill O denied any wrongdoing, even though he — and Fox — shelled out tens of millions of dollars in out-of-court settlements.

I don’t watch Fox as a rule, not because of the sexual harassment allegations, but because of its right-wing political slant, which I find objectionable.

However, I am a fan of at least a couple of the network’s shining stars: Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith both manage to seek and tell the truth reasonably and without outward bias.

I also used to be a huge fan of the late Tony Snow, with whom I was acquainted. I loved a story that Snow once told me about his “mission every Sunday” while he hosted “Fox News Sunday” was to get commentators Brit Hume and Juan Williams — who Snow described as his best friend at the network — to “get into a fight” on the air.

Well, that was then.

The here and now has the network reeling from yet another high-profile talking head tumbling out the door.

Sad, man. Sad.

This guy speaks the truth … at Fox!

It’s become a cliché of sorts that “only Nixon could go to China.”

The communist-hating U.S. president was the man in 1972 to open the door to the People’s Republic of China and that remains one of President Nixon’s everlasting legacies.

So, then, it might be said that “only Shepard Smith at Fox can speak the truth” about Donald J. Trump’s “mind-boggling deception.”

I single out Smith because of the network he works for. Fox News Channel is known far and wide — and beyond — as being quite friendly to the president of the United States. Trump is a frequent guest on “Fox and Friends,” and Fox commentator Sean Hannity is quite fond of extolling the president’s virtues while overlooking some of the other, um, non-virtuous qualities of the man and the team with which he has surrounded himself.

Smith isn’t part of that cadre of Trump acolytes.

He took aim at the controversy swirling around Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with that Russian lawyer and the ever-changing reasons/excuses/dodges he keeps offering for why he accepted a meeting he thought would produce some dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2016 campaign.

“If there’s nothing there, and that’s what they tell us, why all these lies?” Smith told fellow Fox anchor Chris Wallace. “The deception is mind-boggling and there are still people out there who think we’re making it up. And one day they are going to realize we are not.”

You all know that I don’t watch Fox News regularly. My own bias forces me to wrestle with the notion that the network that once called itself “fair and balanced” has been neither “fair” or “balanced” in its coverage of U.S. politics.

Read The Hill’s report here.

Every now and then, one of the on-air folks at Fox shows us that journalistic integrity presents itself in a media organization well-known for the policies that come from the top of its chain of command.

Shepard Smith, I suppose, has become an “enemy of the American people” because he dares offer us a view that doesn’t comport with the president’s way events should be reported.

Welcome to the club, Shep.

Why the Ivanka criticism? Because she’s a player

Howard Kurtz, Fox News’s media critic and analyst, asks a perfectly valid question: Why are the media beating up on first daughter Ivanka Trump?

I believe I have an answer. Not the answer, mind you.

It’s because Ivanka has become part of her father’s key advisory team, along with husband Jared Kushner. She’s no longer just a charming, poised entrepreneur who stood by Dad while he campaigned for the presidency. She’s now part of the team, part of the inner circle, one of the president’s key advisers.

Kurtz seems a bit alarmed at the apparently sudden turn by the political media. Hmm. Why should it surprise him?

The media have done this many times in the past — and for reasons that have nothing to do with presidential children’s role in shaping public policy.

George W. Bush’s twins — Barbara and Jenna — became media fodder after they got into some trouble in college; conservative critics of Bill and Hillary Clinton turned their guns on Chelsea during their time in the White House over the teen’s awkward appearance; Malia Obama got her share of snark from media critics, too, after she enrolled at Harvard.

By the way, is it me or do the media take special aim at presidential daughters while looking the other way when presidents are the fathers of sons?

Ivanka Trump is treading down uncharted paths as a presidential child who’s been handed a portfolio that enables her to speak publicly about policy matters. She and Jared aren’t getting paid for their presidential posts, but they still have a big influence on Daddy Donald.

I respect Howard Kurtz and his role as a media critic. He’s done it for some time at the Washington Post, the Daily Beast, CNN and now at Fox.

I’m betting Ivanka Trump knows what’s coming as she exerts greater influence on the policies that emanate from her father’s administration.

I do agree with one element of Kurtz’s questioning of the media. Challenging the advice that Ivanka gives her father is one thing. The insults and innuendo are quite another.

As a brief aside, I’ll note that one of Kurtz’s colleagues at Fox, Jesse Watters, has just announced he is going on “vacation” after he made some ghastly, sexually charged remarks about Ivanka after her appearance in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and International Monetary Fund chair Christine LeGard.

The president was dialed in to life in the public eye as a successful businessman. Ivanka and her brothers Don and Eric had managed to stay pretty much out of the media glare. Then dear ol’ Dad had to run for — and get himself elected — president of the United States.

That’s when it all changed.

O’Reilly gets the boot … then he gets a lot of dough!

I am not too proud to admit that I do not know about a lot of things.

The Bill O’Reilly story has me confused. I’m baffled, befuddled and bedeviled.

Some women accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment. He paid some of them with millions of dollars in settlements. Fox News Channel, where O’Reilly worked until just the other day, shelled out big money, too, to the women.

Advertisers bailed from O’Reilly’s show, costing the network millions of dollars in revenue. O’Reilly then goes on “vacation.” Fox decided this week to cut O’Reilly loose. O’Reilly has denied the accusations of harassment.

Fox felt the pinch from the revenue loss.

But then the network has decided to pay its former talk-show colossus the equivalent of a full year’s salary.

How much is that? It’s being reported to be in the neighborhood of $25 million.

If someone is let go for cause — which is how I am interpreting Fox’s decision to part company with O’Reilly — how does a former employer justify paying out that kind of cash?

What in the name of TV ratings am I missing?

Life isn’t fair, right, Bill O’Reilly?

We all can admit what we know, that life sometimes just isn’t fair.

It deals harsh retribution for some of us, while others seemingly get away with similar — if not even worse — behavior.

I present to you two cases of men who reportedly have treated women badly. One of them is a noted television news commentator/pundit/ correspondent/personality; the other is a well-known politician.

Fox News Channel has just cut Bill O’Reilly loose after revelations about allegations of sexual harassment became known. None of us can predict at this moment whether O’Reilly’s broadcast career is over. Suffice to say, though, that it doesn’t look good.

It is true that O’Reilly received a healthy severance from his former employer. It’s also true that the allegations from several women haven’t been adjudicated, even though O’Reilly and Fox have doled out substantial settlement payments to several of the complainants.

O’Reilly’s reputation is in tatters and will require substantial repair — if it’s even reparable.

The politician?

That would be Donald John Trump, 45th president of the United States of America.

What did this individual do? Oh, let’s see. He is heard on a 2005 “hot mic” recording collected by “Access Hollywood” actually bragging about how he has sexually assaulted women, grabbing them by their, um, genital area. What gave him license to do such a thing? Trump told Billy Bush that he could do it because he’s a “star” and that his status as a big-time celebrity somehow enabled him to act like an animal.

This recording became known during the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign. What price did Trump pay for it? Hardly nothing.

He got elected with 304 electoral votes on Nov. 8.

There you have it. The president of the United States is an admitted sexual assailant.

OK, the cases aren’t entirely parallel. Fox News suffered a serious decline in revenue as advertisers withdrew from O’Reilly’s nightly TV show. Trump didn’t have that particular staring him down as the chatter mounted over his “Access Hollywood” recording. All the Republican presidential nominee had to face was whether enough voters would be sickened enough by the revelation to turn to another candidate, such as Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Trump apparently felt immunized sufficiently by his victory in the election to offer a word of support for O’Reilly, calling him a “good person” while the sexual harassment allegations began piling up around him.

I have no solution to this dichotomy. I simply remain baffled beyond belief — given what he has acknowledged about his behavior — that one of the principals in this blog was able to ascend to the highest office in the land.

Cool the jail talk, Rep. Waters

Maxine Waters must still be angry over that tasteless joke about the “James Brown wig.”

The California Democratic U.S. representatives then popped off on her own, saying that Bill O’Reilly “needs to go to jail” over allegations that he sexually harassed several women.

Whoa! Let’s hold on here.

O’Reilly made a stupidly insensitive “joke” about Waters’ appearance, making some reference to her hairstyle as resembling the late singer James Brown’s hair.

He later apologized for the crass remark. OK. Fine.

Then came a flood of accusations from women contending that O’Reilly sexually harassed them. We’ve heard of settlements from O’Reilly and from Fox News to the women. From where I sit, a “settlement” implies a bit of fire under all that smoke.

Should the bombastic blowhard — O’Reilly — go to “jail” because of what he might have done? I don’t think so.

Do not misconstrue this as anything approaching an endorsement of O’Reilly. It isn’t. I cannot stand the sound of his voice, let alone the content that pours out of his mouth. He very well may deserve to be banished from TV airwaves. Fox execs aren’t likely to do a thing about it as long as O’Reilly’s loyal viewers keep watching him.

Rep. Waters, though, ought to show a bit of discretion when talking about this matter. Mentioning a jail term, instead, reveals a good bit of hysteria.