Category: Peter Barry Chowka

Must-See TV: Sarah Palin Unplugged Competes with the Kennedys, the Popes, and Robert E. Lee


Tonight, Sunday April 8, promises some interesting viewing options on two of the three major cable television news channels, Fox News and CNN. In recent weeks, Sunday has been the most successful night of the week for the ratings-challenged CNN. The channel’s new six part docu-series on the Kennedys and the Popes, which debuted on March 11, have both been consistent winners in their time slots (Sundays at 9 and 10 P.M. E.T. respectively), unlike CNN’s weeknight prime time marquee shows which have been struggling to attract viewers. Tonight, episodes 5 of both The Kennedys and Pope will debut on CNN.

According to zap2it dot com, part 5 of Pope, “The Wartime Popes,” will examine “the pope who bore witness to the Nazi party’s rise and the actions of the Catholic Church during one of the most tumultuous times in modern history.” Pope has been a fairly conventional documentary, tracing the 2,000-year history of the “the most powerful man in history” (CNN’s subtitle for the series), although it has come under criticism from many Catholics. At aleteia.org, for example, David Ives has written a critical  article titled “CNN’s new series, ‘Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History,’ commits sins of omission.”

In the latest episode of American Dynasties: The Kennedys that airs tonight, “The Legend of the Camelot,” Jacqueline Kennedy, again according to zap2it, “Numbed by grief after the assassination of her husband, crafts JFK’s legacy, while Bobby becomes a champion of the dispossessed and the family’s next great political hope.” The first four parts of The Kennedys have been a major disappointment. Mixing up – often confusingly – newly filmed dramatic re-enactments of past events with actual archival films from the period. CNN’s The Kennedys has continued the fifty-year-long trend of most of mainstream TV that glosses over the considerable warts of the Kennedy family dynasty and perpetuates the absurd myth that a modern Camelot took root during JFK’s approximately 1,000 days as president.

John F. Kennedy

Recently, as a counterpoint, I watched the amazing 1997 independently produced documentary “Dangerous World: The Kennedy Years,” narrated by Peter Jennings and reported by Seymour Hersh, based on the latter’s groundbreaking book The Dark Side of Camelot. A 67-minute-long version of the original show, which ran 86 minutes not including commercials, can be streamed here. The Jennings-hosted program that aired only once on Dec. 4, 1997 on the ABC television network in prime time stands virtually alone in the history of broadcast television as a probing, no-holds-barred review of the Kennedys – Joseph, Sr., John, and Robert – and their notorious but seldom reported by the MSM “darker sides.”

The ABC program broke new ground by interviewing on camera and on the record for the first time a number of primary sources, including four Secret Service agents who protected President Kennedy and, shortly before her death, one of JFK’s mistresses, Judith Campbell Exner, who was simultaneously intimately involved with notorious Mafia boss Sam Giancana. Exner, in fact, asserts that she was a courier who carried secret messages and cash payoffs between JFK and Giancana. In its 1997 review of the program, the New York Times labeled it “a seriously misguided journey.” Most of the MSM totally ignored the program. Twenty years later, CNN’s new and highly promoted series on the Kennedys represents a predictable return to the hagiographic whitewashed stereotype that has defined most JFK docs since the president’s assassination in 1963.

And not only that. In recent weeks, CNN has devoted scores of hours of airtime to salacious reporting about and criticism of President Donald Trump for his alleged consensual affairs more than a decade ago with two adult women. Meanwhile, the text of a tweet from an official CNN account on March 31 promoting its series The Kennedys read “JFK had a legendary love life. Did one of his affairs connect him with the mob?” An article in Western Journal, titled “CNN Hails JFK’s ‘Legendary Love Life’ After Hammering Trump as Womanizer,” took note of the hypocrisy:

Far from “legendary,” Kennedy’s alleged sexual encounters with 19-year-old intern Mimi Alford were lewd and predatory.  . . While CNN described Kennedy’s “love life” in glamorous terms, the same verbiage was not afforded to Trump.

The Fox News Channel has some interesting fare on its schedule tonight. At 8 P.M. E.T., with a replay three hours later (The Kennedys and Pope also repeat three hours after their initial showings), Fox News presents part 3 of 12 of Legends & Lies: Civil War. The series – seasons 1 and 2 were closely associated with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly – relies largely on dramatic re-enactments of historical events. I am not a great fan of this new convention that has largely replaced traditional documentaries that used real historic footage, still photos, and other documentation. That said, Legends & Lies stages the re-enactments from early historic periods very well and overall it is entertaining and often informative. Host Brian Kilmeade and several historians occasionally appear on camera to move the story along and add some current perspective.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee

 

Tonight’s episode, “Robert E. Lee: Choosing Sides,” was not available for preview. An email from Fox News on April 6 described the episode:

On the third episode of FOX News Channel’s Legends & Lies: The Civil War host Brian Kilmeade examines the story of how General Robert E. Lee turned down command of the Union forces and decided to lead the Army of Northern Virginia. Additionally, this episode will spotlight how Lee’s leadership in the Peninsula Campaign had the Federal Army on the run.

It will be interesting to see how the Lee episode handles the subject of a decorated commanding Union officer who flipped to the Confederacy and, despite some major battlefield victories, ultimately led his troops to defeat. In subsequent histories of the conflict, Robert E. Lee emerged as the most prominent name associated with the short-lived breakaway Confederate States of America. Recent efforts around the country to remove statues of Confederate heroes, including Lee’s, from their places in towns and cities where many have stood prominently for a century or more, have provoked heated debate and a growing effort to cleanse public spaces of reminders of the past that some find offensive.

Sarah Palin campaigns in North Carolina, October 2008 Source: Wikipedia

Also on Fox News at 10 P.M. E.T. with a replay three hours later, Life, Liberty & Levin, Mark Levin’s weekly program in which he interviews one noteworthy conservative guest for the entire hour, will present Sarah Palin. It was ten years ago this coming summer that Palin, then the governor of Alaska, burst onto the national scene when she was selected by John McCain to be his running mate against the Democrats’ nominees for president and vice president, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Palin emerged from her ticket’s defeat in November 2008 as a prominent and popular voice of the Republican Party. Her star shined brightly for a time, especially as her rise coincided with the emergence of the grassroots conservative Tea Party movement in 2009 that Palin helped to lead. For several years starting in 2009, Palin appeared as an occasional Fox News contributor for $1 million a year. After the re-election of President Obama in 2012, Palin, who had decided not to run for higher elective office, largely retreated to her home base of Wasilla, Alaska, although she emerged to campaign occasionally for Donald J. Trump in 2016.

Interestingly, after a recent period of quiescence on social media (she was an early adopter of Facebook and Twitter), Palin, who is 54, is now actively posting again on her verified Twitter and Facebook accounts. Presumably, Levin will ask her about what plans she may have for the future in politics and public life.

The third major cable news channel, MSNBC, which has been doing very well in challenging the #1 cable news channel Fox News on weeknights in recent months, typically offers weak, replay-dominated, and ultimately non-competitive programming on weekend nights.

Tonight Sunday April 8

8 P.M. E.T. and P.T. Fox News Channel. Legends & Lies Part 3: “Robert E. Lee: Choosing Sides” –  recommended

9 P.M. E.T. and P.T. CNN. American Dysnasties: The Kennedys Part 5: “The Legend of the Camelot” –  recommended for the purposes of entertainment and eye candy only

10 P.M. E.T. and P.T. CNN. Pope Part 5: “The Wartime Popes” – mildly recommended

10 P.M. E.T. and P.T. Fox News Channel. Life, Liberty & Levin: Sarah Palin, guest – highly recommended

 

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  Follow Peter on Twitter at @pchowka.

Tonight, Sunday April 8, promises some interesting viewing options on two of the three major cable television news channels, Fox News and CNN. In recent weeks, Sunday has been the most successful night of the week for the ratings-challenged CNN. The channel’s new six part docu-series on the Kennedys and the Popes, which debuted on March 11, have both been consistent winners in their time slots (Sundays at 9 and 10 P.M. E.T. respectively), unlike CNN’s weeknight prime time marquee shows which have been struggling to attract viewers. Tonight, episodes 5 of both The Kennedys and Pope will debut on CNN.

According to zap2it dot com, part 5 of Pope, “The Wartime Popes,” will examine “the pope who bore witness to the Nazi party’s rise and the actions of the Catholic Church during one of the most tumultuous times in modern history.” Pope has been a fairly conventional documentary, tracing the 2,000-year history of the “the most powerful man in history” (CNN’s subtitle for the series), although it has come under criticism from many Catholics. At aleteia.org, for example, David Ives has written a critical  article titled “CNN’s new series, ‘Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History,’ commits sins of omission.”

In the latest episode of American Dynasties: The Kennedys that airs tonight, “The Legend of the Camelot,” Jacqueline Kennedy, again according to zap2it, “Numbed by grief after the assassination of her husband, crafts JFK’s legacy, while Bobby becomes a champion of the dispossessed and the family’s next great political hope.” The first four parts of The Kennedys have been a major disappointment. Mixing up – often confusingly – newly filmed dramatic re-enactments of past events with actual archival films from the period. CNN’s The Kennedys has continued the fifty-year-long trend of most of mainstream TV that glosses over the considerable warts of the Kennedy family dynasty and perpetuates the absurd myth that a modern Camelot took root during JFK’s approximately 1,000 days as president.

John F. Kennedy

Recently, as a counterpoint, I watched the amazing 1997 independently produced documentary “Dangerous World: The Kennedy Years,” narrated by Peter Jennings and reported by Seymour Hersh, based on the latter’s groundbreaking book The Dark Side of Camelot. A 67-minute-long version of the original show, which ran 86 minutes not including commercials, can be streamed here. The Jennings-hosted program that aired only once on Dec. 4, 1997 on the ABC television network in prime time stands virtually alone in the history of broadcast television as a probing, no-holds-barred review of the Kennedys – Joseph, Sr., John, and Robert – and their notorious but seldom reported by the MSM “darker sides.”

The ABC program broke new ground by interviewing on camera and on the record for the first time a number of primary sources, including four Secret Service agents who protected President Kennedy and, shortly before her death, one of JFK’s mistresses, Judith Campbell Exner, who was simultaneously intimately involved with notorious Mafia boss Sam Giancana. Exner, in fact, asserts that she was a courier who carried secret messages and cash payoffs between JFK and Giancana. In its 1997 review of the program, the New York Times labeled it “a seriously misguided journey.” Most of the MSM totally ignored the program. Twenty years later, CNN’s new and highly promoted series on the Kennedys represents a predictable return to the hagiographic whitewashed stereotype that has defined most JFK docs since the president’s assassination in 1963.

And not only that. In recent weeks, CNN has devoted scores of hours of airtime to salacious reporting about and criticism of President Donald Trump for his alleged consensual affairs more than a decade ago with two adult women. Meanwhile, the text of a tweet from an official CNN account on March 31 promoting its series The Kennedys read “JFK had a legendary love life. Did one of his affairs connect him with the mob?” An article in Western Journal, titled “CNN Hails JFK’s ‘Legendary Love Life’ After Hammering Trump as Womanizer,” took note of the hypocrisy:

Far from “legendary,” Kennedy’s alleged sexual encounters with 19-year-old intern Mimi Alford were lewd and predatory.  . . While CNN described Kennedy’s “love life” in glamorous terms, the same verbiage was not afforded to Trump.

The Fox News Channel has some interesting fare on its schedule tonight. At 8 P.M. E.T., with a replay three hours later (The Kennedys and Pope also repeat three hours after their initial showings), Fox News presents part 3 of 12 of Legends & Lies: Civil War. The series – seasons 1 and 2 were closely associated with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly – relies largely on dramatic re-enactments of historical events. I am not a great fan of this new convention that has largely replaced traditional documentaries that used real historic footage, still photos, and other documentation. That said, Legends & Lies stages the re-enactments from early historic periods very well and overall it is entertaining and often informative. Host Brian Kilmeade and several historians occasionally appear on camera to move the story along and add some current perspective.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee

 

Tonight’s episode, “Robert E. Lee: Choosing Sides,” was not available for preview. An email from Fox News on April 6 described the episode:

On the third episode of FOX News Channel’s Legends & Lies: The Civil War host Brian Kilmeade examines the story of how General Robert E. Lee turned down command of the Union forces and decided to lead the Army of Northern Virginia. Additionally, this episode will spotlight how Lee’s leadership in the Peninsula Campaign had the Federal Army on the run.

It will be interesting to see how the Lee episode handles the subject of a decorated commanding Union officer who flipped to the Confederacy and, despite some major battlefield victories, ultimately led his troops to defeat. In subsequent histories of the conflict, Robert E. Lee emerged as the most prominent name associated with the short-lived breakaway Confederate States of America. Recent efforts around the country to remove statues of Confederate heroes, including Lee’s, from their places in towns and cities where many have stood prominently for a century or more, have provoked heated debate and a growing effort to cleanse public spaces of reminders of the past that some find offensive.

Sarah Palin campaigns in North Carolina, October 2008 Source: Wikipedia

Also on Fox News at 10 P.M. E.T. with a replay three hours later, Life, Liberty & Levin, Mark Levin’s weekly program in which he interviews one noteworthy conservative guest for the entire hour, will present Sarah Palin. It was ten years ago this coming summer that Palin, then the governor of Alaska, burst onto the national scene when she was selected by John McCain to be his running mate against the Democrats’ nominees for president and vice president, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Palin emerged from her ticket’s defeat in November 2008 as a prominent and popular voice of the Republican Party. Her star shined brightly for a time, especially as her rise coincided with the emergence of the grassroots conservative Tea Party movement in 2009 that Palin helped to lead. For several years starting in 2009, Palin appeared as an occasional Fox News contributor for $1 million a year. After the re-election of President Obama in 2012, Palin, who had decided not to run for higher elective office, largely retreated to her home base of Wasilla, Alaska, although she emerged to campaign occasionally for Donald J. Trump in 2016.

Interestingly, after a recent period of quiescence on social media (she was an early adopter of Facebook and Twitter), Palin, who is 54, is now actively posting again on her verified Twitter and Facebook accounts. Presumably, Levin will ask her about what plans she may have for the future in politics and public life.

The third major cable news channel, MSNBC, which has been doing very well in challenging the #1 cable news channel Fox News on weeknights in recent months, typically offers weak, replay-dominated, and ultimately non-competitive programming on weekend nights.

Tonight Sunday April 8

8 P.M. E.T. and P.T. Fox News Channel. Legends & Lies Part 3: “Robert E. Lee: Choosing Sides” –  recommended

9 P.M. E.T. and P.T. CNN. American Dysnasties: The Kennedys Part 5: “The Legend of the Camelot” –  recommended for the purposes of entertainment and eye candy only

10 P.M. E.T. and P.T. CNN. Pope Part 5: “The Wartime Popes” – mildly recommended

10 P.M. E.T. and P.T. Fox News Channel. Life, Liberty & Levin: Sarah Palin, guest – highly recommended

 

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  Follow Peter on Twitter at @pchowka.



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CNN and Fox News Documentaries Duke It Out Sunday Nights


Documentaries on basic cable television are making a comeback, and tonight brings a chance to see three of them on CNN and the Fox News Channel.  Last Sunday, CNN, which is struggling during the week, succeeded on the weekend with the second airing of two of its latest new documentary series (or docu-series, as they are now called), The Kennedys and Pope.  Last Sunday, American Dynasties: The Kennedys (part 2 of 6) at 9 P.M. E.T. trounced the competition on Fox News and MSNBC in both total viewers and the 25- to 54-year old demo, while Pope (part 2 of 6) on CNN at 10 P.M. also won its time slot.


The Kennedy family, Hyannisport, Massachusetts pose after the 1960 election.

The Kennedys, which CNN has been heavily promoting since last year, is largely another rehash of the sanitized and airbrushed formula that has been applied to the nation’s #1 political dynasty since it first emerged on the scene in a new wave P.R. onslaught in the 1950s.  More than half a century has passed, however, and certain unsavory details can no longer be totally ignored, like JFK’s seriously ill health, but other disturbing facts are still not emphasized.  The career and personal life of Kennedy dynasty patriarch Joseph P., Sr., for instance, is largely glossed over, with no mention of his flagrant and hypocritical extramarital womanizing and the questionable methods he employed to amass his and his heirs’ impressive fortune.  The primary value in the series so far is the first appearance of never before seen color home movies of the Kennedys at play dating from the 1940s.


Pope Alexander (1431-1503) from CNN’s Pope.

CNN’s ambitious 6-part series Pope is an attempt to review the two-millennia-long story of “the most powerful man [or men] in history.”  The stunning photography – of impressive locations including the Vatican, papal appearances before huge audiences, historic churches, and Renaissance art – is the most compelling part of the production.  Not everyone, however – especially among leading Catholic voices – is happy with the series. In the National Catholic Register on March 23, Kathy Schiffer wrote:

I’ve been watching Pope for the last two weeks (and have previewed two more episodes); and I am disappointed that what might have been an insightful Lenten series has been populated by experts who are not Catholic, who display an animosity toward traditional teachings or who simply misunderstand the Church.

Both The Kennedys and Pope make extensive use of new, slickly produced dramatic re-enactments of historic events using actors and models.  This is a relatively new and very annoying technique that renders a documentary’s credibility and accuracy highly questionable, although it has emerged as a common convention that program producers apparently feel is required to attract modern audiences.  The Kennedys‘ frequent use of fast cuts between newly produced re-enactments with actors and historic footage is particularly irksome and will undoubtedly mislead and confuse many viewers, especially ones who are not paying close attention to what’s on the screen.  This increasingly common technique has even found its way into many recent documentaries on PBS, which used to aim for the high road – for example, in Ken Burns’s classic first series, The Civil War (1990), which, during its unprecedented 11-and-a-half-hour runtime, employed no re-enactments.

Speaking of the Civil War period, Fox News is premiering season three of its popular Legends & Lies franchise Sunday night at 8 P.M. E.T.  This season’s subject is the Civil War.  According to a news release provided by Fox News:

Legends & Lies: The Civil War, will revisit the stories of key characters during the Civil War, including President Abraham Lincoln, abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and Commander of the Confederate Army Robert E. Lee, in addition to other notable names who played a key role in the nation’s history during the mid-1800s.  The 12-episode season will kick off with “John Brown: This Guilty Land,” which spotlights radical abolitionist John Brown as he raids Harpers Ferry, setting the scene for the Civil War.


Brian Kilmeade (R) with his Fox & Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt.

Legends & Lies premiered in the spring of 2015, and its first two seasons (a total of 22 episodes) were executive produced by Bill O’Reilly, who was forced to leave Fox News last April.  The first season presented bios of famous and infamous figures of the Real West.  Season two focused on the patriots of the American Revolution.  O’Reilly was heavily involved in the production and promotion of both seasons, with occasional on-camera appearances and the production of spin-off books that he co-wrote, titled Bill OReillys Legends & Lies.  It does not appear that seasons 1 and 2 ever made it to DVD.

This time around, with O’Reilly gone and evidently considered persona non grata at Fox News, Brian Kilmeade, co-host of Fox & Friends (M-F 6-9 A.M. E.T.) and also the Brian Kilmeade Show daily on Fox News Radio (9 A.M.-12 noon E.T.), is the host of the series.  Kilmeade appears to be a logical choice, since he has co-authored several best-selling historical books of his own, including his most recent one, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History.

The Legends & Lies franchise, like its cohorts on CNN, is replete with dramatic re-enactments of historic events, interspersed with shots of period archival material and clips of new interviews with historians.  If this mix of the new with the old is your cup of tea, Legends & Lies is about as good as it gets.


Actor John Stober portrays abolitionist John Brown, Legends & Lies, Season 3, Episode 1.

For the new season, the selection of notables – both “heroes and villains” –  from the Civil War period, which remains hotly controversial, is an interesting and perhaps a bold choice, especially in light of the fact that several prominent figures representing the Confederacy are included.  There seems to be the possibility at least for an up-to-date review or a revision of many of that period’s divisive issues that persist and that are being used in some quarters today to divide Americans along ideological and political lines, as in the efforts to force the removal of statues honoring Confederate war heroes.

On March 22, Kilmeade discussed the new series on his own Fox & Friends morning show.  He described it as “phenomenal, unbelievable, and so informative.”  (Video clip here.)  He was joined by a consultant for the series, David Eisenbach, Ph.D., a historian who has worked in the past on documentary series for the History Channel.  Eisenbach is a registered Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for elected office and he came across well during his three-minute-long appearance on Fox & Friends.

Kilmeade: This is an important time, especially as we debate what’s going on with these [Civil War] statues, and going back to the Civil War.  What does it mean to you, at this point in American history?


Eisenbach: We’re a nation that’s divided, but there was a time when we were even more divided than we are now.  And that’s the lead up to the Civil War.

Although O’Reilly, whose Fox News show The O’Reilly Factor was the #1 rated program on all of cable news for 15 years, has vanished from the channel (with one exception when he appeared with Sean Hannity last September 26), the Fox News website still has a range of unredacted archived material relating to the first two seasons of Legends & Lies, including 22 video clips.  One of the videos features O’Reilly promoting season 2 during a June 3, 2016 appearance on the program hosted by Greta Van Susteren, who has also left the channel.  For a look back at Fox News not so long ago, check out the clip – and the extensive excerpts of previous Legends & Lies episodes available here.

On Cable News: Sunday March 25 – All times Eastern

8 and 11 P.M. Fox News Channel Legends & Lies: The Civil War premiere

9 P.M. and 12 A.M. CNN The Kennedys Part 3

10 P.M. and 1 A.M. CNN Pope Part 3

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  Follow Peter on Twitter at @pchowka.

Documentaries on basic cable television are making a comeback, and tonight brings a chance to see three of them on CNN and the Fox News Channel.  Last Sunday, CNN, which is struggling during the week, succeeded on the weekend with the second airing of two of its latest new documentary series (or docu-series, as they are now called), The Kennedys and Pope.  Last Sunday, American Dynasties: The Kennedys (part 2 of 6) at 9 P.M. E.T. trounced the competition on Fox News and MSNBC in both total viewers and the 25- to 54-year old demo, while Pope (part 2 of 6) on CNN at 10 P.M. also won its time slot.


The Kennedy family, Hyannisport, Massachusetts pose after the 1960 election.

The Kennedys, which CNN has been heavily promoting since last year, is largely another rehash of the sanitized and airbrushed formula that has been applied to the nation’s #1 political dynasty since it first emerged on the scene in a new wave P.R. onslaught in the 1950s.  More than half a century has passed, however, and certain unsavory details can no longer be totally ignored, like JFK’s seriously ill health, but other disturbing facts are still not emphasized.  The career and personal life of Kennedy dynasty patriarch Joseph P., Sr., for instance, is largely glossed over, with no mention of his flagrant and hypocritical extramarital womanizing and the questionable methods he employed to amass his and his heirs’ impressive fortune.  The primary value in the series so far is the first appearance of never before seen color home movies of the Kennedys at play dating from the 1940s.


Pope Alexander (1431-1503) from CNN’s Pope.

CNN’s ambitious 6-part series Pope is an attempt to review the two-millennia-long story of “the most powerful man [or men] in history.”  The stunning photography – of impressive locations including the Vatican, papal appearances before huge audiences, historic churches, and Renaissance art – is the most compelling part of the production.  Not everyone, however – especially among leading Catholic voices – is happy with the series. In the National Catholic Register on March 23, Kathy Schiffer wrote:

I’ve been watching Pope for the last two weeks (and have previewed two more episodes); and I am disappointed that what might have been an insightful Lenten series has been populated by experts who are not Catholic, who display an animosity toward traditional teachings or who simply misunderstand the Church.

Both The Kennedys and Pope make extensive use of new, slickly produced dramatic re-enactments of historic events using actors and models.  This is a relatively new and very annoying technique that renders a documentary’s credibility and accuracy highly questionable, although it has emerged as a common convention that program producers apparently feel is required to attract modern audiences.  The Kennedys‘ frequent use of fast cuts between newly produced re-enactments with actors and historic footage is particularly irksome and will undoubtedly mislead and confuse many viewers, especially ones who are not paying close attention to what’s on the screen.  This increasingly common technique has even found its way into many recent documentaries on PBS, which used to aim for the high road – for example, in Ken Burns’s classic first series, The Civil War (1990), which, during its unprecedented 11-and-a-half-hour runtime, employed no re-enactments.

Speaking of the Civil War period, Fox News is premiering season three of its popular Legends & Lies franchise Sunday night at 8 P.M. E.T.  This season’s subject is the Civil War.  According to a news release provided by Fox News:

Legends & Lies: The Civil War, will revisit the stories of key characters during the Civil War, including President Abraham Lincoln, abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and Commander of the Confederate Army Robert E. Lee, in addition to other notable names who played a key role in the nation’s history during the mid-1800s.  The 12-episode season will kick off with “John Brown: This Guilty Land,” which spotlights radical abolitionist John Brown as he raids Harpers Ferry, setting the scene for the Civil War.


Brian Kilmeade (R) with his Fox & Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt.

Legends & Lies premiered in the spring of 2015, and its first two seasons (a total of 22 episodes) were executive produced by Bill O’Reilly, who was forced to leave Fox News last April.  The first season presented bios of famous and infamous figures of the Real West.  Season two focused on the patriots of the American Revolution.  O’Reilly was heavily involved in the production and promotion of both seasons, with occasional on-camera appearances and the production of spin-off books that he co-wrote, titled Bill OReillys Legends & Lies.  It does not appear that seasons 1 and 2 ever made it to DVD.

This time around, with O’Reilly gone and evidently considered persona non grata at Fox News, Brian Kilmeade, co-host of Fox & Friends (M-F 6-9 A.M. E.T.) and also the Brian Kilmeade Show daily on Fox News Radio (9 A.M.-12 noon E.T.), is the host of the series.  Kilmeade appears to be a logical choice, since he has co-authored several best-selling historical books of his own, including his most recent one, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History.

The Legends & Lies franchise, like its cohorts on CNN, is replete with dramatic re-enactments of historic events, interspersed with shots of period archival material and clips of new interviews with historians.  If this mix of the new with the old is your cup of tea, Legends & Lies is about as good as it gets.


Actor John Stober portrays abolitionist John Brown, Legends & Lies, Season 3, Episode 1.

For the new season, the selection of notables – both “heroes and villains” –  from the Civil War period, which remains hotly controversial, is an interesting and perhaps a bold choice, especially in light of the fact that several prominent figures representing the Confederacy are included.  There seems to be the possibility at least for an up-to-date review or a revision of many of that period’s divisive issues that persist and that are being used in some quarters today to divide Americans along ideological and political lines, as in the efforts to force the removal of statues honoring Confederate war heroes.

On March 22, Kilmeade discussed the new series on his own Fox & Friends morning show.  He described it as “phenomenal, unbelievable, and so informative.”  (Video clip here.)  He was joined by a consultant for the series, David Eisenbach, Ph.D., a historian who has worked in the past on documentary series for the History Channel.  Eisenbach is a registered Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for elected office and he came across well during his three-minute-long appearance on Fox & Friends.

Kilmeade: This is an important time, especially as we debate what’s going on with these [Civil War] statues, and going back to the Civil War.  What does it mean to you, at this point in American history?


Eisenbach: We’re a nation that’s divided, but there was a time when we were even more divided than we are now.  And that’s the lead up to the Civil War.

Although O’Reilly, whose Fox News show The O’Reilly Factor was the #1 rated program on all of cable news for 15 years, has vanished from the channel (with one exception when he appeared with Sean Hannity last September 26), the Fox News website still has a range of unredacted archived material relating to the first two seasons of Legends & Lies, including 22 video clips.  One of the videos features O’Reilly promoting season 2 during a June 3, 2016 appearance on the program hosted by Greta Van Susteren, who has also left the channel.  For a look back at Fox News not so long ago, check out the clip – and the extensive excerpts of previous Legends & Lies episodes available here.

On Cable News: Sunday March 25 – All times Eastern

8 and 11 P.M. Fox News Channel Legends & Lies: The Civil War premiere

9 P.M. and 12 A.M. CNN The Kennedys Part 3

10 P.M. and 1 A.M. CNN Pope Part 3

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  Follow Peter on Twitter at @pchowka.



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Barry Farber, the Godfather of Modern Talk Radio


Barry Farber is a legendary and influential figure in the history of modern American media.  He is best known for being a pioneering host of intelligent talk radio, on the air almost continuously since 1960 right up to the present time.  These days, at age 87, he is still going strong, hosting a nightly live hour-long talk radio program, The Barry Farber Show.

It was back in mid-20th-century America – the height of the post-World War II “American Century” – that Farber and a small group of colleagues experimented with and quickly established the enduring popularity of the innovative talk radio format on the highest rated stations in New York City, America’s #1 media market.  Other pioneers of radio were working the same magic in other American cities, big and small.  In the first three decades of radio, programming had centered on music, live and recorded; comedies, dramas, and sitcoms; and frothy variety shows.  Political and current events talk programming including interaction on the air with radio listeners was almost totally unknown.  That all began to change after World War II.

Farber was well prepared and well positioned for his decades-long career as a “talker.”  Early on, he displayed a unique and astounding facility for linguistics.  He eventually became fluent in at least 25 foreign languages.  His expertise with languages was tapped by the U.S. government, including during the Korean War.  In 1957, shortly after Farber moved to New York, William Safire – who went on to have a long and distinguished career in media, politics, and journalism – hired Farber as a producer of the seminal Tex and Jinx talk show on New York City’s flagship NBC-owned radio station, WNBC.  In 1960, at the age of 30, Farber got the chance to host his own talk program on WINS, another top station in New York.


Barry Farber on the air in the 1980s.

The rest, as they say, is history.  Farber’s mellifluous voice, with a touch of an appealing Southern drawl (he grew up in North Carolina), complemented his natural graciousness.  His obvious intelligence and familiarity with a wide range of issues including history, philosophy, and the news of the day added to his appeal and quickly endeared him to large mainstream audiences ranging from working stiffs to Upper-East-Side sophisticates in the Big Apple and beyond.  Thanks to Farber’s broadcasting for years on 50,000-watt clear channel stations that could be heard at great distances at night, when Farber did his shows, he developed a following in many states east of the Mississippi River.  Unlike some other more acerbic and confrontational talk hosts who enjoyed ratings success in the 1960s – Joe Pyne, for example – Farber never insulted any of his guests or talked down to his callers.  When he was on, he was always a gentleman.

In the 1980s, Farber gained an even larger audience when his eponymous program found a home on major national radio networks of the day, including ABC Talk Radio.  In 2002, Talkers Magazine, the leading professional journal in the field, included Farber on the top ten of its list of the 25 Greatest Radio Talk Show Hosts of All Time.

As a 2006 bio of him at Talk Radio Network put it:

As smooth and civilized as Jack Daniels whiskey, and with just as much kick, Barry Farber is one of America’s legendary talk show hosts.

As a high school student in a NYC suburb one night in 1965, I discovered the Barry Farber Show on WOR AM 710 in New York, the clear channel super-station where Farber spent 15 years on the air.  I was immediately hooked – on both Farber and talk radio.  I still have old reel-to-reel tapes that I recorded of some of his programs from the 1960s, exploring leading-edge political, social, and cultural issues of the day, including the first credible challenges by critics like attorney Mark Lane to the party line accounts of the JFK assassination.  Eventually, I worked in talk radio myself, in college and later as an occasional host and a frequent guest.  That experience made me realize that successes like Farber’s in the radio business are not as easy to achieve as one might think.


Barry Farber, candidate for NYC mayor, speaks to his supporters on Election Day, Nov. 8, 1977.

Farber’s only break from a lifetime of continuous broadcasting came in 1977, when he declared his candidacy for mayor of NYC and took some time off from radio.  A conservative, he ran initially as a Republican and came in a strong second in his party’s primary.  In the general election that November, he led the small Conservative Party’s ticket.  Also competing that year, and ultimately dominating the general election campaign, were future New York governor Mario Cuomo, a Democrat who ran for mayor on the Liberal Party ticket, and Ed Koch, another registered Democrat, who won the election.  Together, Koch and Cuomo captured 92% of the vote in that mostly liberal city.  One wonders how the future of New York and American history itself might have been different had Barry Farber won the race.

Back to the present: For the past decade, Barry Farber has been broadcasting his show weeknights between 8 and 9 P.M. E.T. on the CRN Digital Talk Radio HD channel, which is streamed on the internet and carried on a number of cable TV providers around the country, with free podcasts available at CRN, iTunes, and many other platforms.  The Barry Farber Show is a wonderful opportunity, which has been compared to enjoying a glass of fine wine, to hear someone who was there close to the beginning of talk radio and who has never lost his touch to inform and entertain an audience.

Listening to Barry Farber is like opening the door to a vibrant and living history of America from the middle of the 20th century onward.  At this point, I can’t think of anyone who would have more to offer us as we try to understand the history of our times and – just maybe – come together as a people to make America great again.


Two of Barry Farber’s bestselling books.

Not surprisingly, considering his facility with language, Barry Farber is also a widely published writer.  In addition to contributing articles to leading newspapers including the New York Times, he is the author of several books, including How to Learn Any Language and Making People Talk: You Can Turn Every Conversation into a Magic Moment.  Amazon currently has two used hardcover copies of the latter book, published in 1987, for sale at $6,890.10 and $9,029.00, not including shipping.  Since 2009, Farber has contributed an article per week at World Net Daily. His archive there numbers over 440 articles, published like clockwork every seven days.  This is a man with a strong, disciplined work ethic.  Like his nightly radio broadcast, his articles are well worth our attention.


Barry Farber today.

In November 2014, Farber’s original hometown newspaper, the Greensboro, North Carolina News & Record, published a feature article titled “Farber’s road to Radio Hall of Fame started here.”  The piece is rich with biographical detail.  It also includes a telling quote by Farber at the end, elicited from him when he was interviewed by his daughters, Celia Farber and Bibi Farber, women of significant accomplishments in their own right, who joined their father on his own radio program on November 7, 2014:

I would rather burn out than rust out.  I am one of those who will not retire.

It is a great gift to all of us that Barry Farber continues to feel that way.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC in Canada; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC in London.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published and broadcast work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.

Barry Farber is a legendary and influential figure in the history of modern American media.  He is best known for being a pioneering host of intelligent talk radio, on the air almost continuously since 1960 right up to the present time.  These days, at age 87, he is still going strong, hosting a nightly live hour-long talk radio program, The Barry Farber Show.

It was back in mid-20th-century America – the height of the post-World War II “American Century” – that Farber and a small group of colleagues experimented with and quickly established the enduring popularity of the innovative talk radio format on the highest rated stations in New York City, America’s #1 media market.  Other pioneers of radio were working the same magic in other American cities, big and small.  In the first three decades of radio, programming had centered on music, live and recorded; comedies, dramas, and sitcoms; and frothy variety shows.  Political and current events talk programming including interaction on the air with radio listeners was almost totally unknown.  That all began to change after World War II.

Farber was well prepared and well positioned for his decades-long career as a “talker.”  Early on, he displayed a unique and astounding facility for linguistics.  He eventually became fluent in at least 25 foreign languages.  His expertise with languages was tapped by the U.S. government, including during the Korean War.  In 1957, shortly after Farber moved to New York, William Safire – who went on to have a long and distinguished career in media, politics, and journalism – hired Farber as a producer of the seminal Tex and Jinx talk show on New York City’s flagship NBC-owned radio station, WNBC.  In 1960, at the age of 30, Farber got the chance to host his own talk program on WINS, another top station in New York.


Barry Farber on the air in the 1980s.

The rest, as they say, is history.  Farber’s mellifluous voice, with a touch of an appealing Southern drawl (he grew up in North Carolina), complemented his natural graciousness.  His obvious intelligence and familiarity with a wide range of issues including history, philosophy, and the news of the day added to his appeal and quickly endeared him to large mainstream audiences ranging from working stiffs to Upper-East-Side sophisticates in the Big Apple and beyond.  Thanks to Farber’s broadcasting for years on 50,000-watt clear channel stations that could be heard at great distances at night, when Farber did his shows, he developed a following in many states east of the Mississippi River.  Unlike some other more acerbic and confrontational talk hosts who enjoyed ratings success in the 1960s – Joe Pyne, for example – Farber never insulted any of his guests or talked down to his callers.  When he was on, he was always a gentleman.

In the 1980s, Farber gained an even larger audience when his eponymous program found a home on major national radio networks of the day, including ABC Talk Radio.  In 2002, Talkers Magazine, the leading professional journal in the field, included Farber on the top ten of its list of the 25 Greatest Radio Talk Show Hosts of All Time.

As a 2006 bio of him at Talk Radio Network put it:

As smooth and civilized as Jack Daniels whiskey, and with just as much kick, Barry Farber is one of America’s legendary talk show hosts.

As a high school student in a NYC suburb one night in 1965, I discovered the Barry Farber Show on WOR AM 710 in New York, the clear channel super-station where Farber spent 15 years on the air.  I was immediately hooked – on both Farber and talk radio.  I still have old reel-to-reel tapes that I recorded of some of his programs from the 1960s, exploring leading-edge political, social, and cultural issues of the day, including the first credible challenges by critics like attorney Mark Lane to the party line accounts of the JFK assassination.  Eventually, I worked in talk radio myself, in college and later as an occasional host and a frequent guest.  That experience made me realize that successes like Farber’s in the radio business are not as easy to achieve as one might think.


Barry Farber, candidate for NYC mayor, speaks to his supporters on Election Day, Nov. 8, 1977.

Farber’s only break from a lifetime of continuous broadcasting came in 1977, when he declared his candidacy for mayor of NYC and took some time off from radio.  A conservative, he ran initially as a Republican and came in a strong second in his party’s primary.  In the general election that November, he led the small Conservative Party’s ticket.  Also competing that year, and ultimately dominating the general election campaign, were future New York governor Mario Cuomo, a Democrat who ran for mayor on the Liberal Party ticket, and Ed Koch, another registered Democrat, who won the election.  Together, Koch and Cuomo captured 92% of the vote in that mostly liberal city.  One wonders how the future of New York and American history itself might have been different had Barry Farber won the race.

Back to the present: For the past decade, Barry Farber has been broadcasting his show weeknights between 8 and 9 P.M. E.T. on the CRN Digital Talk Radio HD channel, which is streamed on the internet and carried on a number of cable TV providers around the country, with free podcasts available at CRN, iTunes, and many other platforms.  The Barry Farber Show is a wonderful opportunity, which has been compared to enjoying a glass of fine wine, to hear someone who was there close to the beginning of talk radio and who has never lost his touch to inform and entertain an audience.

Listening to Barry Farber is like opening the door to a vibrant and living history of America from the middle of the 20th century onward.  At this point, I can’t think of anyone who would have more to offer us as we try to understand the history of our times and – just maybe – come together as a people to make America great again.


Two of Barry Farber’s bestselling books.

Not surprisingly, considering his facility with language, Barry Farber is also a widely published writer.  In addition to contributing articles to leading newspapers including the New York Times, he is the author of several books, including How to Learn Any Language and Making People Talk: You Can Turn Every Conversation into a Magic Moment.  Amazon currently has two used hardcover copies of the latter book, published in 1987, for sale at $6,890.10 and $9,029.00, not including shipping.  Since 2009, Farber has contributed an article per week at World Net Daily. His archive there numbers over 440 articles, published like clockwork every seven days.  This is a man with a strong, disciplined work ethic.  Like his nightly radio broadcast, his articles are well worth our attention.


Barry Farber today.

In November 2014, Farber’s original hometown newspaper, the Greensboro, North Carolina News & Record, published a feature article titled “Farber’s road to Radio Hall of Fame started here.”  The piece is rich with biographical detail.  It also includes a telling quote by Farber at the end, elicited from him when he was interviewed by his daughters, Celia Farber and Bibi Farber, women of significant accomplishments in their own right, who joined their father on his own radio program on November 7, 2014:

I would rather burn out than rust out.  I am one of those who will not retire.

It is a great gift to all of us that Barry Farber continues to feel that way.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC in Canada; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC in London.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published and broadcast work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.



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The Week Ahead Promises an Awful Lot


The coming week looks like a doozy: another leftist “people’s” mass demonstration today, President Trump’s first State of the Union address to the Congress and the nation on Tuesday, and the expected release of the House Republicans’ FISA memo after that. Not to mention all kinds of hints that other shoes may be dropping as the Democrat Party and the Deep State scramble to wrest control of the 24/7 news cycle narrative in these most uncertain times.

Fox News Channel host and one of the last remaining truth-telling figures in the MSM Sean Hannity is promising, in one of his recent Twitter messages “Monday’s a big day…tick tock.” That tweet was posted at 7:08 PM E.T. Saturday after Hannity’s Twitter account mysteriously disappeared for a while early Saturday morning. Earlier in the week, investigative journalist and Fox News Contributor Sara A. Carter, a mainstay of Hannity’s radio and Fox News TV programs since last March, announced at her website that her Twitter feed had been “compromised” on or about Jan. 22. It was subsequently restored to her control. As she tweeted on Jan. 25 “My account was hacked and now it’s back. Thank goodness and thank you @Twitter for helping me regain control.”

There’s something happening here. Cautionary header at Sara Carter’s Web page Jan. 24, 2018

Hannity, who has been slowly peeling away layers of the Obama administration-Deep State conspiracy to destroy President Trump during the past year (with the help of investigative journalists like Carter, John Solomon, and Gregg Jarrett), is increasingly the #1 target in the media of the anti-Trump Resistance. A lengthy article in the anti-Trump mouthpiece POLITICO on Friday, “As the network escalates its attacks on the FBI, mainstream conservatives say it is endangering U.S. institutions,” focused much of its attention on Hannity and what he has been reporting in recent days. The article’s author managed to get quotes from a variety of Never Trump RINO Republicans attacking Hannity and his POTUS-friendly colleagues at Fox News.

In advance of President Trump’s prime-time address to a joint session of the Congress on Tuesday, the Resistance is planning a “People’s State of the Union,” an all-out counter-push on Monday, organized by MoveOn.org and headlined by Michael Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, and a collection of other far left so-called celebrities and activists. After the president’s address, or possibly the following night, rabid anti-Trumper Rep. Maxine Waters (D_CA), who has been calling for the president’s impeachment or removal from office pretty much since day one, has been offered time on BET (Black Entertainment Television) for a counter State of the Union address.

It’s not a certainty, but various sources have been predicting that by the middle of next week the long-awaited purported bombshell 4-page “FISA memo” (#ReleaseTheMemo) that reportedly outs the dirty players in President Obama’s administration who conspired to take down President Trump, will be released. To head it off, the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media have been casting the memo as a flawed partisan Republican document whose purpose is to deflect attention from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. Democrats opposed to releasing the memo also insist that it has the potential of harming government intelligence agencies and compromising national security.

Leading the opposition to the memo in Congress is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee whose Republican majority prepared the memo. In a statement on Thursday, Jan. 18, increasingly parroted since then by his allies in the Democrat Party and the media, Schiff said:

The Majority voted on a party-line basis to grant House Members access to a profoundly misleading set of talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI and its handling of the investigation. Rife with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials that most of Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to acknowledge they had never read, this is meant only to give Republican House members a distorted view of the FBI. This may help carry White House water, but it is a deep disservice to our law enforcement professionals.

As author, former Secret Service agent, podcast host, and frequent guest on Fox News Dan Bongino tweeted on Jan. 27:

After they #ReleaseTheMemo you can absolutely count on the Dems embarking on a scorched earth campaign to lie their way through this epic scandal. There’s no lie they won’t tell, no character they won’t assassinate, & no deception they won’t embrace to hide what they did.

With incendiary and unpredictable events like these, and undoubtedly many more like them to come, it might be said that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Or, as Robert F. Kennedy said in a speech at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa on June 6, 1966:

There is a Chinese curse which says “May he live in interesting times.” Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.

Amen.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.

The coming week looks like a doozy: another leftist “people’s” mass demonstration today, President Trump’s first State of the Union address to the Congress and the nation on Tuesday, and the expected release of the House Republicans’ FISA memo after that. Not to mention all kinds of hints that other shoes may be dropping as the Democrat Party and the Deep State scramble to wrest control of the 24/7 news cycle narrative in these most uncertain times.

Fox News Channel host and one of the last remaining truth-telling figures in the MSM Sean Hannity is promising, in one of his recent Twitter messages “Monday’s a big day…tick tock.” That tweet was posted at 7:08 PM E.T. Saturday after Hannity’s Twitter account mysteriously disappeared for a while early Saturday morning. Earlier in the week, investigative journalist and Fox News Contributor Sara A. Carter, a mainstay of Hannity’s radio and Fox News TV programs since last March, announced at her website that her Twitter feed had been “compromised” on or about Jan. 22. It was subsequently restored to her control. As she tweeted on Jan. 25 “My account was hacked and now it’s back. Thank goodness and thank you @Twitter for helping me regain control.”

There’s something happening here. Cautionary header at Sara Carter’s Web page Jan. 24, 2018

Hannity, who has been slowly peeling away layers of the Obama administration-Deep State conspiracy to destroy President Trump during the past year (with the help of investigative journalists like Carter, John Solomon, and Gregg Jarrett), is increasingly the #1 target in the media of the anti-Trump Resistance. A lengthy article in the anti-Trump mouthpiece POLITICO on Friday, “As the network escalates its attacks on the FBI, mainstream conservatives say it is endangering U.S. institutions,” focused much of its attention on Hannity and what he has been reporting in recent days. The article’s author managed to get quotes from a variety of Never Trump RINO Republicans attacking Hannity and his POTUS-friendly colleagues at Fox News.

In advance of President Trump’s prime-time address to a joint session of the Congress on Tuesday, the Resistance is planning a “People’s State of the Union,” an all-out counter-push on Monday, organized by MoveOn.org and headlined by Michael Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, and a collection of other far left so-called celebrities and activists. After the president’s address, or possibly the following night, rabid anti-Trumper Rep. Maxine Waters (D_CA), who has been calling for the president’s impeachment or removal from office pretty much since day one, has been offered time on BET (Black Entertainment Television) for a counter State of the Union address.

It’s not a certainty, but various sources have been predicting that by the middle of next week the long-awaited purported bombshell 4-page “FISA memo” (#ReleaseTheMemo) that reportedly outs the dirty players in President Obama’s administration who conspired to take down President Trump, will be released. To head it off, the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media have been casting the memo as a flawed partisan Republican document whose purpose is to deflect attention from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. Democrats opposed to releasing the memo also insist that it has the potential of harming government intelligence agencies and compromising national security.

Leading the opposition to the memo in Congress is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee whose Republican majority prepared the memo. In a statement on Thursday, Jan. 18, increasingly parroted since then by his allies in the Democrat Party and the media, Schiff said:

The Majority voted on a party-line basis to grant House Members access to a profoundly misleading set of talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI and its handling of the investigation. Rife with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials that most of Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to acknowledge they had never read, this is meant only to give Republican House members a distorted view of the FBI. This may help carry White House water, but it is a deep disservice to our law enforcement professionals.

As author, former Secret Service agent, podcast host, and frequent guest on Fox News Dan Bongino tweeted on Jan. 27:

After they #ReleaseTheMemo you can absolutely count on the Dems embarking on a scorched earth campaign to lie their way through this epic scandal. There’s no lie they won’t tell, no character they won’t assassinate, & no deception they won’t embrace to hide what they did.

With incendiary and unpredictable events like these, and undoubtedly many more like them to come, it might be said that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Or, as Robert F. Kennedy said in a speech at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa on June 6, 1966:

There is a Chinese curse which says “May he live in interesting times.” Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.

Amen.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.



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Fox Exposes the Clintons in the Scandalous Series


The excellent 7-part Fox News documentary series Scandalous, covering the scandals of the Clintons through the 42nd president’s impeachment trial in 1999, continues tonight with the premiere of part 2, “A Woman Called Paula.” The hour-long program airs at 8 P.M. E.T./P.T. At 7 P.M., part 1, “Up Crooked Creek” about the Whitewater scandal, which originally aired last Sunday, will be reprised.

Fox hopes that Scandalous will be an ongoing series devoted to various political scandals in American history. The first 7 parts, devoted to the Clintons, total 280 minutes of content and go a long way towards helping to correct the largely sanitized and whitewashed record of Bill Clinton’s scandal-ridden career and presidency. Since he left office on January 20, 2001, the mainstream media, to my knowledge, has never attempted any serious appraisals of the underside of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s eight years in the White House and their earlier careers in Arkansas. The only exception was the PBS American Experience 2-part, 4-hour presidents’ series episode about Clinton which aired most recently in 2012. It covered Bill and Hillary’s entire career with only a minor focus on the scandals. Like most MSM appraisals of the Clintons, it reinforced the gauzy, airbrushed history of the 1990s, which witnessed the pumped up Internet dot com surge that helped to propel the temporary economic boomlet before the bubble started to burst in 2000, Bill Clinton’s last full year in office.

The universally positive mainstream media appraisals of Bill Clinton’s tenure as president — his 1999 impeachment trial notwithstanding — helped him to achieve a 66% approval rating when he left office in 2001 and strong approval ratings in subsequent years (until recently) as an ex-president.

Scandalous is off to a good start. Part 1 aired twice last Sunday and earned very strong ratings, with the show beating its competition on CNN and MSNBC in the Nielsen ratings by a wide margin in both total viewers (40+% more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined in the 8 P.M. hour) and the age 25-54 demographic. CNN has also had good ratings luck with its documentaries in recent years, including multi-part series devoted to the decades of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. In my opinion, Fox News’ efforts with Scandalous represent a more serious and balanced appraisal of its subject than CNN’s hagiographic and one-sided take on recent decades, especially their excesses. (In reviewing CNN’s “The Nineties,” Salon — usually a friend of CNN — opined that the series was “empty nostalgia for a decade we should let die.”)

Part 2 of Scandalous, “A Woman Called Paula,” focuses on the Paula Jones affair, which was investigated by the Special Prosecutor appointed to look into the Clintons’ involvement in the corrupt Whitewater, Arkansas land deal while Bill Clinton was the governor of Arkansas. According to an article about the episode at Fox News’ Web site, “A Woman Called Paula”

follows Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit against former President Bill Clinton and the high-stakes political drama that ensued.


Jones alleged that then-Arkansas Gov. Clinton propositioned her and exposed himself at a conference in Little Rock in 1991. He denied the allegation.


“She was a woman that really just wanted to have her good name cleared. All she wanted was an apology,” said Joseph Cammarata, who represented Jones.


When that didn’t happen, they filed a lawsuit, eventually reaching a $850,000 settlement with Clinton in 1999.

Although its critics on the left insist that Fox News, which they often refer to as “Faux News,” is anything but “fair and balanced” (its original motto), recent studies have concluded that its news coverage is in fact the most objective of the mainstream cable/satellite and broadcast media. Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, for example, in its analysis of media reporting on  President Trump’s first 100 days, found that the broadcast networks and cable television news channels’ coverage of Trump was 90+% negative. The sole exception was Fox News, whose reporting on President Trump was slightly more negative than positive (52 to 48%) and was therefore the closest of all media studied to being balanced.

Part 1 of Scandalous represented a serious effort to reconstruct past events, using archival video clips interspersed with new interviews with many of the principals in the story, some of them speaking on camera and on the record for the first time. Hopefully, the strong ratings so far for the series, like CNN’s success with its multi-part documentaries, will breathe new life into television documentaries which in the past were a mainstay of the broadcast networks but have all but disappeared in recent years, except for PBS.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.

The excellent 7-part Fox News documentary series Scandalous, covering the scandals of the Clintons through the 42nd president’s impeachment trial in 1999, continues tonight with the premiere of part 2, “A Woman Called Paula.” The hour-long program airs at 8 P.M. E.T./P.T. At 7 P.M., part 1, “Up Crooked Creek” about the Whitewater scandal, which originally aired last Sunday, will be reprised.

Fox hopes that Scandalous will be an ongoing series devoted to various political scandals in American history. The first 7 parts, devoted to the Clintons, total 280 minutes of content and go a long way towards helping to correct the largely sanitized and whitewashed record of Bill Clinton’s scandal-ridden career and presidency. Since he left office on January 20, 2001, the mainstream media, to my knowledge, has never attempted any serious appraisals of the underside of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s eight years in the White House and their earlier careers in Arkansas. The only exception was the PBS American Experience 2-part, 4-hour presidents’ series episode about Clinton which aired most recently in 2012. It covered Bill and Hillary’s entire career with only a minor focus on the scandals. Like most MSM appraisals of the Clintons, it reinforced the gauzy, airbrushed history of the 1990s, which witnessed the pumped up Internet dot com surge that helped to propel the temporary economic boomlet before the bubble started to burst in 2000, Bill Clinton’s last full year in office.

The universally positive mainstream media appraisals of Bill Clinton’s tenure as president — his 1999 impeachment trial notwithstanding — helped him to achieve a 66% approval rating when he left office in 2001 and strong approval ratings in subsequent years (until recently) as an ex-president.

Scandalous is off to a good start. Part 1 aired twice last Sunday and earned very strong ratings, with the show beating its competition on CNN and MSNBC in the Nielsen ratings by a wide margin in both total viewers (40+% more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined in the 8 P.M. hour) and the age 25-54 demographic. CNN has also had good ratings luck with its documentaries in recent years, including multi-part series devoted to the decades of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. In my opinion, Fox News’ efforts with Scandalous represent a more serious and balanced appraisal of its subject than CNN’s hagiographic and one-sided take on recent decades, especially their excesses. (In reviewing CNN’s “The Nineties,” Salon — usually a friend of CNN — opined that the series was “empty nostalgia for a decade we should let die.”)

Part 2 of Scandalous, “A Woman Called Paula,” focuses on the Paula Jones affair, which was investigated by the Special Prosecutor appointed to look into the Clintons’ involvement in the corrupt Whitewater, Arkansas land deal while Bill Clinton was the governor of Arkansas. According to an article about the episode at Fox News’ Web site, “A Woman Called Paula”

follows Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit against former President Bill Clinton and the high-stakes political drama that ensued.


Jones alleged that then-Arkansas Gov. Clinton propositioned her and exposed himself at a conference in Little Rock in 1991. He denied the allegation.


“She was a woman that really just wanted to have her good name cleared. All she wanted was an apology,” said Joseph Cammarata, who represented Jones.


When that didn’t happen, they filed a lawsuit, eventually reaching a $850,000 settlement with Clinton in 1999.

Although its critics on the left insist that Fox News, which they often refer to as “Faux News,” is anything but “fair and balanced” (its original motto), recent studies have concluded that its news coverage is in fact the most objective of the mainstream cable/satellite and broadcast media. Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, for example, in its analysis of media reporting on  President Trump’s first 100 days, found that the broadcast networks and cable television news channels’ coverage of Trump was 90+% negative. The sole exception was Fox News, whose reporting on President Trump was slightly more negative than positive (52 to 48%) and was therefore the closest of all media studied to being balanced.

Part 1 of Scandalous represented a serious effort to reconstruct past events, using archival video clips interspersed with new interviews with many of the principals in the story, some of them speaking on camera and on the record for the first time. Hopefully, the strong ratings so far for the series, like CNN’s success with its multi-part documentaries, will breathe new life into television documentaries which in the past were a mainstay of the broadcast networks but have all but disappeared in recent years, except for PBS.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.



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Illegals in California with Driver's Licenses Eligible to Vote After April 1


Starting on April 1, 2018, illegal aliens in California who have recently obtained state driver’s licenses legally, or obtained them previously by lying about their immigration status, will automatically be registered to vote.  Since January 2015, according to the California DMV, A.B. 60, a law passed by the California Assembly, “allows illegal immigrants to the United States to apply for a California driver’s license with the CA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)” [emphasis original].  As of December 2016, more than 800,000 California driver’s licenses were issued to illegal aliens under the A.B. 60 law. Additional thousands of illegals may have been granted licenses prior to 2015 because they lied on their driver’s license application forms and claimed they were in the country legally.  (No proof of legal residence has been required by the California DMV in recent years.)

An editorial in the Victorville Daily Press on January 22 summarized the situation:

According to the [s]ecretary of [s]tate’s website, in order to vote in California one must be at least 18 years old, a United States citizen[,] and a resident of California.


But a court settlement Jan. 10 in response to a suit filed by the League of Women Voters [and several other groups including The National Council of La Raza] may have pushed open the door to rampant voter fraud in this state.  That’s because under the settlement, starting in April the Department of Motor Vehicles will automatically register to vote all those who renew their driver’s licenses unless they opt out.


Illegals jumping a border fence into the U.S.

California Political Review and Courthouse News first broke the story of illegals being allowed to vote starting this spring on January 18 in an article titled “Alert: Starting April 1 California DMV Will AUTOMATICALLY Register Illegal Aliens to Vote – by COURT ORDER:”

The program is part of [A.B.] 1461, dubbed the California New Motor Voter Act.  Signed into law in October 2015, the new statute requires the DMV to forward records for all eligible applicants to the Secretary of State’s Office for registration unless those applicants elect not to register to vote.

As of this writing, WND, claiming an “exclusive,” is the only major publication to have highlighted this development in a brief story on January 21, “California to register illegal aliens to vote – automatically.”

On October 11, 2015, the day after California governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 1461 into law, the Washington Times, in an article titled “California motor-voter law will flood rolls with noncitizens, critics predict,” indeed predicted what is now coming to pass two and a half years later:

A bill signed Saturday by California [g]ov. Jerry Brown aimed at improving voter turnout has critics predicting that it will ramp up voter fraud by making it easier for noncitizens to cast ballots.


The New Motor Voter Act automatically registers to vote all eligible voters when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses at the Department of Motor Vehicles instead of requiring them to fill out a form.  Those eligible may opt out of voter registration.


The goal is to ease barriers to voting, but election-integrity advocates warn that the measure could inadvertently add millions of illegal voters to the rolls given that California allows undocumented [i.e., illegal] aliens to obtain driver’s licenses.

The move to legalize non-citizen – including “undocumented” residents’ – voting is slowly spreading nationwide.  In 2016, immigrant activists in New York City endorsed a legislative proposal to allow immigrants residing in the city – legal or not – the right to vote in local elections.  In reporting the story, the New York Post estimated that 500,000 illegal aliens reside in New York City.  This change has not yet been formally approved, however.  Meanwhile, according to Newsweek (September 13, 2017), “Immigrants Are Getting the Right to Vote in Cities Across America.”  The occasion for Newsweek’s article was the decision last year by the Washington, D.C. suburb of College Park, Maryland to allow non-citizens, including illegals, to vote.

Several other cities in Maryland already allow noncitizens to vote locally.  Chicago and San Francisco also offer limited noncitizen voting.  The trend runs counter to the anti-immigration sentiment in many areas of the country, but supporters say residents of cities and towns should have a say in how their government operates, whether they are citizens or not.

The success of left-wing groups supporting the expansion of illegal alien “rights” to include voting has also been reflected in the government shutdown of recent days.  According to an analysis of “this stunning display of political leverage” by illegal alien “DREAMers” by the Washington Times on January 21:

Democrats called it the Trump shutdown.  Republicans labeled it the Schumer shutdown.  But in reality, it was the [DREAM]er shutdown.


The recipe for the current congressional gridlock is complex, but at the top of the list of ingredients are the illegal [alien] [DREAM]ers who pushed Democrats to launch the filibuster that sent the government careening into a partial shutdown.

The political muscle demonstrated by illegals reflected in the national political debate is being increasingly taken note of.  The complementary impact of millions of them potentially voting legally in U.S. elections in the near term is less apparent, but it deserves our serious attention for what it portends.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.

Starting on April 1, 2018, illegal aliens in California who have recently obtained state driver’s licenses legally, or obtained them previously by lying about their immigration status, will automatically be registered to vote.  Since January 2015, according to the California DMV, A.B. 60, a law passed by the California Assembly, “allows illegal immigrants to the United States to apply for a California driver’s license with the CA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)” [emphasis original].  As of December 2016, more than 800,000 California driver’s licenses were issued to illegal aliens under the A.B. 60 law. Additional thousands of illegals may have been granted licenses prior to 2015 because they lied on their driver’s license application forms and claimed they were in the country legally.  (No proof of legal residence has been required by the California DMV in recent years.)

An editorial in the Victorville Daily Press on January 22 summarized the situation:

According to the [s]ecretary of [s]tate’s website, in order to vote in California one must be at least 18 years old, a United States citizen[,] and a resident of California.


But a court settlement Jan. 10 in response to a suit filed by the League of Women Voters [and several other groups including The National Council of La Raza] may have pushed open the door to rampant voter fraud in this state.  That’s because under the settlement, starting in April the Department of Motor Vehicles will automatically register to vote all those who renew their driver’s licenses unless they opt out.


Illegals jumping a border fence into the U.S.

California Political Review and Courthouse News first broke the story of illegals being allowed to vote starting this spring on January 18 in an article titled “Alert: Starting April 1 California DMV Will AUTOMATICALLY Register Illegal Aliens to Vote – by COURT ORDER:”

The program is part of [A.B.] 1461, dubbed the California New Motor Voter Act.  Signed into law in October 2015, the new statute requires the DMV to forward records for all eligible applicants to the Secretary of State’s Office for registration unless those applicants elect not to register to vote.

As of this writing, WND, claiming an “exclusive,” is the only major publication to have highlighted this development in a brief story on January 21, “California to register illegal aliens to vote – automatically.”

On October 11, 2015, the day after California governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 1461 into law, the Washington Times, in an article titled “California motor-voter law will flood rolls with noncitizens, critics predict,” indeed predicted what is now coming to pass two and a half years later:

A bill signed Saturday by California [g]ov. Jerry Brown aimed at improving voter turnout has critics predicting that it will ramp up voter fraud by making it easier for noncitizens to cast ballots.


The New Motor Voter Act automatically registers to vote all eligible voters when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses at the Department of Motor Vehicles instead of requiring them to fill out a form.  Those eligible may opt out of voter registration.


The goal is to ease barriers to voting, but election-integrity advocates warn that the measure could inadvertently add millions of illegal voters to the rolls given that California allows undocumented [i.e., illegal] aliens to obtain driver’s licenses.

The move to legalize non-citizen – including “undocumented” residents’ – voting is slowly spreading nationwide.  In 2016, immigrant activists in New York City endorsed a legislative proposal to allow immigrants residing in the city – legal or not – the right to vote in local elections.  In reporting the story, the New York Post estimated that 500,000 illegal aliens reside in New York City.  This change has not yet been formally approved, however.  Meanwhile, according to Newsweek (September 13, 2017), “Immigrants Are Getting the Right to Vote in Cities Across America.”  The occasion for Newsweek’s article was the decision last year by the Washington, D.C. suburb of College Park, Maryland to allow non-citizens, including illegals, to vote.

Several other cities in Maryland already allow noncitizens to vote locally.  Chicago and San Francisco also offer limited noncitizen voting.  The trend runs counter to the anti-immigration sentiment in many areas of the country, but supporters say residents of cities and towns should have a say in how their government operates, whether they are citizens or not.

The success of left-wing groups supporting the expansion of illegal alien “rights” to include voting has also been reflected in the government shutdown of recent days.  According to an analysis of “this stunning display of political leverage” by illegal alien “DREAMers” by the Washington Times on January 21:

Democrats called it the Trump shutdown.  Republicans labeled it the Schumer shutdown.  But in reality, it was the [DREAM]er shutdown.


The recipe for the current congressional gridlock is complex, but at the top of the list of ingredients are the illegal [alien] [DREAM]ers who pushed Democrats to launch the filibuster that sent the government careening into a partial shutdown.

The political muscle demonstrated by illegals reflected in the national political debate is being increasingly taken note of.  The complementary impact of millions of them potentially voting legally in U.S. elections in the near term is less apparent, but it deserves our serious attention for what it portends.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.



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Fake News and Toxic Media Bias Are Nothing New – Just Worse


The mainstream media’s coverage of President Donald Trump is unprecedented in its lack of fairness and its constant negativity.  It represents the ultimate weaponization of big reporting that’s in sync with efforts by the shadow government to mobilize the national security apparatus and the other entrenched Deep State bureaucracies for the purpose of weakening and ultimately taking down the 45th president of the United States.

As bad and biased as the reporting is today, it really is nothing new – just more of the same, only much worse.  It’s become fake news on steroids.

The chart below, by Media Tenor and included in Harvard’s Shorenstein Center May 18, 2017 report “News Coverage of Donald Trump’s First 100 Days”, measured the “tone of coverage” on President Trump by major mainstream media outlets between Jan. 20 and April 29, 2017. 

Notwithstanding the orders from on high that may be dictating how the media spin their political coverage, the vast majority of working journalists today are hardcore progressives and leftists who vote en masse for Democrats.  One need look no farther than a study by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity highlighted in an article in the Columbia Journalism Review, published on October 17, 2016, titled “Journalists shower Hillary Clinton with campaign cash.”

People identified in federal campaign finance filings as journalists, reporters, news editors or television anchors – as well as other donors known to be working in journalism – have combined to give more than $396,000 to the presidential campaigns of Clinton and Trump, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.


More than 96 percent of that cash has benefited Clinton: About 430 people who work in journalism have, through August, combined to give about $382,000 to the Democratic nominee, the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis indicates.


About 50 identifiable journalists have combined to give about $14,000 to Trump.

Ninety-six percent of journalists’ contributions went to Clinton, four percent to Trump.  These percentages parallel almost exactly the percentage of negative stories about President Trump that were published or broadcast during his first nine months in office.  A study by the Pew Research Center for Journalism & Media, published October 2, 2017, found that news stories about President Trump and his administration through September 2017 were positive only 5% of the time.  This contrasts with coverage of President Obama during his first year in office, which was only 20% negative.  It is obvious that the MSM had a love affair with Barack Obama that lasted for most of his presidency.

The Swift Boat Thing

Leftist media bias goes back even farther than 2016, needless to say.  On August 1, 2004, the New York Times published an article by John Tierney on the overwhelming bias of the media in favor of Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry.  Tierney cited an:

… unscientific survey we conducted last weekend during a press party at the [Democratic National] convention.  We got anonymous answers from 153 journalists, about a third of them based in Washington.


When asked who would be a better president, the journalists from outside the Beltway picked Mr. Kerry 3 to 1, and the ones from Washington favored him 12 to 1.  Those results jibe with previous surveys over the past two decades showing that journalists tend to be Democrats, especially the ones based in Washington.  Some surveys have found that more than 80 percent of the Beltway press corps votes Democratic.

So, almost 14 years ago, journalists based in the nation’s capital supported the Democratic Party candidate by a margin of about twelve to one.  Journalists from flyover country also favored Kerry but by four to one.

The easy transition of top journalists from their comfy and influential reporting jobs and into positions of spinning news on behalf of the federal government is an everyday occurrence, especially in Democrat administrations.  On September 12, 2013, The Atlantic published an article noting:

Time managing editor Rick Stengel is leaving journalism to go work for the State Department, making him at least the 24th reporter to go to work for the Obama administration.

Appearing during the second hour of Sean Hannity’s radio program on January 12, Ari Fleischer, a political commentator and the press secretary during the first term of President George W. Bush, noted that “it’s even worse with President Trump in the White House because the press can’t hide their bias anymore.”

“Extremism in the defense of fake news is no vice”

Media bias favoring Democrats goes way back.  An egregious example of fake news and toxic bias in the MSM occurred in 1964, and the perpetrator, CBS News correspondent Daniel Schorr, went unpunished and emerged with his career unscathed.  Brent Baker reminded us of this sad but still relevant old story in an article at NewsBusters on July 25, 2010 on the occasion of Schorr’s death.  Baker cited an article published nine years earlier in The Weekly Standard by Andrew Ferguson, who was reviewing a book by Schorr.

During the Republican Convention in San Francisco in 1964 that nominated conservative icon Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) for president, Schorr reported a fake news story that aired on the CBS television network during its wall-to-wall coverage of the convention.  Speaking from Germany, where he was based as a prominent foreign correspondent, Schorr said:

It looks as though Senator Goldwater, if nominated, will be starting his campaign here in Bavaria, center of Germany’s right wing.  It is also known as Hitler’s one-time stomping ground.

The only problem was that the story was completely made up and false.  Goldwater never traveled to Germany after he received his party’s nomination for president in 1964, and he never intended to do so.  With no bills to pay for reporting fake news even back then, Schorr continued to report for CBS News for the next decade and a half and then spent the last 25 years of his life working in high-profile reporting, hosting, and commentating positions for National Public Radio with the title “senior news analyst.”  When he died on July 23, 2010 at age 93, NPR headlined its lead story “Journalism Legend Daniel Schorr Dies At 93.”

These days, poll after poll is confirming, as Gallup headlined one of its reports on the subject published on September 14, 2016, that “Americans’ Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low.”

Now that “fake news” has entered the popular lexicon, The Hill reported on May 24, 2017 – three months into the Trump administration:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the mainstream press is full of fake news, a sentiment that is held by a majority of voters across the ideological spectrum.


According to data from the latest Harvard-Harris poll, which was provided exclusively to The Hill, 65 percent of voters believe there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media.

These recent reports appear to confirm the classic observation by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, first published in France in 1849, that “the more things change, the more they remain the same” (“plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose“) – except that the situation regarding the news business is arguably worse now in light of the mainstream media having almost completely lost what was left of their minds, and all of their remaining credibility, in their totally biased coverage of President Donald J. Trump.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.

The mainstream media’s coverage of President Donald Trump is unprecedented in its lack of fairness and its constant negativity.  It represents the ultimate weaponization of big reporting that’s in sync with efforts by the shadow government to mobilize the national security apparatus and the other entrenched Deep State bureaucracies for the purpose of weakening and ultimately taking down the 45th president of the United States.

As bad and biased as the reporting is today, it really is nothing new – just more of the same, only much worse.  It’s become fake news on steroids.

The chart below, by Media Tenor and included in Harvard’s Shorenstein Center May 18, 2017 report “News Coverage of Donald Trump’s First 100 Days”, measured the “tone of coverage” on President Trump by major mainstream media outlets between Jan. 20 and April 29, 2017. 

Notwithstanding the orders from on high that may be dictating how the media spin their political coverage, the vast majority of working journalists today are hardcore progressives and leftists who vote en masse for Democrats.  One need look no farther than a study by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity highlighted in an article in the Columbia Journalism Review, published on October 17, 2016, titled “Journalists shower Hillary Clinton with campaign cash.”

People identified in federal campaign finance filings as journalists, reporters, news editors or television anchors – as well as other donors known to be working in journalism – have combined to give more than $396,000 to the presidential campaigns of Clinton and Trump, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.


More than 96 percent of that cash has benefited Clinton: About 430 people who work in journalism have, through August, combined to give about $382,000 to the Democratic nominee, the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis indicates.


About 50 identifiable journalists have combined to give about $14,000 to Trump.

Ninety-six percent of journalists’ contributions went to Clinton, four percent to Trump.  These percentages parallel almost exactly the percentage of negative stories about President Trump that were published or broadcast during his first nine months in office.  A study by the Pew Research Center for Journalism & Media, published October 2, 2017, found that news stories about President Trump and his administration through September 2017 were positive only 5% of the time.  This contrasts with coverage of President Obama during his first year in office, which was only 20% negative.  It is obvious that the MSM had a love affair with Barack Obama that lasted for most of his presidency.

The Swift Boat Thing

Leftist media bias goes back even farther than 2016, needless to say.  On August 1, 2004, the New York Times published an article by John Tierney on the overwhelming bias of the media in favor of Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry.  Tierney cited an:

… unscientific survey we conducted last weekend during a press party at the [Democratic National] convention.  We got anonymous answers from 153 journalists, about a third of them based in Washington.


When asked who would be a better president, the journalists from outside the Beltway picked Mr. Kerry 3 to 1, and the ones from Washington favored him 12 to 1.  Those results jibe with previous surveys over the past two decades showing that journalists tend to be Democrats, especially the ones based in Washington.  Some surveys have found that more than 80 percent of the Beltway press corps votes Democratic.

So, almost 14 years ago, journalists based in the nation’s capital supported the Democratic Party candidate by a margin of about twelve to one.  Journalists from flyover country also favored Kerry but by four to one.

The easy transition of top journalists from their comfy and influential reporting jobs and into positions of spinning news on behalf of the federal government is an everyday occurrence, especially in Democrat administrations.  On September 12, 2013, The Atlantic published an article noting:

Time managing editor Rick Stengel is leaving journalism to go work for the State Department, making him at least the 24th reporter to go to work for the Obama administration.

Appearing during the second hour of Sean Hannity’s radio program on January 12, Ari Fleischer, a political commentator and the press secretary during the first term of President George W. Bush, noted that “it’s even worse with President Trump in the White House because the press can’t hide their bias anymore.”

“Extremism in the defense of fake news is no vice”

Media bias favoring Democrats goes way back.  An egregious example of fake news and toxic bias in the MSM occurred in 1964, and the perpetrator, CBS News correspondent Daniel Schorr, went unpunished and emerged with his career unscathed.  Brent Baker reminded us of this sad but still relevant old story in an article at NewsBusters on July 25, 2010 on the occasion of Schorr’s death.  Baker cited an article published nine years earlier in The Weekly Standard by Andrew Ferguson, who was reviewing a book by Schorr.

During the Republican Convention in San Francisco in 1964 that nominated conservative icon Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) for president, Schorr reported a fake news story that aired on the CBS television network during its wall-to-wall coverage of the convention.  Speaking from Germany, where he was based as a prominent foreign correspondent, Schorr said:

It looks as though Senator Goldwater, if nominated, will be starting his campaign here in Bavaria, center of Germany’s right wing.  It is also known as Hitler’s one-time stomping ground.

The only problem was that the story was completely made up and false.  Goldwater never traveled to Germany after he received his party’s nomination for president in 1964, and he never intended to do so.  With no bills to pay for reporting fake news even back then, Schorr continued to report for CBS News for the next decade and a half and then spent the last 25 years of his life working in high-profile reporting, hosting, and commentating positions for National Public Radio with the title “senior news analyst.”  When he died on July 23, 2010 at age 93, NPR headlined its lead story “Journalism Legend Daniel Schorr Dies At 93.”

These days, poll after poll is confirming, as Gallup headlined one of its reports on the subject published on September 14, 2016, that “Americans’ Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low.”

Now that “fake news” has entered the popular lexicon, The Hill reported on May 24, 2017 – three months into the Trump administration:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the mainstream press is full of fake news, a sentiment that is held by a majority of voters across the ideological spectrum.


According to data from the latest Harvard-Harris poll, which was provided exclusively to The Hill, 65 percent of voters believe there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media.

These recent reports appear to confirm the classic observation by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, first published in France in 1849, that “the more things change, the more they remain the same” (“plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose“) – except that the situation regarding the news business is arguably worse now in light of the mainstream media having almost completely lost what was left of their minds, and all of their remaining credibility, in their totally biased coverage of President Donald J. Trump.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.



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A Christmas Present to Cable TV Viewers – Sara Carter Joins Fox News


Sara Carter, who in recent months has emerged as one of the country’s finest investigative journalists, is joining Fox News. The official announcement came on Christmas Eve at 9 A.M. E.T. when Carter was introduced as a brand new Fox News Contributor in two live segments on the channel’s signature morning program Fox and Friends Weekend. High profile Fox News contributors are usually paid six figures a year to appear with regularity on the channel to discuss news developments in the context of their areas of expertise. A video of Carter’s appearance on the Dec. 24 Fox News morning program is currently online here at YouTube.

Carter has an extensive journalistic background, including covering the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in hot war zones while she was embedded with U.S. troops. She was a Senior Correspondent with Circa News from May 2016 until last November. Previously, she worked for TheBlaze, The Washington Examiner, and The Washington Times. She has had extensive experience hosting programs on TheBlaze TV and appearing as a guest hundreds of times on the cable television news channels. She has a degree in journalism and communications from California Polytechnic University in Pomona.

Most recently, Carter’s probing investigative journalism for Circa News has exposed the deep politics behind the Obama Administration’s actions to checkmate the Trump candidacy and presidency, the investigation of Trump by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and the controversies surrounding the Clintons. This reporting has expanded Carter’s visibility and significantly enhanced her reputation as a leading investigative journalist with impeccable sources on domestic political news. Links to many of Carter’s articles at Circa can be found on this page on Muck Rack.

Sara Carter on Sean Hannity’s program, Fox News March 2017

Throughout 2017, Carter has been a frequent guest – making scores of appearances – on Sean Hannity’s radio and Fox News TV programs. Her work, and that of John Solomon, now at The Hill, and Gregg Jarrett, Fox News legal analyst, has advanced the current political stories in the era of Trump one drop at a time, until a flood of information about what really happened regarding the clandestine attempts by the Deep State and the Shadow Government to “resist” the candidacy and presidency of Donald J. Trump is now finally emerging.

Carter has frequently been one step ahead of the pack in breaking news. For example, in an appearance on Hannity on December 5, Carter said:

We’re going to see parts of that report [by Department of Justice’s Inspector General] before December (end of the month). We’re going to see other parts of his report coming out after January. . . They’re looking at [former FBI Director James] Comey. They’re looking at 27 leakers. It would not surprise me if there was a shake-up at the FBI and a housecleaning.

Three weeks later, the news was out that Andrew McCabe, the controversial FBI assistant director, would be retiring within 90 days. As Bloomberg News reported on December 24:

McCabe’s tenure has become entangled in politically charged controversies, including the investigation into Clinton’s use of private email when she was secretary of state, and the ongoing criminal probe into Russian interference.


Most recently, House Republicans demanded to know what discussions McCabe might have had in 2016 with two FBI officials who exchanged text messages critical of Trump. One of them referred to a meeting in “Andy’s office” where they discussed “that there’s no way” Trump would be elected but “we can’t take that risk.”


Republicans have suggested, without proof [sic], that this may have spawned an action plan for the FBI to exploit a dossier of unverified allegations against Trump compiled by a former British spy and financed largely by Clinton’s campaign.


McCabe also came under Republican criticism in 2016 when he helped oversee the Clinton email investigation even though his wife had accepted donations from Democratic political organizations for an unsuccessful election bid in 2015 to the Virginia state senate.

Sara Carter in her first appearance as a Fox News Contributor Dec. 24, 2017

As Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Ed Henry said when he introduced Carter on Dec. 24:

First of all, what a wonderful Christmas present for us to have you now in the Fox family, so welcome and congratulations!

Indeed!

As a footnote. it appears that I am the first reporter to have taken note publicly that Sara Carter would be joining Fox News.

On Wednesday December 20, I appeared on The Hagmann Report and broke the news that Sara Carter would soon be joining Fox News. Twenty-two minutes into my appearance on the program, at approximately 7:55 P.M. E.T., speaking live by audio Skype, I said the following:

PETER CHOWKA: I just wanted to take a minute or two to give a few breaking updates that I’ve become apprised of about Fox News. . .

I have some good news to report here exclusively. And that is, the reporter formerly from Circa News, Sara Carter, who has made scores of appearances on Sean Hannity’s show since early in the Trump Administration and has broken so many stories along with her former collaborator at Circa, John Solomon, who is now with The Hill – It appears that Sara Carter has now moved on from Circa News, and it is my understanding that she will be officially joining Fox News in a major reportorial capacity in 2018. In fact, she gave a hint of this on her Twitter a day or two ago. She said that she’s going to be traveling to the West to celebrate Christmas with her family, but she will be back on Fox News in 2018. So we can look forward to that.

Carter’s not-so-cryptic tweet was posted on Dec. 19:

Flying out to see family and celebrate Christmas In the West. Looking forward to being back on @FoxNews soon.

To paraphrase Fox and Friends Weekend co-host on December 24 Ed Henry, this news is a Christmas present – not only for Fox News, but for the entire cable news television viewing audience that is interested in independent, probing, fair and balanced investigative journalism.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  A selection of Peter’s recent video Skype interviews on The Hagmann Report is available at his new YouTube playlist “Between the Lines” here.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published work, follow him on Twitter @pchowka.

Sara Carter, who in recent months has emerged as one of the country’s finest investigative journalists, is joining Fox News. The official announcement came on Christmas Eve at 9 A.M. E.T. when Carter was introduced as a brand new Fox News Contributor in two live segments on the channel’s signature morning program Fox and Friends Weekend. High profile Fox News contributors are usually paid six figures a year to appear with regularity on the channel to discuss news developments in the context of their areas of expertise. A video of Carter’s appearance on the Dec. 24 Fox News morning program is currently online here at YouTube.

Carter has an extensive journalistic background, including covering the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in hot war zones while she was embedded with U.S. troops. She was a Senior Correspondent with Circa News from May 2016 until last November. Previously, she worked for TheBlaze, The Washington Examiner, and The Washington Times. She has had extensive experience hosting programs on TheBlaze TV and appearing as a guest hundreds of times on the cable television news channels. She has a degree in journalism and communications from California Polytechnic University in Pomona.

Most recently, Carter’s probing investigative journalism for Circa News has exposed the deep politics behind the Obama Administration’s actions to checkmate the Trump candidacy and presidency, the investigation of Trump by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and the controversies surrounding the Clintons. This reporting has expanded Carter’s visibility and significantly enhanced her reputation as a leading investigative journalist with impeccable sources on domestic political news. Links to many of Carter’s articles at Circa can be found on this page on Muck Rack.

Sara Carter on Sean Hannity’s program, Fox News March 2017

Throughout 2017, Carter has been a frequent guest – making scores of appearances – on Sean Hannity’s radio and Fox News TV programs. Her work, and that of John Solomon, now at The Hill, and Gregg Jarrett, Fox News legal analyst, has advanced the current political stories in the era of Trump one drop at a time, until a flood of information about what really happened regarding the clandestine attempts by the Deep State and the Shadow Government to “resist” the candidacy and presidency of Donald J. Trump is now finally emerging.

Carter has frequently been one step ahead of the pack in breaking news. For example, in an appearance on Hannity on December 5, Carter said:

We’re going to see parts of that report [by Department of Justice’s Inspector General] before December (end of the month). We’re going to see other parts of his report coming out after January. . . They’re looking at [former FBI Director James] Comey. They’re looking at 27 leakers. It would not surprise me if there was a shake-up at the FBI and a housecleaning.

Three weeks later, the news was out that Andrew McCabe, the controversial FBI assistant director, would be retiring within 90 days. As Bloomberg News reported on December 24:

McCabe’s tenure has become entangled in politically charged controversies, including the investigation into Clinton’s use of private email when she was secretary of state, and the ongoing criminal probe into Russian interference.


Most recently, House Republicans demanded to know what discussions McCabe might have had in 2016 with two FBI officials who exchanged text messages critical of Trump. One of them referred to a meeting in “Andy’s office” where they discussed “that there’s no way” Trump would be elected but “we can’t take that risk.”


Republicans have suggested, without proof [sic], that this may have spawned an action plan for the FBI to exploit a dossier of unverified allegations against Trump compiled by a former British spy and financed largely by Clinton’s campaign.


McCabe also came under Republican criticism in 2016 when he helped oversee the Clinton email investigation even though his wife had accepted donations from Democratic political organizations for an unsuccessful election bid in 2015 to the Virginia state senate.

Sara Carter in her first appearance as a Fox News Contributor Dec. 24, 2017

As Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Ed Henry said when he introduced Carter on Dec. 24:

First of all, what a wonderful Christmas present for us to have you now in the Fox family, so welcome and congratulations!

Indeed!

As a footnote. it appears that I am the first reporter to have taken note publicly that Sara Carter would be joining Fox News.

On Wednesday December 20, I appeared on The Hagmann Report and broke the news that Sara Carter would soon be joining Fox News. Twenty-two minutes into my appearance on the program, at approximately 7:55 P.M. E.T., speaking live by audio Skype, I said the following:

PETER CHOWKA: I just wanted to take a minute or two to give a few breaking updates that I’ve become apprised of about Fox News. . .

I have some good news to report here exclusively. And that is, the reporter formerly from Circa News, Sara Carter, who has made scores of appearances on Sean Hannity’s show since early in the Trump Administration and has broken so many stories along with her former collaborator at Circa, John Solomon, who is now with The Hill – It appears that Sara Carter has now moved on from Circa News, and it is my understanding that she will be officially joining Fox News in a major reportorial capacity in 2018. In fact, she gave a hint of this on her Twitter a day or two ago. She said that she’s going to be traveling to the West to celebrate Christmas with her family, but she will be back on Fox News in 2018. So we can look forward to that.

Carter’s not-so-cryptic tweet was posted on Dec. 19:

Flying out to see family and celebrate Christmas In the West. Looking forward to being back on @FoxNews soon.

To paraphrase Fox and Friends Weekend co-host on December 24 Ed Henry, this news is a Christmas present – not only for Fox News, but for the entire cable news television viewing audience that is interested in independent, probing, fair and balanced investigative journalism.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  A selection of Peter’s recent video Skype interviews on The Hagmann Report is available at his new YouTube playlist “Between the Lines” here.  For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter’s published work, follow him on Twitter @pchowka.



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CNN Declares War on Fox News


Since last spring, MMFA has been actively spearheading an effort to get viewers to boycott Hannity’s advertisers in an attempt to have him taken off the air. A similar advertiser boycott strategy last spring contributed to the demise of Fox News’ then #1 host, Bill O’Reilly, after he and his employer were accused of paying off women in the workplace who had accused him of sexual harassment. O’Reilly has consistently denied the allegations, none of which has ever made it to a court of law. No allegations of any kind of impropriety have ever been leveled against Hannity and, to date, MMFA’s efforts to get him canned have not been successful.

But now, MMFA has enlisted a prominent and enthusiastic ally – the Cable News Network – in its efforts to take down Hannity and to destroy the reputation of Fox News. Founded in 1980 as the first cable television channel devoted to reporting breaking news 24/7, CNN has always tilted somewhat left of center. In recent years, the channel, which broadcasts internationally as well as domestically, has morphed into a Deep State propaganda mouthpiece with a special antipathy towards President Donald J. Trump.

Brian Stelter introduces CNN’s Reliable Sources December 17, 2017

The overwhelming anti-Trump bias of CNN has been confirmed in recent studies by respected non-partisan groups. For example, the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University found that CNN’s reporting on the Trump administration during its first three months was 93 percent negative. The Shorenstein report (May 18, 2017) said “CNN and NBC’s coverage was the most unrelenting – negative stories about Trump outpaced positive ones by 13-to-1 on the two networks.” Meanwhile, the Fox News Channel, which CNN derides as lacking legitimacy, has provided relatively balanced coverage of Trump. Shorenstein: “Fox was the only outlet where Trump’s overall coverage nearly crept into positive territory. . . Fox’s coverage was 34 percentage points less negative than the average for the other six outlets.”

Only ten days ago, CNN ran with a demonstrably fake news account as its lead story both online and on television for eight hours before it was corrected. It was quickly seen as a stand-out failure and a textbook example of the fake news phenomenon that resulted in wide coverage and even some criticism from several other MSM news outlets.

A preview of Stelter’s Sunday December 17 Reliable Sources critique of Fox News came the night before, when CNN dot com published a 1,500 word article by Stelter, “How Fox News and President Trump create an anti-Mueller ‘feedback loop.’” Stelter is proposing a theory that Fox News’ “right wing” hosts, Hannity in particular, are the ideological tail wagging the Trump Administration dog:

An anti-Robert Mueller, anti-FBI fervor is intensifying among Trump supporters – partly thanks to a campaign by Fox News and other conservative media sources.


The right-wing commentary and President Trump’s criticism of the FBI are part of a vicious circle. The TV hosts encourage Trump, then Trump supplies sound bites for their shows, and then the hosts are even more emboldened. [emphasis added.]


With [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election reaching closer to Trump’s inner circle, Fox hosts like Sean Hannity continue to demand Mueller’s firing. Every night, Hannity tells millions of viewers that Mueller’s probe is a corrupt plot to take down Trump and reverse the outcome of the election. Trump is a big fan of Hannity’s show, and the two men speak on a regular basis.

Stelter insists that not only the Trump Administration but Republican members of Congress are also taking cues on strategy from Fox News and Hannity:

Some Republican lawmakers have also spoken out forcefully against the FBI. When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was questioned on Capitol Hill earlier this week, Hannity played highlights and said, “You’ve heard it here first. We’ve been doing this now for months.”

It’s apparent that MMFA, part of the David Brock empire of far left advocacy groups that have raised the practice of political hardball to an insidious new level, is a primary source for CNN. This fact is acknowledged in Stelter’s December 16 CNN.com article:

Media Matters for America, a liberal media monitoring group that has urged an ad boycott of Hannity’s show, recently estimated that “Hannity and his guests have questioned Mueller’s legitimacy or called for Mueller to remove himself or be fired 79 times since the special counsel was appointed.”

On Sunday morning, Stelter’s critique of Fox News took up the first 15 minutes of his Reliable Sources program. (Complete video embedded at the end of this article.) From CNN’s transcript of the broadcast:

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Robert Mueller is investigating Russia’s attack on the American election. But now, he is under attack. And this new assault is not coming from Moscow. It’s coming from Fox News headquarters right here in New York. And it’s coming from the White House.


It’s an anti-Mueller, anti-FBI feedback loop, claiming that Mueller’s probe is hopelessly biased and downright corrupt. Let’s cue Fox.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS)


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE [Rachel Campos Duffy, substitute co-host, Fox & Friends Weekend]: I think what we have here is potentially one of the biggest scandals in American history where we’re seeing, you know, our justice system being used to really change the outcome of an election.


(END VIDEO CLIP)


STELTER: That’s from “Fox & Friends” just today. Now, let’s cue Trump aide Kellyanne Conway last night.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The fix was in against Donald Trump from the beginning. And they were pro-Hillary.


(END VIDEO CLIP)


STELTER: This is the feedback loop in action. I want you to see it over and over again. Fox, Trump, his aides, GOP lawmakers, all of them, they’re taking a legitimate issue, which is the discovery of a Mueller team member who expressed his hatred of Trump in text messages, and then they’re blowing it up, trying to discredit the entire probe.

CNN’s in-house attorney, Jeffrey Toobin, has been making the case, including in Stelter’s December 16 article, that the only people concerned about the integrity and fairness of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and the FBI’s controversial activities re: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are viewers of Fox News. From the Reliable Sources December 17 transcript, with Stelter speaking:

KGB comparisons have been made on Hannity’s show, too. There’s been talk about “banana republics” and “third world countries.” Jeanine Pirro, a Trump ally who has a weekend show on Fox, has even urged arrests of FBI officials.


“There is a cleansing needed in our FBI and Department of Justice,” Pirro said last weekend. “It needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired, but who need to be taken out in handcuffs.”


It’s the kind of rhetoric that Trump hears on a regular basis. He claims that Fox News is the only major network news source that’s not “fake.”


Analysts say he sometimes parrots what he hears on Fox. “It’s a shame what happened with the FBI,” Trump told reporters on Friday. “It is very sad when you look at those documents,” he said, an apparent reference to the text messages [sent by FBI agent Peter Strzok to his girlfriend FBI attorney Lisa Page.]


“You have a lot of angry people that are seeing it. It’s a very sad thing to watch,” Trump added.


CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin reacted this way: “You know who ‘a lot of people’ are? ‘A lot of people’ are the people who watch Fox News. Other than that, a lot of people are actually not upset about this investigation. That’s shown over and over again in the polls.”

Later in the Sunday broadcast, Stelter amplified his spin:

Last night – I can’t believe this – Fox is asking if the FBI has engaged in a coup. This morning, the [Fox News Channel on screen] banner said the investigators are in the hot seat.

This isn’t just an alternate reality. This is a reversal of reality. Obviously, it’s Trump world that is on the hot seat. Four Trump associates have been charged with crimes. Two of the four have pled guilty. Mueller is investigating a massive fire. And everyone can see and smell the smoke.

But this, instead, is what the president is hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: The only thing that remains is whether we have the fortitude to not just fire these people immediately but to take them out in cuffs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: That is Jeanine Pirro, one of Trump’s informal advisers, not just calling for firings but arrests.

Look, I don’t say this lightly, but these FOTs, these friends of Trumps, they are – they’re talking like propagandists. This sounds like propaganda and it sounds dangerous.

Pirro is demanding a cleansing of the FBI. Sean Hannity is calling Mueller the head of the snake. Other Fox hosts are calling the FBI corrupt and out of control. Rush Limbaugh is describing it as a coup and guests on these programs are comparing the FBI to the KGB.

The conservative media choir is telling Trump that Mueller is out to get you, trying to reverse the outcome of the election. It doesn’t get any more dangerous than that.

L. to R. Brian Stelter, Kurt Bardella, Hadas Gold, David Folkenflik

For his panel of experts, Stelter introduced Kurt Bardella, a “former spokesman” for Breitbart and a disgruntled one-time Republican operative who has now flipped to the Democratic Party; David Folkenflik, National Public Radio media correspondent (enough said); and Hadas Gold, a CNN reporter since last September who worked for POLITICO for 5 ½ years before that. Bardella, by the way, who has quite a backstory in D.C. politics, resigned from Breitbart in March 2016 to protest the publication’s handling of its reporter Michelle Fields’ allegations of battery against Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

Rather than quote the droning one-voice comments of the four people on the Reliable Sources set, interested readers with a high tolerance for frustration can consult CNN’s transcript or the video of the program.

A comment by NPR’s Folkenflik pretty much summarized the discussion:

And sometimes, the message seems to be coming from around the White House where I think often it’s not – you are seeing these Fox hosts pushing forward messages they want the White House to hold on to, to grab hold of and to ride. And you’re seeing – it’s not just a synergy, it’s just this constant, current floating all in the same direction.

There are no admission of facts against interests on these shows that you’re talking about. And that, I think, is why it [that is, the Fox News Channel] is not news.

That’s the new meme: CNN is real news; it’s Fox News that is fake.

This spin has been tried before, including in 2009 when the administration of Barack Obama attacked Fox News as not news. On October 12, 2009, Fox News reported:

Calling Fox News “a wing of the Republican Party,” the Obama administration on Sunday escalated its war of words against the channel, even as observers questioned the wisdom of a White House war on a news organization. 


“What I think is fair to say about Fox – and certainly it’s the way we view it – is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party,” said Anita Dunn, White House communications director, on CNN. “They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that’s fine. But let’s not pretend they’re a news network the way CNN is.”

It should be remembered that Anita Dunn is the high-level Obama advisor who famously said in a speech at a high school graduation in 2009 that “two of my favorite political philosophers [are] Mao Tse Tung and Mother Teresa. . . the two people I turn to most often.”

Tamara Holder, CNN Reliable Sources December 17, 2017

Back to Sunday’s Reliable Sources: The entire show except for the last four minutes was devoted to Fox News, the proposed merger of 21st Century Fox and Disney, a detailed examination of the alleged climate of sexual harassment at Fox News, exclamations of shock about what Fox head Rupert Murdoch said in a new interview, and a report about the purported vulnerabilities of President Trump in the face of allegations that he harassed women in the past – a topic, in CNN’s view, not unrelated to Fox News.

In a live interview with Stelter, attorney Tamara Holder, a former contributor from the left at Fox News, detailed allegations against a Fox News executive who, she said, criminally harassed her. Holder was a Fox News contributor with a $300,000 a year salary. After being fired, because she reported the harassment, she said, she ultimately received a $2.5 million settlement from the company earlier this year. During her conversation with Stelter, Holder said she is so stressed from her experience at Fox News:

Like, I had to do an MDMA illegal [psychoactive drug] therapy to deal with my PTSD, because I couldn’t function.

Drawing the lens back for a wider view of these various goings-on, the big picture here is that Fox News is an essential target in the full-spectrum assault that is clearly aimed at taking down the big fish – President Trump. Fox News is the only MSM outlet that manages to present anything close to fair and balanced coverage of the news involving the Trump administration. Additionally, its nightly prime time (8-11 P.M. E.T.) opinion shows are hosted by the only conservatives on cable television news, Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham. They present right of center viewpoints while giving ample time to left and progressive guests to make their case, without insulting and demeaning them as CNN does when it includes a conservative guest on its left wing-dominated panels.

So, what is the response of Fox News to these developments? So far, nothing on the record. However, an email on Sunday from “a high-ranking Fox official” offered these exclusive comments for this article:

CNN has been attacking FNC this way for years, and it continues to fail. CNN’s performance under [CNN president] Jeff Zucker has been an abysmal failure. The ratings speak for themselves. CNN is now a distant third in the cable news race, and HLN [CNN’s sister cable channel] still has no audience despite numerous Zucker revamps.


The President [Donald Trump], having identified and exposed CNN as “Fake News,” clearly cuts very deep and personal.

Another Fox employee with “first-hand knowledge of CNN’s internal HR issues” added:

It’s well known in the industry that CNN has its own share of [skeletons in the closet potentially subject to exposure by the runaway #Me Too campaign], and it’s only a matter of time before that dam bursts. There are many nervous top executives and on-air talent at CNN tonight.


It’s only a matter of time before Jeff Zucker gets a thorough examination of his role at NBC while Matt Lauer was [allegedly] abusing and harassing women. Once the CNN floodgates open, people will see one common denominator: Jeff Zucker.

The cable news wars are a battle of attrition. The conflict is becoming increasingly ugly. The stakes – especially as they intertwine now with the fate of the President of the United States – couldn’t be higher. As we have noted all year during this evolving coverage of cable news and national politics at the highest levels, please stay tuned for developments. There will assuredly be more.

Here is the complete episode of Reliable Sources:

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture. Follow Peter on Twitter @pchowka.

CNN, never a friend of its competitor Fox News, now appears to have declared open war on the country’s #1 cable news channel (Fox) and its star host, the cable news ratings leader Sean Hannity. The latest salvo came on Sunday December 17, 2017 on CNN’s weekly media analysis program, Reliable Sources.

CNN sniping at Fox News is nothing new. The enmity between the two cable news giants goes back years. Recently, with opposition to President Trump turning white hot and talk of impeachment or obstruction of justice in the air, CNN has been aiming more of its fire at Fox News, the only mainstream media source that reports fairly about the president. Four weeks ago, Brian Stelter, the host of Reliable Sources, aimed a stinging broadside at Sean Hannity in a one-sided segment featuring Hannity’s leading adversary, Angelo Carusone, the one-time young Republican who now presides over the radical left anti-conservative advocacy group Media Matters for America (MMFA).

The Target: Sean Hannity

Since last spring, MMFA has been actively spearheading an effort to get viewers to boycott Hannity’s advertisers in an attempt to have him taken off the air. A similar advertiser boycott strategy last spring contributed to the demise of Fox News’ then #1 host, Bill O’Reilly, after he and his employer were accused of paying off women in the workplace who had accused him of sexual harassment. O’Reilly has consistently denied the allegations, none of which has ever made it to a court of law. No allegations of any kind of impropriety have ever been leveled against Hannity and, to date, MMFA’s efforts to get him canned have not been successful.

But now, MMFA has enlisted a prominent and enthusiastic ally – the Cable News Network – in its efforts to take down Hannity and to destroy the reputation of Fox News. Founded in 1980 as the first cable television channel devoted to reporting breaking news 24/7, CNN has always tilted somewhat left of center. In recent years, the channel, which broadcasts internationally as well as domestically, has morphed into a Deep State propaganda mouthpiece with a special antipathy towards President Donald J. Trump.

Brian Stelter introduces CNN’s Reliable Sources December 17, 2017

The overwhelming anti-Trump bias of CNN has been confirmed in recent studies by respected non-partisan groups. For example, the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University found that CNN’s reporting on the Trump administration during its first three months was 93 percent negative. The Shorenstein report (May 18, 2017) said “CNN and NBC’s coverage was the most unrelenting – negative stories about Trump outpaced positive ones by 13-to-1 on the two networks.” Meanwhile, the Fox News Channel, which CNN derides as lacking legitimacy, has provided relatively balanced coverage of Trump. Shorenstein: “Fox was the only outlet where Trump’s overall coverage nearly crept into positive territory. . . Fox’s coverage was 34 percentage points less negative than the average for the other six outlets.”

Only ten days ago, CNN ran with a demonstrably fake news account as its lead story both online and on television for eight hours before it was corrected. It was quickly seen as a stand-out failure and a textbook example of the fake news phenomenon that resulted in wide coverage and even some criticism from several other MSM news outlets.

A preview of Stelter’s Sunday December 17 Reliable Sources critique of Fox News came the night before, when CNN dot com published a 1,500 word article by Stelter, “How Fox News and President Trump create an anti-Mueller ‘feedback loop.’” Stelter is proposing a theory that Fox News’ “right wing” hosts, Hannity in particular, are the ideological tail wagging the Trump Administration dog:

An anti-Robert Mueller, anti-FBI fervor is intensifying among Trump supporters – partly thanks to a campaign by Fox News and other conservative media sources.


The right-wing commentary and President Trump’s criticism of the FBI are part of a vicious circle. The TV hosts encourage Trump, then Trump supplies sound bites for their shows, and then the hosts are even more emboldened. [emphasis added.]


With [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election reaching closer to Trump’s inner circle, Fox hosts like Sean Hannity continue to demand Mueller’s firing. Every night, Hannity tells millions of viewers that Mueller’s probe is a corrupt plot to take down Trump and reverse the outcome of the election. Trump is a big fan of Hannity’s show, and the two men speak on a regular basis.

Stelter insists that not only the Trump Administration but Republican members of Congress are also taking cues on strategy from Fox News and Hannity:

Some Republican lawmakers have also spoken out forcefully against the FBI. When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was questioned on Capitol Hill earlier this week, Hannity played highlights and said, “You’ve heard it here first. We’ve been doing this now for months.”

It’s apparent that MMFA, part of the David Brock empire of far left advocacy groups that have raised the practice of political hardball to an insidious new level, is a primary source for CNN. This fact is acknowledged in Stelter’s December 16 CNN.com article:

Media Matters for America, a liberal media monitoring group that has urged an ad boycott of Hannity’s show, recently estimated that “Hannity and his guests have questioned Mueller’s legitimacy or called for Mueller to remove himself or be fired 79 times since the special counsel was appointed.”

On Sunday morning, Stelter’s critique of Fox News took up the first 15 minutes of his Reliable Sources program. (Complete video embedded at the end of this article.) From CNN’s transcript of the broadcast:

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Robert Mueller is investigating Russia’s attack on the American election. But now, he is under attack. And this new assault is not coming from Moscow. It’s coming from Fox News headquarters right here in New York. And it’s coming from the White House.


It’s an anti-Mueller, anti-FBI feedback loop, claiming that Mueller’s probe is hopelessly biased and downright corrupt. Let’s cue Fox.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS)


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE [Rachel Campos Duffy, substitute co-host, Fox & Friends Weekend]: I think what we have here is potentially one of the biggest scandals in American history where we’re seeing, you know, our justice system being used to really change the outcome of an election.


(END VIDEO CLIP)


STELTER: That’s from “Fox & Friends” just today. Now, let’s cue Trump aide Kellyanne Conway last night.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The fix was in against Donald Trump from the beginning. And they were pro-Hillary.


(END VIDEO CLIP)


STELTER: This is the feedback loop in action. I want you to see it over and over again. Fox, Trump, his aides, GOP lawmakers, all of them, they’re taking a legitimate issue, which is the discovery of a Mueller team member who expressed his hatred of Trump in text messages, and then they’re blowing it up, trying to discredit the entire probe.

CNN’s in-house attorney, Jeffrey Toobin, has been making the case, including in Stelter’s December 16 article, that the only people concerned about the integrity and fairness of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and the FBI’s controversial activities re: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are viewers of Fox News. From the Reliable Sources December 17 transcript, with Stelter speaking:

KGB comparisons have been made on Hannity’s show, too. There’s been talk about “banana republics” and “third world countries.” Jeanine Pirro, a Trump ally who has a weekend show on Fox, has even urged arrests of FBI officials.


“There is a cleansing needed in our FBI and Department of Justice,” Pirro said last weekend. “It needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired, but who need to be taken out in handcuffs.”


It’s the kind of rhetoric that Trump hears on a regular basis. He claims that Fox News is the only major network news source that’s not “fake.”


Analysts say he sometimes parrots what he hears on Fox. “It’s a shame what happened with the FBI,” Trump told reporters on Friday. “It is very sad when you look at those documents,” he said, an apparent reference to the text messages [sent by FBI agent Peter Strzok to his girlfriend FBI attorney Lisa Page.]


“You have a lot of angry people that are seeing it. It’s a very sad thing to watch,” Trump added.


CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin reacted this way: “You know who ‘a lot of people’ are? ‘A lot of people’ are the people who watch Fox News. Other than that, a lot of people are actually not upset about this investigation. That’s shown over and over again in the polls.”

Later in the Sunday broadcast, Stelter amplified his spin:

Last night – I can’t believe this – Fox is asking if the FBI has engaged in a coup. This morning, the [Fox News Channel on screen] banner said the investigators are in the hot seat.

This isn’t just an alternate reality. This is a reversal of reality. Obviously, it’s Trump world that is on the hot seat. Four Trump associates have been charged with crimes. Two of the four have pled guilty. Mueller is investigating a massive fire. And everyone can see and smell the smoke.

But this, instead, is what the president is hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: The only thing that remains is whether we have the fortitude to not just fire these people immediately but to take them out in cuffs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: That is Jeanine Pirro, one of Trump’s informal advisers, not just calling for firings but arrests.

Look, I don’t say this lightly, but these FOTs, these friends of Trumps, they are – they’re talking like propagandists. This sounds like propaganda and it sounds dangerous.

Pirro is demanding a cleansing of the FBI. Sean Hannity is calling Mueller the head of the snake. Other Fox hosts are calling the FBI corrupt and out of control. Rush Limbaugh is describing it as a coup and guests on these programs are comparing the FBI to the KGB.

The conservative media choir is telling Trump that Mueller is out to get you, trying to reverse the outcome of the election. It doesn’t get any more dangerous than that.

L. to R. Brian Stelter, Kurt Bardella, Hadas Gold, David Folkenflik

For his panel of experts, Stelter introduced Kurt Bardella, a “former spokesman” for Breitbart and a disgruntled one-time Republican operative who has now flipped to the Democratic Party; David Folkenflik, National Public Radio media correspondent (enough said); and Hadas Gold, a CNN reporter since last September who worked for POLITICO for 5 ½ years before that. Bardella, by the way, who has quite a backstory in D.C. politics, resigned from Breitbart in March 2016 to protest the publication’s handling of its reporter Michelle Fields’ allegations of battery against Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

Rather than quote the droning one-voice comments of the four people on the Reliable Sources set, interested readers with a high tolerance for frustration can consult CNN’s transcript or the video of the program.

A comment by NPR’s Folkenflik pretty much summarized the discussion:

And sometimes, the message seems to be coming from around the White House where I think often it’s not – you are seeing these Fox hosts pushing forward messages they want the White House to hold on to, to grab hold of and to ride. And you’re seeing – it’s not just a synergy, it’s just this constant, current floating all in the same direction.

There are no admission of facts against interests on these shows that you’re talking about. And that, I think, is why it [that is, the Fox News Channel] is not news.

That’s the new meme: CNN is real news; it’s Fox News that is fake.

This spin has been tried before, including in 2009 when the administration of Barack Obama attacked Fox News as not news. On October 12, 2009, Fox News reported:

Calling Fox News “a wing of the Republican Party,” the Obama administration on Sunday escalated its war of words against the channel, even as observers questioned the wisdom of a White House war on a news organization. 


“What I think is fair to say about Fox – and certainly it’s the way we view it – is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party,” said Anita Dunn, White House communications director, on CNN. “They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that’s fine. But let’s not pretend they’re a news network the way CNN is.”

It should be remembered that Anita Dunn is the high-level Obama advisor who famously said in a speech at a high school graduation in 2009 that “two of my favorite political philosophers [are] Mao Tse Tung and Mother Teresa. . . the two people I turn to most often.”

Tamara Holder, CNN Reliable Sources December 17, 2017

Back to Sunday’s Reliable Sources: The entire show except for the last four minutes was devoted to Fox News, the proposed merger of 21st Century Fox and Disney, a detailed examination of the alleged climate of sexual harassment at Fox News, exclamations of shock about what Fox head Rupert Murdoch said in a new interview, and a report about the purported vulnerabilities of President Trump in the face of allegations that he harassed women in the past – a topic, in CNN’s view, not unrelated to Fox News.

In a live interview with Stelter, attorney Tamara Holder, a former contributor from the left at Fox News, detailed allegations against a Fox News executive who, she said, criminally harassed her. Holder was a Fox News contributor with a $300,000 a year salary. After being fired, because she reported the harassment, she said, she ultimately received a $2.5 million settlement from the company earlier this year. During her conversation with Stelter, Holder said she is so stressed from her experience at Fox News:

Like, I had to do an MDMA illegal [psychoactive drug] therapy to deal with my PTSD, because I couldn’t function.

Drawing the lens back for a wider view of these various goings-on, the big picture here is that Fox News is an essential target in the full-spectrum assault that is clearly aimed at taking down the big fish – President Trump. Fox News is the only MSM outlet that manages to present anything close to fair and balanced coverage of the news involving the Trump administration. Additionally, its nightly prime time (8-11 P.M. E.T.) opinion shows are hosted by the only conservatives on cable television news, Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham. They present right of center viewpoints while giving ample time to left and progressive guests to make their case, without insulting and demeaning them as CNN does when it includes a conservative guest on its left wing-dominated panels.

So, what is the response of Fox News to these developments? So far, nothing on the record. However, an email on Sunday from “a high-ranking Fox official” offered these exclusive comments for this article:

CNN has been attacking FNC this way for years, and it continues to fail. CNN’s performance under [CNN president] Jeff Zucker has been an abysmal failure. The ratings speak for themselves. CNN is now a distant third in the cable news race, and HLN [CNN’s sister cable channel] still has no audience despite numerous Zucker revamps.


The President [Donald Trump], having identified and exposed CNN as “Fake News,” clearly cuts very deep and personal.

Another Fox employee with “first-hand knowledge of CNN’s internal HR issues” added:

It’s well known in the industry that CNN has its own share of [skeletons in the closet potentially subject to exposure by the runaway #Me Too campaign], and it’s only a matter of time before that dam bursts. There are many nervous top executives and on-air talent at CNN tonight.


It’s only a matter of time before Jeff Zucker gets a thorough examination of his role at NBC while Matt Lauer was [allegedly] abusing and harassing women. Once the CNN floodgates open, people will see one common denominator: Jeff Zucker.

The cable news wars are a battle of attrition. The conflict is becoming increasingly ugly. The stakes – especially as they intertwine now with the fate of the President of the United States – couldn’t be higher. As we have noted all year during this evolving coverage of cable news and national politics at the highest levels, please stay tuned for developments. There will assuredly be more.

Here is the complete episode of Reliable Sources:

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture. Follow Peter on Twitter @pchowka.



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Nixon’s Ouster and the Attempt to Remove Trump


I was a young student journalist in the nation’s capital during the Watergate investigations and impeachment period. Armed with an official D.C. Metropolitan Police press pass, I was able to cover and report on political events in Washington, D.C. like any accredited mainstream journalist – including on occasion the Nixon White House, and the Watergate hearings. With the energy of youth and an insatiable interest in politics and current events, I took full advantage of the access that the pass afforded me.

President Richard Nixon, The White House, June 29, 1972 Photo © Peter Barry Chowka

One similarity of the political climate then and now is that the left and much of the mainstream media began to oppose Richard M. Nixon as soon as he declared his candidacy on February 1, 1968. Same thing when Trump announced his intention to run in June 2015. Opposition to Trump was more vehement and increased exponentially as time went on. I don’t recall any leading celebrities, for example, suggesting during Nixon’s presidency that he should be assassinated or have his head cut off.

Nixon, however, was criticized and caricatured by leading MSM commentators and political cartoonists alike, as he had been since he burst onto the national scene in the early 1950s. “Tricky Dick,” a label slapped on Nixon by his Democrat opponent in the 1950 race for the U.S. Senate in California, was the most commonly used sobriquet. Cartoonists emphasized Nixon’s prominent nose and dark eyebrows to give him a sinister and devious look.

Detail of anti-Nixon cartoon circa 1970

The left, which was well organized, extremely influential, and highly visible in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, hated Nixon and routinely attacked him, especially in the large, frequent anti-Vietnam War demonstrations that took place around the country in the sixties and into the next decade. One of them in Washington, D.C., in October 1971, was titled “Evict Nixon.” The event’s organizers, including Chicago 7 defendant and leftist superstar agitator Rennie Davis, predicted that hundreds of thousands of demonstrators would descend on the nation’s capital and march to the White House to physically “evict Nixon.” The demonstration was a bust when only a few hundred people showed up, their numbers dwarfed by government security forces. In a flashback to that era, demonstrations of various sizes and intensities today continue to target Trump.

Evict Nixon button 1971

Evict Nixon demonstration poster 1971

Similarly, Donald J. Trump has been widely mocked and dismissed – not only by the left and the press, but by many members of his own Republican Party – after he declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. The criticism of Trump has escalated since he was elected and took office, on a scale never seen before in modern times. Although the attacks on Trump are more intense than the ones lobbed at Nixon decades ago, the similarity is that both men have been subjected to frequent and sustained attacks by their enemies. The result has been a cumulative weakening of support for President Trump, evident in his falling approval numbers according to recent public opinion polls.

Anti-Trump Political Cartoon

A major difference then vs. now involves the nature of the political climate and the demographic makeup of the country in the early 1970s compared with today. While the left made a lot of noise 4 ½ decades ago, the country as a whole back then was more homogeneous and center right and far less polarized (except among the youth). It had taken a sharp, temporary left turn in 1964 with the election of Lyndon Baines Johnson to his first full term as president, but that was due to a number of anomalous factors. President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated less than a year before the 1964 election, and by the time the 1964 presidential campaign got underway only months after JFK’s death, the nation was still in shock. Johnson reassured the nervous and unnerved electorate, promising stability and continuity.

The defining line from Johnson’s first address to the Congress and the nation on November 27, 1963, only five days after JFK’s assassination, led to it becoming known as the “Let Us Continue” address. Partisan presidential politics in this milieu came across as unseemly. Meanwhile, the 1964 Democratic National Convention that nominated LBJ resembled a four-day memorial service for the slain president, complete with a spontaneous 22-minute-long emotional ovation for Robert F. Kennedy when he took to the podium on the convention’s closnig night.

From the outset of his accidental presidency, Johnson pretended to be a moderate Democrat when in reality he had transformed himself from a back-slapping, good ol’ boy icon of the conservative South to a big government ultra-liberal statist. In his push for a War on Poverty, Medicare, and civil rights legislation after he was sworn in on January 20, 1965 for his first elected term, Johnson finally started to show his true colors. He thought that by championing civil rights and poverty programs more passionately than his predecessor JFK, he would go down in history as a modern day Abraham Lincoln. Johnson would finish the job that Lincoln started but was never able to complete – raising black Americans up to a level equal to white Americans.

Johnson’s Republican opponent in 1964, Arizona Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, the leading  conservative voice in the country, was anathema to mainstream Democrats and Republicans and the powerful East Coast Establishment.  Goldwater was demeaned and lied about in 1964, including in MSM stories that were demonstrably fake. With ongoing help from the media, Johnson won the ‘64 election in a landslide. His subsequent mishandling of the Vietnam War during the next three years, however, helped to destroy his presidency.

Having lost two previous elections – for president in 1960 and California governor in 1962 – Richard Nixon in 1968 laid the groundwork for a remarkable comeback after remaking himself as the “New Nixon.” With his cadre of fresh expert advisors, Nixon skillfully used the television medium, which had not been kind to him in his campaign against JFK in 1960, to his advantage. Nixon in 1968 was actually more telegenic than his opponent, the frumpy old school Vice President, Hubert H. Humphrey, who was additionally saddled with the tarnished legacy of the Johnson Administration that he had loyally served and defended.

“New Nixon” campaign poster 1968

After Nixon assumed power in January 1969, the Silent Majority, as his administration termed it – defined as mainstream, traditional center right Americans –emerged as the dominant political force in the country, notwithstanding all the noise and periodic demonstrations and street violence from the left. Proof positive of this fact was Nixon’s landslide victory in November 1972 against his Democrat opponent, the progressive anti-war candidate Sen. George S. McGovern. Nixon ran as a moderate center right incumbent. The result was that McGovern won the popular vote in only one state, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia.

Another similarity between then and now involves the role of the media in the unraveling of the Nixon presidency and the attempt to do the same for President Trump. After the bungled Watergate break-in – the attempted bugging of Democratic Party headquarters on June 17, 1972 by Republican operatives – it was a slow but inexorable drip, drip, drip of damaging information until the Nixon regime was eventually taken down. Unlike the totally hostile media climate facing Trump since day one, with every new story positioned as his coup de grâce, the media was initially slow to advance the story of the Watergate scandal. The Washington Post, whose editor, loyal Democrat Ben Bradlee was one of JFK’s best friends, initially spearheaded the coverage and made superstars of its two crusading metro section reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Eventually, the rest of the MSM caught up with the Post’s preoccupation with Watergate, and it was only a matter of time before Nixon’s support was whittled away and he was made ripe for impeachment efforts at the hands of the Democrat opposition, which controlled both houses of the Congress.

Ultimately, Nixon handed his enemies a smoking gun: the secret tapes he had recorded of his interactions in the White House and on the telephone with his aides over a period of years. Nixon was heard in his own voice on the recordings suborning perjury and obstructing justice. It remains to be seen if the ever-escalating myopic concentration of the MSM on Trump and his supposed crimes, with purported obstruction of justice now being run up the flagpole, will bear similar fruit.

After the failure of a year of the “Russia collusion” narrative to produce a viable Nixon-like smoking gun to implicate Trump, his enemies are now proffering several new narratives, currently centering around obstruction of justice involving the POTUS.

President Donald J. Trump

Where this is all going remains to be seen. Where it will wind up cannot be predicted. Anyone among the commentariat who claims that she can predict the ultimate outcome is lying or spinning a political meme. It seems that we are not even to the mid-point of the relentless and growing attempt to remove President Trump from office, one way or the other. The left’s unstinting dedication to the success of this “resistance” scenario (the left today encompasses almost every major element of American society) is similar to the one that took Nixon from a historic electoral victory and high approval ratings in November 1972 to his certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and an ignominious resignation from the presidency less than two years later.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture. Follow Peter on Twitter @pchowka.

President Trump’s enemies are escalating their comparisons of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian collusion to the resignation of President Richard Nixon after Congressional hearings that set the stage for his impeachment 4 ½ decades ago. Are these comparisons valid?

The answer is yes – and no. Notwithstanding the 45 years separating the two presidents, there are some major similarities and some obvious differences, as well.

I was a young student journalist in the nation’s capital during the Watergate investigations and impeachment period. Armed with an official D.C. Metropolitan Police press pass, I was able to cover and report on political events in Washington, D.C. like any accredited mainstream journalist – including on occasion the Nixon White House, and the Watergate hearings. With the energy of youth and an insatiable interest in politics and current events, I took full advantage of the access that the pass afforded me.

President Richard Nixon, The White House, June 29, 1972 Photo © Peter Barry Chowka

One similarity of the political climate then and now is that the left and much of the mainstream media began to oppose Richard M. Nixon as soon as he declared his candidacy on February 1, 1968. Same thing when Trump announced his intention to run in June 2015. Opposition to Trump was more vehement and increased exponentially as time went on. I don’t recall any leading celebrities, for example, suggesting during Nixon’s presidency that he should be assassinated or have his head cut off.

Nixon, however, was criticized and caricatured by leading MSM commentators and political cartoonists alike, as he had been since he burst onto the national scene in the early 1950s. “Tricky Dick,” a label slapped on Nixon by his Democrat opponent in the 1950 race for the U.S. Senate in California, was the most commonly used sobriquet. Cartoonists emphasized Nixon’s prominent nose and dark eyebrows to give him a sinister and devious look.

Detail of anti-Nixon cartoon circa 1970

The left, which was well organized, extremely influential, and highly visible in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, hated Nixon and routinely attacked him, especially in the large, frequent anti-Vietnam War demonstrations that took place around the country in the sixties and into the next decade. One of them in Washington, D.C., in October 1971, was titled “Evict Nixon.” The event’s organizers, including Chicago 7 defendant and leftist superstar agitator Rennie Davis, predicted that hundreds of thousands of demonstrators would descend on the nation’s capital and march to the White House to physically “evict Nixon.” The demonstration was a bust when only a few hundred people showed up, their numbers dwarfed by government security forces. In a flashback to that era, demonstrations of various sizes and intensities today continue to target Trump.

Evict Nixon button 1971

Evict Nixon demonstration poster 1971

Similarly, Donald J. Trump has been widely mocked and dismissed – not only by the left and the press, but by many members of his own Republican Party – after he declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. The criticism of Trump has escalated since he was elected and took office, on a scale never seen before in modern times. Although the attacks on Trump are more intense than the ones lobbed at Nixon decades ago, the similarity is that both men have been subjected to frequent and sustained attacks by their enemies. The result has been a cumulative weakening of support for President Trump, evident in his falling approval numbers according to recent public opinion polls.

Anti-Trump Political Cartoon

A major difference then vs. now involves the nature of the political climate and the demographic makeup of the country in the early 1970s compared with today. While the left made a lot of noise 4 ½ decades ago, the country as a whole back then was more homogeneous and center right and far less polarized (except among the youth). It had taken a sharp, temporary left turn in 1964 with the election of Lyndon Baines Johnson to his first full term as president, but that was due to a number of anomalous factors. President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated less than a year before the 1964 election, and by the time the 1964 presidential campaign got underway only months after JFK’s death, the nation was still in shock. Johnson reassured the nervous and unnerved electorate, promising stability and continuity.

The defining line from Johnson’s first address to the Congress and the nation on November 27, 1963, only five days after JFK’s assassination, led to it becoming known as the “Let Us Continue” address. Partisan presidential politics in this milieu came across as unseemly. Meanwhile, the 1964 Democratic National Convention that nominated LBJ resembled a four-day memorial service for the slain president, complete with a spontaneous 22-minute-long emotional ovation for Robert F. Kennedy when he took to the podium on the convention’s closnig night.

From the outset of his accidental presidency, Johnson pretended to be a moderate Democrat when in reality he had transformed himself from a back-slapping, good ol’ boy icon of the conservative South to a big government ultra-liberal statist. In his push for a War on Poverty, Medicare, and civil rights legislation after he was sworn in on January 20, 1965 for his first elected term, Johnson finally started to show his true colors. He thought that by championing civil rights and poverty programs more passionately than his predecessor JFK, he would go down in history as a modern day Abraham Lincoln. Johnson would finish the job that Lincoln started but was never able to complete – raising black Americans up to a level equal to white Americans.

Johnson’s Republican opponent in 1964, Arizona Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, the leading  conservative voice in the country, was anathema to mainstream Democrats and Republicans and the powerful East Coast Establishment.  Goldwater was demeaned and lied about in 1964, including in MSM stories that were demonstrably fake. With ongoing help from the media, Johnson won the ‘64 election in a landslide. His subsequent mishandling of the Vietnam War during the next three years, however, helped to destroy his presidency.

Having lost two previous elections – for president in 1960 and California governor in 1962 – Richard Nixon in 1968 laid the groundwork for a remarkable comeback after remaking himself as the “New Nixon.” With his cadre of fresh expert advisors, Nixon skillfully used the television medium, which had not been kind to him in his campaign against JFK in 1960, to his advantage. Nixon in 1968 was actually more telegenic than his opponent, the frumpy old school Vice President, Hubert H. Humphrey, who was additionally saddled with the tarnished legacy of the Johnson Administration that he had loyally served and defended.

“New Nixon” campaign poster 1968

After Nixon assumed power in January 1969, the Silent Majority, as his administration termed it – defined as mainstream, traditional center right Americans –emerged as the dominant political force in the country, notwithstanding all the noise and periodic demonstrations and street violence from the left. Proof positive of this fact was Nixon’s landslide victory in November 1972 against his Democrat opponent, the progressive anti-war candidate Sen. George S. McGovern. Nixon ran as a moderate center right incumbent. The result was that McGovern won the popular vote in only one state, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia.

Another similarity between then and now involves the role of the media in the unraveling of the Nixon presidency and the attempt to do the same for President Trump. After the bungled Watergate break-in – the attempted bugging of Democratic Party headquarters on June 17, 1972 by Republican operatives – it was a slow but inexorable drip, drip, drip of damaging information until the Nixon regime was eventually taken down. Unlike the totally hostile media climate facing Trump since day one, with every new story positioned as his coup de grâce, the media was initially slow to advance the story of the Watergate scandal. The Washington Post, whose editor, loyal Democrat Ben Bradlee was one of JFK’s best friends, initially spearheaded the coverage and made superstars of its two crusading metro section reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Eventually, the rest of the MSM caught up with the Post’s preoccupation with Watergate, and it was only a matter of time before Nixon’s support was whittled away and he was made ripe for impeachment efforts at the hands of the Democrat opposition, which controlled both houses of the Congress.

Ultimately, Nixon handed his enemies a smoking gun: the secret tapes he had recorded of his interactions in the White House and on the telephone with his aides over a period of years. Nixon was heard in his own voice on the recordings suborning perjury and obstructing justice. It remains to be seen if the ever-escalating myopic concentration of the MSM on Trump and his supposed crimes, with purported obstruction of justice now being run up the flagpole, will bear similar fruit.

After the failure of a year of the “Russia collusion” narrative to produce a viable Nixon-like smoking gun to implicate Trump, his enemies are now proffering several new narratives, currently centering around obstruction of justice involving the POTUS.

President Donald J. Trump

Where this is all going remains to be seen. Where it will wind up cannot be predicted. Anyone among the commentariat who claims that she can predict the ultimate outcome is lying or spinning a political meme. It seems that we are not even to the mid-point of the relentless and growing attempt to remove President Trump from office, one way or the other. The left’s unstinting dedication to the success of this “resistance” scenario (the left today encompasses almost every major element of American society) is similar to the one that took Nixon from a historic electoral victory and high approval ratings in November 1972 to his certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and an ignominious resignation from the presidency less than two years later.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture. Follow Peter on Twitter @pchowka.



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