Google News Presents Two Equal Realities (But Only One Of Them Can Be Real)

Here, Fox displays a small truth as something sinister. Unfortunately, the New York Times also didn’t get called on, so there goes the conspiracy theory.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to get above the fray in order to see what’s happening around you. So, let’s do that today, as we look at the continued failure of our culture to stop the nonsense emanating from what’s known as Fox News.

Never has the division between the haves and the have-nots been so large and so crystal clear as it is today in the United States. The silk stocking Republican elites seek absolute license when it comes to profiting off the labor of others, while the have-nots argue on behalf of themselves and their families, many of whom are at or below the poverty level. One seeks avarice; the other wants to feed their families. It’s the most visible depiction we have of the hierarchy that runs the country from the shadows.

However, the ideological meshing of working class people with the silk stockings is necessary for the Republican Party to win elections. It’s because the real matter of profit drives only business owners, but ideology can move masses, with the key conservative ideologies today being abortion, school prayer, religious freedom, and gender. This is not by accident. These people can be convinced to side with even their own oppressors in fighting what they believe to be sin. This group, we’ve learned, is easy to manipulate in the name of ideology, but let’s always remember that the party’s primary aim is license for business practices that lead to profit. That will NEVER change.

And let’s never forget January 6, 2021, for it revealed the end game of all this manipulation.

A lot of people think that right-wing Supreme Court justices are chosen by their views on abortion, but the truth is that the real litmus test for the high court is their views on business and government. So, no matter how loudly any Republican is screaming about morality, it’s a straw man shield against talking about their self-centered values, because those values are most certainly not about you and me.

The silk stocking’s wants and needs are the real issues as we try to make sense of politics — and especially media — in the months after Trump. Trump was all business, all the time. His transparent business bias, visible through his lies about anything and anyone in opposition, was rejected by the electorate last November. America is in a state of recovery now, but those lies are finding traction through the lens of so-called right-wing media, namely Fox News.

The problem is that these propaganda arms of the GOP are finding a strange form of equality with traditional media companies even though they present another reality altogether. The last time I looked, there was only one reality, so this is a bit more than problematic.

Google News, that massive news aggregator presenting an overview of important, link-worthy stories 24/7, does a massive and destructive disservice to humanity by including Fox News in its aggregator. As I noted in my book The Gospel of Self, Fox isn’t really a news organization. Just as we weren’t at The 700 Club back in the 80s, Fox is a propaganda platform for the extreme Right. Nobody seems to argue with this, but it’s very difficult to find anybody who’s actually fighting against its participation with the form of the press that has served our democracy well since the beginning. You know, the press that’s protected by our First Amendment.

The Washington Post recently offered an opinion piece with the headline: “Fox News would be in trouble without ‘actual malice’ standard.” The article references the legal defense of the press that one offended in the press must prove actual malice and not merely the presence of the offensive item in the press. It is very difficult — and deliberately so — to sue the press over libel and slander and win.

The problem with this premise is that Fox — as a propaganda arm of the Republican Party — doesn’t qualify for the standard. It is not and doesn’t even try to be a member of the press. Therefore, it is not afforded the same rights and privileges granted the press. You can’t claim to be one and then behave in a manner that says otherwise. The Fox narrative assumes that the press is the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party, which is arguably false. Nevertheless, this is foundational stuff, and their “news gathering” process is based on it.

The issues with our Southern Border are referenced by Fox as “The Biden Border Crisis.” See what I mean?

They’re treating Biden and the Democrats as they view the mainstream press treated Trump and Republicans when he was in office. Let me repeat that. Fox is treating Biden and the Democrats as they view the mainstream press treated Trump and Republicans when he was in office. This is an extreme version of false equivalency. For example, the mainstream press noted that Trump had trouble walking down ramps, so Fox makes a HUGE deal out of Biden slipping on the steps of Air Force One. It was their lead story, for crying out loud. The assertion in this false equivalence is that Biden is weak and frail (and out of touch). Anything that they view as a mainstream news political strategy (there’s no such thing) presented while Trump was in office, they are applying to Biden and the Democrats. And this is deliberate, for the worldview they espouse is one in which north is south and light is dark.

Fox and its clones are hammering Democrats over border issues left after years of fence-building bravado from the right. The assertion here is that the border is a HUGE problem that Republicans got right and Democrats have wrong. This storyline will continue for the foreseeable future. But, here’s the thing. We don’t ever talk about why the right hates immigrants. The GOP wants immigrants out, because when they are assimilated into our culture, they vote for Democrats, so the reality is that this is actually a strategy of voter manipulation. Georgia’s Republican governor signed into law a bill last week that was designed from the get-go to make it more difficult for the black population to vote. GOP leaders know they can’t win elections without help, which has been the core motivation for gerrymandering throughout our voting history.

And, let’s face it, as long as the white folks refuse to do the crummier jobs in our culture, immigrants will more than serve our society as a whole. It’s always been that way, folks.

But the drumbeat from the right is steady and strong:

  • Democrats are the socialist enemy
  • The media is liberal politically
  • The press is the enemy of the people
  • Liberals are the enemy of the people
  • Socialists are the enemy of the people
  • In politics, everybody does the same things
  • Pro-choice is pro-abortion
  • Anti religious freedom is anti-God
  • Evangelicalism is the true Christianity
  • Capitalism is the true provider of America’s greatness
  • The New World Order is anti-American

Here’s a statement that comes up in “discussions” with extreme right-wingers. “Obama got a free pass from the press (because they’re liberal).” Actually, this is quite absurd, because it assumes Rush Limbaugh’s fallacious narrative is truth, and it’s just not. Obama’s disdain for Fox News was explained in a FactCheck.org article that fact-checked the complaint.

Anita Dunn, who was then the White House director of communications, told the New York Times in an interview on Oct. 11, 2009, that Fox News was not a legitimate news organization.

“We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” Dunn told the Times. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

She also said, when asked about snubbing “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, “we’re not going to legitimize them as a news organization.”

This is the “fray” of which I wrote that we must rise above. We must view every daily drumbeat through this reality, and it’s doubly difficult due to the symbiotic relationship between the news and the business community. Simply put, you don’t see a lot of news investigations of car dealerships, right? Car dealers are BIG local advertisers, and news entities in their markets can’t afford to lose all that revenue. Practicality, it would seem, wins out in the end, and the hell with ethics.

It’s bad but not nearly as bad as deliberately presenting falsehood as news in order to manipulate consumers (and voters). How far are you willing to go in trusting anybody who spins the news for profit?

I view this as a huge question, because the generation after me will have to deal with the results.

How the Trump Revolt Was Funded

EDITORS NOTE: The below is over-simplified, but it helps me make an important point. I simply lack the resources and the energy to dig deeper. I’ll leave that to somebody else. The charts were made from IRS data.

Now that Joe Biden is being sworn in as President, it’s time to turn our attention to preventing another attempted take over of the U.S. Government by an authoritarian ignoramus downstream. That effort needs to begin with the IRS and the tax-exempt organizations who funded the Trump menace from the get-go and even paid travel expenses for the mob that stormed the Capital Building on January 6.

It begins with my old boss Pat Robertson and the mixing of politics with religion in the early 1980s. Pat ran for President in 1988, during an IRS Criminal Investigative Division investigation into criminal activity under our tax exemption. They had us nailed cold, but the investigation was halted when Pat threw his support to then Vice-President George H.W. Bush. I can’t prove it, but it’s my belief that Pat cut a deal with Bush to drop the investigation in trade for Pat’s support of Bush at the Republican Convention.

Years later, after Bill Clinton took office, the investigation was reopened, and CBN lost its tax exemption for the years 1986 and 1987 and paid a significant fine. That was followed by a ruling from the Federal Election Commission that CBN had broken FEC laws regarding campaign contributions. That fine was nearly $400,000.

The IRS allows very little political activity among those benefitting from this particular tax exemption. However, Anne Nelson’s brilliant book Shadow Network reveals the depth of the tax exempt organizations working under the auspices of the Council for National Policy, itself a tax exempt organization. These are almost entirely made up of 501©3 groups.

This graph represents organizations filing IRS form 990 between 1988 and 2017. There is a significant drop-off that occurred during the 2008 banking crisis, when it appears a number of organizations simply quit. The number of returns rebounded, but the interesting revelation here is that the fastest growing group in terms of sheer assets is found with those whose assets are over $50 million, an indication that the wealthiest charitable organizations are the ones growing.

Overall, the number of groups filing returns under the 501©3 designation has exploded over the last 40 years, but what’s really staggering in studying IRS data is the growth in total assets reported by these organizations. Here, the blue line represents the number of tax returns (which has gone from roughly 100,000 in 1985 to 300,000 by 2015), and the orange line represents total assets of those groups.

Clearly, the growth here represents a couple of things. One, the wealthy are increasingly hip to how tax-exempt foundations, for example, can be used to save/hide their otherwise taxable income. Two, those on the political right — the extreme political right — have used their tax-exempt statuses to raise money for their causes. Many of these groups use the “education” exemption to hide their real intent, which was and remains the overthrow of the U.S. Government in favor of some form of Christian Nation.

It’s scary how close they came.

But, now it’s time to pay for their illegal activities, and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

After Tuesday

So, here we are on the eve of what’s been billed as the most important Presidential election of our lifetimes. Anybody who claims to “know” how tomorrow is going to end is a fool, but I must say that it sure feels like a walloping is at hand. Of course, your view likely is based on your sources of information, but an electorate that feels it made a mistake four years ago, is not about to perpetuate that error.

I not only believe that Joe Biden will win in a landslide, but also the Senate will be flipped, for to run locally as a Trump sycophant makes for really crappy and creepy local advertising, as witnessed here in Alabama with Tommy Tuberville’s attempts to paint Doug Jones as a liberal, anti-gun, pro-abortion monster. It just doesn’t work anymore, because the electorate has become hip to such manipulation and wants to see and hear about new and creative thinking in the midst of a pandemic that doesn’t care about our artificial government made up of big corporate interests and nothing else. Hardcore liberalism isn’t going to do the trick either, so what comes next is going to be very interesting for an old observer like me.

Democrats must think carefully about their next moves, because the machine that created “President” Trump in the first place (The Council for National Policy-CNP) will simply reload with a more mainstream-approved candidate next time. Unless, that is, we do something about it.

Therefore, I’m going to take advantage of this “day before” status to do a little forward thinking. Assuming a Biden victory, here are things I see ahead.

  • There will be a significant sigh of relief, which will likely result in a season of inertia at a time when significant action will be required. America is worn and weary, and we just want to rest. We must guard against this, because the real work of redefining America is going to take a Herculean effort.
  • The struggle to reclaim the brand “Christianity” will be ongoing, because Trump’s right-wing church leaders will blame Trump the person for losing. They will continue to press their causes, which are mostly found in the bedrooms of the country.
  • Biden and the Democrats must resist trying to resolve all of the problems created by the previous right wing government and work instead on efforts to prevent it from ever happening again. This America will support.
  • Biden’s first year will his most fertile in terms of getting anything serious done, and the danger will be in attempts to force putting everything back together in order to satisfy his coalition.
  • American business will be painted as the victim of an anti-capitalist plot by the left.
  • Regardless of any perceived mandate from the election, the right will deploy whatever weapons they have to create a stand still government until they can groom their candidate for 2024. It won’t be Mike Pence.
  • The wealthy will throw everything they have at maintaining their grip on the culture, including damage to our economy that they will blame on the socialist left.
  • The media will still be unable to stay away from Trump.
  • The National Debt MUST be attributed to the right and Trump’s corporate welfare. Somebody has to pay for all that greed, and that will likely be us. After all, that debt is ours.
  • The most important agenda item for Biden would be reformation of the tax exemption laws that will prevent the kind of right wing mischief of the CNP and the religious right. Politics should not be a tax exempt enterprise.
  • We will need to produce an effort that keeps Trump’s damage front and center. I promise the right is working on media strategies that will frame a narrative that Trump was the problem, not the ideology of the right. We must reframe that to marry Trump and the GOP, that without each other, they couldn’t have done the damage that they did.
  • I maintain my belief that the scent of victory supplied by the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett is enough to pause the pro-life movement’s energy.
  • The silk stockings need to be seen as a curse on freedom, not the blessing thereof. In 1646, John Milton wrote his Sonnet 12 as a part of his writings on divorce. It very well frames the big issue with the haves, and I’d like to see us find a way to use it. The most famous line from this poem is “License they mean when they cry liberty” — referring to the absolutism of the church and those elites who benefit from it. They want a form of licentiousness (freedom from all restrictions) instead of democratic freedom, which includes responsibility. Straightening out this difference contemporarily must be given our attention.
  • We should also not be afraid to acknowledge America’s anger with corporations.
  • News organizations must continue to investigate everything that’s happened over the last four years, for, as NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller wrote in the introduction of the new edition of Edward Bernays book Propaganda, “…the investigative journalist is the propagandist’s natural enemy, as the former serves the public interest, while the latter tends to work against it.”

This is a very incomplete list, but I hope you can see where I think the focus should be — on preventing another Trump from ever getting near the White House.

Winning tomorrow is just the beginning.