Loose talk about breaking up the United States has become increasingly common. While quixotic secession campaigns for California or Texas are more amusing than threatening, there seems to be something different about the right-wing movement for a “peaceful separation” or “national divorce.” If you look closely, there’s an undercurrent carrying the threat of political violence. Or even full-scale civil war. “It’s Time For The United States To Divorce Before Things Get Dangerous,” theFederalist’s Jesse Kelly argues. Citing deep cultural divides on religion, gun rights, and immigration, Kelly warns that “sooner or later, the left-wing rage mob will start coming for the careers (and lives) of any normal American who sees things differently.” Trump supporters face genocide or ruin, he writes in “America Is Over, But I Won’t See It Go Without An Epic Fight.” In that essay, Kelly asks readers to imagine themselves as native Lakota tribesmen who must choose between life on a reservation—“in the liberal utopian nightmare of 57 genders and government control over everything”—or glorious, doomed resistance: as the Lakota who fights back and holds his enemy’s scalp in his hands. “Be the Lakota,” Kelly concludes. This is just a bit from an aspiring TV pundit, right? Merely a winking step-across-the-line for clicks and attention? Over the weekend, Iowa Rep. Steve King (last seen losing his committee assignments over white nationalist-friendly comments) shared a meme joking that the right would win the next civil war because his supporters are stockpiling ammunition while the other side obsesses about gender and bathrooms. Such discussions aren’t limited to fringe outlets or marginalized congressmen. National Review’s Victor Davis Hanson takes the likelihood of violent conflict almost as a given. “How, when, and why has the United States now arrived at the brink of a veritable civil war?” he asks. “We are now nearing a point comparable to 1860, and perhaps past 1968.”
What then must the responsible conservative do today? An easy first step would be to stop promoting the spread of racist and insurrectionist literature. It shouldn’t be difficult for the party of Lincoln to purge itself of civil war agitators. It’s more important, however, to understand how the disappointed reactionary can be tempted by radicalism. Establishment conservatives tend to think the culture war is waged “over there” against the left, and that by defeating progressives they will enjoy the spoils of power. This is, at best, an incomplete view. The rise of militant populism and its contempt for prudent conservatism is blowback from an increasingly vicious culture war that has neither a plan for victory, nor an exit strategy. If conservatism is to survive the challenge of white identity politics and nationalist populism, it must return to its classically liberal roots and stop harboring extremists.
Should We Stay or Go? Try to Save or Give Up?
It’s stunning how the GOP base remains so loyal to an abject failure: trump-is-a-massive-
1. Because the moment is perilous.
2. Because the moment is not permanent.
3. Because the demands of conscience and justice remain pressing.
A former Republican officeholder — who was highly effective at his job — recently asked me whether returning to politics in the current atmosphere was worth the effort. Would being a GOP legislator in the Trump era involve too many sacrifices of principle? Does federal office even matter as much as it used to? Wouldn’t writing books or running a charity be a better use of time and talent? I understand the reluctance. Being a public official in 2019 not only requires constant fundraising and family sacrifice, it also involves the possibility of being captured by smartphone camera at nearly every public moment and being subjected to constant Internet calumny. And it is not possible in much of the country for a Republican to run and win as an anti-Trump candidate. Even Mitt Romney had to pull back from his criticisms of President Trump to win a Senate seat.
These concerns are a concentrated version of a dilemma faced by many citizens. Is politics too damaged to justify our continued engagement as donors, activists and voters? Wouldn’t it be more effective and satisfying to improve the community in nonpolitical ways — giving to a soup kitchen instead of a politician, volunteering at a senior center instead of knocking on doors in a precinct? These questions have a personal relevance. In a variety of public and private posts over the past 30 years, I have done my part to give the center-right party in the United States an agenda and message of social justice, rooted in ideals of solidarity with the poor and suffering and a concern for the common good. That project is in ruins. The constituency for compassionate conservatism (as a friend put it) is less of a political party than a dinner party. The main messages of today’s GOP are demographic panic, ethnonationalist pride and a nihilistic destruction of norms, institutions and elites. So why should a Republican run for office, donate to a candidate or even stay in a party that has gone off the moral rails? My best answers:
Proof that Fox News Viewers Less Informed
Fox fake news has become state-run TV dishing out propaganda much like Radio Moscow or North Korean TV, which is what our wanna-be dictator needs to rule America with impunity like his buddies Putin & Jong Un: dan-rather-denounces-fox-
My Long Rant on Favorite Fox Conspiracy Hits
I’ve gotten a little wound up over all this GOP/echo gloating over no more indictments from the Mueller probe, before any of us have seen the underlying information from the report. We need to see ALL the evidence of what Mueller has found before we jump to conclusions, which at this writing we haven’t seen any of the report yet, or even a summary which may go to Congress today from AG Barr. But some far-right goofballs are already writing their own conspiratorial narratives minus the facts, which has me irritated & when I get wound up, I tend to go off on long rants. So here goes…
Unless they’re clairvoyant, the nutwings on Fox were especially guilty of spiking the football before even knowing what’s in the Mueller final report: fox-news-reacted-to-
That highlights the difference between the real news vs. Fox fake news & the rest of the echo. Those far-right messaging sources repeat their same nonsense they made up themselves which are verifiably proven false. Contrast that with the real media with real journalists, who base their reports on facts. On Russiagate, we know Russia interfered in our 2016 election & some in the Trump campaign knew about it, while being in regular contact with shady Russians. And over these past 2 years, we’ve seen constant lying about their Russian contacts, proof of obstruction of justice by Trump & others, tons of circumstantial evidence of collusion, while all along saw how Trump cowered to Putin as if he’s compromised. Plus the Mueller probe produced lots of indictments & convictions, among them his top campaign officials, so we know this whole thing wasn’t a witch hunt. Plus we’ve seen numerous compelling clues of financial criminality by Trump, some of which could be related to Russia.
So as we await the findings from the Mueller final report, this is truly a major scandal, not the nutty conspiracies the echo keeps trying to hype. Most baffling to me & of great disappointment, most in the conservative base I was once aligned with politically in support of the GOP, they’ve followed blindly along with the twisted version of what the party has become. I’m convinced that’s the Fox fake news effect. As our headline says, they’ve turned into Fox viewers less informed (I love saying that because I wholeheartedly agree they have been dumbed-down & misinformed). They’ve bought lock, stock & barrel into the far-right radicalization of the party by the echo. Granted, I’m not calling those Fox viewers dumb, they’re just deceived, as I truly believe they’re being dumbed-down from the relentless exposure to mindless propaganda: its-
Looking at the bright side, the institutions underpinning our democratic process has (so far) held up despite this relentless assault from the far-right. Most who grace our TV sets from the pristine studios of Fox fake news have made a habit of spinning & lying continuously, so it really shouldn’t surprise us they would concoct some alternative scandal to deflect away from the real scandal. What those echo-eggheads are overlooking &/or denying is the Steele dossier, which as time goes by looks increasingly credible, was not the trigger which started the Russian investigation: fox-news-
So there was sufficient evidence for the FBI to acquire FISA warrants to monitor suspicious activities from the likes of flaky Carter Page, a campaign staffer who had dealings with shady foreign actors. In their attempts to besmirch a legitimate investigation, the whole premise around the conspiracies the echo has built their talking points around are demonstrably untrue. But those echo-blabbers don’t care how much they need to lie in sticking to their preordained tribal narratives, they just want an alternate narrative to Russiagate since it captivates their alternative-facts audiences. Please, please, please share The VORACS in the hopes we can rescue those in tune with the echo from being duped by these fake scandals.
Let’s reason together here concerning another ridiculous conspiracy, even those Fox fans out there. People inside the intelligence/security agencies have political biases just like the rest of America. And no they’re not perfect, but we need them & rely on them to ensure our security against enemies & bad guys. But those who think inside the DOJ/FBI there’s a widespread deep-state conspiracy working against Trump, & the pro-Trump forces inside those agencies would not have become aware of it & blown the whistle, that type of echo-logic has to be simply ignorance beyond comprehension. So the reality of the situation is, NO, there is not some coordinated faction inside the DOJ/FBI in conjunction with the Mueller team who’ve been orchestrating some devious plot out to get Trump.
Sure, lots don’t like Trump, but they are still professionals who wouldn’t risk putting their careers on the line to engage in some preposterous illegal coup attempt. And the echo-clowns shouldn’t extrapolate the personal opinions of any individual FBI agent into a full-blown effort to try forcing their will on who occupies the White House. It would seem to take a special kind of gullibility to actually believe such blatant nonsense, but when people expose themselves to a steady stream of disinformation, they become very susceptible to being fooled. Can I say it again? It’s Fox News viewers less informed!
Such treacherous manipulation making Fox News viewers less informed are brought out in this entire article posted from inside fox-news-audience-
Fox News host Sean Hannity opened his show last Friday by accusing the FBI under former Director James Comey of engaging in a criminal conspiracy aimed at preventing President Donald Trump’s 2016 election through a purportedly illegal investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. “And according to my sources, tonight, good news is in the horizon,” Hannity concluded. “James Comey, I warned you, you have the right to remain silent.” These sorts of conspiracy theories have taken hold with Hannity’s audience, according to new poll from Navigator Research. The group’s memo reports that “the Fox News echo-chamber” has created “an alternative reality in American politics,” with Republicans who watch Fox News a few times a month or more showing significantly more radical views than others on a host of issues. Notably, the poll shows a staggering divide between Republicans who watch Fox and the rest of the public on the question of whether Trump is the victim of a conspiracy at the hands of what Fox personalities call the “deep state.” Among GOP Fox viewers, 79 percent say that “people within the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies are trying to sabotage President Trump.” That’s compared to 49 percent of Republicans who don’t watch Fox, 24 percent of non-Republicans who watch Fox, and 8 percent of non-Republicans who don’t watch Fox. (Matthew Gertz tweeted Fox News is a radicalization engine for the Republican base, which in turn shapes the party’s positions and actions.)
It’s possible that the network simply attracts viewers predisposed to believe that the president is being assailed by forces within the federal investigative and intelligence agencies rather than convincing them that is the case. But whichever way the causality arrow points, Fox has been serving up this kind of conspiracy theory to its audience on a nightly basis for years. While this sort of coverage has permeated Fox’s programming, Hannity — perhaps the most fervent Trump supporter at the network — has led the way. In May 2017, as special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to oversee the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Hannity began identifying the “deep state” as a key part of what he called the “Destroy Trump Alliance,” a shadowy cabal of Trump foes. The Fox host argued that the “deep state must be purged” because its members “are now the biggest threat to this republic, and of course, the free election of Donald Trump.” Hannity’s program began revolving around a single, terrifying idea: The Mueller probe is a sprawling conspiracy that justifies Trump using any means to stop it — including the prosecutions of the “deep state” officials who started it. Nearly 200 Hannity segments over the first year of Mueller’s investigation alone included claims that top federal law enforcement officials involved in the creation of the probe had broken the law. And Hannity has begun claiming that he’s going to get his way. After the Senate confirmed William Barr as attorney general, Hannity declared that according to his sources, “things are happening as we speak.” He went on to identify dozens of crimes he said had been committed by 10 “deep state actors,” including Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
While Hannity has been the ringleader, he’s been joined by a large cast of fellow travelers at Fox who have adopted the same storyline. From Jeanine Pirro’s calls for a “cleansing” of the FBI and Justice Department, to Lou Dobbs’ calls to imprison Mueller, to Gregg Jarrett’s declaration that the FBI’s pursuit of Trump’s associates made it akin to “the old KGB,” Fox’s airwaves have been filled with over-the-top denunciations of the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies. That effort has extended to Fox’s so-called “news side,” where the network’s reporters have played their typical role. Congressional Republicans put sensational spin on documents they released to undermine the special counsel’s probe by suggesting that the DOJ was out to get the president. The story doesn’t really add up, but the network’s “news side” journalists run with it, and soon the opinion side’s talkers have something new to freak out about. From an anti-Trump “secret society” at the FBI to a memo that was supposedly going to bring the Mueller investigation to its knees, Fox keeps falling in line. Fox’s spin on the Mueller probe has largely been quarantined to its own airwaves, and as the Navigator Research poll shows, contained to its own audience. But the overwhelming support among Fox viewers for the notion that the president is being sabotaged by the FBI and intelligence agencies is nonetheless quite concerning. Fox is inculcating Trump’s base with the notion that the results of the Mueller probe are invalid. That could have a drastic effect as the investigation moves toward its conclusion.
Quick Hitters about Fox Fools
It’s just gotten so incredibly difficult for the light of truth to penetrate the darkness: its-probably-time-
Fox fake news didn’t just cross a line awhile back, they’ve crossed a whole series of lines. And when persuading is emphasized over informing, while appealing to their core audience is prioritized over facts, it sure does make for lots of Fox News viewers less informed (there’s our heading again). That unfortunate state of affairs is spelled out in excerpts from fox-news-trump-
Fox News has always been a partisan news network. But people are increasingly questioning whether it has crossed a line in the Trump era and become an outright propaganda operation. A recent piece by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer is the latest to pose this question. Back in 2017, the New Republic’s Alex Shephard floated a similar argument, writing that “Donald Trump is treating Fox News like state TV.” Even Bret Baier, a lead anchor at Fox News, addressed the claims in a 2018 interview with the New Yorker, saying it “pains” him to hear that the cable news channel has become “state TV” for the Trump administration. There’s plenty of evidence to support the argument. Trump constantly watches Fox News, tweets out claims he hears on the network, reportedly speaks regularly with Sean Hannity, and gives the majority of his interviews to Fox News. World leaders as well as members of Congress quickly learned that one of the best ways to communicate a message to Trump is to say it on Fox News.
To top it off, Trump’s previous director of communications and deputy chief of staff, Bill Shine, is the former co-president of Fox News. Shine’s presence at the White House [Shine has recently departed the White House], along with Trump’s ties to on-air personalities like Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro, all but cemented the unofficial relationship between Trump and the right-wing news network. None of this is normal. Administrations and politicians have always sought to use the media to their advantage, of course, but this feels different. It certainly seems like Fox News has essentially become state TV. So how concerned should the average American be? To get some answers, I reached out to Tom Rosenstiel, a media scholar and executive director at the American Press Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on promoting sustainable journalism. Rosenstiel studies the history of media in America and has written a book on the ethics of journalism in the digital age.
I think there are two enormous threats. It’s hard to understate how important these things are. One is that you are extremely influential to a core group of the American public, a large portion of Republicans. Not the majority, but an important faction of Republicans get a lot of their news from Fox about national affairs. Once you start to shade the facts, once you engage in persuasion rather than informing, once you’re in cahoots with the government, you’re really destroying the constitutional relationship between the press and the government. And you’re doing a disservice to these citizens, to your audience. The most important conservative television news source in America is currently pandering to an extremist president. It’s distorting the Republican Party. It’s damaging the Republican Party. It’s changing conservatism. Fox is making the news, not covering it. It’s remaking the Republican Party, not informing its audience. The second big threat is that it completely distorts what people think and expect from journalists. It has made it much, much harder for the vast majority of journalists who work in local newspapers, websites, and magazines — who are engaged in trying to check the facts — to do their jobs. Because Fox News has helped turn the national image of journalism into a charade, and that makes it harder for people who are trying to do real journalism and inform citizens about the world around them.
The Conjoining of Fox & QAnon
When their shows are matching the QAnon rhetoric, that goes to show they are waaaaaaay out there!: Fox-Friends-Searching-
But for all the complaining about bias and fake news, there actually is a plethora of right-wing propaganda on the internet and we’ve seen its disastrous results, with the burgeoning international white identity movement using it for inspiration and organization. The Christchurch shooter was steeped in it and obviously drew much of his murderous ideology from participating in chatrooms and online forums. Even Fredrick Brennan, the 25-year-old creator of the website 8chan (who cut ties with it in December) has expressed regret, saying, “It was very difficult in the days that followed [the New Zealand massacre] to know that I had created that site.” He told the Wall Street Journal he believed it could happen again. As dangerous as these propaganda outlets are, and as much necessary attention as we pay to Facebook algorithms and Twitter bots, they really aren’t the major propaganda tools responsible for the political culture that resulted in President Trump. His hold on his true believers, who number in the tens of millions, isn’t a consequence of his Twitter feed. The medium he has truly mastered, and which seems to have the greatest influence on the people who love him, is good old-fashioned television.
New polling by a group called Navigator, published by the Daily Beast, shows that Fox News viewers hold very different views than everyone else. Indeed, they seem to be indoctrinated just as thoroughly as those 8chan posters. The poll surveyed more than 1,000 registered voters to determine the beliefs of people who watch Fox News compared them to people who don’t. The portrait that emerges shows a group of people who took Donald Trump to heart when he said, “Stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from the fake news.” The authors conclude, “There is an alternate reality in American politics, and it plays an outsized role in the way many experience and form opinions on the most important issues facing the country.” Another word for this alternate reality is propaganda. One can see this most clearly in this one finding. Among Fox News viewers, the authors write, 78 percent “believe the Trump administration has accomplished more than any administration in history,” compared to 17 percent of all other people. This is an absurd belief, but it’s one that is constantly promoted by Fox News and the president himself in the feedback loop between the network and the White House. The Trump base believes this despite there being no evidence at all, in the real world, that it is true.
It Just Keeps Going Further to the Far-Right & Growing More Extreme
Conservatives have got to learn to stop following along like zombies. Yes, the radicalized right-wing propaganda & conspiracy messaging sources dish out garbage that people would have to be out of their minds to believe, but some on the loony-fringe actually do:
Say It Ain’t So
Speaking of mindless following, with Trump being the most dishonest leader we’ve ever had, lacking any character, integrity or values, if these articles are true it’s dangerous. We can’t fight evil with evil: