Posts tagged "Karl Rove"

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson has a history of illegal behavior and controversial comments — facts that were left out of mainstream print reporting on GOP candidates trying to win his favor last week.

The Republican Jewish Coalition met March 27-29 in Las Vegas, and the event was dubbed the “Adelson Primary" as GOP presidential hopefuls used the meeting to fawn over magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., a casino and resort operating firm, who reportedly spent nearly $150 million attempting to buy the 2012 election with donations to a super PAC aligned with Mitt Romney and other outside groups (including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads). Before switching allegiance to Romney, Adelson had donated millions to Newt Gingrich. He has also given generously in the past to super PACs associated with a variety of Republican politicians, including Scott Walker, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush, and Eric Cantor.

Hoping to benefit from Adelson’s largesse, potential 2016 Republican candidates including Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush gathered at Adelson’s casino to “kiss the ring.”

While Republicans’ efforts to court Adelson made big news in print media over the past week, none of the articles mentioning Adelson in The New York Times, Washington PostPolitico, or The Wall Street Journal mentioned that he has come under investigation for illegal business practices, including bribery, or his history of extreme remarks.

A search of the Nexis and Factiva databases from March 24 to March 31 turned up several articles in the papers ­mentioning the billionaire, none of which mentioned Adelson’s checkered past. The New York Times called Adelson “one of the Republican Party’s most coveted and fearsome moneymen” and detailed his current fight against online gambling, while The Washington Post's March 25 preview of the event simply reported that Adelson was “driven by what he has said he sees as Obama’s socialist agenda. He is a fierce opponent of organized labor and is currently embroiled in a fight to ban online gambling.”

In 2012, Adelson’s corporation came under three different investigations from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an anti-bribery statute. Additionally, the Times reported at the time that several of the company’s subsidiaries also “came under investigation by Chinese regulators.”

Adelson allegedly attempted to bribe the Chief Executive of Macau, where a substantial portion of his casino business was located, and reportedly instructed Sands Corp. to bribe a Macau legislator with about $700,000 in “legal fees.” (ProPublica reported that “several Las Vegas Sands executives resigned or were fired after expressing concerns” about the fee.) A former Sands Corp. executive also alleged that Adelson fired him after he refused to engage in illegal activity and protested the presence of Chinese organized crime syndicates in Sands’ Macau casinos.

Adelson initially insisted that he was being unfairly targeted, but Sands Corp.’s own audit committee ultimatelyadmitted there were “likely violations” of the anti-bribery law. And in August 2013, Sands Corp. agreed to pay the federal government more than $47 million in a settlement to resolve a separate money-laundering investigation, in which the casinos were accused of “accepting millions from high-rolling gamblers accused of drug trafficking and embezzlement.”

Adelson has been described as a “fervent Zionist” for his opposition to any Palestinian state, and his hatred of Islam goes so far that he has said ”You don’t have to worry about using the word ‘Islamo-fascism’ or ‘Islamo-terrorist,’ when that’s what they are. Not all Islamists are terrorists, but all the terrorists are Islamists.” He has suggested that all Palestinians “teach their children that Jews are descended from swine and apes, pigs and monkeys,” and said that “all they want to do is kill” Jews.

As Rick Perlstein has noted in Rolling Stone, Adelson is also vociferously opposed to unions. In 1999, when Adelson built a new casino, he failed to pay so many of his contractors that they filed a whopping 366 liens against the property, in addition to filing complaints with stage agencies and the FBI. When the new casino eventually opened, union workers protested outside — and Adelson twice demanded that police arrest the peaceful protestors (emphasis added):

Adelson told the cops to start making arrests; the cops refused. Glen Arnodo, an official at the union at the time, relates what happened next: “I was standing on the sidewalk and they had two security guards say I was on private property, and if I didn’t move they’d have to put me under ‘citizen’s arrest.’ I ignored them.” The guards once again told the police to arrest Arnodo and again, he says, they refused. The Civil Rights hero Rep. John Lewis, in town to support the rally, said the whole thing reminded him of living in the South during Jim Crow.

Afterwards, Adelson went so far as to allegedly attempt to pay off a hospital when it announced it would honor the head of the Vegas hotel workers union.

Adelson told The Wall Street Journal that the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill which would allow workers to unionize a workplace with majority sign-up, was “one of the two fundamental threats to society.” The other was radical Islam.

If print outlets are going to devote space to the fight among Republicans to win Adelson’s favor (and money), they owe it to readers to give a more accurate picture of the man holding the wallet.  

h/t: HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY at MMFA

justinsentertainmentcorner:

Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich is busy running for reelection, but that hasn’t stopped his former Fox News colleagues from promoting him as a possible 2016 presidential candidate. Fox News has praised Kasich’s tenure as governor, and touted him as “a serious potential candidate for president” with a record that gives progressives “reason to fear.”

Kasich is the quintessential Fox News candidate, having used a perch at the network to profitably stay in the public eye between runs for public office. He joined Fox in 2001 after serving nine terms in Congress and left in 2009 to run for Ohio governor. He was a frequent presence on the network as a guest host for The O’Reilly Factor, and the host of the programs From The Heartland and Heroes.

Fox News treated Kasich to numerous softball interviews during his successful 2010 run. Sean Hannity told Kasich during one such interview: “You do me a favor. Go get elected governor” and “You can help us. Win the state of Ohio.” During an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, Kasich asked for donations while Fox News put his website address on-screen (which drew a complaint from the Democratic Governors Association).

Kasich’s gubernatorial campaign also received fundraising support from Fox News. Sean Hannity headlined a "high-dollar fund-raiser" for Kasich in October 2009. Mike Huckabee appeared at a 2009 Kasich campaign event. Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch and his then-wife contributed $20,000 to the campaign, and then-Fox News parent company News Corporation gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which helped elect Kasich.

Kasich has claimed he’s not interested in running for president in 2016, telling an Ohio reporter that he “tried to run for president back at the end of the ’90s and 2000 and no one was interested … Now, I’m not interested.” In his gubernatorial campaign, Kasich will likely face Democrat Ed FitzGerald, who has unsuccessfully askedKasich to sign a pledge promising to serve a full term if reelected.

A 2016 Kasich campaign has been a popular topic of conversation for Fox News. While the network frequently applauds Ohio’s economic performance during Kasich’s tenure, the state’s "rate of job growth was below the national average." 

Fox News Sunday Anchor Chris Wallace: Kasich A “Serious Potential Candidate For President.”During his March 23 show, Wallace previewed Kasich’s segment by stating, “as the 2016 race for the White House heats up, one potential GOP candidate is counting his states’ economic turnaround.” Wallace later introduced Kasich by focusing on his presidential prospects:

WALLACE: With two years until the 2016 presidential election, there’s a lot of talk the strongest GOP nominee would be a governor from the Midwest. One possibility from the key electoral state of Ohio is making his state’s economic turnaround the basis for his re- election bid in November. Joining us now from Columbus, Ohio, Governor John Kasich and, governor, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.

Wallace’s first question to Kasich was about his tenure as Ohio governor, asking: “What is the secret to your success?” Wallace later asked Kasich about criticism from FitzGerald, including about whether he would pledge to serve his entire term (Kasich dodged the question).

While previewing his show on the March 20 broadcast of Fox News Radio’s Kilmeade & Friends, Wallace said Kasich has led a “big turnaround in the economy of Ohio” and he “really is a serious potential candidate for president in 2016 even though at this point he’s saying, ‘not interested.’”

FoxNews.com’s promotion of Kasich’s interview focused on Kasich and 2016:

Fox News Sunday exclusive

Fox VP Cavuto: George Soros “Has Reason To Fear You” In 2016. Fox News host and vice president Neil Cavuto told Kasich on the March 18 edition of Your World that he’s heard “reports” that financier (and Media Matters donor) George Soros “fears you the most of any prospective candidate.” Cavuto then listed Kasich’s “success” as governor, and said Soros “has reason to fear you.” At the end of the interview, Kasich told Cavuto, “you’re the best.”

FoxNews.com Op-Ed: “Why Progressive, George Soros Crowd Fears Run By Ohio Governor.” Republican strategist and lobbyist Van Hipp wrote a March 7 piece touting Kasich’s tenure as governor as a “shining example” of “why the free enterprise system works.” Hipp added: “The more I thought about it, the more I realized why the George Soros crowd fears Kasich the most. They can’t demonize him and use the same old worn out liberal playbook they’ve used against national GOP contenders in recent years.”

Fox News Contributors Tout Kasich As Contender. Kasich has been mentioned by Fox News personalities during discussions about 2016 presidential candidates. Sean Hannity said on January 21 that he wants a president big field with Kasich, among others. Contributor George Will said on February 16’s Fox News Sunday that the race will be decided in the Midwest and said “you have to get three more presidential candidates out of those states — Governors Kasich in Ohio, Snyder in Michigan and Walker in Wisconsin.” And contributor Karl Rove also mentioned Kasich as a potential candidate on the January 13 edition of The O’Reilly Factor.

h/t: Eric Hananoki at MMFA

mediamattersforamerica

thepoliticalfreakshow:

As President Obama delivered his State of the Union, Republican lawmakers and conservative pundits took to Twitter with their immediate reactions. Obama’s discussion of taking executive action outside of Congressional deadlock provoked particularly creative responses, but they managed to mock equal pay and climate change, as well.

Here are the highlights:

1. Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX):

2. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX):

3. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS):

Bonus Huelskamp:

4. Townhall’s Katie Pavlich countered Obama’s portion on climate change being a settled debate:

5. Erick Erickson, during Obama’s comments about equal pay for women and men:

6. Karl Rove:

(via Huffington Post: 7 Charts To Understand Citizens United On Its 4th Anniversary)

WASHINGTON — Four years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case that corporations could spend unlimited sums of money on independent political spending. That ruling also applied to labor unions and, following a subsequent lower court ruling, to individual donors, as well.

The ensuing four years have seen significant changes to the way campaigns are funded, and an increase in influence for big money donors, as the independent political spending allowed by the court exploded. As these groups have spent more money, the sources of a large portion of their spending have gone undisclosed.

Below are seven charts to help you understand the impact of the Citizens United ruling as it reaches its fourth year:

Big Money Dominates

Top 1% Of Donors Accounted For Two-Thirds Of All Super PAC Funds In 2012
  • Top 1%: 68%
  • Other 99%: 32%
Source: Center for Responsive Politics.



According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the top 1 percent of super PAC donors accounted for 68 percent of all contributions made to super PACs in the 2012 election, the first full election cycle following the ruling.

These donors were led by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his family, who combined to give more than $93 million to super PACs. The super PAC, created following both the Citizens United and the related SpeechNow.org decisions, became the primary vehicle for independent spending for the wealthy. While these groups are required to disclose their spending, they are also allowed to spend all of their funds on electoral efforts, unlike nonprofit organizations. But more on that later.

The top 1 percent of super PAC donors reads like the Forbes 400 or a guest list at Davos. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg operates his very own super PAC. The libertarian venture capitalist billionaire Peter Thiel became the largest donor to the Club for Growth’s super PAC as it worked to defeat establishment Republicans in primary campaigns. And billionaire hedge funders James Simons, Robert Mercer, Paul Singer and Ken Griffin all gave millions.

Billionaires now have an easy outlet for their entrepreneurial endeavors in politics. The only question is whether they want their names on a plaque — in this case, a disclosed FEC report — or if they would rather remain anonymous.

[…]

Of course, it isn’t so simple. The court’s ruling opened the door for nonprofit corporations, whether they are funded by corporations or not, to spend unlimited amounts on independent campaign activity so long as they remain in bounds of the lax tax laws that govern them. These tax laws do not require the disclosure of nonprofit donors. In fact, prior court rulings and Federal Election Commission legal interpretations had protected nonprofits from donor disclosure.

Nonprofits are not ideal for individuals or corporations who want to spend money on independent political activity, due to tax laws requiring these groups to spend a majority of their time outside of politics. But the donor anonymity they are guaranteed can make nonprofits worth the investment. The billionaire Koch brothers and their donor collective used a labyrinthine network of nonprofit groups to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into both the 2010 and 2012 elections.

One of the most obvious examples of donors’ desire for anonymity comes in the form of the Crossroads groups founded by Karl Rove. There is American Crossroads, the super PAC that discloses its donors, and there is Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit that does not. As evidenced in the chart below, donors have chosen anonymity at a rate of two-to-one since the groups were founded in 2010.

Donors Choose Dark Money Over Disclosure 
  • American Crossroads: $144,047,997
  • Crossroads GPS: $256,547,160
Source: Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service.



More Money Than Candidates

In the 2012 election, independent groups spent more money than the actual candidates in three general election Senate races. That’s right — in Indiana, Virginia and Wisconsin, the major party candidates in the general election were outspent by independent groups.

That same dynamic played out in at least six House races in 2012. In California’s 35th District, independent groups — and really, just one independent group — spent two times as much as the candidates. In this race between two Democrats, Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC intervened with $3.3 million as the billionaire mayor sought to defeat the pro-gun incumbent Rep. Joe Baca (D). And he did: Bloomberg’s super PAC spending is credited with helping the heavily underfunded Gloria Negrete McLeod defeat Baca.

Shattered Television Advertising Records

Presidential Television Advertising Surged Post-Citizens United
  • 2004: 753,000
  • 2008: 796,000
  • 2012: 1,140,000
Source: Wesleyan Media Project. Numbers are based on data released in the paper titled, “Negative, Angry, and Ubiquitous: Political Advertising in 2012.”



The Wesleyan Media Project tracked television advertising in the 2012 election and found that advertising in the presidential campaign shattered previous records for money spent and advertising volume.

The number of television advertisements in the presidential general election jumped from approximately 753,000 in 2004 to approximately 1.14 million in 2012. While the decision by both President Barack Obama and also GOP nominee Mitt Romney to forgo public funding accounts for some of the increase, the rise of independent spending also played a major role.

h/t: Zack Beauchamp at Think Progress

In another attempt to cast the Obama administration’s focus on income inequality as an Obamacare distraction, Fox contributor Karl Rove argued that raising the minimum wage “doesn’t affect a lot of American workers.” But raising the minimum wage would impact 30 million workers, or nearly 20 percent of the American workforce.

On the January 6 edition of America’s Newsroom, Fox News contributor Karl Rove dismissed the Obama administration’s efforts to raise the minimum wage as yet another attempt to distract from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and falsely claimed that raising the minimum wage “doesn’t affect a lot of American workers” (emphasis added):

HEMMER: You know, I’m trying to figure this out, Karl. Do you see that as a new front to argue politics in America today in order to set up the debate for the midterm elections next November? Or do you see it as a distraction away from the issues of Obamacare? Is it A or B or is it a mix of both then?

ROVE: Well it’s a mix of both but I thought it was interesting yesterday on the Sunday talk programs, Todd, from NBC talked about how he had talked to members of the administration, Chuck Todd said he talked to the people in the administration about the agenda for 2014 and the administration talked about everything but Obamacare. This is first and foremost an attempt to pivot away from something that is incredibly damaging to the administration, the so-called Affordable Care Act, and again, as I said, short run, there’s a little bit of advantage here in the next couple of weeks or months in talking about raising the minimum wage and which doesn’t affect a lot of American workers.

Rove seems unaware that raising the minimum wage would impact 30 million American workers, or nearly 20 percent of the nation’s workforce of 155 million. According to the Economic Policy Institute, raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2016 “would lift incomes for millions of American workers, most of whom do not fit the prevailing impressions of low-wage workers as teenagers working part-time jobs for extra spending money.”

Number of Workers Affected By Increasing The Federal Minimum wage to $10.10 By July 1, 2015

Minimum Wage

Rove’s comments mark the latest attack in Fox’s longstanding campaign against raising the minimum wage and promote the network’s narrative that any and all action by the Obama administration is an attempt to distract from the ACA.

From the 01.06.2014 edition of FNC’s America’s Newsroom:

h/t: MMFA



h/t: Politico.com

(via Juan Williams Shuts Down Benghazi Outrage at Fox News: ‘It’s Gone, Baby. It’s All in Your Head’)

Fox News political analyst Juan Williams on Sunday told conservative colleagues Karl Rove and Brit Hume that their obsession about a so-called scandal over last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi was “all in your head, baby.”

During a Fox News Sunday panel segment devoted to the one year anniversary of the Benghazi attack, Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz agreed that there were unanswered questions, but that “there is a drumbeat among conservatives — including some at Fox News — to turn this into a full-fledged scandal as opposed to a horribly tragic episode that killed four Americans.”

"And I do think that some Republicans — I’m not saying all — are trying to use this as a weapon against Hillary Clinton," he added.

Hume, however, insisted that there were “elements of mendacity in what the administration said and did after this attack.”

Williams pointed out that there was “not one shred of evidence that the White House knew about this beforehand, they covered up anything.”

"To make a scandal out of this, really — you say this is not going away, let me tell you, this is gone away," William said, turning to Rove.

"No, no. No, it hasn’t," Rove replied. "The American people were lied to. Somebody concocted a deliberate lie that this was not a terrorist attack, that this was a spontaneous response to video that no one saw. The American people were having [the] legitimate question, why were efforts not undertaken to save our people."

"Efforts were made," Williams pointed out.

At that point, Rove lost his cool.

"No, they weren’t!" for former Bush senior adviser shouted. "The death of four Americans and why they were allowed to die and no one went to their aid is not in the weeds, with all due respect, Juan! It’s not in the weeds!"

"What’s in the weeds is that you continue to prosecute this like there’s some huge crime," Williams remarked. "Karl, stop living in the past and trying to get after Susan Rice and whoever. This has nothing to do with Ambassador Stevens [Christopher] Stevens."

"We don’t who is responsible for lying to the American people!" Rove yelled. "You may be comfortable with the American people being told a deliberate lie by the administration, but I’m not. And I think we need to get to the bottom of it."

"Karl, you can continue to raise your voice, but it does not speak to the heart of the issue," Williams said, rolling his eyes.

"One more thing, think of the list of — going around this table here — the list of questions that remain unanswered to this day are what make this still a legitimate topic," Hume opined. "And, Juan, I’m sorry to say that this is simply not over."

"It’s gone, baby," Williams quipped. "It’s in your head. That’s about the only place."

motherjones:

EXCLUSIVE: Inside Groundswell, the right-wing group where activists & journalists coordinate messaging 

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Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington—including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner—has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for “a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation,” according to documents obtained by Mother Jones.

Dubbed Groundswell, this coalition convenes weekly in the offices of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group. During these hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of Groundswell—including aides to congressional Republicans—cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and “clueless” GOP congressional leaders. They devise strategies for killing immigration reform, hyping the Benghazi controversy, and countering the impression that the GOP exploits racism. And the Groundswell gang is mounting a behind-the-scenes organized effort to eradicate the outsize influence of GOP über-strategist/pundit Karl Rove within Republican and conservative ranks. (For more on Groundswell’s “two front war” against Rove—a major clash on the right—click here.) 

One of the influential conservatives guiding the group is Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a columnist for the Daily Caller and a tea party consultant and lobbyist. Other Groundswell members include John Bolton, the former UN ambassador; Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy; Ken Blackwell and Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council; Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch; Gayle Trotter, a fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum; Catherine Engelbrecht and Anita MonCrief of True the Vote; Allen West, the former GOP House member; Sue Myrick, also a former House GOPer; Diana Banister of the influential Shirley and Banister PR firm; and Max Pappas, a top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). 

Among the conveners listed in an invitation to a May 8 meeting of Groundswell were Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network; Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who resoundingly lost a Maryland Senate race last year (and is now running for a House seat); Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society; Sandy Rios, a Fox News contributor; Lori Roman, a former executive director of the American Legislative Exchange Council; and Austin Ruse, the head of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Conservative journalists and commentators participating in Groundswell have included Breitbart News reporters Matthew Boyle and Mike Flynn, Washington Examiner executive editor Mark Tapscott, and National Review contributor Michael James Barton.

Groundswell has collaborated with conservative GOPers on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Cruz and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a leading tea partier. At its weekly meetings, the group aims to strengthen the right’s messaging by crafting Twitter hashtags; plotting strategy on in-the-headlines issues such as voter ID, immigration reform, and the sequester; promoting politically useful scandals; and developing “action items.”

A certain amount of secrecy cloaks Groundswell’s efforts. Though members have been encouraged to zap out tweets with a #GSW hashtag, a message circulated to members of its Google group noted that the role of certain advocates should be kept “off of the Google group for OPSEC [operational security] reasons.” This “will avoid any potential for bad press for someone if a communication item is leaked,” the message explained. (The Groundswell documents were provided to Mother Jones by a source who had access to its Google group page and who has asked not to be identified.)

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Could Todd Akin be the new comeback kid? 

The 65-year-old former congressman says don’t rule him out. Nearly six months after losing the Senate race he continues to be attacked from all sides of the political spectrum. But the greatest barbs are thrown by fellow Republicans. 

In an exclusive interview with KSDK-TV, the former Missouri congressman said, “I’m not going to try to get even with anybody. If you start to blame everyone else for something that happened you didn’t like, it will destroy you. It will eat you alive.” 

After 12 years representing Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, this infamous quote, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” derailed his campaign and his reputation. 

Would he take those six seconds back? 

Akin said, “Oh, of course I would! I’ve relived them too many times. But that is not reality.” 

In the past, Akin said he regrets those remarks but does he believe they are true? Does he believe in his heart that the female body can stop a pregnancy in the case of a rape? 

Akin said, “No, no and I apologized for that. All of us are fallible, we make mistakes, and we say things the wrong way. I really lived that moment many, many times.” 

KSDK asked, “Do you regret it?” 

"Of course. You think what would it have been like if I hadn’t done that." 

Within a few days, after the “legitimate rape” quote went viral, mainstream Republican Party bosses lobbied hard for him to get of the race. The behind-the-scenes back room pressure was immense according to one Akin insider. 

he former congressman reflected, “Republican leadership was strong that you have to step down. But there was a very strong grass roots element saying don’t you give in to those party bosses. You stay in there and you keep fighting.” 

That divide between the Republican establishment and Akin’s grassroots supporters percolates today on a national level. 

Akin explained, “Really what it goes back to is whether the Republican Party is going to be run by the insiders, or run by the grassroots organization. That’s a question still to be determined.” 

Republican strategist Karl Rove recently started a new Pac aimed at opposing candidates like Akin. 

Rove argued, “Some people think the best we can do is Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock - they’re wrong. We need to do better if we hope to take over the United States Senate. We need to get better conservative candidates and win.” 

Critics on the far right say they won’t allow Rove or anyone else on the “inside” to exclude them. 

Akin does think the Republican Party is at dangerous crossroads. 

"I believe the party will either stand on principled positions or its going to be replaced by some other party," he said. 

As for the next chapter, Akin says he’s ready for a comeback, but isn’t sure what form that comeback will take. He’s considering academia, public speaking, and even politics. 

We asked, “Would you ever consider putting your hat back in the political ring again?” 

"It’s one of those things that depends on the circumstances really.  I don’t rule anything out," he said. " I consider it a bright new future and I’m interested to see what the possibilities are."

h/t: KSDK

In the annals of Fox News, October 2012 will likely stand out as a shining moment. Buoyed by a wave of Republican optimism about Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, the network seemed tantalizingly close to realizing one of its key ideological goals: ousting President Obama from the White House. Renewed enthusiasm among conservatives was, in turn, triggering record-high ratings for much of the network’s programming and helping it to beat not just rival news competitors MSNBC and CNN during prime time, but every other TV channel on the cable dial. What’s more, the prospect of an ascendant GOP come January meant Fox News might soon return to the era of access and prestige it enjoyed in Washington during the presidency of George W. Bush. The future looked so bright that News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch signed Fox News president Roger Ailes to a lucrative four-year contract extension, even though the 72-year-old Ailes’s existing contract wasn’t due to expire until 2013.

Then November arrived, and with it reality. 

Fox News’s shellshocked election night coverage, punctuated by Karl Rove’s surreal meltdown upon hearing of Obama’s victory in Ohio and, thus, the election, capped off a historic day of reckoning for the network and conservatives alike. Chastened by defeat, Republican politicians and right-wing pundits have subsequently been grappling with the repercussions of the caustic tone and incendiary rhetoric their movement has adopted. This ongoing debate about whether broadening conservatism’s appeal requires new messages or just new messaging has ignored the 800-pound gorilla in the room, however. Noticeably absent from all the right wing’s public self-criticism is any interest in confronting the potent role played by the Republican Party’s single most important messenger, Fox News.

Standing at the epicenter of the network—and any new Republican Party groundswell—is Ailes. A former political operative of President Richard Nixon, Ailes has inextricably intertwined his professional and political pursuits since founding Fox News in 1996. Indeed, the network chief functions as a kind of proxy kingmaker within the party, frequently meeting with Republican politicians to offer strategic advice. He is a regular confidant of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, and at various times, he (or a network emissary of his) has counseled 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Gen. David Petraeus on their potential future. “Ailes,” says former Reagan White House economic adviser Bruce Bartlett, “is quite open about offering his free advice to Republicans…. If you visit New York City, you go see Roger Ailes and kiss his ring. It’s like visiting the Vatican. My guess is that there’s a lot of back-and-forth between Ailes and whoever is at the pinnacle of power in the Republican Party.” 

To keep relying on a shrinking number of elderly, white and male subsets of the public, whether to win elections or win ratings, has become a strategy of diminishing returns, however. “I think that you can’t separate the problem at Fox [News] from the problem that the Republicans are going through,” Bartlett says. He can speak firsthand to this incestuous relationship, as his 2006 book, Impostor—which broke with party orthodoxy over the Bush administration’s deficit spending—quickly made him persona non grata at Fox News, he says. (Fox News did not respond to questions about his comment.) “The Republicans are trying to retool to win. That’s all they care about, and they’re trying to decide, ‘How can we be more pragmatic? How can we shave off the rough edges? How can we get rid of the whack jobs who are embarrassing us, costing us Senate seats? But at the same time, we can’t do this in such a way that it alienates our base.’” Fox News faces a similar dilemma, Bartlett contends: “It’s ‘How do we modernize? How do we attract new audiences without losing the old audience? How do we remain relevant without abandoning our traditions?’” 

These are fundamental questions, and lately Fox News’s 
fundamentals—audience, ratings and public trust—have faltered. A 2010 study by Steve Sternberg found the network’s viewership to be the oldest (with an average age of 65) among an already elderly cable news audience. (CNN’s was 63 and MSNBC’s was 59.) By comparison, lifestyle cable channels Oxygen, Bravo and TLC were among the youngest, with an average viewer age of 42. And with MSNBC’s recent decision to plug 34-year-old rising star Chris Hayes into the coveted 
8 pm slot, the average age of that network’s prime-time hosts will now be 45, while Fox News’s rotation, anchored by 63-year-old Bill O’Reilly, has an average age of 57. 

Having cable news’s oldest average age for both prime-time hosts and audiences represents something of a double-edged sword for Fox in the cutthroat world of cable TV. One advantage is that older audiences are traditionally more loyal, which is why several industry experts say that Fox News is unlikely to be dislodged from its perch atop overall cable TV news ratings anytime soon. This age-loyalty effect redounds to the benefit of Fox News’s best-known prime-time hosts, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, as roughly two-thirds of their viewers are age 50 or older, according to a recent Pew State of the News Media survey. 

But at the same time, there is an undeniable actuarial reality at work—or as Bartlett bluntly puts it, “Their viewership is quite literally dying.” The most lucrative advertising dollars flow to TV shows that attract viewers “in the demo,” short for “demographic”—industry parlance for people ages 25 to 54. By contrast, Fox News’s prime-time commercial breaks are blanketed with pitches for cheap medical devices and insurance companies aimed at retirees and the elderly. Perhaps not surprisingly, the network’s advertising rates have grown at a much more modest pace in recent years, according to the Pew survey. Similarly, the growth of its ad revenues has diminished every year since 2008. 

Because of the relatively older age and smaller size of the cable news audience, viewership tends to be relatively stable, says Columbia University Journalism School professor and former NBC News president Richard Wald. “Its [ratings] move in very small increments.” To understand why viewers come and go, he compares a TV network’s audience to a target with concentric rings. The core audience—those who are loyal to your channel and watch frequently (and, for partisan media outlets, those who are most ideologically compatible)—is the bull’s-eye. Each concentric ring outward represents a segment of the audience that is less likely to watch because of diminished interest or less enthusiastic partisan sympathies. Dramatic ratings shifts can occur, but they tend to be driven by external events, like elections, rather than programming and thus affect all of the networks simultaneously. Most ratings fluctuations are statistical noise, Wald says, resulting from people in the outermost rings tuning in or out based on varying interest. “I would guess that [Fox News’s] numbers could change by 5, 6, 7, 8 percent and not reflect a change in the loyalty of the audience.” 

But here, too, the news does not bode well. Though the network did retain its status as the top-rated cable news network in 2012—its eleventh consecutive year at number one—the steep drop in ratings that its shows have experienced since Election Day has raised eyebrows, precisely because corresponding shows on MSNBC and CNN have not experienced the same precipitous decline. 

Just how much of a drop are we talking about? According to Nielsen data, Fox News’s prime-time monthly audience fell to its lowest level in twelve years in January among the 25-to-54 demographic. Daytime Fox News programming likewise saw its lowest monthly ratings in this age cohort since June 2008. Even the network’s two biggest stars, O’Reilly and Hannity, have not been immune from viewer desertion: Hannity lost close to 50 percent of his pre-election audience in the final weeks of 2012, and O’Reilly more than a quarter. The slide hasn’t stopped in 2013, either. Compared with a year ago, O’Reilly’s February prime-time ratings dropped 
26 percent in the coveted 25-to-54 demographic, his worst performance since July 2008. Hannity’s sank even further, to the lowest point in his show’s history. 

As Wald points out, short-term ratings snapshots can be deceptive. But in the weeks following Obama’s 2009 inauguration, Fox News’s viewership actually surged, averaging 539,000 prime-time demo viewers versus 388,000 and 357,000 for CNN and MSNBC, respectively. This past January, however, Fox could only muster 267,000 average nightly viewers—a 50 percent drop from that 2009 level, and not much more than MSNBC’s 235,000 or CNN’s 200,000. 

So why are all these Fox News viewers tuning out? Some of the decline may be due to a broader cultural trend of people deciding to avoid cable TV news altogether. However, a recent Public Policy Polling survey of news media trustworthiness suggests there’s more going on than public apathy. In February, PPP found a marked drop in Fox News’s credibility. A record-high
46 percent of Americans say they put no trust in the network, a nine-point increase over 2010. What’s more, 39 percent name Fox News as their least-trusted news source, dwarfing all other news channels. (MSNBC came in second, at 14 percent.)

As might be expected, Fox News’s credibility barely budged among liberals and moderates (roughly three-quarters of whom still distrust the network) and very conservative viewers (three-quarters of whom still trust it). However, among those who identified themselves as “somewhat conservative,” the level of trust fell by an eye-opening 27 percentage points during the previous twelve months (from a net plus–47 percent  ”trust” rating in 2012 to plus–20 percent now). Only a bare majority of center-right conservatives surveyed by PPP say that Fox News is trustworthy. 

"The people who are among the moderate-rights are actually the ones tuning out most," says Dan Cassino, a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University who specializes in studying partisan psychology. Last May, Cassino conducted a survey that found Fox News’s viewers were less informed about current political issues than those who watched no news at all. In response, the network’s public relations team mocked FDU’s college ranking in Forbes and belittled its student body as "ill-informed." This kind of ad hominem attack symbolizes the over-the-top, pugilistic messaging style of Ailes, whose no-holds-barred political instincts have dictated the network’s direction since day one. 

Ailes’s foundational idea for Fox News, explains Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple, was to package this bias under the guise of “fair and balanced” news. “It is indeed the artifice of neutrality that makes so much of what they do objectionable, or not just objectionable but noteworthy,” Wemple says. And it is effective, he adds: at a recent Value Voters conference, rock-ribbed conservatives almost involuntarily spouted the network’s motto back at him when he asked them about Fox’s coverage. It’s a maddeningly clever bit of misdirection—the network whose branding is most identified with objectivity and accuracy is, in fact, anything but.

Thanks to its loyal conservative audience and its cozy relationship with the GOP leadership, Fox News has long been insulated from the consequences of its serial misinforming. “If your job is to say the most outrageous thing you possibly can and be rewarded for it, why shouldn’t you?” Cassino points out. “As long as you get ratings, you’re going to keep on doing it.” But the recent erosion in ratings and cracks in the network’s reputation, Cassino says, have created external pressure to make changes inside the network. (Neither Ailes nor anyone else at Fox News would comment when contacted for this story.)

Most notable among these post-election changes involved Fox News ridding itself of contributors Sarah Palin and Dick Morris and replacing them with former Congressman and left-wing gadfly Dennis Kucinich, former GOP Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and RedState.com editor in chief Erick Erickson. To some, this personnel turnover confirmed that Fox News was embracing a more intellectually honest, ideologically diverse worldview. 

But there’s less here than meets the eye. First of all, the impact an individual contributor can have on the network’s overall nature is minimal; permanent hosts like O’Reilly and Hannity drive its day-to-day brand. And in the midst of the 2012 campaign, Ailes locked up O’Reilly and Hannity as well as news host Bret Baier—the Fox News lineup from 7 through 10 pm—all the way to 2016. What’s more, one shouldn’t read too much into the cashiering of Palin and Morris, since, by all accounts, they were terrible at their jobs: the former was criticized internally for being uncooperative with programming suggestions and personally disloyal to Ailes, while the latter was guilty of humiliating the network with his ridiculous election predictions (as well as auctioning off an unauthorized personal tour of Fox News’ studios at a GOP fund-
raiser). “They were only interested in promoting themselves or perhaps promoting an ideology that may not win,” says Bartlett, who singles out Palin’s lack of substance for his harshest criticism. “Totally and professionally, she’s the Lindsay Lohan of cable news.” 

Indeed, Ailes’s new hires are little more than new faces plugged into a well-worn programming strategy. Kucinich fills the slot of house liberal formerly occupied by Alan Colmes, serving as a handy foil for conservatives to shout at or over. The telegenic Brown, a blue-state Republican, endorses textbook anti-woman Republican policies, but does so without giving off an overtly extremist vibe. And die-hard conservative Erickson is there to reassure the Tea Partiers and the netroots—some of whom inexplicably believe that Fox News is drifting left—that they still have a voice on the network. 

Whether these recent, road-to-Damascus conversions are genuine or artificial may not matter much at this point, though. Hannity and many of his Fox News colleagues have invested so much time inciting animosity toward “illegals” and excoriating legislative attempts at “amnesty” that the network has acquired a reputation of harboring anti-Hispanic tendencies. In the aforementioned PPP poll on media trustworthiness, Hispanics ranked Fox News as their least credible news source, with a net four-point negative rating. (Broadcast news networks all enjoyed double-digit positive ratings.) Likewise, a National Hispanic Media Coalition survey from last fall found that Fox News hosts were more likely than those from any other network to negatively stereotype Latinos. It also noted that the network’s audience had the highest percentage of viewers with negative feelings about Hispanics and undocumented immigrants. 

h/t: Reed Richardson at AlterNet, via The Nation

abaldwin360:

After Tea Party Nation founder and walking Godwin’s Law example Judson Phillips compared liberals to Nazis last week, the National Jewish Democratic Council called on Tea Party senator Rand Paul to denounce the attack.

In Phillips’ opinion, that could only mean one thing: The folks at the National Jewish Democratic Council are Nazis, too.

In a deranged email to supporters, Phillips explained that by denouncing him, the NJDC “actually proved my point. Liberals do not want to discuss or debate issues. They want to silence those who disagree with them.”

“So did the Nazis.”

“Like the book-burning Nazis of the 1930s, the left wants to suppress all dissenting opinion,” Phillips added. With this latest outburst, Phillips has now labeled both his gay and Jewish critics as National Socialists. If any communists have something to say about Tea Party Nation, now would be the time.

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Perpetually fuming about President Obama, Sean Hannity widened his rant Wednesday night on Fox News and condemned the “lapdog, kiss ass media” that allegedly lets Obama have his way. Echoing the same attack, Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week that Mr. Obama is a once-in-a-generation demagogue with a compliant press corps,” while the anti-Obama Daily Caller pushed the headline,  ”Lapdog Media Seeking Lap To Lie In.”

Complaining about the “liberal media,” has been a running, four-decade story for conservative activists. But what we’re hearing more of lately is the specific allegation that the press has purposefully laid down for the Democratic president, and that it’s all part of a master media plan to help Democrats foil Republicans.

The rolling accusation caught my attention since I wrote a book called Lapdogs, which documented the Beltway media’s chronic timidity during the previous Republican administration, and particularly with regards to the Iraq War. I found it curious that Hannity and friends are now trying to turn the rhetorical tables with a Democrat in the White House, and I was interested in what proof they had to lodge that accusation against today’s press.

It turns out the evidence is quite thin. For instance, onenever-ending partisan cry has been the press has “ignored" the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last year; that they’re protecting Obama. Yet theNew York Times and Washington Post have published nearly 800 articles and columns mentioning Benghazi since last September, according to Nexis.  

What the lapdog allegation really seems to revolve around is the fact that conservatives are angry that Obama remains popular with the public. Rather than acknowledge that reality, partisans increasingly blame the press and insist if only reporters and pundits would tell ‘the truth’ about Obama, then voters would truly understand how he’s out to destroy liberty and freedom and capitalism.

Sorry, but that’s not what constitutes a lapdog press corps. And to confuse chronic partisan whining with authentic media criticism is a mistake. The Hannity-led claim also isn’t accurate. Studies have shown that during long stretches of his first term, Obama was  hammered with “unrelentingly negative” press coverage.

By contrast, the lapdog era of the Bush years represented nothing short of an institutional collapse of the American newsroom. And it was one that, given the media’s integral role in helping to sell the Iraq War, did grave damage to our democracy.

Looking back at his tenure as Washington Post ombudsman, Michael Getler wrote in 2005 that the mainstream media’s performance in 2002 and 2003 likely represented the industry’s worst failing in nearly half a century. “How did a country on the leading edge of the information age get this so wrong and express so little skepticism and challenge?” Getler asked.

Meanwhile, given its current primetime lineup, sometimes it’s hard to recall that in 2003 MSNBC was so nervous about employing a liberal host who opposed Bush’s ordered invasion that it fired Phil Donahue preemptively, just weeks before war began. An internal memo warned that Donahue presented “a difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.” (He was MSNBC’s highest rated host at the time of his firing.)

Months worth of chronic timidity and newsroom bowing-down to the White House’s war culture clearly helped pave the way to war.  

Laying out the reasons for an unprecedented invasion during his final, pre-war invasion press conference on March 6, 2003, Bush mentioned al-Qaida and the terrorist attacks of September 11 thirteen times in less than an hour. Not a single journalist that night challenged the presumed connection Bush was making between al-Qaida and Iraq, despite the fact that intelligence sources had publicly questioned any such association.

The egregious, look-the-other-way coverage continued long after the invasion. The U.S. media’s collective disinterest in Britain’s Downing Street Memo represented a perfect example of dogged lapdog behavior.

That, unfortunately, is what a lapdog press corps looks like. Let’s not diminish the significance of that historic failure by pretending today’s Beltway press is repeating that catastrophic and unprecedented abdication under Obama. Just because Obama’s most strident critics have failed to turn voters against the president doesn’t mean the press isn’t doing its job.

h/t: MMFA

Last night on The O’Reilly Factor, previewing Sen. Marco Rubio’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech, Fox News political analyst Karl Rove labeled Rubio “the American experience” and declared him “probably one of the best communicators since Ronald Reagan.”

Over-the-top praise of Rubio on the network is nothing new. Rubio’s increasingly prominent role in the national political conversation is thanks, in part, to the help of Fox News, which has served as his primary cheerleader since his 2010 Senate campaign. 

In recent weeks, Rove in particular has showered praise on Rubio and his role in the debate over immigration reform. His comparison of Rubio to Reagan on The O’Reilly Factor wasn’t even the first time he had done so on Fox’s airwaves this month; he made similar comments during a February 4 appearance on Special Report

Rove isn’t alone in his adoration of the Florida senator. Fox personalities have fawned over Rubio on-air for years, boosted his 2010 Florida Senate run (including helping him fundraise on-air), hosted him for dozens of primetime appearances on the network, and repeatedly touted him as an ideal vice presidential pick for former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

When Marco Rubio declared his intention to run for the Florida Senate seat left open by Mel Martinez, he trailed Gov. Charlie Crist — then still a Republican — by a huge margin and seemed like a longshot candidate.

Less than a year and a half later, Rubio was elected comfortably. According to Rubio, his meteoric rise in the race is thanks in no small part to Fox News political analyst Karl Rove.

Appearing at a fundraising breakfast for Rove’s Crossroads political groups at the 2012 Republican National Convention, Rubio claimed it was “big news” when Rove personally donated money to his Senate campaign because it meant that ”someone of his stature would actually take a bet on someone who was such a long shot.”

Rove’s help for Rubio extended well beyond sending personal checks; the Crossroads groups poured nearly $3 million (by Rove’s accounting) into the race. During his fundraising pitch for Crossroads at the RNC, Rubio specifically praised the ads Rove’s groups ran in his favor, saying “you would turn on the TV and there were ads that created a clear distinction, and did so in ways that were meaningful.”

Rove wasn’t the only Fox personality that helped Rubio’s Senate run — the network practically went all-in for him.

During his Senate run, Rubio was also formally endorsed — in addition to being praised on-air — by several Fox personalities, including former contributors Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Rick Santorum. In addition to endorsing Rubio, Fox host Mike Huckabee gave material support to his campaign in the form of a $5,000 donation from his political group, Huck PAC.

h/t: MMFA