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All Media Locked out of Counting due to
Warren County Bush Vote Nearly Highest in State!
By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2004 9:36pm PT  

Citing "homeland security concerns", Warren County, OH was alone in locking out media from their counting of ballots on Election Night. They were amongst the last to report their tallies that night, and according to Ohio's Election Night website Warren County ended up having the highest percentage of Bush votes amongst all of Ohio counties that had a total vote turnout greater than 22,500.

  • Warren 92,251 votes - Bush: 72.1% Kerry: 27.53%
  • There were only four counties with a higher percentage vote for Bush, and they all had 22,279 voters or less:

  • Mercer 20,058 votes - Bush: 74.89% Kerry: 24.55%
  • Putnam 18,631 votes - Bush: 76.20% Kerry: 23.34%
  • Holmes 10,976 votes - Bush: 75.61% Kerry: 23.89%
  • Auglaize 22,279 votes - Bush: 73.78% Kerry: 25.71%
  • So what happened that night in Warren County when all of America was waiting for the counting to finish in Ohio to decide the election? Why was it the only county in all of Ohio where media was not allowed to witness the counting?

    The Cincinnati Enquirer explained it this way:

    Citing concerns about potential terrorism, Warren County officials locked down the county administration building on election night and blocked anyone from observing the vote count as the nation awaited Ohio's returns.

    County officials say they took the action Tuesday night for homeland security, although state elections officials said they didn't know of any other Ohio county that closed off its elections board. Media organizations protested, saying it violated the law and the public's rights. The Warren results, delayed for hours because of long lines that extended voting past the scheduled close of polls, were part of the last tallies that helped clinch President Bush's re-election.

    "The media should have been permitted into the area where there was counting," Enquirer attorney Jack Greiner said. "This is a process that should be done in complete transparency and it wasn't."

    Warren County Emergency Services Director Frank Young said he had recommended increased security based on information received from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in recent weeks.

    Commissioners made the security decisions in a closed-door meeting last week, but didn't publicize the restrictions that were made until after polls closed.
    ...
    Typically, the Warren County commissioners' room is set up as a gathering place for people to watch the votes come in. But that wasn't done this year.
    ...
    A representative of The Associated Press, which had stringers at every Ohio board of elections site, said no such election-night access problems were reported outside of Warren County.

    It's ashame both Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are apparently now dead, isn't it?

    UPDATE: MSNBC is reporting that "the federal government" was involved in the lock-down!:

    the decision got more dubious still when County Commissioners confirmed that they were acting on the advice of their Emergency Services Director, Frank Young. Mr. Young had explained that he had been advised by the federal government to implement the measures for the sake of Homeland Security.

    Connect. The. Dots. People.

    UPDATE: 11/10/04 5:5pm PT Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's Countdown --- virtually the only major media organization giving this story the coverage it deserves --- has just reported that both the FBI and the Homeland Security Dept. have denied giving warnings in Ohio to anybody about anything. That would be contrary to the claims made in this report which quotes a letter from the President of the Elections Board in Warren explaining that the lockdown was due to warnings they'd recieved from the FBI. The letter says in part:

    In a face to face meeting between the FBI and our director of Emergency Services, we were informed that on a scale from 1 to 10, the tri-state area of Southwest Ohio was ranked at a high 8 to a low 9 in terms of security risk. Warren County in particular, was rated at 10 (with 10 being the highest risk).

    Okay. So now who's telling the truth? And why did they lock down Warren County and, unlike every other county in Ohio, disallow reporters from witnessing the vote tallying?

    UPDATE: 11/23/04 Cincinnati Enquirer, the paper which broke the Warren County Lockdown story originally, reports that the county had been planning the action for at least a week prior to the election. Details...

    ReddIt this story!



    Democracy Requires Vigilance
    By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2004 5:43pm PT  

    One more note or two on some Ohio anomalies previously reported, but which may have gotten lost in last night's crush.

    The final vote, apparently, was cast in Knox County, Ohio last night (this morning) at 3:55am after loads of student voters (who broke heavily for Kerry) at Kenyon College had stood in line to vote for as many as ten hours due to a shortage of electronic voting machines. Do you suppose there were many who chose not to wait that long to cast their vote and simply left?

    The still-open polls, of course, did not keep Fox from making their call for Bush in Ohio at 11:41pm last night, a full four hours before the polls in Ohio had closed.

    Apparently their protestations of "media bias!" back in 2000, when some of the nets called Florida for Gore in 2000 before voting had ended in conservative Tallahassee, was just another piece of bullshit at the time meant to go down the Memory Hole once that battle-cry became no longer operative. (UPDATE: Murdoch's NY Post also called Bush the winner in it's 2am issue, before polls had closed, according to Drudge. Surprised? Didn't think so.)

    As well, if you missed it last night, see AMERICAblog's photo and story of Ohio ballots being carted away yesterday in a "Bush-Cheney '04" truck. The photo and incident was confirmed with multiple witnesses and they are reporting today that some in the media are investigating. I hope so. Though, again, I'll not be holding my breath.

    ReddIt this story!



    'Hannity & Colmes' Much Closer to Fair and Balanced Tonight!
    By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2004 7:47pm PT  

    Well, your email paid off! As much, perhaps, as we could hope given that we're dealing with the Republican behemoth that is the Fox "News" Channel. So all in all, a job well done, guys! It pays to make noise and fight for your Democracy.

    As originally reported here, the Hannity & Colmes show had announced on Friday that tonight's guests would be:

    ON THE RIGHT: Karl Rove, Dick Morris, William Weld
    ON THE LEFT: Bill Richardson

    By the time tonight's show aired, Morris and Weld on the Right were dumped, and Terry McAuliffe added on the Left. Unfortunately, Jeb Bush (obviously on the Right) was added as well. Yet, on it's face, it appeared to be more "Fair and Balanced" as such:

    ON THE RIGHT: Karl Rove, Jeb Bush
    ON THE LEFT: Bill Richardson, Terry McAuliffe

    Well, that looks more "Fair & Balanced", doesn't it? But here was the actual show breakdown (Right leaning segments bold)

    SEGMENT 1: Jeb Bush
    SEGMENT 2: Jeb Bush
    SEGMENT 3: Bill Richardson
    SEGMENT 4: Karl Rove
    (Seg 4 Rove interview by Hannity only! Colmes not allowed!)

    SEGMENT 5: Terry McAuliffe

    Final tally was 3 segments with the Right (one that Hannity had all to himself) and only 2 segments with the Left.

    As I've mentioned in the past, my source inside H&C tells me that they have a very difficult time getting the DNC and Kerry campaign to cooperate and give them guests for the show. The theory --- a mostly plausible one --- is that Fox is so far to the Right, the Dems feel they won't get a fair shake when they go on.

    I share my sources belief, however, that it's foolish for the Dems to simply write off Fox "News" in the bargain.

    Yes, of course they won't get a fair shake on Fox, but it's better to show up and represent as best they can than to allow Fox to overweight with Republicans, or worse, stick someone like Pat Cadell on there and call him a "Democratic Consultant" when he hasn't worked or supported any Democrats since, I believe, Jimmy Carter! Or have Susan Estrich on there --- who worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger! --- and call her a "Democratic Consultant".

    Like it or not, more Americans watch Fox these days for political news than anybody else --- and it's not all hard right wingnuts. There are a lot of reasonable, normal, Left-leaning Americans that watch FNC as well! I'm certainly one of them! Frankly because it's not quite as dull as it's competition (who are only slightly less slanted to the Right these days). So it's imperative that Dems show up and at least fight on that turf to try anyway to partially balance Fox's constant imbalance.

    If I hear from my source any plausible explanation as to why H&C still managed to skew things to the Right tonight, on Election Eve of all nights --- even though they had a seemingly even number of Democrats to interview --- I'll update this item.

    Other than that, I'm without ammunition to defend it. So instead, I'll just leave you with this exchange from the end of the segment tonight with McAuliffe:

    MCAULIFFE: Fair and balanced, baby!
    HANNITY: Well, we let you on...that's about as fair and balanced as we can get.

    I guess it is.

    ReddIt this story!



    Show is tonight! Election Eve!
    Send Email NOW!!!
    By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2004 11:31am PT  

    Hannity & Colmes now announcing that Jeb Bush is added to tonight's show!!!

    See this article if you haven't already on the stacked deck they're getting ready to present tonight! (So far, 4 from the Right --- now including Rove, Morris and Jeb Bush --- and 1 from the Left!)

    colmes@foxnews.com, Comments@foxnews.com, mm-tips@mediamatters.org, mm-actions@mediamatters.org, Write">TheBradBlog@cville.com\">Write those letters!!! Just a few hours left before airtime! Get the word out!

    GOOD NEWS UPDATE: Just heard from my source: Terry McAullife now added to show for balance! Your letters are working! Keep it up! You are making a difference!!!

    FINAL UPDATE: Victory (mostly)! Final lineup: 2 guests from the Right, 2 from the Left. But H&C managed incredibly to skew it to the right anyway. Click here to read how.

    ReddIt this story!



    MEDIA EMERGENCY!!!
    Please Read and Take Action!
    By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2004 2:12pm PT  

    SUNDAY UPDATE: My highly placed source inside H&C tells me your Emails are making a difference! Keep speaking up! Your voice matters! If you Democrat/Liberal/Progressives think it makes sense to simply write Fox off entirely, please see this.

    It was announced at the end of Friday's Hannity & Colmes on Fox that their Monday (Election Eve) guests would be:

    ON THE RIGHT: Karl Rove, Dick Morris, William Weld (UPDATE!) Jeb Bush just added!!!
    ON THE LEFT: Bill Richardson

    Obviously, this is anything but "Fair and Balanced" and on the eve of a national Election it's simply outrageous!

    I have a highly placed source inside the Hannity & Colmes show who I've sent Email to complain about this, and I received back a similar response to the ones I usually receive from them on the lack of balance on H&C. Namely; the Kerry campaign is simply not as willing to help them by supplying guests as the Bush campaign is. (I wonder why!)

    I have tried to explain to my source that it's Fox's and H&C's responsibility to ensure that their show is fair and balanced! Not the responsibility of the Kerry campaign or the DNC to ensure that!

    No matter how much the Democrats wish (or do not wish) to supply top-level guests to H&C it is the responsibility of the news organization, and debate show --- which claims to offer "Fair and Balanced" debate from both sides --- to do everything they can to ensure that the American people whom they serve receive an equal representation from both sides!

    Last week, for example, Hannity had half-hour one-on-one interviews first with George W. Bush and then again with Dick Cheney. After which, both Hannity and Colmes pointed out that they had invited Kerry and/or Edwards to enjoy the same, to which apparently they declined.

    In lieu of Kerry or Edwards then, H&C should have given an equal amount of time to a Democratic representative --- any Democratic representative, if necessary! --- to do at least their best to try and offer balance, even if they were not able to get Kerry or Edwards themselves!

    And now, on their Election Eve show, such sorry excuses are simply intolerable! Having three Republican guests --- two of them, Rove and Morris, who will likely be offered segments where no balancing Democrat representative is there to supply balance --- is beyond the pale on the final show before Americans go to the polls!

    I've contacted MediaMatters.org about this issue in hopes that they can help make some noise about it. I hope you will do the same, as well as helping to spread this word, and contacting the people at Fox News and the Hannity & Colmes show with your opinions about this outrageous example of attempting to effect the Presidential Election on the nation's most-watched channel for Election news coverage on the night before the Election!

    CONTACT...
    Sean Hannity: hannity@foxnews.com
    Alan Colmes: colmes@foxnews.com

    FOX News Channel FOX News Channel:
    1-888-369-4762
    Comments@foxnews.com

    Media Matters:
    www.MediaMatters.org
    Email

    Click here to Email all of the above at once!

    UPDATE: If you have any question where Hannity & Colmes --- the show that claims to offer "Fair and Balanced Debate" stands, see the front page of their website right now. Here's a screenshot. Note all three featured stories offered to readers: Interviews with Peggy Noonan (Conservative, Ronald Reagan's speech writer), George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

    We've come to expect this from H&C by now, of course, but their Election Eve coverage is even more outrageous than on most days! And, certainly more important than just any old day of the week!

    UPDATE 11/1/04: Hannity & Colmes now announcing that Jeb Bush is added to tonight's show!!!

    GOOD NEWS UPDATE 11/1/04: Just heard from my source: Terry McAullife now added to show for balance! Your letters are working! Keep it up! You are making a difference!!!

    FINAL UPDATE: Victory (mostly)! Final lineup: 2 guests from the Right, 2 from the Left! But H&C managed, incredibly, to skew it to the Right anyway. Click here to read how.

    ReddIt this story!



    Admitting Guilt
    By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2004 8:36pm PT  

    If you've been following O'Reilly since his recent fall from pretend grace, you've probably noticed the side-effect as his troubles have smacked him back a few yards closer to reality. His once barely veiled dilligent Pro-Bush spin is now entirely out in the open. I guess he figures since everyone in America now knows what he sticks up his ass, why bother hiding who he supports in this election?

    The only thing left for him to do is come out and say "I am going to vote for George Bush and will do anything I can to help him win". Other than that, a few minutes listening to his "Radio Factor" or suffering through the TV show make it clear that he's not even trying to hide his bias anymore.

    Now that he realizes he will never get the John Kerry interview that only O'Reilly could make himself believe that he was entitled to, he's given up all pretense. Announcing on both radio show and TV today that George W. Bush is now going to win this election. If you listen to O'Reilly, it's now all over but the recounts.

    Sure, he still gives lip service to some mythical "fairness" that he'd love us to believe that he and Fox offer, but you can tell that even he knows he's spinning. Next week, he promises, he's going to make up an interview with Kerry in lieu of getting a real one. That's "the most trusted name in news" for ya.

    Tonight, he went out of his way to remind Juan Williams (who actually did get an interview with John Kerry) that it was "Fox News" who broke the Bush DUI story in the days prior to the 2000 election. That, he claimed, showed all those Liberal Fox Haters how "faaaaair" FNC really is.

    Too bad he's wrong about that too. It was not FNC, but a local Fox Affiliate (who does not work for FNC in NY) who broke the story. He and Brit Hume, however, have been going out of their way to pass off that particular fiction for quite some time.

    In non-fiction related O'Reilly news, his evil nemesis, the much funnier-on-purpose Al Franken, once again beat the "Radio Factor" in the latest NY Arbitron radio ratings, as reported by Drudge. That despite No Spin Boy's repeated assertions on the air over the past year about "Stuart Smalley's failed little radio show". Please stop! I'm dizzy from all that No Spinning!

    But apparently there's some things even O'Reilly can't spin his way out of. That seems to be his, as of yet, uncontested guilt in the Andrea Mackris Sexual Harrasment case. His silly cries of "extortion" in his pre-emptive suit against her didn't bother to deny any of her charges. And yesterday's "Radio Factor" featured this moment that should haunt him for a while, as caught by the always vigilant Media Matters (audio here):

    CALLER: One quick thing. My money's on your side in this unfortunate lawsuit you're going through.

    O'REILLY: Well, thank you. I appreciate that.

    CALLER: You gotta take Sister Mary Peters with you when you're with single women.

    O'REILLY: Listen, I have to say this --- I had to protect my family, this is my fault. I was stupid, and I'm not a victim, but I can't allow certain things to happen. And I appreciate your support, we get thousands of letters, but I'm not --- I am stupid. I am a stupid guy, and every guy listening knows how it is. That we are very stupid at times.

    But there comes a time in life where you gotta stand and fight. And I knew these people were gonna do this, I knew they were gonna do everything they could to try to destroy me and the channel. And I just made the decision that I'm just gonna ride it out. And I'm gonna fight 'em, because what's right is right.

    Trademark false machismo and bloviation aside...Since he's now all but come out and admitted guilt in the matter, what exactly are the "certain things" he "can't allow" to happen? "What's right is right?" - What the hell is he talking about? He's a married man, with "kids", admitting to making obscene phone calls, while servicing himself with a vibrator, to an underling employee of his. Is he implying that if she'd asked for a few million less, that would have made it all "right"? But since she didn't, he's "gonna fight 'em, because what's right is right?" Apparently so. Just as he forced Fox to file their embarrasing law suit against Franken which was quickly laughed out of court, again he has allowed his over-inflated ego to back him into a No Spin Corner from hell.

    But hey, sex scandals with prostitutes didn't seem to hurt tonight's O'Reilly's Fair and Balanced guest Dick Morris, much! Neither did millions in secret gambling losses cause too terribly much shame for Hannity & Colmes' featured weekly guest, William Bennet, just a few minutes later. So perhaps O'Reilly will survive this as well. After all, in the fairy tale Land of Fake Conservatism, "Values" is just a word cynically pulled out every few years to help win elections. Don't make the Red State mistake of thinking these people actually have any.

    Perhaps you can fool about 48.9% of the people (MoE 3-4%) all of the time.

    ReddIt this story!



    Calls out CNN for what it is...
    By Brad Friedman on 10/16/2004 12:34pm PT  

    Wow. I told you this thing was gonna get ugly. John O'Neill implodes on live TV on Thursday, and on Friday, live on CNN, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart blows up Tucker Carlson, CNN and Crossfire. Finally!

    Watch it, or read the highlights below. It's funny, sad, true and incredible LIVE television!:


    I don't usually like to quote this much text, but if you missed the show, you've got to read some of this that I pulled from the full transcript...

    STEWART: I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad. (LAUGHTER)

    BEGALA: We have noticed.

    STEWART: And I wanted to --- I felt that that wasn't fair and I should come here and tell you that I don't --- it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America. (LAUGHTER)

    CARLSON: But in its defense...

    STEWART: So I wanted to come here today and say...Here's just what I wanted to tell you guys.

    CARLSON: Yes.

    STEWART: Stop. (LAUGHTER) Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.

    ...

    STEWART: See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns.

    BEGALA: By beating up on them? You just said we're too rough on them when they make mistakes.

    STEWART: No, no, no, you're not too rough on them. You're part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks. (LAUGHTER)

    ...

    CARLSON: And I'll tell you. When politicians come on...

    STEWART: Yes.

    CARLSON: It's nice to get them to try and answer the question. And in order to do that, we try and ask them pointed questions. I want to contrast our questions with some questions you asked John Kerry recently.

    STEWART: If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome to. (LAUGHTER)

    CARLSON: No, no, no, here's the point.

    STEWART: If that's your goal.

    CARLSON: It's not.

    STEWART: I wouldn't aim for us. I'd aim for "Seinfeld." That's a very good show.

    ...

    STEWART: You know, it's interesting to hear you talk about my responsibility. I didn't realize that --- and maybe this explains quite a bit...that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity. (LAUGHTER) So what I would suggest is, when you talk about you're holding politicians' feet to fire, I think that's disingenuous.

    ...

    STEWART: But my point is this. If your idea of confronting me is that I don't ask hard-hitting enough news questions, we're in bad shape, fellows. (LAUGHTER)

    CARLSON: We're here to love you, not confront you...We're here to be nice.

    STEWART: No, no, no, but what I'm saying is this. I'm not. I'm here to confront you, because we need help from the media and they're hurting us. And it's --- the idea is... (APPLAUSE)

    BEGALA: Let me get this straight. If the indictment is --- if the indictment is --- and I have seen you say this --- that...

    STEWART: Yes.

    BEGALA: ... that CROSSFIRE reduces everything, as I said in the intro, to left, right, black, white.

    STEWART: Yes.

    BEGALA: Well, it's because, see, we're a debate show.

    STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great.

    BEGALA: It's like saying The Weather Channel reduces everything to a storm front.

    STEWART: I would love to see a debate show.

    BEGALA: We're 30 minutes in a 24-hour day where we have each side on, as best we can get them, and have them fight it out.

    STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition. (LAUGHTER)

    CARLSON: Jon, Jon, Jon, I'm sorry. I think you're a good comedian. I think your lectures are boring.

    STEWART: Yes.

    CARLSON: Let me ask you a question on the news.

    STEWART: Now, this is theater. It's obvious. How old are you?

    CARLSON: Thirty-five.

    STEWART: And you wear a bow tie. (LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE)

    CARLSON: Yes, I do. I do.

    STEWART: So this is...

    CARLSON: I know. I know. I know. You're a...

    STEWART: So this is theater.

    CARLSON: Now, let me just...

    STEWART: Now, listen, I'm not suggesting that you're not a smart guy, because those are not easy to tie...But the thing is that this --- you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great.

    BEGALA: We do, do...

    STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

    CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?

    STEWART: Absolutely.

    CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...

    STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. (LAUGHTER) What is wrong with you? (APPLAUSE)

    CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you --- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.

    STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

    CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

    STEWART: You need to go to one.

    ...

    STEWART: The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...

    CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

    STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey. (LAUGHTER)

    BEGALA: Go ahead. Go ahead.

    STEWART: I watch your show every day. And it kills me.

    CARLSON: I can tell you love it.

    STEWART: It's so --- oh, it's so painful to watch. (LAUGHTER)

    STEWART: You know, because we need what you do. This is such a great opportunity you have here to actually get politicians off of their marketing and strategy.

    CARLSON: Is this really Jon Stewart? What is this, anyway?

    STEWART: Yes, it's someone who watches your show and cannot take it anymore. (LAUGHTER) I just can't.

    CARLSON: What's it like to have dinner with you? It must be excruciating. Do you like lecture people like this or do you come over to their house and sit and lecture them; they're not doing the right thing, that they're missing their opportunities, evading their responsibilities?

    STEWART: If I think they are. (LAUGHTER)

    CARLSON: I wouldn't want to eat with you, man. That's horrible.

    STEWART: I know. And you won't.

    ...

    STEWART: But let me ask you guys, again, a question, because we talked a little bit about, you're actually doing honest debate and all that. But, after the debates, where do you guys head to right afterwards?

    CARLSON: The men's room.

    STEWART: Right after that?

    BEGALA: Home.

    STEWART: Spin alley.

    BEGALA: Home.

    STEWART: No, spin alley.

    BEGALA: What are you talking about? You mean at these debates?

    STEWART: Yes. You go to spin alley, the place called spin alley. Now, don't you think that, for people watching at home, that's kind of a drag, that you're literally walking to a place called deception lane? (LAUGHTER) Like, it's spin alley. It's --- don't you see, that's the issue I'm trying to talk to you guys...

    ...

    CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.

    STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show. (LAUGHTER)

    Wow. And bravo, Mr. Stewart.

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    A Fair and Balanced Look at Sexual Harassment charges against Bill O'Reilly
    By Brad Friedman on 10/13/2004 2:17pm PT  

    Hubris is a funny, yet often predictable, thing. Last February on this blog, I asked:

    Any idea what the coming Fall of O'Reilly will be? Live boy? Dead girl? Married to his own mother?

    Well, it looks like I was wrong. His downfall is a Live Girl. Looks like there may be several of them at that. I was close anyway.

    Though I know that these charges have not yet had their day in court, that never stopped Fox News from covering similarly unsubstantiated charges against their political enemies like Bill Clinton or CBS or others (Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson etc.) so I see no reason why turnabout isn't fairplay.

    To that end, I've been reviewing O'Reilly's pre-emptive complaint filed this morning, and his accusers complaint also filed today. I will be updating you shortly after I've finished reviewing the materials, but for the moment, I'd say things don't look too good for Mr. No Spin. I'll explain why in an follow-up shortly after I've finished my review.

    For the moment though, O'Reilly has the upper hand with three hours of national TV and Radio per day on which to make he's case, and he already began to do so at the beginning of his radio show this morning. As well, he has the enormous resources of the Fox News and Newscorp legal team and their friends in the powerful body politic that will undoubtedly use every resource to defend him as long as possible.

    To that end, consider this passage from the Plaintiff's complaint which quotes O'Reilly at a dinner meeting:

    "If you cross FOX NEWS CHANNEL, it's not just me, it's [FOX President] Roger Ailes who will go after you. I'm the street guy out front making loud noises about the issues, but Ailes operates behind the scenes, strategizes and makes things happen so that one day BAM! The person gets what's coming to them but never sees it coming. Look at Al Franken, one day he's going to get a knock on his door and life as he's known it will change forever. That day will happen, trust me."

    During the course of this conversation, Defendant BILL O'REILLY bizarrely rambled further about Al Franken: "Ailes knows very powerful people and this goes all the way to the top." Plaintiff queried: "To the top of what?" Defendant responded: "Top of the country. Just look at who's on the cover of his book [Bush and Cheney], they're watching him and will be for years. [Al Franken's] finished, and he's going to be sorry he ever took FOX NEWS CHANNEL on."

    For those just jumping in, further info on Roger Ailes is here. There is reason to believe the quotes above may have been tape recorded, and thus, available soon. More on that later.

    In the meantime, as you see above, O'Reilly, Fox and Friends will have a huge PR and Power advantage in this case. I, however, will be looking out for you. Stay tuned as we help you decipher from the facts from the spin.

    DEVELOPING...

    Related BRAD BLOG Updates on this story:
    10/13/04: "Bad Vibrations for Bill O'Reilly"
    10/14/04: "O'Reilly - In Our Unresolved Problem Segment..."
    10/19/04: "O'Reilly - In the Personal Story Segment Tonight..."
    10/20/04: "O'Reilly's Case Gets Weaker: Mackris files additional charges."

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    By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2004 2:57pm PT  

    While I look forward to his interview with Bush tonight (and for the next three!), I've had a few "No Spin" items spinning on my brain for a few days that I'd like to toss out.

    ITEM #1: Last week, on The Factor, O'Reilly attempted to marginalize Air America Radio two days in a row by claiming that they were meaningless and failed because they are currently only carried on "20 affiliates". Never mind that when O'Reilly launched his radio show, he had enough money to actually pay stations to carry his show! But more notably, O'Reilly has a long term grudge with Al Franken, one of the AAR hosts, and can't even manage to say his name on his "no-spin" program, spinning him as "Stuart Smalley" instead of using his real name. So O'Reilly continues to spin his own opinions about Franken and AAR by simply lying about them.

    A quick check of the Air America Radio website, would have told O'Reilly that they are on "32 Stations Nationwide" according to the banner headline on the front page of their site. After his statement the first day we could have been generous and called it a mistake. Repeating it verbatim the next day, however, was no mistake. It was just spin.

    ITEM #2: For the last several weeks O'Reilly has been going on about James Carville and Paul Begala working with the Kerry Campaign in an unpaid advisory capacity while continuing their role as co-hosts on CNN's Crossfire. While, unlike O'Reilly, neither Carville nor Begala refer to themselves as journalists, but rather as admitted partisans who host the liberal side of a political debate show. At the end of last week O'Reilly huffed at one of his guests who challenged "the bloviator's" claim as disingenous because Fox does virtually nothing but support the Bush campaign. O'Reilly then launched into a challenge asking him to "Name names!" about who does that at Fox, promising he would call them out if they did!

    The answer (that the guest didn't have at hand) is Sean Hannity who lent his imprimatur to the Republican National Party by narrating videos for the GOP Convention website. I wrote O'Reilly to name the name, but so far, I haven't noticed any on-air corrections or condemnations for it. You can still hear Hannity at the GOPConvention website right here.

    ITEM #3: As you may know, O'Reilly still has his silly on-going "Boycott" of France. Here's a quick snippet on that from O'Reilly's interview with Jon Stewart last week:

    STEWART: Do you really believe France is, in any way, worthy of a boycott?

    O'REILLY: I do. I think France has really hurt the USA, to be...

    STEWART: Really?

    O'REILLY: Yes, I do.

    STEWART: More than like Saudi Arabia? You would advocate a boycott...

    O'REILLY: No, I'm not going to say more than Saudi Arabia. But I'm saying we do a lot...

    STEWART: So why not boycott them?

    O'REILLY: France is supposed to be our friend.

    ...And he didn't have anymore to say on the matter as the subject was then changed. But Stewart makes an excellent point there. Why aren't all those ridiculous French Bashers out there calling for a boycott of products from Saudi Arabia --- who is also "supposed to be our friend" --- instead? $1.97 a gallon says you know the answer. Hypocrites.

    The spin goes on...

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    RNC Day 3
    By Brad Friedman on 9/1/2004 8:32pm PT  

    FOX News Primetime Convention Speech Coverage

    Courtesy of Media Matters

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    RNC Day 2
    By Brad Friedman on 9/1/2004 12:58pm PT  

    FOX News Primetime Convention Speech Coverage

    Courtesy of Media Matters

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    A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing
    By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2004 10:40am PT  

    Everywhere I go (and write) these days there still seems to be a collective sense of shock and/or disbelief from folks on both the Right and the Middle, and even on the Left --- who have been as mind-numbed as those everywhere else --- when I mention the supposedly "Liberal" Mainstream Media's bias towards the Bush Administration.

    The bias is not so much because they are supporters of Bush Administration policies per se, but because they have been so cowed for so long by the Administration, and afraid of either losing their access or being labeled "Anti-Bush" or "Anti-American" or simply "unpatriotic" by the rabid Right, that they now err far on the opposite side of the matter. The result has been, over the past several years, that the Right and the Bushies who currently sit at the top of that pyramid have gotten a virtual free pass on everything from the 2000 Election to the Iraq War.

    The supposed "Liberal" bastions of CNN and the NY Times are the most obvious examples. Whenever I mention their bias towards Administration positions, I am met with shock, disbelief and indignation from Right Robots everywhere. Of course. Who can blame them? They are behaving as they have been programmed to. (Just like the Mainstream Media!)

    The fact that the NY Times all but abdicated it's duties as skeptical journalists, who are supposed to be looking out for our interests, during the run up to the Iraq War has been much discussed in the narrow band of the Blogosphere Left and largely ignored (by convenience?) amongst the more ubiquitous Rightwing and Mainstream (virtual Rightwing) Media.

    A tepid and vaguely worded apology was recently issued by the Times for their disastrously inaccurate and misleading pre-war coverage, wherein they essentially echoed the Administration's flawed intelligence every day on Page One of America's "paper of record". The Times eventually apologized for "coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been" and that "In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged."

    The Times information was largely spoon-fed to them without question by Ahmad Chalabi --- a man with a very specific mission to tell Americans whatever they needed to hear to encourage them (and us, and the world) towards over-throwing Saddam. He was also a man on the Administration payroll to the tune of some 300k per month. Their apology, of course, unlike the Page One stories, was a Page 14 blip on the media coverage scene. A more recent Op/Ed apology in The Times said that they "should have been more aggressive in helping our readers understand that there was always a possibility that no large stockpiles existed" and that they "did not listen carefully" to those who raised those doubts.

    Judith Miller, the Times biggest Page One offender was never singled out by name in either apology, or apparently reprimanded in any way, for her nearly single-handed series of scores of flawed and misleading articles. It's all now too little, too late. As is usually the case when "the paper of records" prints something, many of those articles were then hailed by Bush supporters everywhere to shore up their case for war in every other newspaper and/or media outlet around the world. If, after all, even the "Liberal" NY Times says "Saddam has stockpiles of WMD's" and that "Iraq is a growing threat" then, of course, it must be true!

    Of course, we now know it wasn't. But don't expect much more than a quick hand-wringing about that from the same Media that screwed it all up in the first place.

    CNN is another supposedly "Liberal" Media outlet that carried the Administration water leading up to and throughout the "initial hostilities" in Iraq.

    They, like the rest of what might have been a legitimate media in this country, were cowed from the very first hours after the 9/11 Attacks when FOX NEWS and other Rightwing Hacks accused them of being "unpatriotic" whenever one of their anchors considered the traitorous act of not wearing an American Flag lapel pin while on the air!

    CNN's Christian Amanpour, almost alone, was critical of her own network and the many others who "embedded" themselves within the Administration in one way or another. She was, of course, met with much criticism back in September of 2003, when she publicly raised the issue. "I'm sorry to say," Amanpour told USA Today, "but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did."

    She went on to speak about how this self-censorship seeped its way into the coverage, or lack thereof; "It's a question of being rigorous. It's really a question of really asking the questions. All of the entire body politic in my view, whether it's the administration, the intelligence, the journalists, whoever, did not ask enough questions, for instance, about weapons of mass destruction. I mean, it looks like this was disinformation at the highest levels."

    Now she tells us.

    And now, with WMD's nowhere to be found, the Administration's "informants" proven to have been largley nothing more than opportunistic frauds, and the case for the war virtually shot to hell, it's not just the Bush Administration that is avoiding all mea culpas in not taking real accountability for their culpability in the unncessecary deaths of thousands in this bogus war. The very media that helped them convince America there was a good reason for all of it continue to act, with very few exceptions, like Amanpour above, as though they had no real responsibility in the matter.

    Wolf Blitzer, CNN's most prominent face and "top" anchor continues business as usual. Despite so many of his sycophantic and unquestioning softball interviews with so many "top Administration Officials" prior to the war.

    Sadly, as has been the case in America over the last few months, it turns out that the hard-hitting fake news program "The Daily Show", as demonstrated here recently, is one of the few voices regularly calling out the Mainstream Media for their vaccuous and inaccurate coverage that helped allow the Bush Administration to lead us into an unnecessary and ultimately self-destructive war.
    In truth, the real scandal is how the "real" news outlets turn out to be "comedy", while our comedy shows turn out to be more like real news. We are well beyond the Looking Glass indeed.

    Last Monday, the seemingly rather incurious Blitzer was interviewed by "The Daily's" Jon Stewart who didn't much hold back in his questioning of the man who, in no small part, was the "face" of American Media across the world in the panicked rush to war. The discussion was rather telling:

    STEWART: Let me ask you...you work in news...[laughter] and I don't..the Senate Intelligence Committee, they come out with this rerport that says "Oh, the Iraq War...yeah, that's kind of a funny story...it was a mistake... [laughter] We were wrong about all that..."
    BLITZER: Mmm-hmm...
    STEWART: Taking the country to war based on information that turns out to be completely wrong because it was told to you by a guy named "Curveball"...[laughter]...Shouldn't that be...I mean, just out of curiosity...The biggest scandal we've ever had in the country?...Or no?...Am I thinking...
    BLITZER: Well, you know...you never made a mistake in your life?
    STEWART: That's a good point.
    BLITZER: The CIA's not perfect, and sometimes they...get it wrong.
    STEWART: That's right...
    BLITZER: They got it wrong.
    STEWART: And if...but in that situation, shouldn't someone be...fired? [laughter, applause]...or is it...I could be wrong...
    BLITZER: Well, George Tenet did leave this weekend.
    STEWART: After being told he was doing a "superb job"!
    BLITZER: Yeah...in defense of George Tenet...I'll say this, we never know the successes, because they're kept secret. The failures we all know.
    ...
    STEWART: Even the idea that the Senate Intelligence Committee has come up with this report...Wasn't their job to do that originally?
    BLITZER: Originally, yes...That was looking back...
    STEWART: Who's investigated them?
    BLITZER: The American people. We have the right to investigate them. And the media...and look back and say "you know what, mistakes were made". [silence...then laughter]
    STEWART: Okay...as far as the media...so now the CIA has gone back to their offices and said "Okay...no WMD"...Is the media doing anything?...Like at CNN do they have meetings were they say "uh, you know what? We should have asked that."
    BLITZER: Uh, I think that...we do...we do do that.
    STEWART: You have meetings? [laugter]
    BLITZER: Yes, we have meetings.
    STEWART: At those meetings...after, after you guys figure out who gets that last cruller...what does the media do differently?
    ...
    BLITZER: I think we learn from our mistakes and try to it do better next time.
    STEWART: Specifically?
    BLITZER: Specifically...we learn from our mistakes and try to do it better next time. [laughter]

    (Pardon the interruption, but I must interject here to note how much Blitzer there sounds like Bush last week when asked how he can still continue to claim that there were ties between Saddam and al-Qaeda. His answer: "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, is because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda."

    Anyway...back to the Blitzer interview...)

    BLITZER: We look back and we say, "ya know what, we should have been more skeptical." [silence...then laughter].
    STEWART: But, if...well, come on...it was a...
    BLITZER: You know we're trained to be skeptical by our very nature...that's what journalists...
    STEWART: Why weren't you?...Because people...
    BLITZER: I think we could have been more, skeptical...I think we...Look...I...
    STEWART: Are you afraid of the Bush Administration?...Is the Bush Administration so ham-handed --- and this is coming from a Jew who knows nothing of ham [laughter] --- but are they so forceful...
    BLITZER: No...
    STEWART: ...that they have intimidated the press corp into not asking those questions?
    BLITZER: No. The answer's no.
    STEWART: So...is the Press Corp...and again, I'm gonna use the word...suffering from "groupthink"?...[laughter]...Or, or, or...another word...retardation? [laughter, cheers] No come on..really, tell me truth. I wanna know. I'm really curious. I'm baffled.
    BLITZER: It's "groupthink"...not retardation.
    STEWART: It is "groupthink"?
    BLITZER: ..."groupthink"...You know when you're told...repeatedly...and I was told by...going into the war...I went off to the war...I went off to Kuwait, you probably remember.
    STEWART: I do remember seeing you in Kuwait City...
    BLITZER: So...Uh, I, I remember going off. I had all the briefings. I went over. Got the briefings from the CIA, the Pentagon, spoke to all the members of Congress, the Intelligence Committees, the House side, the Senate side...Everybody said the same thing: "There is no doubt there are stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons...and it's only a matter of time before he has a nuclear bomb"...Remember, Condoleeza Rice said on my show...Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer [laughter]...She said, "we can't wait for a smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
    STEWART: You're exactly right...and as it turns out Pakistan had already sold "mushroom cloud material" to every country in the area but Iraq! [laughter, cheers] ...It's crazy! The whole thing's crazy! Whooo...Whooo-hooo! [Stewart spins around madly in chair]

    Yes, Jon...the whole thing's crazy. And Wolf sums his failure up nicely; Prior to the war, he asked everyone who was in favor of going to war, why we should be going to war. Apparently, though he claims to be "skeptical by [his] very nature", he was not skeptical enough to report on, or give coverage to all of the many voices out here who had different opinions on the efficacy of this thing before it actually happened. Wouldn't want to jeopardize that primo Administration access now would we, Wolf?

    A study by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting released in March of 2003, looked at the interviews conducted by CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS in the one week before and then after Colin Powell gave his now infamously misleading (and factually incorrect!) address to the United Nations. Of the 393 interviews during those two weeks on the four major broadcast networks, only three of those interviews were with individuals who were "skeptical of or opposed to the invasion of Iraq."

    That means that nearly 97% of what Americans saw on their nightly news was little more than a constant drumbeat for going to war. So much for the myth of the "Liberal" Media.

    None the less, some of us who were paying close attention heard all the warnings beforehand. From former Middle East envoy and chief of Central Command in the Middle East, Scott Ritter, from the head of the International Atomic Energy Association, Mohamed al-Baradei and a host of others, who told us --- usually via the tiniest mentions in the Mainstream Media, if that much, more frequently on their own websites or reported via the independent internet websites --- that the WMD were not there, Saddam had no "mushroom cloud material" and the plan for War was simply ill-conceived from the get go.

    We, the few of us bothering to pay very close attention on our own, even heard the warnings George W. Bush's own father, who has more than a little familiarity with issues in that tricky and dangerous part of the world. The former President warned in his own memoirs that "Trying to eliminate Saddam ... would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. ... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. ... [T]here was no viable 'exit strategy' we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

    In other words, all of the warnings were out there, yet CNN and the The NY Times and the rest of the Network Broadcast Media, in the wake of blistering criticism from the Right after 9/11 for not being "patriotic" enough, didn't bother to be skeptical enough because that would have required they be --- potentially --- critical of the Administration in their reporting. Which, in turn, would have been "unpatriotic" and/or "un-American" as charged by the folks that have been charging for years that these outlets are "house organs of the Liberal Left" anyway.

    They weren't skeptical enough. They should have been. And nearly 900 Americans have now given their lives, thousands more have given their limbs, and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians are all dead because of it.

    Yes, as the recent Senate Intelligence Report indicates, the CIA blew it. So did the Bush Administration. But make no mistake, the Media --- Mainstream and otherwise --- have the same blood of incompetence, abdication of duty, cowardice and failure of intellectual curiosity on their hands. "Liberal" Media, indeed. Failed, cowed, culpable Administration Media lap dogs appears much closer to reality for anyone willing to look at the actual evidence.

    With so many dead, so many failures, it would be nice if that Media started dealing more in reality. For the good of this country. (Which is usually for the good of this world, I might add.) No matter how many Administration Officials or Rightwing Extremist Partisans might cut off their access and baselessly call them names and threaten boycotts because of it.

    Message to the Media: Yes, politicians of both the Left and the Right will tell you whatever they are interesting in selling. That's their job. It's your job to get the real story! Not simply serve as a PR outfit for the politicos! We've got xerox machines for that! And we shouldn't have to rely on fake news shows on cable comedy channels for the real news and the hard-hitting interviews. In other words, find some courage and some of that skepticism you claim to have "by nature", and start doing your frickin' job! How many more have to die to remind you of what you should be doing?

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    Ridiculed, Petitioned and Trounced
    (Reaping what he's sown?)
    By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2004 5:45pm PT  

    First he's made to look like a boob in the new documentary, OutFoxed, which outs the Republican Fox News channel and it's Number #1 Republican for what they really are.

    Then MoveOn.org collects signatures to send to the FTC to complain about the false and misleading labelling of the Fox news product as "fair and balanced". They use an hysterical clip from OutFoxed to help make their case. (Feel free to join that petition, by the way)

    And then comes the news, as reported by Drudge, that O'Reilly's greatest nemesis (one of 'em, anyway) Al Franken trounced po' po' O'Reilly on the radio in New York City. Yes, Al's little-bitty show that "nobody wants to listen to", as so many frightened and silly Right-wingers will tell you, and indeed have posted here, cleaned O'Reilly's clock in the largest market where they actually go head to head.

    I guess nobody's looking out for Bill O'Reilly.

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    By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2004 6:47pm PT  

    ...That the proposed changes in FCC fines for "indecent speech" currently moving through Congress and chilling broadcasters will change the penalty for individual performers (not the stations owners!) from the current $11,000 after a first-warning to a whopping $500,000 per incident with no warning whatsoever? Read about it here, since MSNBC hasn't gone out of their way to tell you about it.

    ...That, according to an audit by the US Governmental Accounting Office (GAO), the vast majority of companies in America didn't pay any federal income taxes at all from 1996 to 2000? Read about it here, since Dubya keeps forgetting to mention it.

    ...That despite what you may have heard from the majority of the Media (controlled almost exclusively by Conservatives) about George W. Bush still being ahead of John Kerry, that Kerry actually leads Bush in the two most recently released polls? Read about it here, since Sean Hannity forgot to announce it.

    ...That Great Britain's conservative newspaper, The Independent, reports that a former translator for the FBI with top-secret security clearance testified to the 9/11 Commission that she "saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes" and that she gave the Commission "details of specific investigation files, the specific dates, specific target information, specific managers in charge of the investigation....everything so that they could go back and follow up. This is not hearsay. These are things that are documented. These things can be established very easily." Which, of course, makes Condi Rice's claims that "we could never have foreseen planes being used as missiles" even more incredible than they already were? Read about it here, since Scott McClellan keeps leaving these things out of his morning briefings.

    ...That if Donald Trump is as good a businessman as he would like us to believe, he will see to it that hot couple Amy and Nick will be the final two contestants left on The Apprentice? No need to read about it anywhere else, cuz I just told you, and you've got other reading to do!

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    By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2004 9:44am PT  

    Yesterday, there was a horrible Mogadishu-style attack against Americans in Fallujah. Nine Americans were killed, and four of them were burnt, dragged through the streets, dismembered and hung from lightposts and bridges.

    The American Media, perhaps taking their cue from the Whitehouse who will not allow pictures of coffins returning from Iraq, decided that Americans are simply too fragile to be shown the horrible images that came out of Fallujah yesterday. The rest of the world saw them, but not Americans.

    All of which brings me to a point I've been pondering for a while. After Richard Clarke last week displayed the first real act of contrition from an American Official since the 9/11 Attacks by apologizing for the Government's failure to protect us, there was one lone member of the Media, Rick Mercier - sadly from a tiny paper in Fredericksburg, VA --- who had the courage to admit the Media's culpability in this whole fine mess:

    THE MEDIA are finished with their big blowouts on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and there's one thing they forgot to say: We're sorry. Sorry we let unsubstantiated claims drive our coverage. Sorry we were dismissive of experts who disputed White House charges against Iraq. Sorry we let a band of self-serving Iraqi defectors make fools of us. Sorry we fell for Colin Powell's performance at the United Nations. Sorry we couldn't bring ourselves to hold the administration's feet to the fire before the war, when it really mattered. Maybe we'll do a better job next war.

    Since the attacks of 9/11 (but also in the months leading up to it) the complicity the Major Media outlets have shown by simply going along with the Whitehouse line, wholly unchallenged and uninvestigated, is a National Disgrace. They have, by and large, played Hired P.R. Hand to virtually every hollow, misleading and frequently out and out incorrect line that the Whitehouse has tried to sell the American People since that day.

    Their sycophantic behavior shows little sign of abating. Last week's Radio & Television Correspondents Association Dinner featured a slide-show narrated by Dubya, with photos of him looking around the oval office along with the repeated lines: "Those WMD's gotta be somewhere!"

    The packed house of DC Media and Insiders yucked it up together. What a riot. 600 or so Americans and countless Iraqis are now dead because they all failed to do their job of keeping the Government honest by actually investigating their claims and by and large wholly shutting out or even mocking (ask Scott Ritter) all viewpoints which ran contrary to the Whitehouse line. Alternative viewpoints which turned out to be correct in the end, right in front of their noses, but they were too busy - I suppose - hoping not to be branded "unpatriotic" or otherwise losing their much sought insider status.

    Is it any wonder then, that Americans have such a high view of themselves even while seeming to have no clue why the rest of the world could possibly hold us in such contempt?

    The swamp is hardly being drained --- and there is plenty of blame for that to go around.

    ReddIt this story!



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