Friday, August 04, 2017

The Alternate Universe of Fox News; Buckley on Trump


My firm's office that I principally work out of is located in a business suites complex with numerous other tenants, including close to a half dozen other law firms.  Over all, it is a mixed group of tenants, all of whom share a kitchen/lounge area with a TV in it, as well as the large central printer/copier. During the 2016 election, there was an unspoken battle as to what channel would be on: Fox News, a/k/a Faux News, CNN or MSNBC, with people regularly changing the channel to their preferred channel.  Interestingly, now the TV remains almost always set to CNN or MSNBC.  Fox News, much more rarely.  On the increasingly rare occasions when the TV is tuned to Fox News, the best way to describe the coverage is as an alternate universe where major stories and facts are simply not reported.  Indeed, Fox News might as well be Russian state controlled television insofar as only right wing affirming coverage is aired.  A case in point was yesterday when news was breaking about Robert Mueller's empaneling of a DC based grand jury.  A New York Magazine headline says it all: " CNN: Grand Jury. MSNBC: Grand Jury. Fox News: Literally Anything Else."  The Founding Fathers believed that it was critical that the country have an informed electorate and that citizens had a duty to be well informed on the issues and events of the day.  One does NOT fulfill that duty watching Fox News.  Here are excerpts from the New York Magazine piece:
Earlier on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury as part of his ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. (The White House, for its part, just keeps reiterating that Donald Trump is not under investigation and plans to fully cooperate with Mueller.) The WSJ called it “a sign that his inquiry is growing in intensity and entering a new phase.” This is, clearly, big news. The kind of news that major networks should be talking about. . . . Frankly, once you’ve read The Wall Street Journal report about the grand jury, you might want to tune into Fox News. Seems like they’re running some very fun segments this evening.

If - or more likely when - indictments come, Fox News viewers will no doubt be in shock and ask "how did this happen."  For racists, religious extremists, and xenophobes, Fox News has become a way to stick one's head in the sand and ignore reality.

Meanwhile, some conservative outlets are reporting on the real Donald Trump.  A case in point is Red State which has a timely piece that reveals what William F. Buckley - an icon to thinking conservatives (admittedly a vanishing species) - thought of Der Trumpenf├╝hrer, none of it good. Here are highlights:
There has been a lot of discussion in the last several months over whether not several conservative icons would be supporting Donald Trump for President. William F.  Buckley, the founder of National Review and host of Firing Line said during the 1964 GOP primary that his rule was to support the “most rightward viable candidate.” That has often been turned into “the most conservative, electable candidate.” 
Willam F. Buckley wrote something about Donald Trump when he was talking about running for President — in 2000. Buckley, in an essay he wrote for  Cigar Aficionado and said the following about Trump:
Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today’s lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line.
Wow. He wrote this sixteen years ago. And think about it. Some of our most pressing concerns right now have to do with foreign policy and and national security. Trump’s business acumen, however questionable, is worthless in such cases.
And he wasn’t finished:
In the final analysis, just as the king might look down with terminal disdain upon a courtier whose hypocrisy repelled him, so we have no substitute for relying on the voter to exercise a quiet veto when it becomes more necessary to discourage cynical demagogy, than to advance free health for the kids. That can come later, in another venue; the resistance to a corrupting demagogy should take first priority.
Finally, he illuminated Trump’s narcissism by comparing him with Steve Forbes:
So what else can Trump offer us? Well to begin with, a self-financed campaign. Does it follow that all who finance their own campaigns are narcissists? At this writing Steve Forbes has spent $63 million in pursuit of the Republican nomination. Forbes is an evangelist, not an exhibitionist. In his long and sober private career, Steve Forbes never bought a casino, and if he had done so, he would not have called it Forbes’s Funhouse. His motivations are discernibly selfless. . .
Buckley, a New Yorker, had more of an insight into Trump than others. At the time Trump wasn’t known to the rest of the country beyond people knew he was some rich businessman. Buckley however, was privy to the nonsense Trump engaged within NYC and Buckley was just well aware of it. Whatever it was, he had Trump pegged.

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