In the midst of its weeklong cheerleading session for Chris Christies pretense that he is in any position to challenge Trump for the presidency (after having repeatedly prostrated himself before the Donald throughout 2016 and gotten nothing for it), MSNBCs Nicole Wallace (herself a recovering Republican) decided to play skunk at the garden party. She asked why his book about liars and conspiracy theorists didnt mention Fox News. Christie dodged the question with the ridiculous contention that he does not watch Fox and had no idea what Tucker Carlson et al. were saying these days. In that regard, Christie was lucky that he could not be asked to take a position on Carlsons insane contention that January 6th was a false flag operation.
People who know Tucker even casually, myself among them, know that he is not nearly stupid or crazy enough to believe the things he says on air. Like so many of the Fox hosts, he says what he needs to in order to keep himself both rich and relevant to the audience of lunatics that Fox increasingly attracts and misinforms. It can be complicated sometimes to catch these clowns in a clear lie because they are so shameless about what they pretend to believe. So kudos to Chris Hayes for taking the trouble to point out a deliberate, premeditated lie by the network; a rather inconsequential one, but all the more revealing for having been so. President Biden was paying tribute to the great Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige, and Fox snipped the tape to make it appear that Old Man Biden was referring to him as just a Negro rather than referring to the Negro League he pitched in, and then guffawed about the old guy. In fact, as Hayes notes, Fox was caught red-handed committing one of the gravest of all journalistic sins deceptively editing a sound bite to make a politician say something they did not say. You can see it here.
Foxs complete lack of journalistic integrity and willingness to lie when it suits their overseers political purposes have real-life consequences. In my final Nation column, I noted that due to a 2018 examination of the political knowledge of more than 3,000 Fox News viewers by political scientists Sanford Schram and Richard Fording, we know that relying on Fox News as a major news source significantly decreased a persons score more than relying on any other news source. Not surprisingly, people also vote on the basis of these lies. A 2017 study by political scientist Gregory Martin and economist Ali Yurukoglu found that the effect of watching Fox News was powerful enough to change the results of almost any close election and even some that would never have been close without it.
Just recently, the Center for Law & Economics Working Paper Series published a working paper entitled Cable News and COVID-19 Vaccine Compliance by three scholars, which found that in the later stages of the vaccine roll-out (starting May 2021), higher local viewership of Fox News Channel has been associated with lower local vaccination rates. The authors noted, We can verify that this association is causal using exogenous geographical variation in the channel lineup. (The other two major television networks, CNN and MSNBC, evinced no such effect.) Another study, an NBER Working Paper on The Persuasive Effect of Fox News: Non-Compliance With Social Distancing During the Covid-19 Pandemic, found a direct connection between Fox viewing and a refusal to comply with commonsense social-distancing measures. In addition to perverting our political system, that is, Fox is also killing people.
Keep this site free and open for all to read...
And dont forget one of Foxs most important impacts, one that rarely gets enough attention: its power to successfully work the refs, and thereby make other news sources far more sympathetic to right-wing falsehoods than they would otherwise be. Its a tangential point in this fine New York magazine story, Inside Felicia Sonmezs War Against the Washington Post, but in it, we learn from former Post reporter Christopher Ingraham that [m]anagement effectively let the policy be dictated by the worst elements of the far right. A surefire way to get a Post reporter in trouble at work was to get a critical mass of conservatives mad at that reporter on Twitter.
I must say I was surprised by just how upset Martin Indyk got over the short item I wrote about all the attention being showered on Master of the Game, his love letter to Henry Kissinger, in last weeks column/newsletter, responding with a never-ending series of tweets and testimonials. He also called me an incorrigible bounder, an insult I had to look up to find out what it meant. As I tried to explain to the angry Mr. Indyk, the item wasnt really about him or his book; it was about the overwhelming embrace by the mainstream media and foreign-policy establishment of a work that celebrates what are really the costly failures of a man whose cynical lack of regard for human life resulted in millions of unnecessary deaths during the course of his career. Those failures include his actions related to the 1973 Yom Kippur War that Indyk finds, um, master[ful].
One of the great things about Substack is that it allows one to ignore people who just waste your time with nutty beliefs and conspiracy theories. I havent checked, but Im sure my blood pressure appreciates the fact that I have pretty much no idea what Bari Weiss, Glenn Greenwald, or Matt Taibbi think about anything anymore. The biggest blessing, no doubt, was the departure from the MSM of Andrew Sullivan. No more having to read about liberal publications whoring for racist eugenicists; no more attacks on the decadent left and paralyzing, pseudo-clever, morally nihilist fifth column. No more attacks on yours truly, who, together with Susan Sontag and Michael Moore, and later Katha Pollitt, was described as a literal traitor to America. I could go on, but the point is that 60 Minutes had even less reason to celebrate, last Sunday, the now irrelevant gay-Catholic-Tory-Gap model than the entire MSM did to throw a party for New Jerseys least popular governor ever.
For the next few weeks, Ill be adding to my already extensive rsum for public service by recommending gifts to buy yourselves and others, this being the season and all. It will be almost all music and books. My first suggestion is the surprisingly decently priced five-CD box set devoted to Joni Mitchells 19681971 period, which included her (all but) undisputed masterpiece, Blue. Its called Joni Mitchell ArchivesVolume 2.
Keep this site free and open for all to read...
The set is made up of 122 tracksthough some are spoken introductionsof recordings that are home demos, studio outtakes, and live versions, nicely cleaned up, of songs that appeared on Song to a Seagull, Clouds, Ladies of the Canyon, and of course, Blue. Volume 1, which documented Jonis genuine beginnings, was really for Jonis hardcore devotees. This set is aimed more at committed Joni fans, if not people who just kind of like her songs. It includes three full shows, one at Le Hibou Coffee House in 1968 in Ottawa (rather incredibly, personally recorded on tape by Jimi Hendrix); in 1969 at Carnegie Hall; and one in London in 1970 where she was joined by her then-boyfriend James Taylor. The rest is a mix of tapes she made in Saskatchewan, on the John Peel program, and on Dick Cavetts talk show. A big bonus is the fact that the author of the liner notes in this handsome set is Cameron Crowe. Dollar for dollar (whether U.S. or Canadian), youll be hard-pressed to find a nicer gift for anyone in this price range.
(Lately, I have seen a number of people insisting that Joni is the greatest songwriter of her generation, even including Dylan. Graham Nash, another ex-boyfriend, said it to me, in this 2014 interview. I disagree, but if you just feel like reading a lot about Joni, check out this reading list.)
If someone on your list is really into Christmasand you also want to look like you spent more money than you really didthen Id recommend the four-CD, 82-song box set Elvis Back in Nashville. These are the studio sessions that yielded Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas (1971), the gospel He Touched Me (1972), Elvis Now (1972), and Elvis (1973), but all the (literal) bells and whistles have been wiped away and what you get is just Elvis and his excellent band. One can, as one almost always must with late Elvis, take issue with many of the song choices. Even without the backup singers, strings and horns, etc., theres still a lot of shtick here in the form of quite a few schlocky songs. But this being Elvis, greatness nevertheless abounds. The songs are not the famous ones; not even the famous Christmas ones. But that just makes the experience of discovery more fun. Theres one CD of Elvis fooling around with the popular music of the period (Lady Madonna, Dont Think Twice, and Put Your Hand in the Hand). And theres also an extended unedited version of Merry Christmas Baby that, I promise you, will never get old. (And hey, if you give it to someone you love, you can say Merry Christmas, Baby, so they know you are not part of that evil War on Christmas that will no doubt be raging as you speak those words.) Theres a nice booklet too, but I see people complaining about its accuracy, so no endorsement there.