An Overflowing Box-O-Toons

HELP!!!  My box of political cartoons is full to overflowing!  This must mean it’s time to share the work of the multi-talented political cartoonists, yes?  I say multi-talented, for they are not only able to draw a great ‘toon, often in a matter of minutes, but they are also well-versed in socio-political matters and share a voice of reason that is expressed through their art.  Today’s offering is rather a hodgepodge of everything from Tucker Carlson to Ron DeSantis, the debt ceiling, Donald Trump and even Harry Belafonte!  Most have a darkness to them, for that is the world we’re living in today, but they make their point ever so well.

Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Trumper in NYC, New York Crime, political cartoon

Jaw-Dropping News

At exactly 11:39 EDT this morning came the breaking news that caused my jaw to drop:

Tucker Carlson Leaves Fox News

The company gave no reason, only this brief statement:

“FOX News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways. We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor.”

I expected some heads to roll in the wake of the $787.5 million settlement agreed on between Fox and Dominion Voting Systems last week, but last I heard it would likely be Jeanine Pirro and Maria Bartiromo, not their top draw.  Thus far there is no word whether he was terminated or left of his own volition, but I suspect the former, for as journalist Brian Stelter noted …

“The biggest ‘tell’ in Fox’s press release about Tucker Carlson’s exit is that he is not getting a final show. No chance to say goodbye on his own terms or point people to his next home. Fox says ‘Carlson’s last program was Friday April 21st.’”

I wonder if this is just the first head to roll at Fox?  Oh, it seems not, since Justin Wells, the senior executive producer of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” has also been fired.  I wonder who will be left on Fox at the end of this week?

Interestingly, at 12:19 p.m., just 40 minutes after the news broke that Carlson and Fox have parted ways, came the news that in those 40 minutes, “Fox Corporation – the parent company of Fox News – has seen its share value drop by about 4%.”

So … where will ol’ Tuck go next?  Well, already this afternoon it is reported that RT, the Russian state-controlled television network, has put out the welcome mat for Tucker … ‘twould be an appropriate home for him, I suppose.  While I’m not in the habit of laughing at other people’s misfortunes, I must admit some feeling of “you got what you deserved” this time.  Of course others on Fox are equally toxic, but their turn may be coming soon.

And just a little bit ago (2:03 p.m. EDT), it was reported by the Los Angeles Times that Carlson was fired over the discrimination lawsuit filed by a former producer on his show, Abby Grossberg.  Grossberg’s suit claims that lawyers for the network “coached” and “intimidated” her into giving misleading testimony in the lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems. She also alleged a culture of sexism and misogyny at the network, and that executives tried to blame her and host Maria Bartiromo for the airing of 2020 election conspiracy theories.  What a surprise … not.

Well, folks, that’s where it all stands as of now … could be an interesting week for ol’ Fox “News” and their crew of natural-born liars.  Oh, and don’t feel too badly for ol’ Tucker, for he has a net worth of approximately $30 million, so I don’t think he’ll need to apply for food stamps any time soon.

Da Fox Loses … But Gets To Keep The Henhouse

I was both pleased and disappointed by the news of the $787.5 million settlement in the Dominion v Fox News case.  I was pleased for a number of reasons, mainly that a willingness to settle proves yet again that Rupert Murdoch and others at Fox are well aware they lied to increase their own profits, but also because a trial was likely to be turned into a media circus that would have kept our attention away from most anything else.  My disappointment is in the fact that Fox got off light.  Oh sure, over a three-quarters of a billion dollars is a lot of money … more than I can even begin to comprehend … BUT true justice in this case would have stemmed from Murdoch, Hannity, Carlson, Ingraham, Pirro and others having to face their viewers, the people they lied to, and say, “Yes, we lied to you because we think you are stupid enough to believe our lies, and so we could make more money.”  We were denied that.  Fox viewers were denied an apology, are still being denied the truth.

Erik Wemple, media critic for The Washington Post, addresses this “big hole” left in the wake of the settlement, and I agree … money is paid, but full accountability is still lacking.

There’s a big hole in the Dominion-Fox News settlement

Erik Wemple

18 April 2023

When news of a possible settlement between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News surfaced on Sunday night, pleas from concerned citizens popped up on social media: Don’t settle this lawsuit, Dominion. Put all the evidence before a jury. Drag Fox News hosts and executives to the witness stand. Grill them on their deceptive programming.

So, the news Tuesday afternoon that the two parties had settled Dominion’s $1.6 billion defamation suit over election disinformation for $787.5 million will disappoint those who longed for a more visceral comeuppance for Fox News. That’s understandable, considering that Fox News has littered the public square with lies and half-baked stories — essentially mini-Dominions — for 26-plus years.

The size of the payout, however, speaks to both the journalistic atrocities and the reams of internal correspondence that Dominion pried from Fox News during the pretrial maneuvering. And yet: It all feels a bit empty.

Justin Nelson, a top attorney for Dominion, sounded a triumphant tone in a statement following the announcement. “The truth matters,” said Nelson. “Lies have consequences. Over two years ago, a torrent of lies swept Dominion and election officials across America into an alternative universe of conspiracy theories.” The settlement, he added, “represents vindication and accountability.”

That accountability came via volume. A Dominion document filed with the court on Tuesday listed 7,021 trial exhibits, including transcripts of offending programs, internal correspondence among producers expressing doubts about the stuff their bosses were broadcasting, scolding remarks about people committed to doing actual journalism, and a lot more. A good portion of the material relates to the actions of former Fox News host Lou Dobbs, a 30-plus-year veteran of cable news. He figures to be among the winners in this settlement, considering that he won’t have to see his propaganda exposed again in what promised to be saturation coverage.

Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro and Rupert Murdoch are among the others whose spring outlook just got a little brighter.

In its statement, Fox News demonstrated that not even a court record bulging with evidence of perfidy is enough to shame the organization into genuine contrition. “We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems. We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.”

(Boldface added to highlight the network’s minimization of the fact that the discovery materials exposed not just falsehoods but lies. Boldface italics added to highlight an unthinkable proposition — firm evidence that the network refuses to learn from any experience.)

After Nelson and other speakers finished addressing the media, the Erik Wemple Blog and other reporters asked whether the settlement required Fox News to publish any retractions or apologies. The lawyers turned and left without answering those questions. The Post’s Jeremy Barr reported that the network will not have to air any retractions or apologies pursuant to the settlement agreement. Which is to say, the resolution requires a great deal of something that Fox News has in wheelbarrows (money) and very little of something it has in teaspoons (editorial integrity).

That’s where the emptiness comes in.

Documents made public in the course of the litigation showed that Fox News’s relationship with its audience tortures the ideal of an America that runs on a shared set of facts. When Fox News bosses observed that its loyal viewers were fleeing to other networks peddling election lies, they grew worried that their two-decade-long ratings dominance was in jeopardy. So, they fine-tuned the coverage to indulge some conspiracy-theorizing. The upshot is that Fox News was able to keep its audience both sizable and ill-informed.

The settlement might only perpetuate that dynamic. The full depravity of the network’s 2020 election coverage will never have to be disclosed to viewers on the only cable-news outlet they trust.

The slam-dunk nature of the evidence in Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News stirred expectations — a bankrupt Fox News; abject apologies from the likes of Carlson and Murdoch — that a single lawsuit may never have been able to deliver. “This litigation cannot solve all problems,” said Nelson.

Summing It Up In A ‘Toon

Lots going on these days … it’s hard to know where to even start, and harder still to try to make sense of it all.  Nonetheless, the nation’s political cartoonists are hard at work trying to make “a picture paint a thousand words” and they are pretty darned successful!  Here are some that I thought particularly thoughtful, thought-provoking, prescient, or otherwise worthy from the past several days.  As you can see, ol’ Tucker Carlson is the brunt of more than a few jokes!  Well-deserved, too!

Sunday Morning Political Humour

I thought a good way to start out this Sunday morning would be with a few of the week’s most spot-on political cartoons, followed by a humorous monologue by one of my favourites, Seth Meyers.  I’ll get back to you later with the serious stuff, but for now, have a few chuckles with your morning coffee or tea …

This is my favourite of the lot!!! So very apt, don’t you think?

A few nights ago I stumbled across this video of one of my favourite comedians, Seth Meyers …

Kevin McCarthy Sold Us Out!

When I first read that Kevin McCarthy had given Tucker Carlson of Fox ‘News’ unlimited access to 44,000 hours of video from every camera and every location in the Capitol on January 6th 2021, I was stunned and furious.  Who the hell does he think he is, and why would he provide such access to one of the most dishonest conspiracy theorists in the media today?  That footage is NOT McCarthy’s to give, and doing so poses a breech of security that will almost certainly lead to disaster.  McCarthy says that he “promised” his followers … but it was not his promise to make, not his data to give!!!  My idea in that moment, and still today is that McCarthy is not to be trusted and what next … will he give away the country’s nuclear and military secrets, or perhaps sell our social security numbers to the highest bidder?  Get. Him. OUT.  Robert Reich shares my views, but in a bit of a calmer manner than I can manage, so I’ll let him speak …

A second attempted coup?

The McCarthy-Trump-Fox-complex

Robert Reich

24 February 2023

This week we learned that House Speaker McCarthy turned over more than 40,000 hours of internal U.S. Capitol footage from January 6 exclusively to the conspiracy theorist and authoritarian propagandist Tucker Carlson of Fox News.

You’ll recall that Carlson called the vicious mob attack on the Capitol “a footnote” in history and “forgettably minor.” At the same time, Carlson magnified Trump’s lies about a stolen election and voter fraud in 2020.

He’s still at it — repeating baseless theories that the federal government instigated the attack. He even gave airtime to former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon hours after Bannon was convicted of contempt. Carlson has also produced a three-part documentary, “Patriot Purge,” advancing a false claim that FBI operatives were behind the assault and arguing that the Jan. 6 rioters were innocent.

New revelations from the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox News expose the depth of the cynicism and greed behind Carlson and his Fox News colleagues. Emails from Carlson and the others reveal that they knowingly put guests on their shows — including Trump lawyer Sidney Powell — to make false claims to the viewing public about fraud in the 2020 election. Carlson and the other hosts knew that their guests were lying. “Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane,” wrote Carlson in an email.

Why did Carlson and the other Fox hosts do this? Not only or even primarily to promote Trump and fuel public anger at Democrats and the so-called “stolen election,” but to maintain their ratings lead over Trump’s more extreme rightwing media outlets (such as Newsmax and OAN) — and therefore the value of their Fox stocks and stock options.

In a text chain with Ingraham and Hannity, Carlson referred to a tweet in which Fox reporter Jacqui Heinrich fact-checked a message from Trump and concluded there was no evidence of voter fraud from Dominion. “Please get her fired,” Carlson said, adding: “It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.” By the next morning, Heinrich had deleted her tweet.

Having earned a fortune by getting their Fox viewers (and the ad revenue that came with them) revved up over false claims of election fraud, Carlson and his Fox colleagues feared losing those same viewers (and revenue) to even nuttier networks.

What will Carlson do with the 40,000 hours of videotape that Kevin McCarthy just turned over to him? Based on his history, he’ll probably use it to rev up Fox viewers (and ad revenue) to new heights of outrage and money.

How will he do this? By picking and choosing portions of the videotape, and presenting them out of context to create a misleading narrative that will discredit the Jan. 6 investigators and absolve Trump and the insurrectionists.

The reason McCarthy turned over the videotape to Carlson was to appease the most extreme rightwing authoritarian elements of his narrow House majority — such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, the bonkers congresswoman from Georgia who pressured McCarthy to give Carlson the tapes.

Greene has now become a close advisor to McCarthy. She has already suggested that January 6, 2021 was a false-flag operation created by the U.S. government and that the rioters were patriots who got ensnared in the plot. Should anyone be surprised if Carlson’s narrative supports Greene’s view?

Carlson’s goal is not just to reward election deniers in the House, like Greene, nor to help Trump or a Trump-like candidate become President. It’s also to make lot of money for himself in the process — as Carlson and his colleagues did when fueling Trump’s big lie in the months after the 2020 election.

McCarthy’s Republican House’s mission is to attack President Biden along with law enforcement and intelligence agencies, discredit and attack the findings of the Jan. 6 investigations and the likely upcoming indictments, and undermine the public’s confidence in our democracy and in any election results that don’t go their way. McCarthy has even named Greene to the House Homeland Security Committee.

McCarthy and his House Republicans need Fox News to amplify their bizarre views, hearings, and conclusions. Trump needs McCarthy’s House Republicans and Fox News to fuel his candidacy. Fox News needs them both to fuel its ratings and revenue.

The McCarthy-Trump-Fox-complex is internally consistent — connecting authoritarianism, rightwing Republican hackery, GOP political fundraising, Trump-boosting ratings outrage, and greed. It’s a vicious cycle designed to sow anger and distrust while advancing the power and wealth of McCarthy, Greene, Trump, Carlson, and Fox News.

This is the same combination that fueled Trump’s presidency and led to his first attempted coup. Will it lead to a second?

Lies, Lies, And Still More Lies

Yesterday came big news … now hold onto your hats, ‘cause this is going to shock you … ready?

Fox ‘News’ Lies!!!

An excerpt from Heather Cox Richardson’s nightly newsletter explains …

Dominion Voting Systems is suing FNC for defamation after FNC personalities repeatedly claimed that the company’s voting machines had corrupted the final tallies in the 2020 election. The filing today shows that those same personalities didn’t believe what they were telling their viewers, and suggests that they made those groundless accusations because they worried their viewers were abandoning them to go to channels that told them what they wanted to hear: that Trump had won the election.

The quotes in the filing are eye-popping:

On November 10, 2020, Trump advisor Steven Bannon wrote to FNC personality Maria Bartiromo: “71 million voters will never accept Biden. This process is to destroy his presidency before it even starts; IF it even starts….  We either close on Trumps [sic] victory or del[e]gitimize Biden…. THE PLAN.”

FNC’s internal fact checks on November 13 and November 20 called accusations of irregularities in the voting “Incorrect” and said there was “not evidence of widespread fraud.”

On November 15, Laura Ingraham wrote to Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity: “Sidney Power is a bit nuts. Sorry, but she is.”

On November 16, Carlson wrote to his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, “Sidney Powell is lying.”

On November 19, FNC chair Rupert Murdoch wrote: “Really crazy stuff.”

Hannity later testified: “[T]hat whole narrative that Sidney was pushing. I did not believe it for one second.”

Fox Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt later testified, “[N]o reasonable person would have thought that,” when asked if it was true that Dominion rigged the election.

The filing claims that FNC peddled a false narrative of election fraud to its viewers because its pro-Trump audience had jumped ship after the network had been the first to call Arizona for Biden, and its ratings were plummeting as Trump loyalists jumped to Newsmax. “I’ve never seen a reaction like this, to any media company,” Carlson wrote to Suzanne Scott, chief executive officer of Fox News, on November 9. “Kills me to watch it.” On November 12, Hannity told Carlson and Ingraham, “In one week and one debate they destroyed a brand that took 25 years to build and the damage is incalculable.”

They went to “war footing” to “protect the brand.” For example, when FNC reporter Jacqui Heinrich accurately fact checked a Trump tweet, correcting him by saying that “top election infrastructure officials” said that “[t]here is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” Carlson told Hannity: “Please get her fired. Seriously…. What the f*ck? I’m actually shocked…. It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.”

Heinrich deleted her tweet. 

The filing says that not a single witness from FNC testified they believed any of the allegations they were making about Dominion. An FNC spokesperson today said, “Dominion has mischaracterized the record, cherry-picked quotes stripped of key context and spilled considerable ink on facts that are irrelevant under black-letter principles of defamation law.”

I have never considered Fox to be a legitimate news venue, which is why I write it as Fox ‘News’ when I refer to them, but this gives us all the evidence we need that their focus is not on accurately reporting the news, but providing entertainment in whatever form gains them the most viewers.  That, my friends, is a damn shame, but the bigger shame is that Fox is the most viewed cable ‘news’ channel in the country!  It is my hope that these latest revelations about Fox’ dereliction of duty to provide accurate, fact-based news will drive viewers back to legitimate news channels, but I’m not holding my breath.

Here is a link to a video clip from PBS Newshour with David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart talking about this.  I fully agree with Brooks’ first remarks about how every journalist will sometimes make mistakes in their reporting, but that the majority of them try to get it right.  Fox wasn’t even trying to get it right … they KNEW they were lying to the public and were only trying to hold onto their bottom line.

Orbán Is Teaching, Republicans Are All Ears

On Thursday, the Republicans began their annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) meeting … in the nation of Hungary, not here in the U.S.  Not even in a democratic nation, but in one ruled by an authoritarian, Viktor Orbán.  One might ask why they would go to the extra trouble, extra expense, and spend the extra time holding their meetings more than 4,000 miles away.  And I might answer that it is their goal to model the United States on Orbán’s example, to establish the same sort of country that Hungary is today.  Need proof?

The unconscionable Matt Schlapp, the head of the American Conservative Union and organizer of CPAC, told NPR this week that he was bringing his event to Hungary because it “represents Christian conservative values” and American conservatives want to replicate this in the U.S. by learning from the country’s ultra-right-wing authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

The conference’s program shows exactly what topics are important to the Trump wing of the Republican Party, with sessions entitled: “Western civilization under attack,” “In God we trust,” “The father is a man, the mother is a woman,” and “Culture wars in the media.”  Joining Schlapp and the rest of the KKK Republicans will be the truly nasty Candace Owens and her current hubby, Parler CEO George Farmer.  Oh, and guess who else will be making an appearance via video message?  The ignoble Tucker Carlson of Fox ‘News’ and Mark Meadows, former chief of staff for the twice-impeached former guy.  What a lineup, eh?  So much filth all in one place!  They may have to burn the building just to get rid of the stench.

But the ‘star’ of the show is Orbán himself, the main reason the convention is being held in Hungary to begin with.  In his opening remarks on Thursday, he said …

  • “We need to take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels. We need to find friends, and we need to find allies. We need to coordinate the movement of our troops, because we have a big challenge ahead of us.”
  • “Have your own media. It’s the only way to point out the insanity of the progressive left. The problem is that the western media is adjusted to the leftist viewpoint. Those who taught reporters in universities already had progressive leftist principles. Of course, the GOP has its media allies, but they can’t compete with the mainstream liberal media. My friend, Tucker Carlson is the only one who puts himself out there. His show is the most popular. What does it mean? It means programs like his should be broadcasted day and night. Or as you say 24/7.”

The press at CPAC is mostly home-grown, from state-run Hungarian media. Independent European and U.S. outlets were largely denied access, and CBS News was one of a small number allowed access to the conference.  Journalists from international media outlets, including the New Yorker, Vox Media, Vice News, Rolling Stone, and the Associated Press, were denied access to the event despite months of requests.

Are you starting to feel the chills going up your spine yet?  I do.

Let me tell you just a bit about Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.  He is a white supremacist authoritarian. He’s restricted Muslim immigration and LGBTQ rights while building a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  The former guy was a big fan of Orbán, saying …

“Viktor Orbán has done a tremendous job in so many different ways — highly respected, respected all over Europe — probably, like me, a little bit controversial, but that’s OK.”

I rarely repeat the words of the former guy, for in my book he is completely irrelevant, but I do so this time to give you an idea of the sort of person Orbán is … and believe me, he is not a good person and he is definitely NOT highly respected throughout Europe.

All of the international democracy rating agencies agree that Hungary is no longer a democracy.  During his 12 years in power, Orbán has chipped away at the foundations of Hungarian democracy. It has been replaced with an authoritarian regime that wields a cynical interpretation of the law as a weapon; the country is governed by rules like the border journalism permits, regulations that can seem reasonable on their face but actually serve to undermine essential democratic freedoms.

Elections there are free, in the sense that the vote counts aren’t nakedly rigged. But they are unfair: The government controls the airwaves and media companies to such a degree that the opposition can’t get their message out.

Viktor Orbán is an autocrat, he does not govern but he rules … and yes there is a difference, a BIG difference.  Orbán is, by any reasonable definition, a fascist, although some would argue he is merely a ‘soft fascist’.  Fascism … it’s a scary word, isn’t it?  The former guy made no attempt to hide the fact that he wanted to rule rather than govern, and he chipped away at the restraints that kept him, to an extent at least, from doing so.  He plotted not one, but three attempts to overthrow the will of the people in the 2020 election, to install himself as an unelected autocrat for … how long?  4 years?  6 years?  A lifetime?

The fact that CPAC chose to hold their annual convention in Hungary and more to the point to have Orbán as their main speaker should tell you all you need to know about the course being plotted by Republicans aka conservatives for the United States.  It’s an ugly picture my friends.  I’m not a scaremonger or a conspiracy theorist, but the Republican Party has been overtaken by a wanna-be dictator and they are falling all over themselves trying to lick his boots, to please him.  What does that say for the future of this nation?

A Plea For Responsibility

The following is the text of a letter written by Senate Majority Leader Charles (Chuck) Schumer to the head of Fox ‘News’ network.  I fully concur with all that Senator Schumer says and I hope that somewhere under his greed, Mr. Rupert Murdoch has at least a shred of a conscience.  Murdoch and his Fox network are complicit in the murders of 10 people last weekend in Buffalo, New York, as well as countless others in recent years.  Free speech is one thing, but when it is not accompanied by responsibility and accountability, it can destroy lives, destroy a nation.

Dear Mr. Rupert Murdoch et al.:

I write to urge you to immediately cease the reckless amplification of the so-called “Great Replacement” theory on your network’s broadcasts.  Proponents of this white nationalist, far-right conspiracy theory believe that a complicit or cooperative class of elites are advancing a plot designed to undermine the political power and culture of white Americans.  For years, these types of beliefs have existed at the fringes of American life.  However, this pernicious theory, which has no basis in fact, has been injected into the mainstream thanks in large part to a dangerous level of amplification by your network and its anchors.

A recent AP poll found that nearly one third of American adults believe that a group of people is trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants for electoral gains.  That same poll found that your viewers are nearly three times more likely to believe in Replacement Theory than other networks.  This should come as no surprise, given the central role these themes have played in your network’s programming in recent years.  A recent New York Times investigation found that Tucker Carlson alone amplified this dangerous and unfounded theory in more than 400 episodes of his show.

I urge you to take into consideration the very real impacts of the dangerous rhetoric being broadcast on your network on a nightly basis.  In 2018, a white man who killed 11 worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue blamed Jews for allowing immigrant “invaders” into the United States.  In 2019, a white man who expressed anger over “the Hispanic invasion of Texas” killed 23 people at an El Paso Walmart and later told the police he had sought to kill Mexicans.  And just days ago in Buffalo, a white man killed 10 people in a supermarket on the city’s predominantly Black east side.  In a manifesto posted online, the individual responsible for this heinous murder wrote that the shoppers there came from a culture that sought to “ethnically replace my own people.”

These incidents alone, to say nothing of the many more which have occurred in recent years, have led to dozens of lives being lost and countless others irreversibly impacted.  The devastation and despair that families and communities feel in the wake of these incidents cannot be overstated.  For instance, my constituents in east Buffalo who will be forced to relive this tragic event every single time they visit the supermarket for a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk.  It is on their behalf, and on behalf of the residents in communities in Pittsburgh, El Paso, and cities around the country who bear the consequences of this hateful ideology that I write you.

While it was good to see the Wall Street Journal Editorial board write that “Politicians and media figures have an obligation to condemn … such conspiratorial notions as ‘white replacement theory’”, words of condemnation are hardly enough.  To this end, I implore you to immediately cease all dissemination of false white nationalist, far-right conspiracy theories on your network.


Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

CC: Tucker Carlson