Saturday, April 09, 2016

The Imperative for Campaign Finance Reform: How Fox News Unwittingly Destroyed the Republican Party ... by gimleteye

Cody Cain has written an excellent piece (below) for Salon. I agree with his assessment: Fox News is destroying the Republican Party. One point of clarification: while the GOP is in the process of destroying its advantage in the presidential election, there is no similar threat in the states where the GOP has commanding majorities in both state legislative branches and executive branches. Think, Florida.

Party strategists are perfectly aware that a gridlocked Washington plays to its advantages in the states. The loss of the White House would be embarrassing but not tragic. What would be tragic to the GOP would be to lose the U.S. Senate. That is what worries GOP leaders about a Donald Trump candidacy. A widespread rout could deliver the Senate to Democrats.

At some point -- who knows when? -- the Big Money donors who fund Fox News and the GOP, really one in the same, are going to have to ask the question: if money cannot reliably deliver outcomes, why not join liberals and change campaign finance laws?

This week the Miami Herald reported, astonishingly, that Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio ran through $235 MILLION in soft, dark and hard political money on their way to nothing. And that's just what we know about.  Still, $235 million is a lot of money by any measure. Donors know all that money filters primarily into the pockets of an army of Republican consultants, operatives, lawyers, and election engineers, putting strategists on the same side of the ledger as Fox.

Some GOP strategists who oppose campaign finance reform will argue that Donald Trump is just an aberration. This too shall come to pass. An equally strong argument can be made that the polarization of the American electorate facilitated by the profit motive as described by Cain, below, is a precursor of even further political divisions. My view is that the profound economic dislocations about to come, because of climate change, could institutionalize political divisions. Not just in the United States, but around the world.

The point is that responsible Republicans -- there are some! -- should reassess their opposition to campaign finance reform. Our future may depend on it.

Spreading hate has backfired on right-wing media: How Fox News unwittingly destroyed the Republican Party

For years, Fox News has profited from its vicious, divisive rhetoric — and now a steep price is being paid by Cody Cain, Salon, April 8 2016

Spreading hate has backfired on right-wing media: How Fox News unwittingly destroyed the Republican Party      Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity (Credit: Fox News)

The Republican Party is in a pickle.

The Party itself despises its own two leading presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. This is a remarkable oddity just in itself. But there is good reason for it. Both of these candidates are so extreme and disastrous that they will almost certainly never be able to win a national election for the Republican Party.

But much worse, if and when one of these candidates does become the Republican Party’s nominee, the GOP could very well be torn asunder into factions. This could devastate the party for years or even decades to come.

The Republicans, however, have no one to blame but themselves. This is a crisis of their own creation. And it didn’t just happen overnight.

The Republican Party has been fomenting anger and discontent in the base of its own party for years. The mechanism through which this hate has been disseminated has been the network of extremist media of right-wing talk radio and the Fox News Channel, which is essentially talk radio transposed onto television.

Just think of all the right-wing “superstars” who spew messages of anger and hate every single day throughout the land over this enormous megaphone. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Ben Shapiro, Dana Loesch, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, to name a few.

And make no mistake, spewing hate has a significant impact upon society. It is the equivalent of modern-day propaganda where the population is barraged with a stream of consistent messaging. As ordinary people go about their daily lives, they are exposed repeatedly, day in and day out, to the same messages in numerous forms and by numerous people. Pretty soon, these messages begin to sink in and take effect. The audience begins to adopt a worldview consistent with these messages, regardless of the degree of truth. It is a remarkable phenomenon.

From Nazi Germany in the 1930s to Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990s, history is replete with examples of propaganda’s effectiveness as a tool for shaping public opinion. Propaganda is powerful stuff. Many people are susceptible to it and can be swayed by it, especially the less educated.

In America today, right-wing media is engaged in this very same activity through Fox News and extremist talk radio. This network is constantly barraging its audience with a stream of consistent messaging. And this messaging is overwhelmingly negative and destructive.

The messaging consists of common themes that recur in various forms. One central theme is a fierce opposition to government, especially so-called “big government.” This reappears in various sub-forms as well, such as rage against bureaucracy, regulations, Washington, D.C., the IRS, the Environmental Protection Agency, and federal politicians.

Another big theme is fear and victimization. You had better watch out because government is gonna getcha! “They,” whoever that may be, are about to take away your rights. Your freedom is about to disappear. Your religious liberties will be stripped away. You won’t be able to make your own healthcare decisions. Free choice will be gone. Your children will suffer. Even though you are just an innocent person minding your own business, you are about to be victimized!

Another common theme is the fear of foreigners, or outsiders. We must protect our own in-group from the vague and mysterious threats posed by those who are a little bit different from us. The particular targeted group changes with the times, but the concept remains the same.

And, of course, someone from the Democratic Party, or some “liberal,” is to blame for all of this wreckage. Demonizing a specific target is powerful. If a Democrat is in the White House, then the president becomes the favorite bullseye. Otherwise the demon is some other Democratic politician, typically from Congress.

Now, a political platform comprised of nothing more than hate and anger is not a very viable or sustainable political strategy, especially for a national party like the Republican Party. It may be a good strategy for a specific election or an isolated situation, but an entire political party cannot endure based upon only a message of outrage and opposition.

So why would the Republican Party devise such a strategy that has no hope of success? Well, it turns out that they did not devise this strategy. In fact, it’s not even a strategy at all. It emerged not as a result of a grand Republican master plan, but of market economics.

The extremist right-wing network of Fox News and talk radio was not created by politicians, and it is not funded by a political party. It is not supported by donations from people seeking political expression. It was created for one central purpose: to make money.

The founding motivation and the driving force behind all of this propaganda of hate and anger that is being disseminated throughout our society is nothing more than the almighty dollar. It is a business, pure and simple.

And, as it turns out, the business of peddling hate and anger is a fantastically profitable one.

Rush Limbaugh raked in $80 million for himself in 2015 alone. Sean Hannity was paid $30 million. Glenn Beck is personally worth over $100 million. Bill O’Reilly’s prime-time show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” generates over $100 million per year in advertising revenue.

If these frontmen are making this much money, well then you know that their corporate masters are making even more.

Cody Cain is a writer and commentator living in New York City, and he writes a blog for The Huffington Post at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the Cody Cain story and your comments! Fox is making a buck. Steve Hagen, Atlanta