U.K. Says Fox News Isn’t Fair and Balanced

While student protesters on college campuses may not think so, the First Amendment is a beautiful, precious, and rare thing.

Look no further than one of our closest allies, the United Kingdom. This week, the U.K broadcasting regulation office, Ofcom, ruled that Fox News broadcasts violated laws regarding impartiality.

The ruling stems from episodes of Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight earlier this year regarding coverage of President Trump’s travel ban in January and the Manchester terrorist bombing in May.

Tucker Carlson’s May 25th episode attacked the U.K. government for engaging in politically correct policy rather than seriously combating the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism, the Guardian reported. The program included criticism of Prime Minister Theresa May, Manchester Mayor Beverly Hughes, as well as other local and law enforcement officials.

Ofcom’s ruling concluded there was “no reflection of the views of the UK government or any of the authorities or people criticised” and the presenter “did not challenge the views of his contributors; instead, he reinforced their views.”

Sean Hannity’s January 31st episode featured clips of public officials reacting negatively to the executive order banning travelers entering the United States from certain predominantly Muslim countries, followed by a rebuttal and dismissal from Hannity. In short, he did his usual opening monologue. Ofcom was not a fan.

Ofcom acknowledged that viewers were likely to expect Hannity to address controversial issues from a perspective that is generally more supportive of the US Republican party. However, the likely audience expectations did not provide sufficient contextual justification to outweigh the numerous highly critical statements made about people who had opposed the order, coupled with the clear support being expressed for the policies of President Trump.”

Consider for a moment that somewhere in London there is a government bureaucrat who goes to work every day with the sole purpose of watching the previous evening’s cable shows to determine whether critical coverage provided “sufficient contextual justification.” After writing up the report on Hannity this same bureaucrat, after a quick trip to the water cooler and looking in a mirror to check his comb-over, determines whether Tucker Carlson accurately reflected the views of the U.K. government.

These subjective determinations do not come with a mere slap on the wrist. Ofcom violations can result in substantial fines paid by media companies. Fortunately for Rupert Murdoch and Fox, they stopped broadcasting Fox News in Britain in August, so they will not be subject to fines for this activity. Sky, the British satellite broadcast company partially owned by Fox, paid an indirect price, with shares dipping 1.72% upon the announcement. Investors are worried that the announcement does not bode well for the government’s review of Fox’s attempt to purchase the remaining portion of Sky that it does not own.

While it is easy to shake our head at our friends across the ocean, it’s worth noting that such nonsense could easily happen here at home. Despite the First Amendment, the Supreme Court upheld the so-called “fairness doctrine” in 1969. The policy was created to ensure equal time among the conservatives and liberals on radio and television broadcasts. While the policy was repealed in 1987, liberals long sought to restore it under the guise that the federal government must ensure a fair and balanced media environment. For his part, President Trump has opined on Twitter that he would like to see something like the fairness doctrine reinstituted.

Of course, objective and professional journalism is important. Considering the amount of fake news and Russian propaganda which makes its way into our Facebook and Twitter feeds on a daily basis, everyone must be conscious of where they get their news.

None of this means that we need some centralized agency of imperfect and biased human beings making one big collective decision for all of us. No matter what the Supreme Court says (and the Warren Court was wrong a lot), regimes like Ofcom or the fairness doctrine violate the First Amendment’s right to a free press and free speech.

Anyone watching Hannity or Tucker Carlson Tonight for news are fooling themselves. Tucker and Sean do not hold themselves out to be objective broadcasters. They are not journalists. They provide commentary and analysis regarding the day’s events. In 2017, such shows are not a novel concept. Anyone tuning into Fox News at 8 or 9pm over the last 25 years understand this.

While Hannity and Carlson have their detractors across the political spectrum, all Americans should relish the fact that they are not being overseen by some Washington bureaucrat demanding that they play nice. Any opinion, as long there’s a large enough audience, is welcome on American airwaves.

Long live Sean Hannity. Long live Tucker Carlson. Long live Bill Maher and Rachel Maddow, for that matter.

Be thankful for the robust freedoms we enjoy, and how rare and precious the First Amendment is, even among Western democracies.

And be vigilant at future attempts to infringe upon it.

In Response to Boycotts Against Conservative Media, Conservative Groups Target MSNBC, CNN

Fighting fire with fire?

The Media Research Center, led by Brent Bozell are mimicking last weeks actions by liberal group, Media Matters for America, in threatening a boycott of sponsors of shows featured on MSNBC and CNN.

The conservative group launched on Wednesday a campaign to inundate corporate sponsors with complaints whenever top liberal television talk-show host show hosts “go beyond political commentary and engage in smear, hate and political extremism.”

It was Media Matters that led the charge to pressure sponsors to flee Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” and eventually resulted in the firing of the long-running, popular personality, Bill O’Reilly.

O’Reilly lost around 100 sponsors in the effort.

So successful was it, that Media Matters came back for a second bite at the apple last week. This time, they targeted Sean Hannity’s sponsors over Hannity’s refusal to back away from an internet hoax surrounding the murder of a young Democratic National Committee staffer, Seth Rich, who was murdered in Washington D.C. last year.

An internet huckster and notorious self-promoter floated the idea that Rich was the actual source of the leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks, and that because of it, the DNC and the Clinton family had Rich murdered.

It’s an absolutely fantastical tale, and has proven to be quite painful for the Rich family.

They pleaded with Fox News to stop perpetuating the smear of their son’s name. Fox, in return, pulled the story from their website and issued a retraction.

Hannity balked at first, but eventually did agree that, out of respect for the Rich family, he would stop promoting that particular hoax.

Unfortunately, he’s picked it back up this week, but for a few days, he was quiet.

In that time, because of pressure from Media Matters, Hannity lost around seven sponsors.

After a counter campaign by his supporters, USAA came back.

“Today we are putting ten shows, and their major corporate sponsors on notice that we are watching their every move,” said MRC president Brent Bozell in a press release.
The 10 programs include six airing on MSNBC and four on CNN.

On MSNBC, the targeted shows are hosted by MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Joy Reid. On CNN, the hosts are Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Brian Stelter and Fareed Zakaria.

How successful those efforts will be remains to be seen. Since dropping to a 17-year low in ratings, there may very well be a sense of urgency with Fox News personalities to harness the power of the boycott, and the Media Research Center are happy to help them out.

This Story About Sean Hannity is Bulls–t

According to this “news” story, Sean Hannity is abruptly taking a vacation due to advertisers leaving his show.

This story is patently false and I know so first hand. Why?

Because my radio show starts right after Sean’s show on WSB in Atlanta. On May 18th, my boss asked me to put on schedule for today and tomorrow to start my show at 3pm ET. Why? Because Hannity would be out for Memorial Day vacation with his family and they’d like me on locally instead of his guest hosts due to Atlanta traffic issues. Hannity’s television vacation days are always in conjunction with his radio vacation days.

If you go back to last year, the year before that, the year before that, the year before that, etc. you’ll see the same thing.

This story is absolutely false.

Cars.Com and USAA Are Easily Pressured

I have avoided the Seth Rich story as I never bought into the conspiracy. It seems you would have to believe the Democratic Party has been working with the Trump run intelligence community and DC police to cover up the murder of an employee and, for once, was able to hide the email trail in order to believe it. It seemed to me, and I think is, another random tragedy in a place with many random tragedies.

My friend Sean Hannity disagreed and thought there was something there. He pursued it for several days on his television and radio show before dropping it.

Regardless, Hannity has been on television and radio for more than a decade. He has a substantial body of work in both. And all of us on the right should be troubled that the left was easily able to badger USAA and Cars.com to drop Hannity over a few days of television and radio. They did not just pull their advertising while Sean Hannity continued to engage the Seth Rich story, but they pulled their advertising altogether.

What is happening should trouble you whether you agree with Hannity or not if you are right-of-center. This effort by the left is only escalating. They are able to force censorship of conservative ideas by starving those ideas of advertising dollars through harassment. They have tried it with Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and now Hannity.

I think the O’Reilly example is an exception because it was behavioral, not show content, that led advertisers to drop him. In the other cases, leftwing ideologues badgered advertisers to leave conservative programming over content. While it is certainly the advertiser’s right to advertise where they want, it is troubling that USAA and Cars.com could so easily be pushed away.

Here at The Resurgent, we saw this first hand last year with Trump supporters. For a while we used a sponsorship model with just a sole advertiser per week. We had to abandon the effort after organized attacks against our sponsors by Trump supporters. What made it somewhat easy for them in those cases were that it was center-right groups being harassed by purportedly center-right voters. We had to change our revenue model and now have to ask for reader donations more than we had intended.

With USAA and Cars.com, the situation is more striking. They are not center-right organizations being harassed by center-right voters. They are companies that make themselves available to everyone, but are directing their ad dollars based on the whims of leftwing activists. That becomes dangerous to all of us on the right over time. Each success will further embolden them.

It is worth conservatives making it clear to groups at USAA and Cars.com that if they are not willing to advertise to conservatives, we are not willing to use their services. If conservatives are not vocal about these incidents, we will soon find ourselves without a voice altogether.

A Notable Thing About Sean Hannity

A lot of people piled on and added stories to several episodes of public downfall in the past several months. From O’Reilly at Fox to Tomi Lahren at the Blaze, people relished coming forward with more stories to just add fuel to the fire.

It all stands in interesting contrast to what happened when Sean Hannity was accused of something. People who had stayed silent about the other situations, many of whom disagree with Sean politically, rushed forward to defend him. Why? Because whether you agree with Hannity’s politics or not, he is a tremendously kind and caring person who loves his family and treats everyone around him with kindness and respect.

A few years ago, I was getting harassed for something and it got out of control. Hannity called out of the blue and offered to pay for security at my home out of his own pocket. Last year in the hospital, he was one of the first people to check on me, but also to take a deep concern for my family while I was in the hospital. That is just the sort of guy he is. I know countless others with similar stories.

In all my years of TV and radio, I have rarely come across anyone as kind and decent as him. He is as nice of a guy as you think, if not more so, while a lot of people in TV are held up as great people and really aren’t. It is refreshing to see people rally to defend one of the good guys.

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The LORD will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned. Psalm 34:19-22

Heard It From a Friend Who Heard It From a Friend Who…

I knew this story was a dumpster fire as soon as it hit Twitter. Of course, the liberal (especially New York) press was all over it. Supposedly, Sean Hannity pulled out a scary gun and aimed it at Juan Williams on the Fox News set after a particularly energetic on-air discussion.

It’s total bullcrap.

The New York Daily News reported it as fact, citing “Sources” who told CNN.

Sources told the network that the incident occurred after a segment where he and Williams were arguing.

I won’t even link to the original CNN story, which had nothing to do with guns. It was a 17-paragraph screed on the word “jackass” published to smear Sean Hannity, with three paragraphs focusing on the “gun” incident. Who did CNN cite? Their words: “according to three sources with knowledge of the incident.”

That means heresay. They weren’t direct witnesses. They weren’t there. They heard it from a friend who, heard it from a friend who, heard it from another you been messin’ around (with guns).

Juan Williams, a gentleman, handled this perfectly.

 

That should be the end of it. Williams was there.

Responsible gun owners show their pistols to each other every day, everywhere. I had a doctor show me his .30 semiautomatic carry gun in his office. He did what Hannity did: unloaded it, cleared it, and handed it to me to admire. I have had police officers who pulled me over for a minor traffic infraction end up discussing Glock 23s with me.

For liberal media who live in their bubble: this is common in America. And no, we don’t point our guns at each other.

But you know, I heard it from a friend who, heard it from a friend who, heard it from another that liberals loved it when Snoop Dog pointed a gun at a clown Trump.

Talk Radio and Donald Trump

The New York Times has a piece up about the conservative commentariat divide over Trump and features me heavily. I am generally okay with the piece, but a bit disappointed at the end as I think it imputes to me things I did not actually say. I suppose it is time to expound on the issue here. I have been putting it off and putting it off and it is probably time to address it.

Here’s the relevant portion.

But even Erickson did not seem convinced that this alone explained what he saw as a nihilistic turn among Republican voters. “I do think there are a lot of people that have just concluded that this is it — that if we don’t get the election right, the country’s over,” he said. As to where they might have gotten that idea, Erickson knew the answer. It was the apocalyptic hymn sung by talk-radio hosts like his friend and mentor Rush Limbaugh, whose show Erickson once guest-hosted, though in the time of Trump, it seemed unlikely he would receive another invitation.

This February, Limbaugh, who has applauded Trump without endorsing him outright, posed to Erickson the question of whether a commentator should try to act as “the guardian of what it means to be a conservative.” In effect, the legend of talk radio was laying down an unwritten commandment of the trade, which applies as well to cable TV: Do not attempt to lead your following.

First of all, not filling in for Rush is not some sinister black balling. My radio station gets flooded with angry Trump supporters on a daily basis because of me. I would not want that to happen to program directors across the nation and it makes absolute sense that I should not fill in for Rush or even Herman Cain, who broadcasts with me out of WSB. Their audiences are not aligned with me on the major issue of the day. It would not be fair to them and would subject program directors to all sorts of complaints.

But there are two points that I really want to address. Let me note out of the gate that I don’t think there was any intention to mischaracterize me by Robert Draper or the Times. It was more than three hours of an interview and we hopped all over the place. There are, though, some points that are worth expanding upon and clearing up.

First, I don’t think Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity are to blame for apocalyptic doom and gloom. There is no quote there because I did not say that. What I did say was that I think in general talk radio reflects audiences instead of leading audiences. To the extent there is doom and gloom it is because the audience feels it, not because the host leads them to it.

There are a great many people out there convinced that talk radio can convince people of certain things and I tend to disagree. Rush, for example, was not a McCain or Romney guy, but they got the nomination. Crediting him, or even crediting Sean, with Trump’s nomination this year flies in the face of their positions in 2008 and 2012. We have tons of stories about radio audiences in decline, yet somehow talk radio is more influential? That does not make sense.

Second, what Rush asked me came in response to my book, You Will Be Made to Care, coming out in February. One of the criticisms of me in the conservative media-sphere is that I presume to be the gatekeeper and guardian of what it means to be a conservative. Rush allowed me to respond to the criticism for his Limbaugh Letter interview, but I made clear to the Times he didn’t hold that view himself. Just, as a friend, he was allowing me to respond. My response was that when conservatives turned a blind eye to the Bush era, suddenly we had conservatives rallying around Harriet Miers and bank bailouts. If we did not hold our own side accountable, the voters would.

I have a lot of friends these days blaming other friends for the rise of Trump. I hate to see the attacks on Rush, Sean, Mark Levin, and others because I don’t blame them, don’t think it is true, and think if people were less pissed off about the situation that they would not be in such a ready state to throw them under the bus.

I disagree, for example, with Sean on Trump, but I do not blame him. As I told the Times, and it did not make it in the article, Sean and Trump have been friends for years and I know from personal experience that Sean is one of the most loyal friends a person can have. Several years ago leftwing protestors were targeting me because of a flippant remark I’d made about chasing a census worker off my property with my wife’s shotgun. It was blown up, distorted, and even the White House commented on it at the urging of liberal commentators. Sean was the first person to call and offered to send people down to my house, at his expense, to keep an eye on us.

For his part, Rush Limbaugh has been the greatest mentor a person could ever hope to have. He has been unfailing in his advice and candor. When I was seventeen and my dad and I were on the road looking at colleges, we discovered Rush while in search of Paul Harvey. I knew that one day I wanted to sit in the Atilla the Hun chair. Heck, I did not even want to be in radio, just fill in for Rush. That life goal has been met and on top of that, he’s been someone I can call on whenever I have an issue in media.

This is an awful year. Friends are at friends’ throats. Everybody is blaming everybody. For the Ericksons, personally, this year is our version of the year Charles and Di got a divorce and Windsor Castle burned to the ground. I’ve been in the hospital trying not to die, my wife has just been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, my kids have more than once asked me why people hate us, they’ve been yelled at in the store, we’ve had people come to our house to yell at me, and everybody wants everybody else to pick a side. I am ready for it to be over, one way or the other.

Life returning to normal would be a good thing — a life where friends are not at each others’ throat over Trump trying to force each other to line up on one side or the other. I do not care for Trump and will not vote for him, but most of my friends are with him. They are still my friends.

‘Cmon Man!’ Trump’s Insanely Low Debate Expectations Were Still Too High

Let’s get real about Donald Trump and last night’s debate. As Cris Carter used to say before ESPN booted him, “C’mon man!”

No candidate in the history of television debates has ever had lower expectations than Trump. Nobody can dispute this unless they’ve been sniffing powder from Tony Montana’s desk or licking Timothy Leary’s “special” stamp collection.

Let’s look at Trump supporter Newt Gingrich’s expectations.

His test for fitness of the leader of the free world is “adequately competent.” Whatever that means. I think Newt might reconsider that squishy bar if we told him his next airline flight was captained by a man adequately competent for the job, or his surgeon produced a diploma of adequate competency. But it’s good enough for Trump.

Here are his predictions before the debate.

1. Lester Holt will be pleasant and work very hard to be fair.

2. Hillary Clinton will be stiff and awkward and her efforts to be folksy and friendly will make her seem even more stiff and clumsy.

3. Donald J. Trump will start slow and be a little tentative but will gain strength and energy rapidly.

4. The audience will be the largest in the history of political TV.

5. Trump will pass the test of being adequately competent and will get a big boost in acceptability.

How did Newt do?

Number 1: False–or true–depending on who you believe. But if you believe Trump’s other supporters, it has to be false. Number 2: Hillary smiled and even did a little dance when Trump melted down like a two-year-old whose cookie was taken away, so I’d say that’s false.

Third time’s a charm: Trump actually started out strong and as the night wore on he lost strength and self-control. False. Number four: who cares? Ratings is not a measure of success, unless you’re Trump. And Newt’s biggest fail is number 5. Trump in no way passed the test of adequate competence. If the minimum score to pass, graded on a curve based on both candidates awfulness, was, say, a 50, Trump got a 25. He scored an  “F.” He flunked out.

After the debate, Newt retreated behind his buddy Bill Clinton, as if channeling Lloyd Bentzen. Let’s bring back President Clinton–err Bill.

How this helps Trump I can’t even fathom.

And now to Trump’s lifeline call during the debate, played like “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” (minus friend Regis, who said “Let the world wake up to Trump!”). Trump called Sean Hannity, his all-purpose go-to-man. (I was against the Iraq war! Ask Hannity!)

Hannity Trumpsplained that Lester Holt was biased because he asked more questions to Trump than to Hillary.

Without going into each of these items in detail, Trump had ample opportunity to bring any of these up, and didn’t. Trump whiffed when Holt pitched the emails. He never connected on Benghazi, instead saying that Clinton was fighting ISIS her whole life. The AP fact checker dispensed with that one pretty easily.

TRUMP to Clinton: “You’ve been fighting ISIS your entire adult life.”

THE FACTS: Hillary Clinton was born in 1947 and is 68 years old. She reached adulthood in 1965. The Islamic State group grew out of an al-Qaida spinoff, al-Qaida in Iraq in 2013, the year Clinton left the State Department.

Some of the items Hannity included in his moderator-should-have-asked list were in fact brought up by Trump: Hillary’s health (sort of, in the form of “stamina”), and Trump totally flubbed the email issue when Holt broached the subject.

https://twitter.com/EWErickson/status/780590779584614400

Trump blathered on about his ten-year-old son and “The Cyber.” Yeah, it’s amazing what kids can do with those durned computers these days, on the line and webbing all the time.

https://twitter.com/EWErickson/status/780591299632168961

Result: Fail.

Trump claimed that part of his handicap was due to a defective microphone. It made him shout.  “I wonder … Was that on purpose? Was that on purpose?” Yeah, some union IBEW guy rigged Trump’s mic–that’s believable, right?

Perhaps the worst defense of Trump after his total cratering was by Ted Cruz.

On Facebook, which in Cruz’s case should be called “HideYourFacebook” because he can’t find a bag to hide his head, the senator wrote:

Tonight, Donald Trump had his strongest debate performance of the election cycle. He drew strong contrasts with Hillary on taxes, regulations, law and order, and the disastrous Iran deal.

Grading on a curve with an infinite slope might mathematically justify Cruz’s statement. It would mean that Trump’s previous debate performances were the equivalent of a chimpanzee flinging poo.

That must be what Cruz meant, because there’s no bar low enough for Trump to clear if an objective standard was used.

I understand Newt and longtime friend Hannity doing the alter-reality dance for Trump. But for Cruz: “C’mon man!”