Tag Archives: Fox News

Saying Goodbye To The Tea Party

The Republican party is returning to fight for the centre which will return them to power, and Sarah Palin will not be a mistake they will seek to repeat.


Sarah Palin Speech


Last week the most internationally mocked American politician was gracelessly tossed out by Fox News, a network under which she had once developed huge popularity as the right-wing’s female star of Obama-bashing and main-stream-media-attacking. Sarah Palin (best known around the world for her portrayals by Tina Fey in Saturday Night Live and Julianne Moore in the less-than-complimentary election film Game Change) has fallen from her heights of media stardom and a doomed campaign to be the first American female vice-president.

However this is not some isolated event of the fall from grace of a single politician, it is part of a wider political shift of the past year in US politics. This shift is the popular collapse of the once powerful Tea Party movement. What had begun with a slow slide in popularity has become a widespread abandonment of the movement and its rejection from the Republican Party within which it once held so much influence. Where only three years ago almost a quarter of voters affiliated themselves with the movement, now less than one in ten do. Where over half of voters once supported it, now just as many see it negatively and support has fallen to under a third. The 2012 presidential election killed the Tea Party, and it is a sign of much larger changes to come.

Three years is extremely fast for a country-spanning ideological movement to collapse, but the Tea Party’s rise was just as spectacular. Emerging in 2007 in the “Boston TeaParty07” event for Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, the Tea Party movement only really began to gather pace in 2009, after the response to the financial crisis became the most important political issue in the Western world. Rick Santelli’s rant in response to the bailout of the collapsing financial institutions of the time created the new movement as he called for a “Chicago Tea Party”. The result was instant. Protests against the bailouts and rising taxes erupted across the United States, rallies which were noticed across the world as the most significant opposition to President Obama’s handling of the financial crisis.

The Tea Party movement reached it’s peak in 2010, over half of the Republican vote was members and the vast majority of Republican politicians owed the fever-pitch opposition to Obama to its grassroots drive. But what did this grassroots owe their support to? Largely big-business and individual billionaire investors with libertarian leanings. Unfortunately this initially very powerful combination between the anti-tax grassroots and their allies in politics and business opened cracks which would break the movement.

This break began shortly after the Tea Party movement began. Raised in the face of Obama’s landslide election victory and his big-government response to the financial crisis the Tea Party was unprepared to face a series of bloody losses to the Obama administration. First the big-bank bailouts and financial stimulus. Then the auto bailouts. Then the healthcare bill. The Tea Party was (and is) not only getting an absolute mauling in national politics but was also losing to successful policies. No matter how huge the airtime dedicated to the “grassroots” movement, funded by big-money donations to media organisations, there was no fighting the tide of goodwill the Democrats faced between 2010 and 2012 as the economy drove towards recovery.

Nor was Obama’s political success the only problem. Tea Party candidates were an increasing embarrassment to the Republican Party. Attempts to run inexperienced grassroots campaigners against experienced Democratic politicians was not as effective as the GOP had expected. Continuous gaffs from Tea Party favourites such as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann destroyed both candidate’s hopes in 2012 and could be ill-afforded as the Christian-right joined them in self-immolation on women’s rights.

The 2012 elections were the last gasp of an already struggling political movement. In an attempt to secure their vote anti-tax politician Paul Ryan was nominated as Vice President. However not only did securing the Tea Party vote fail to galvanise support and overturn Obama’s huge 2008 majority, it actively damaged the Republican vote. In trying to capture the radical-right during the primaries Republican presidential candidates had completely alienated themselves from the centre, the place where all elections are won and where the vital swing-states lie. After months of predictions of Republican victory the right-wing were stunned to watch Obama waltz to an easy victory spurred by the women, industrial working class, racial minorities and LGBT that the Republicans had offended time and time again in their attempts to spur Tea Party-like activism in the radical right.

Now, with Obama yet again sworn into office, the Republicans are cutting the anchor lines to the Tea Party, Christian evangelist and anti-immigrant right wing which lost them the election they seemed so set to win. The sacking of Palin by Fox News is not just a symptom of the collapse of the Tea Party, but of the entire GOP radical right. The Republican party is returning to fight for the centre which will return them to power, and Sarah Palin will not be a mistake they will seek to repeat.


Photo Credit: sskennel

Fox Hunting – Al Jazeera America launches in 2013

Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing propaganda machine, the farcical Fox News Channel, has infected U.S. media for 17 years. That’s 1 year for every million ardent neo-conservatives that tune in for their daily ideological fix. Today Fox News has become an angry caricature of itself, plugging that Sisyphus of morons Bill O’Reilly whilst spending millions of dollars on PR campaigns to convince viewers of the ‘Fair and Balanced’ reporting on offer.

Fox News executive Roger Alies (media guru for Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Snr.) will not be overly happy to learn then that Johnny-foreigner news group, Qatar-based al Jazeera Network, and its international channel al Jazeera English, will be vastly expanding their U.S. operations in 2013:

“Al Jazeera will significantly expand our existing distribution footprint in the U.S., as well as increase our news-gathering and reporting efforts in America. We look forward to working together with our new cable and satellite partners to serve our new audiences across the U.S.”  – Ahmed bin Jassim al Thani, al Jazeera Director General

Despite a growing international reputation and wide critical acclaim arising from Al Jazeera English picking up over 20 separate press awards in 2012, for exceptional ground reporting and international coverage of Haiti’s humanitarian crisis and the ongoing political upheavals of the Arab Spring, al Jazeera has found it difficult to penetrate the U.S. market. Particularly in relation to network share and media distribution rights. Al Jazeera English only broadcasts in a handful of U.S. cities, namely Washington DC and New York. Yet U.S. subscribers have continued to rise, drawing this commentary from Hillary Clinton:

“Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the U.S. because it’s real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock. Instead of a million commercials, arguments between talking heads, and the kind of stuff we do on our ‘news’, which is not particularly informative” – Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State

Al Jazeera’s hitherto availability handicap will change dramatically with the recent purchase of Current TV. Founded in 2002 by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Current TV has struggled with poor ratings, but the $500m acquisition of Current by al Jazeera provides just the distribution platform necessary to launch a new, U.S specific, al Jazeera channel in 2013.

‘Al Jazeera America’ will be available in almost 60 million homes across the U.S. The channel will still feature reports from al Jazeera English, although it is estimated that 70% of its programming and content will originate from inside the U.S. In addition to the refreshing injection of credible journalism into U.S. media-scape, it will significantly increase American staff numbers, adding several new bureaus to the Channels portfolio, including Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles. Yet with Time Warner dropping Current after learning of the al Jazeera deal and lingering questions over editorial independence, how the once dubbed “terrorist network” will be received in the U.S. remains to be seen… All the same, I’m happy to see this Fox hunt begin!


Is ‘Less-Than-Lethal’ Ammunition The Solution?

Fox News published an article today denoting a new form of ammunition about to be sold by a US company. The “Burns Round” (named after the company founder’s deceased cousin: U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Kyle Burns) is fired out of a 12-gauge shotgun and flattens on impact. Resultantly it bruises and stuns the target, hopefully avoiding fatality.

The company is marketing this new ammo specifically at police and other law enforcement officials – the catalyst for its creation was the need for ammo that wouldn’t pierce the skin of a plane in the post-9/11 armed flight marshal world.

Given the on-going debate over the Second Amendment (read mine and Peter Kelly’s thoughts on the matter here), it would be beneficial to push these developments further into the public sphere. Allowing citizenry and police to be armed with “less-than-lethal” ammunition is clearly preferable to, for example, hollow point rounds. Whilst it will not eradicate the problem or the underlying issues, it has the potential to lower the casualty rate of this pandemic.

Of course non-lethal ammunition is nothing new; police have been using rubber bullets for some time now. But it is encouraging that the U.S.’s foremost right-wing gun-toting website is shouting its praises.

Perhaps the NRA would like to join in?


Photo credit: Keoni Cabral