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Trump And Fox Blame ‘Fake Media’ For Looming Recession

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

President Donald Trump and his allies at Fox News have settled on a strategy to deal with the possibility of an oncoming economic recession: Blame the media.

The United States is currently experiencing the longest economic expansion on record, growing every quarter since the early days of President Barack Obama’s tenure. But no boom lasts forever, and key economic indicators suggest that the economy is now weakening and that a recession may be on the horizon. A recent survey found nearly three in four economists expect one by 2021, reflecting “growing skepticism among economists and investors that the U.S. economy will be able to withstand a protracted trade war with China without serious harm amid a weakening global outlook.”

Trump is reportedly worried about the impact that might have on his reelection campaign, and rightfully so, as sitting presidents who face recessions as Election Day approaches typically lose. His response — along with talking up the economy while lashing out at the response of his handpicked Federal Reserve chairman — has been to push the paranoid conspiracy theory that the press is deliberately trying to tank the economy to stop his re-election. This plays into Trump’s years-long campaign to delegitimize the press as the “enemy of the people.”

It is also absurd, a classic example of starting with the conclusion that your perceived enemy is responsible for your predicament and then backfilling the details. After spending years portraying journalists as vicious partisans out to get him, it’s a short step for Trump to declare they are willing to hurt millions of Americans in that effort.

But while one can always find an idiot pundit willing to sign on to a morally reprehensible position, the bulk of the press quite clearly isn’t cheering on a recession — it is reporting based on economic data and expert analysis that one may be imminent.

In addition to the lack of evidence for the president’s narrative, it also doesn’t make sense — even if you grant the premise that journalists are willing to create economic havoc just to hurt Trump (and you shouldn’t), would they really do that knowing that their industry’s already weak financial position means that their own livelihoods would be jeopardized?

The conspiracy theory’s fundamental stupidity hasn’t stopped the president’s loyal propagandists from pushing it. Fox commentators have played a key role in validating and popularizing Trump’s attacks on the press, and they’ve adopted his current salvo with zeal.

Indeed, Lou Dobbs, whose Fox Business show Trump watches religiously and who at times has advised the White House, levied the charge even before Trump did. On August 14, he responded to media reports that the inverted yield curve for U.S. Treasury bonds might signal a recession by accusing the “leftist national media” of “talking down the Trump stock market and the Trump economy” as part of an effort to elect a Democratic president.

Trump echoed Dobbs in a tweet the next afternoon, baselessly accusing journalists of “doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election.”

Blessed by the president, the narrative quickly took hold on Fox News and Fox Business as hosts accused the press of “talking down the economy deliberately” and trying to “make this economy go into recession.”

For Sean Hannity, this was evidence that journalists are willing to threaten the economic security of millions of Americans for political gain. “Some are desperately hoping — hoping and praying, hoping and praying Americans will lose their jobs, lose their savings, see a major decrease in their retirement, 401(k)s,” he claimed on Wednesday night. “They want people to suffer. Why? So they can get back power and President Trump will lose the election. Do you know what? It doesn’t get any sicker than what these people are doing.”

“How is it possible [journalists] don’t want America to succeed?” he later asked Dobbs. “I’m the dishwasher, I’m the cook, the waiter, bartender, construction guy. I want all those guys to succeed. That’s me.”

“Yes, it’s the foundation of the American dream. We want everyone in this country to succeed,” Dobbs replied. “And the nonsense that is being spewed — by the way, not just the radical Dems, but their complicit, national left-wing media friends — they are basically building a drumbeat for a recession.”

Fox News hosts Jeanine Pirro and Jesse Watters continued to push the conspiracy theory narrative through the weekend. Trump did too, tweeting from the G-7 meeting in Biarritz, France, that the news media is “trying to force a Recession” because journalists “hate” the United States.

Meanwhile, the president lifted up a segment from Fox News host Steve Hilton praising his economic stewardship as an example of good news coverage:

By Monday morning’s edition of Fox & Friends, the media’s “recession hoax” had become part of the network’s litany of purportedly false media narratives, along with Russian collusion and Trump’s racism.

Blaming bad economic news on the press might not help Trump with the majority of voters. But it will keep the base charged up against journalists — and make them less likely to question whether Trump’s policies haven’t worked out, keeping him from facing accountability.

Conspiracy Theorist Monica Crowley Named To Top Treasury Post

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Monica Crowley, President Donald Trump’s pick for the top communications position at the Treasury Department, is a longtime Fox News contributor who has pilloried journalists as “dishonest, hostile, biased, rude fake news” and has endorsed a series of racist conspiracy theories, including about President Barack Obama’s “real father.”

Trump intends to nominate Crowley to be assistant secretary of the Treasury for public affairs, the White House announced Monday night. The position does not require Senate confirmation.

Crowley spent decades in right-wing media — joining Fox in 1998 — after serving as an aide to former President Richard Nixon in the early 1990s. At Fox, she was a C-list voice the network’s hosts regularly booked to provide the casual bigotries, hypocrises, talking points, and lies that fuel the Fox propaganda machine.

Her appointment is an additional sign of the unprecedented merger between Fox and the Trump White House. She is at least the 17th former Fox employee to join the administration and replaces Tony Sayegh, himself a former Fox contributor.

Crowley was previously tapped for a top communications job in Trump’s National Security Council shortly after his election. But she declined to take the position after CNN and Politico respectively reported that she had plagiarized portions of her 2012 book and her doctoral dissertation.

A few months later, she told Fox star Sean Hannity that she had been the victim of “a despicable, straight-up political hit job” and falsely claimed the charges had been “debunked.”

Such attacks on journalism are as much a part of the job description for Trump administration communications staffers as they are for right-wing commentators. Crowley has been an eager combatant in this fight, regularly decrying the “corrupt,” “leftist” media while praising Trump for putting the “dishonest, hostile, biased, rude fake news in its place.”

Crowley’s tenure as a conservative commentator is most notable for her adoption of conspiracy theories about Obama’s heritage during his presidency.

She argued that it was “very legitimate” to question Obama’s birth certificate, argued that such issues “have traction” because of the then-president’s “un-American” policies, and speculated that Obama might not be a “natural-born citizen” eligible for the presidency.

Crowley also promoted the myths that Obama “is not Black African, he is Arab African” and that he might be a Muslim.

Crowley’s promotion of bigoted conspiracy theories about Obama culminated with her enthusiastic promotionof Dreams from My Real Father, a 2012 documentary by conservative filmmaker Joel Gilbert that alleged that Obama is actually the biological son of the communist writer Frank Marshall Davis.

Gilbert’s film takes one actual fact — Obama wrote in his memoir that he had been friendly with Davis as a teenager in Hawaii, having been introduced by his grandfather — and uses fake sources and wild speculation to extrapolate that Davis is his “real father.” But mostly, the film’s thesis is based on Gilbert’s opinion that Obama looks more like Davis than he does the elder Barack Obama, and it features several juxtaposed images in which Gilbert circles their supposedly similar features.

Crowley praised the film as “just dynamite” during an interview with Gilbert on her radio show, claiming that he had amassed “some very powerful evidence” and urging listeners to watch the documentary and “judge the story for themselves.”

These are the sorts of people you end up hiring when you’re drawing on the Fox green room for your staff.

White House Comms Chief Shine Ousted As Scandals Explode

Bill Shine, Trump’s sixth communications director in just over two years and the disgraced former co-president of Fox News, resigned on Friday from his White House position.

“Serving President Trump and this country has been the most rewarding experience of my entire life,” he said in a statement. He will be working for Trump’s re-election campaign as an adviser.

His ouster comes as numerous Trump scandals are rising in the public consciousness, some of them directly involving Shine. During his tenure, Shine was unable to do anything to improve Trump’s popularity, which has never risen above 45 percent, while his unfavorable rating has held at 54 percent.

Trump reportedly blamed Shine for the overwhelmingly negative public reaction to his decision to shut down the federal government over his racist border wall.

The New York Times reported that during the shutdown, Trump repeatedly asked people “whether Mr. Shine has been ‘good’ for him.” Trump also belittled a meaningless photo-op at the border that had been arranged by the communications chief, blaming the propaganda moment on “these people behind you” as he pointed to Shine and other aides while speaking to the Times.

During Shine’s tenure at Fox News, he presided over the massive cover-up of sexual abuse by network founder Roger Ailes.

Despite his work covering up abuse — or perhaps because of it — Trump went ahead and hired the former Ailes aide. Trump himself is an admitted sexual assailant.

Shine was recommended by Fox News host Sean Hannity, a fan of Trump’s and one of his most high-profile propagandists, who functions as a shadow chief of staff for the White House. For years, Shine was a producer on Hannity’s show.

Trump is also facing multiple revelations about his unethical and possibly criminal conduct, including violating federal law by paying off porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election — a story Fox News reportedly had and killed prior to the election to help Trump win, while Shine was still at Fox.

Trump has maintained that public relations are the key to avoiding the consequences of his actions, but Shine was unable to convince Americans to look away from Trump’s misdeeds. And Trump has struggled to keep communications directors and spokespeople — as well as Cabinet members and other top officials — at the White House.

By comparison, President Barack Obama had five communications directors over eight years. George W. Bush had four during his two terms.

Getting rid of Bill Shine won’t stop Trump from being Trump, which is Trump’s biggest problem.

Published with permission of The American Independent.