Ethics Hero: Fox News

How gloriously ironic it will be it if Fox News is the architect of the tipping point that finally causes Donald Trump’s passionate supporters—you know, the ones who don’t mind if he mocks veterans and the disabled, who don’t notice that he is a substance-free blowhard, who he boasts  wouldn’t care if he shot someone dead in cold blood—to realize they have been deluded fools…

Trump, you see, is pulling out of Thursday’s Fox News debate because he is afraid of Megyn Kelly, who properly challenged him on his habitual misogyny in the first one, prompting Trump to aim his ugly sexism at her. Trump has been sending cheap shots and insults Kelly’s way ever since, and has recently been complaining that she has a “conflict of interest” and is biased against him, and thus should not moderate Thursday’s debate. He should know that every American, including journalists, who have the sense God gave an echidna, are exactly as biased in the sense that they don’t want this blathering, posturing narcissist screwing up the political system, the nation and the culture any more than he already has. Who isn’t biased this way? A panel of Ann Coulter, Ted Nugent and David Duke would be great theater, but I don’t think it would serve the interests of the American people.

Trump claims he thrives on conflict, but for some reason Kelly terrifies him, and Fox, to its credit, has not merely refused to cater to his phobia, but mocked it. Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes told The Post today that “Megyn Kelly is an excellent journalist, and the entire network stands behind her. She will absolutely be on the debate stage on Thursday night.” Later, the network deliciously called out Trump for the hypocrite and coward that he is, saying,

“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president. A nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”

Oh, snap! That’s a bit tough, but this is Trump. He’s supposed to be able to take it. What was his devastating response?

Run away!!! He’s fleeing the debate like a frightened little girl, that’s what. His feelings bruised, and still apparently terrified that Kelly will make him look like the blustering nincompoop that he is, Trump has announced that he won’t be participating in the debate. So there.

Well, good. Any development that shows The Donald to be the fraud he is can only be cheered; let’s see if his semi-conscious supporters realize what a disgrace this conduct is for a self-styled tough guy. Actually, shooting someone would be consistent with the image he has been foisting on the gullible. Avoiding tough questioning from a beautiful and articulate female lawyer/journalist who can’t be charmed or intimidated is a devastating clue to the real man underneath. Like most bullies, Trump backs down when he faces defeat.

Maybe, just maybe, with Trump not polluting the debate with braggadocio, insults and free-associated generalities, one of the other candidates will impress. Meanwhile, good for Fox, good for Kelly, just good.

UPDATE: Here is Fox News’ response to Trump’s retreat:

“As many of our viewers know, FOX News is hosting a sanctioned debate in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday night, three days before the first votes of the 2016 election are cast in the Iowa Caucus. Donald Trump is refusing to debate seven of his fellow presidential candidates on stage that night, which is near unprecedented. We’re not sure how Iowans are going to feel about him walking away from them at the last minute, but it should be clear to the American public by now that this is rooted in one thing – Megyn Kelly, whom he has viciously attacked since August and has now spent four days demanding be removed from the debate stage.Capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums about a debate moderator violates all journalistic standards, as do threats, including the one leveled by Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski toward Megyn Kelly. In a call on Saturday with a Fox News executive, Lewandowski stated that Megyn had a ‘rough couple of days after that last debate’ and he ‘would hate to have her go through that again.’ We can’t give in to terrorizations toward any of our employees. Trump is still welcome at Thursday night’s debate and will be treated fairly, just as he has been during his 132 appearances on FOX News & FOX Business, but he can’t dictate the moderators or the questions.”

Too nice, in my view: Fox should have given him a deadline to come crawling back, and said that his withdrawal would be considered final if he missed it.



119 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Fox News

  1. He’s fleeing the debate away like a frightened little girl, that’s what.

    Being compared to Trump is unfair to little girls and former little girls everywhere.

  2. I certainly share your view, as well as your glee at Trump’s discomfiture. But I’ll go one further – this may be a turning moment.

    The colossal ego – insisting that he ought to choose the reporter who interviews him, apparently even insisting that he will no longer deal only with Roger Ailes – no, he only wants to deal with Rupert Murdoch, chairman to chairman.

    Massive reality distortion field. Or as you suggest a classic bully. Whatever, I have a sense that Trump may have made a really bad move on this one. We shall see.

      • Ideal: The first ever journalist boycott. Not only shut off any avenue to interview, but refuse to report anything about him. But (sigh) that would be unethical, wouldn’t it?

        • Yes, it’s what HuffPo tried to do. I was right, you know: The GOP could have isolated Trump at the start. Just say, “You’re not a Republican, you never have been,, we have videos of you saying you’re a Democrat, go run in their primaries.” I told them. Morons. Gutless fools.

    • Agreed, very bad move; and I hope that it’s followed by many worse ones. The sooner Trump is out of the equation the better I will sleep.

  3. This will be funny, but not at all helpful for the country or for decency or for building opportunities to bring people together. Frankly, funny is all I hope for anymore.
    Fox just got a mark in the positive column. Megyn Kelly should get a raise and a set of brass.

  4. “Echidna” and “braggadocio”, two of my favorite words in English. I’m delighted you got to write these gems in a post about such good news.

    • Sadly, it appears so far that your prediction is right and that he’s getting away with it again.
      Is this what a fascist take-over of media looks like? With the pitchfork crowd howling for the new dictator to strong arm the press?

      • “Is this what a fascist take-over of media looks like?”

        That’s a silly thing to say given the current state of our media. If you want to know what it looks like, it looks like a long slow half-century long creep of the Democrat party and the media increasingly whoring themselves to each other until they no longer hide it, and loyalists, like you, pretending it doesn’t occur.

        Now if Trump were to do the same, it would occur while he’s IN office. And would be much less subtle.

          • So Fox News rejecting Trump is somehow a reflection of what a fascist takeover of the media looks like?

            Your comments become less coherent.

            It would be easier to admit you shouldn’t have made the odd statement from the start.

            • Texagg, let me be more clear.

              Trump made a blatant attempt to control the choice of reporter for a national debate broadcast; not his first overt attempt at media manipulation.

              The right response of all the media, and in particular the medium being attacked (Fox) would have been a principled response, along the lines of “Sorry, our first amendment role in a free society is for us to play our role and you play yours; we decide the questioners, and we set the questions.”

              Apparently this simple principled approach did not occur to Fox nor to any of its broadcast brethren. Instead, Fox gave in to petty social media blathering, and all the other media chose to focus solely on who would gain what narrow political advantage from the week’s maneuvering. Joe Scarborough is a good example: he was all outraged over the ‘insult’ of the memo, rather than noticing any issues of free press.

              The ‘fascist’ comment comes from the idea that if the media as a whole are that bereft of self-respect and regard for their own constitutional role, it won’t take much in the way of abuse from a dictatorial bully to blow them over.

              You may say you’re not shocked by the media’s inability to recognize an issue like this for what it is. I’m still a little shocked, but I’m even more amazed that they don’t even have the PR sensibilities to PRETEND that they’re constitutionally outraged.

              Servile? Or incompetent? To paraphrase Hillary, “at this point, what difference does it make?” It’s a pretty craven performance by all the media.

              • 1) A candidate has every right to ask for a different moderator, just like the host and other candidates have every right to agree to that moderator, then the annoyed candidate gets to make a choice. And Trump chose to be a sissy. This really isn’t a 1st Amendment issue like you are hoping it is.

                2) The media, in fact, have no CONSTITUTIONAL role at all. The media merely enjoys constitutional protection of their free market conduct.

                3) Fox’s response is absolutely acceptable. They essentially posed Trump a debate scenario on foreign policy and the only way he could answer is by dropping his hissy fit and coming to the debate. He demonstrated he has no stomach for real tough encounters…the likes of which he’d face on the world stage.

                4) Again, not a 1st Amendment issue, therefore not a real opportunity for Fox to lecture about Freedom of Speech.

                5) Again, if you really want to know how media gets fascistically in bed with government, I’ve already shown you two routes: The way the Democrats have done it…through slow creeping cultural rot; or a more overt route, which is what Trump would ultimately have to rely on, if he ever decided to be dictatorial.

                • Honestly… When it comes to the constitution, I think Charles just makes things up as he goes along. Something to the tune of: “Well, if I said that this meant that, it would make sense, especially in the context I want it to.”

                  Here Charles: Think of it this way: If FOX has a constitutional “first amendment role” that would require specific behavior involving the use of their free speech, do you have a constitutional “second amendment role” to own a gun in case you’re needed in a militia?

                  If not, how is that different?

                  • Valid points. I considered making a similar analogy with the 2nd Amendment, but couldn’t word it well. You did. Thanks.

                    I struggled with this mainly, because I think there is a stronger argument that the 2nd Amendment actually does create a Constitutional role for the body called “The Militia”…that is to say: The Militia is NECESSARY for the security of a free state.

                    Whereas the 1st Amendment does no such thing with any “body” of citizens, rather protecting the conduct of individual citizens with respect to speech and the press. Though Charles may argue that “The Press” is such a body…that would be a post-constitutional application of the term to a non-body of citizens, whereas “The Militia” was a term applied to the body of armed citizens since before the Constitution.

                    I quite heartily agree with this: “When it comes to the constitution, I think Charles just makes things up as he goes along.”

                    • Guys, I’m not a lawyer and I was making more a political point than one of constitutional law. Very simply, it was dumb of Fox not to link themselves to the idea of a free press, as Jack notes elsewhere.

                      But since you bring it up, I looked at the first amendment and indeed it talks about freedom of the press. “Press” then I think was understood to be newspapers, which still exist, and I don’t find it a stretch that the FF’s would have considered radio/TV to fit the term.

                      By contrast, state ‘militia’ are virtually unrecognizable compared to what they were then. Newspapers clearly exist today; it’s harder to point to ‘bodies of armed citizens,’ much less at the State level – remember back then militia were originally justified as the front lines AGAINST federal military forces, aka the army. Now it’s the armed forces and the national guard which have the weapons, not state militias.

                      But I’m not sure what import all that has anyway. All I was saying was that a broadcast medium has to be politically stupid to default to social media arguments when it has within easy reach an argument about serving society in ways significant enough to merit mention in the constitution.

                      And it’s not like this is new to Fox. Just a few years ago, Roger Ailes availed himself of the argument that Fox was the defender of the first amendment against the encroaches of Obama.

                      Why they didn’t recall this argument now is beyond me; it would have been in their best interest to use it again.

  5. Standing by their people is ethical. The press release I thought was gratuitous and arguably showed an anti-Trump bias (albeit justified on the merits). Why the press release? Better if they just stuck by their guns and said nothing,

  6. It seems to me that the entire Trump campaign is the result of media manipulation… Trump manipulating the media, and the media manipulating Trump and the media consumers. Were it not for the literally hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free media coverage that no other candidate receives, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign would likely be in the same league as Jim Gilmore’s… close to ZERO. Media manipulation has made Donald Trump and I have no doubt that it can unmake him whenever it wants to.

    One other thought: Every day the Trump campaign consumes most of the daily news cycle on all of the networks is a good day for Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump almost makes Hillary Clinton look presidential. Is this a coincidence?

    • JE, you make several good points about media manipulation.

      But not the last point –the suggestion that somehow media focus on Trump is intentional, to help Hillary. I’ve found over many decades that, given a choice between conspiracy and stupidity/incompetence, stupidity/incompetence is almost always the better explanation.

      In this case, as Abrams noted, Fox stupidly handled the initial Trump reaction with that juvenile response.

      More broadly, Trump made a rare mistake. He potentially handed a First Amendment platform to Fox, who could have easily trumpeted “no one’s going to dictate to a free press who asks the questions, and what questions get asked,” etc. That would have been an easy high horse to ride.

      Instead, they stupidly muffed it to get into a knife fight with the master of knife fights. That’s just stupid. They haven’t got the brains to concoct, much less manage, a conspiracy to support Hillary by focusing on Trump.

      • You are probably right. Stupidity is almost always the more likely explanation.

        But still, I tend to believe that this particular stupidity tends to benefit HRC while sucking the oxygen out of the room for all other more legitimate candidates. In any event, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free media coverage for Trump… and mostly on non-substantive matters… is perverting the American political process more than I have ever seen before.

        • I agree with you about the collateral beneficiary being disproportionately HRC. And even more with your point about the perversion of the political process.

          There’s little enough integrity among the candidates to begin with. There’s arguably even less from the political parties, and from the press.

          The entire campaign process has turned into an obsessive social media tweet-fest about daily polls and put-downs. This is what we’re presenting to the world as democracy in action; should we be surprised at a cynical reaction to it?

          • Earlier on, I suggested that were it not for all the free media coverage, that Donald Trump would be down in the polls like… Jim Gilmore… meaning a ZERO. I apologize to Jim Gilmore. After the under-card debates tonight, I was actually impressed with Gilmore as sounding much more presidential than Donald Trump has ever sounded. Not to say that he is the best, but at least he was somewhat cogent and made some valid points. Actually, Carly seemed to be the winner of the under card debate, IMO.

  7. This is a tough one. On the one hand, kudos to Fox for not knuckling under to this proto-fascist bluster and bullying, which shows Trump not just to be a bully, but not to be too wise or too savvy, which is a bigger disqualifier for high office than a rotten attitude. On the other hand, this could be the tipping point that makes him go third party, all but guaranteeing a Hillary presidency. It is a dangerous game both he and Fox are playing.

    • Of course he should. Not inviting him would be similar to Huffpo’s indefensible, blissfully short lived, relegation of him to the entertainment section. It might have been possible to do that six months ago, but not now.

  8. He’s gotten away with worse before now.

    The current plan is for him to be staging photo ops with widows, orphans, disabled veterans etc at the time of the debate.

    Lacking the Star Attraction, Fox’s ratings will tank, and the suits will likely take a “pragmatic business decision” to jettison all this integrity stuff next time.

    • I hope you are wrong, Zoe, about the audience for the debate sans Trump being diminished. I am actually more interested in watching it now, with the expectation that others besides Trump will have more time per candidate to speak. However, I will not allow my hope to rise that the candidates who do show up will avoid referring to Trump in some way as if they wished he was there – or worse, speak of his absence in some mis-directing, diverting, time-wasting (of viewers’ time, that is) way, such that any benefit of his absence is negated and a virtual Trump presence is created.

      It will be telling, indeed, to see if Trump manages to garner simultaneous, competing attention during his absence from the debate while he engages in alternative campaign activity.

    • The guy will seem like Superman if he manages to live tweet the debates while photo popping widows, orphans and disabled vets. Course I suppose he can arrange for a surrogate to do the tweeting.

    • Oh, I could not be more certain that you are wrong, and Trump is wrong about the ratings.First, it will easily top the ratings of the Democratic debates. Second, there will be plenty of curiosity over who will take advantage, and most of all, how Kelly handles it. Trump made the race a soap opera, true, but viewers don’t stop watching soap operas because a star character is in a coma. The debate is still part of the DONALD TRUMP SAGA whether he’s in the episode or not.

      Trust me on this. The big story will be how good the ratings are without Trump—one of many ways his hubris is going to get him.

      • The ratings didn’t tank that’s for sure, “second lowest of any GOP debate” is not “tanking” by any reasonable definition, even if possibly somewhat diminished. 12.5M vs 20-25M average, but only 11M in the previous one. There is no solid evidence of significant reduction.

        No matter, the crux of the issue is that I was completely wrong.

        Parenthetically, the last DNC debate was 7.85M, the highest 15.3M, and Trump’s alternative show 2.7M

  9. Trump is going to get the nomination. The question is more interesting on the Democratic side right now as Bernie is polling better than Hillary in certain states. I think Trump has a better shot at beating Bernie over Hillary in a general election.

    Then again, what do I know? This time last year I was predicting that this was going to be another Bush v. Clinton election. And Jeb is dead in the water.

      • I won’t bet, but like Beth (only from a different perspective), I expect that Hillary will either (1) not be indicted at all, (2) be indicted, but pardoned by Obama immediately, or (3) be indicted AFTER she is elected to the White House, and in that case, test new legal territory by pardoning herself.

        • My guess: this is Trump’s peak. He will lose Iowa big, and that’s one reason he’s pulling this: he wants to blame someone. He has no organization in Iowa, and he’ll lose to a candidate opposing the state’s obscene corn welfare. There goes the poll argument Trump keeps making, and he can’t stand losing.

          I keep reading that the debate ditch won’t matter, because Trump has gotten away with everything else. Keep saying that: I love it. It guarantees that hubris will trip him up….but that’s been guaranteed from the start.

          • Here’s the real deal: if/when Trump falls. All those single digit candidates have a very good chance of suddenly becoming contenders again.

            I haven’t looked at the raw data of the recurring polls showing Trump with this vast lead. Does anyone know the demographics of those being polled with any fidelity?

            For all I know Trump’s own people reviewed those #s and decided most of support is coming from sections of the population that like Trump’s audacity but flat out probably won’t vote at all come the day.

            • It’s across all demographic groups and parties. It really is the stupid segment of society, which of course favors no demographic…and the educated are hardly immune. These are the people who are sending Megyn Kelly e-mails calling her a cunt. Morons.

              Never bet on morons.

              • No doubt the demographics of the full sample group accurately reflect American demographics. I’m curious how those demographics break down per candidate and wonder if Trump is pulling primarily out of demographics, that even when push comes to shove probably won’t even show up to vote.

      • As I said above, “What do I know.” There is no way I could have predicted that Trump could do this well for so long.

        So, I’ll keep my $50, just in case. Who do you think will get the Republican nomination?

    • I simply do not see how Trump COULD get the nomination. People still have to fill out a ballot. Maybe I am just projecting, but the thought of filling in the little dot next to Trump’s name simply makes me sick.

      I am not a Republican, but I have enough respect for the vast majority, that I could only imagine they feel the same way. There is simply no evidence that Trump ‘supporters’ will show up at the primaries, assuming they are even registered Republican. They want a show. They want a celebrity. Nothing is exciting about standing in line for a ballot. Even Republican Caucuses are done by secret ballot; there is some debate, but without the meatloaf himself there, there is no dinner party.

      I really have no idea who will get the nomination. Many a strange things happening… President Bloomberg?

  10. Do I detect the distinct smell of a Trump Independent Presidential run; remember Trump is a full blown narcissist and he will not be able to tolerate not being directly in the limelight of Presidential campaign politics to achieve his ultimate goal; no way, no how will Trump leave Presidential politics at this point, not with the ultimate goal so close at hand.

    Everything Trump has done and said up to this point leads me to believe that his ultimate goal is firmly in place and that goal is to put Hillary Clinton into the White House and do as much relatively permanent political damage to the core of the Republican party as possible in order to take down an overwhelming number of Republicans in Congress. The Democrats want total control. Maybe he’s got a lucrative side deal from the Clinton’s, he certainly wouldn’t do anything without personal gain in mind.

    There is only one other goal that would make sense for the Trump I see, world domination. In the absence of anything to disprove either goal; the second goal is not likely to be achievable even in the mind of a full blown narcissist like Trump, so that leaves the first goal and that one is clearly achievable using the exact tactics that Trump has displayed.

    That comes from my personal research on Modern Conspiracy Theories: The Master Plan. 😉 😉 😉 😉

    I’m only sorta kidding.

      • Beth,
        What do you honestly think Trumps chances are of actually getting the Republican nomination? Forget the fact for a moment that he’s leading in the polls; there is a huge swath of Conservatives and Independents that are NOT polling favorably towards Trump and might not go to the polls at all if he gets the nomination; I’m one of those Independents that leans Conservative that would not vote for Trump under any circumstances and I also wouldn’t vote for Hillary or Sanders under any circumstances.

        I’m running out of popular Presidential choices to vote for; at this point, I’m likely to write in Jack Marshall as my Presidential choice in November or not vote at all.

      • Beth,
        If Trump were to get the GOP nomination, then he will have achieved the goal of seriously handicapping the GOP for many years to come thus insuring the political dominance of the Democratic Party.

        • But does Trump know that? Would a narcissist admit to being a spoiler? Every time I convince myself he’s doing this to help the Democrats I come up against the reality that he doesn’t think he’s a loser. And even though he could possibly have the ultimate goal of ruining one party or the other, will he be able to do that if it means he will be seen as a loser.

          • wyogranny,
            Doesn’t it really all depend on what Trump’s initial goal actually was? Being a spoiler does not mean that Trump would consider himself a loser, especially if his goal was to be a spoiler.

            There’s really nothing in the narcissist symptom list that would indicate that a narcissist would care one way or the other if they are considered a spoiler as long as the focus is on them. Trump is in the limelight, the spotlights are all aimed directly at him, everything he says and does is aimed at pointing all the focus at him both negative and positive, that’s what the narcissist Trump wants and that is exactly what he’s getting.

            Trump will never admit that he’s a loser, never; he will turn any conversation like that into a hateful insulting spewing towards anyone and everyone that would say or imply such a thing.

            • Narcissists care about winning. He won’t run independent because there’s no chance of winning. But maybe it’s important to note that he does think he can win the Republican nomination and the general election.

              • Trump has even said that if his polls fall, he’s out. He has said that he would refuse the VP spot. He’s not a patriot, or a man driven by principle, like Ralph Nader. He wants the power. I he can’t win, and a 3rd party candidate cannot win, he’s not interested. Hurts the brand.

    • Alternate theory: Trump is there to make every other Republican look rational and principled. He’s got me thinking, “Yeah, I could handle a President Cruz,” which is a thought I never would have had a year ago.

      Alternate alternate theory: Trump is in it for Trump, and no one else. This seems to be the most likely; for all his faults, do you really see him as anybody’s puppet? There’s no way he is intentionally trying to help the Democrats or the Republicans. He wants attention, nothing else.

    • Wow. Theories all over the place. Love it. Anyone here got a crystal ball?
      I Ching? Tarot deck? Tea leaves? Animal bones? Bird bones? Bird brains?

    • I was hoping that my sorta kidding Modern Conspiracy Theories: The Master Plan comment above would “inspire” come interesting conversations about Trump. I dangled the bait. 🙂

      Please read up on narcissism.

      What’s clear to me is that Trump is full of rhetoric that is entrenched in unwavering intellectual dishonesty guided by his appallingly unethical character that is projecting his complete and utter moral bankruptcy and he is using his uncivil rhetoric to steamroll over anything in his path. Trump is using Liberal politicking tactics and he has put them on high doses of crack cocaine; the narcissist thinks he’s invincible and he’s actually stated as much.

      What is Trumps ultimate goal, none of us know for sure, all we can do is see the results of his words and actions and make assumptions about is goals based on our own perception of those words and actions. My perception of Trump is he is needs psychological treatment for his narcissism, he’s will be a dangerous man if he gets in the Oval Office, his words and actions are doing serious harm to the GOP & Conservatives in general, he is portraying a Liberal caricature view of Conservatives that only Liberals consider to be an accurate depiction of Conservatives, he is NOT a Conservative.

        • Watch the interview William F.Buckley did with Mohammud Ali in the Sixties. Like Kelly, WFB was so focused on an agenda and making his “victim” look bad that he was out-charmed, out-riffed, and out-gunned.

      • I watched the video of the Moore interview; Kelly should have been better prepared for Moore trying to take over the interview; he’s dynamic, he can be funny, he deflects, and he uses his talents to manipulate things to what he wants to talk about, that’s what he always does – he reminds me a little bit of Johnny Carson’s go-to fill in guy Charles Nelson Reilly on the Tonight Show.

        Kelly is usually in complete control of her interviews and keeps them on track to what she wants to talk about with her steam roller approach. Even though she tried to keep it on track, she really wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of Moore’s controlling jibber-jabber deflections, for some reason Kelly’s steam roller was parked in the garage, I don’t “think” it had anything to do with Trump, I think she was unprepared for Moore and it showed. Her looks off camera had the appearance of “what the hell do I do to stop this guy”, she seemed like she wanted to laugh every time she looked at him, at one point she almost buried her nose in her papers so she wouldn’t have to look at him.

        Moore is a political hack and she should have been better prepared to take control of the interview; Moore did his homework on Kelly and was well prepared, Kelly was unprepared and I think she was embarrassed for allowing him to control her with his humor and deflections.

        I’ll bet she will never be that unprepared for a guest again.

  11. Has anyone else noticed the steadily rising level of (semi)courteous, intelligent, witty, serious, wide-ranging and pertinent parley on this blog? I came to the end of this post with tough replies in mind only to find myself outwritten on every point, including ripostes. Keep it up, please! All of a sudden I have all this free time — all I have to do is wait a couple of hours . . . .

      • It’s a five-star movie, this “Unbearable Lightness of Being,” and the DVD has been available for some years. It twists the plot around just a leeetle bit but, in the end, is faithful to the lightness of the book — which takes less time to read than the three hours of the film (the NYT said this: they were correct).

        Lightness and weight, positive and negative … what IS it with Czechs and balances???

        • Watched the movie when it was first released. Enjoyed it, but did not grok until I read the above blog entry. Now. I plan to watch it again. Book may have to wait. I just signed on to Infinite Jest.

  12. The spiral into the political abyss began last night.

    The deck has been shuffled, the cards have been dealt, the bets are in, now it’s time for the world to start seeing what cards Trump is holding and, after the GOP Convention is complete, reveal the ones up his sleeve.

    Since a lot of us have gone into the prediction mode, here’s mine…

    On the Democratic Party side…

    Hillary Clinton will get the Democratic Party nomination and likely choose a very moderate Liberal as her running mate. They will run the entire campaign resting on the shoulders of Obama’s “accomplishments” and Hillary being the first woman President. The campaign won’t propose much ideological change from the Obama ideological path (only a few token differences). The campaign will spend the majority of their time painting the entire GOP as extreme and ignorant using Trumps hair as a paint brush.

    On the Republican Party side…

    1. Trump will not get the GOP Nomination.

    2. Trump will go on a personal vengeance spree, spewing unsubstantiated accusations and personal insults at the GOP Nominee. Big surprise.

    3. Trump will deliver a massive barrage of verbal frontal assaults full of unsubstantiated accusations and blanket insults against the GOP and anyone that supports the GOP. Big surprise.

    4. Trump will demonize all things Conservative.

    5. The Democratic Party ticket will use Trumps post-convention attacks, and Trumps nomination campaign attacks on GOP candidates, against the GOP ticket in the general election campaign. Trumps words today will be used against the GOP ticket tomorrow in general election TV ads.

    6. The Democratic Party will win the 2016 election by a large margin.

    1. Trump will get the GOP nomination.

    2. Trump will choose an absolutely irrelevant VP running mate, Palin comes to mind.

    3. Trump will go on a nationwide campaign spree launching his rhetorical propaganda accusations and insults at the Democratic Party ticket.

    4. The GOP ticket will spike in the polls after the GOP Convention and then start a rapid decline.

    5. The Democratic Party ticket will use Trumps pre/post-convention unethical rhetoric and attacks against the GOP ticket in the general election campaign. Trumps words today will be used against the GOP ticket tomorrow in general election TV ads.

    6. The Democratic Party ticket will win the 2016 election in a landslide of historic proportions because independents will vote overwhelming against Trump and moderate Republicans either won’t vote at all out of shear disgust for Trump or will vote against Trump to keep his screwed up value system out of the oval office.

    1. Trump doesn’t get the GOP nomination.

    2. Trump fades into the also-ran category and we don’t hear from him during the campaign again. Does anyone really believe that?

    3. The GOP ticket will not be able to wash its hands of the Trump effect; it will follow the GOP ticket like a poisonous viper biting at the lower leg of its victim injecting deadly venom with every bite.

    4. The Democratic Party ticket will use Trumps pre-convention unethical rhetoric and attacks against the GOP ticket in the general election campaign. Trumps words today will be used against the GOP ticket tomorrow in general election TV ads.

    The political left has absolutely no plan to, and really doesn’t need to, get anyone outside their solid base of voters to vote for their ideology, all they have to do is get a majority of voters outside their base to vote against the GOP ticket. All the Democratic Party has to do is create reasonable doubt about the GOP ticket and/or the GOP in general has the capability to run the office of the President of the United States and the government in a “reasonable manner” and Trump has been actively providing the GOP opposition with loads of verbal ammunition to “prove” the GOP is anything but reasonable. Every unethical word that spews forth from the roots of Trumps immoral soul will help the Democratic ticket, it’s irrelevant whether it’s intentional help from Trump or not, the result will be the same.

    My overall prediction is that Hillary Clinton will win the White House in 2016 and the Democratic Party will win back both houses of Congress in very short order.

    There you have it, my political prediction(s) for the rest of the 2016 Presidential campaign season.

    • I’ll ask you to review these in about three months. I’ll bet that you’ll pull all of them. Any predication that has Hillary winning is per se made in defiance of history, facts, human nature and common sense. And if she get indicted, and she might, she cannot run.

      • So goes the game of predictions. 🙂

        I’ll actually mark a review in three months in my google calendar with a link to the comment; that’ll be kinda fun either way it goes.

        Of course if Hillary gets indited and has to drop out of the race, the prediction will have to change, but it could be as simple as just removing Hillary’s name and putting in a different name in its place, for instance change all references to Hillary to Biden. 😉

        • I think that’s right. If Hillary is indicted, enter Biden – which makes your predictions even stronger.

          I would quibble though with your prediction about House and Senate; given the depth of anti-Washington feeling and the success of gerrymandering in recent decades, which generally favors the GOP, I don’t see either house going Democratic any time soon.

          Indictment aside, I am aghast that Jack thinks “Any prediction that has Hillary winning is per se mad in defiance of history, facts, human nature and common sense.” He should throw in that he is therefore in defiance of all current betting odds, which posit Hillary as the best bet. It’s one thing to say you disagree with the odds-makers, it’s quite another to call the majority “mad.” I look forward to the 3-month re-visit.

          • Typo—that was supposed to be “made,’ not “mad.”

            That said, in this atypical election, all bets are off, and betting on Hillary is, in fact, mad. She blew the nomination the last time against a complete unknown who had historically crippling handicaps for a Presidential candidate. She has more baggage now, is older, and has multiple scandals and a pretty awful record as SOS. Bill is no longer a rock star or popular. She unliked by more than 50% of the population. I was confident in my prediction that she was unelectable six months ago, and everything that has happened so far has been consistent with that prediction. Nor is Biden a winner by any means, though he’s more electable than Hillary. His polling, for a VP, was embarrassing, and it’s because he’s a boob, and everyone knows it. He looks good now only relative to Sanders and Clinton.

            Those giving odds for Hillary are foolish. It’s as simple as that. Harold Stassen, Pat Buchanan, Adlai Stevenson, Henry Clay, William Jennings Bryan, Rick Santorum–at some point, it’s obvious that some people will never be elected President. It was obvious to me regarding Hillary in 2006. I’m betting Democrats will catch up by August, after an old, dishonest, annoying Marxist beats her repeatedly.

              • My horrified best guess is that they’ll draft Elizabeth Warren as a graft of Sanders and Hillary, just like they drafted RFK when it looked like the choice was Humphrey or Clean Gene. She also combines some of the dishonesty of Hillary with the demagoguery of Bernie.

                • Nope. I can see a Sanders/Warren ticket though. I’ve heard some murmurs about a Clinton/Warren ticket too — but that would be asinine.

                  My horrified best guess is that Sanders will get the nomination and soundly lose Dukakis-style to Republican _____.

                  • I believe that the Democrats reaction to Bernie being the nominee will be the same as the GOP’s to Trump—the party can’t let it happen, and will break or make up whatever rule necessary to broker the convention and get someone who won’t wreck the party. It’s happened before, just not recently.

            • “made” makes much more sense, thanks.

              Though, to paraphrase a Secretary of Defense, you go to election with the candidate you have. If that race is Hillary vs. Bernie, the money betting on Hillary is smart money, not dumb, I’d suggest.

              And if she gets the nomination, I have a lot of trouble seeing any of these GOP candidates beating her; again, that’s what the money is saying.

              Markets, like the casino house, aren’t always right; but that’s the way to bet.

              • Too much bias in those odds. I’d guess at least three of the 8 GOP candidates should be favored to beat either Hillary or Sanders. I was amused that a larger % of those polled in a recent poll think Hillary will win than would actually vote for Hillary. They’re just aping conventional wisdom, that’s all.

        • My bet is that Biden either wouldn’t be chosen or would, at this juncture, refuse to run: just getting up the impetus to run a last-minute, virtually unfunded campaign is implausible. It’s not has if the first major candidate suddenly died and left a relatively clean hole! Bernie is what’s happening, though I wouldn’t bet anything on the election outcome. And I wouldn’t put Hillary out completely: a lot of women will just hold to their first decision in-spite-of, or think, in spite of all evidence, that her being dropped is an insult to their gender, and Mister has a large following among black and other minority voters — the party could see this as as stronger coalition to go up against ( I hate to think it) Trump.

      • Jack,
        It’s been three months exactly and I’m only going to pull PREDICTION C but it’s only because I predicted that Trump will faded into the also-ran category and go away; it’s quite clear that Trump will not fade into the also-ran category if he doesn’t get the nomination, he’s made that point perfectly clear now with his direct attacks on all things GOP – the path is set in motion, either he get’s the nomination or he will have his revenge.

        Are you beginning to get a better understand of my talk about Trump destroying GOP and maybe that was his goal from the beginning?

        I’m going to give myself more calendar reminders to review these predictions daily from July 18-21. This’ll be interesting; I’m not one to make predictions like this so I’ll get to see how I did.

        • I find this notion of Trump “destroying” the GOP somewhere between vexing and amusing. Trump is not destroying the GOP – Trump IS the GOP.

          When somebody wins every single county, every single Congressional District, every single dedicated delegate in a five State primary – what part of “GOP” do you think he is destroying?

          Trump is the logical consequence – just connect the dots–of elite ideologues spouting self-serving bromides that made no difference to middle class lives for too many years. The tea party was an early warning system, a canary in the coal mine, for anybody who was watching. The only people who believe in trickle-down economics and care about high corporate tax rates are employed by beltway area think tanks – they do not vote in Republican primaries in anything approaching significant numbers.

          Trump did not “destroy” the GOP. What used to be the GOP withered away over two decades and the titular heads of the party didn’t even notice what was happening until Trump woke them up.

          And, they are still in Stage One–Denial.

  13. When I first read this, there was something about it that bothered me, and it took me a while to put my finger on it.

    Forget Donald Trump for a moment. Forget Megyn Kelly for a moment.

    Doesn’t a moderator have a duty to be fair to all candidates? Shouldn’t a moderator be expected to limit any direct confrontation with the candidates to enforcing the rules of the debate?

    If a candidate genuinely thinks that a moderator is going to be unfairly biased against him or her, isn’t that a valid complaint? Isn’t that a valid reason to refuse to participate? Isn’t that a valid reason to suspect the motives of the news organization for selecting such a moderator?

    Think of it this way: Would it be okay for CNN to make Monica Lewinsky the moderator of a debate among the Democrats? Would it be okay for them to use George Stephanopoulos?

    When Fox News jokes that “We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat [Candidate] unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president….”, they are unfairly substituting one scenario for another and treating them as equals. Yes, foreign leaders would never be expected to be fair to a U.S. President, but foreign leaders would also never be meeting multiple POTUS’s in a structured setting where that foreign leader is in charge.

    Honestly, the only thing Fox News should have ever said was the very last sentence in their response: “Trump is still welcome at Thursday night’s debate and will be treated fairly, just as he has been during his 132 appearances on FOX News & FOX Business, but he can’t dictate the moderators or the questions.” …or to put it another way, the moderator will be the moderator, and that is all.

    Now, back to Trump & Kelly.

    Trump created this situation himself, and in my opinion, his ad hominem attacks are a valid topic. But Megyn Kelly is not the one to question him about them–that’s a conflict of interest.

    Selecting Megyn Kelly just smacks too much of “We’re coming for YOU, Donald Trump” on the part of Fox News, when the moderator should be 100% candidate-neutral. It’s the other candidates’ jobs to come for him, not the moderator’s.


    • No, I really disagree. If you allow this, you allow a candidate to disqualify any moderator, by attacking her and then saying she’s biased. If Kelly’s questions had been unfair in the first debate, that would be a different matter. But they weren’t: Trump’s incivility and misogyny are real issues.

      He’s accusing Kelly of being unprofessional because HE was unprofessional. Fox had to stand behind her. There is no demonstrable conflict at all, unlike, say, Gwen Ifill moderating a debate with a book in the pipe line that depends on Obama being elected. If she had been insulting him since the first debate, that would have raised a legitimate cause for an objection. She didn’t. AND his objection wasn’t timely. He could have made this protest months ago.

      Fox was 100% correct.

      • In fact, I don’t think we actually disagree, and I probably should have written more in the “Back to Trump & Kelly” section to make that clear.

        I never thought, nor do I think now, that Kelly ever has been or will be unfair or unprofessional to Trump. As I did say, Trump created this situation himself. If Kelly was scheduled to be moderator, then she’s the moderator. Complaining about it now after-the-fact is way too late.

        But in the abstract, I do think there is a time and place for calling out the selection of a moderator whom a candidate thinks will be biased against him or her for some reason. Do I think this is one of those times? No. Should Fox stand behind their moderator? Absolutely.

        But then, what about in light of Fox’s snark? That changes things in my view. All it did was validate his complaints–which were unfounded and still are, but now the jerk has ammunition to use to claim they’re for real.


  14. Certainly Fox erred in their “secret back channel” snark – inexcusable.

    But to say that “If a candidate genuinely thinks that a moderator is going to be unfairly biased against him or her” that should decide who does the interviewing? That’s letting the inmates choose the jailers. The check on the press ought to be the voters, not the candidates.

    It also presumes that Kelly was biased in the first place, and absolutely nothing suggests that – her question was completely fair, and Trump’s misogynistic response shouldn’t be given any credibility, much less itself be the justification for removing her.

    • That’s my analysis as well. I enjoyed the snarky response to Trump, but it was unprofessional and pure Tit for Tat. Clearly Ailes, not Fox, and it should have been a personal shot, not official.

    • Charles, please read what I actually wrote:

      I EXPLICITLY bracketed part of my comments with “Forget Donald…. Forget Megyn….” and “Now, back to Trump & Kelly.” because I was trying to make a point in the abstract.

      Regarding your first paragraph, I never said it should decide who does the interviewing, I said it could be “a valid reason to refuse to participate”, and it was in a general, abstract context. I even tried to give topsy-turvy examples to illustrate.

      Regarding your second paragraph, there is no presumption about Kelly AT ALL. Again, I explicitly framed it as such. And again, I never suggested removing her.

      What I did say is that she has a duty to be professional and unbiased (which I expect she will). Unfortunately for her, Fox made it all that much harder for her to do with the snarky comments.

      I also think that his comments are fair game–including those directed at her–but she is the wrong person to question him about them. There’s just no way for it to not look like payback for past insults, and even the appearance of a vendetta has no place in a debate.

      I will, however, take responsibility for my last paragraph, which in retrospect does a poor job of conveying my thoughts, and does sound like I’m advocating removing her. I’m not.

      Allow me to substitute this instead:

      When Fox starts taunting Trump with juvenile comments, it just smacks too much of “We’re coming for YOU, Donald Trump” on the part of Fox News, when the moderator and the forum need to be be 100% candidate-neutral. It’s the other candidates’ jobs to come for him, not the moderator’s.

      So to summarize:
      1 ) In the abstract, there is an ethical principle of fair treatment that we must not lose sight of just because the target is someone we don’t like. Just because Trump is wrong to boycott because of Kelly doesn’t mean all candidates are always wrong to boycott a debate because of the moderator.

      2) Fox made Megyn Kelly’s job 1000x harder by making those comments, setting up a hostile environment for Trump and Trump alone.

      3) I don’t think Kelly should be the one to challenge Trump on his ad hominem attacks, particularly those directed at her, or it will appear that he is being singled out by the moderator for personal reasons. Fox’s snarky comments cement that appearance.


  15. First time at your site and last. Why don’t you just start off your article I hate Trump and will pick things that help my opinion and do my best wtiting (not journalist) skills to further my hit piece. Then leave a away you can send a negation opinion to Facebook,Twitter or other media outlet. Nah can’t do that I’ll just leave a spot for an single response.

    • [Sorry if I have to hold up your “comment” as an exhibit rather than responding to you, Dan, but we don’t get many of these here, and it’s a useful piece of evidence. Of course, if you supplied an actual, substantive rebuttal rather than this useless drivel, I would handle it anyway. As for it being your last comment—Good, if this is the best you can do.]

      All right, everyone: I am looking for living, mouth-breathing Trump supporters to see if one of them will actually supply a reason for why they insist on supporting a candidate with his deficiencies. Is Dan one? If he isn’t, what is his beef with this post, of all the many posts about The Donald? This one is pretty unassailable even by Trumpites (Trumpsters? Trumpies? Trumpadaroes?)standards. Here Trump, big, tough DT, tried to bully a network, and it, ethically, stood up to him (as Trump would advise them to do, if he were capable of such things as “consistency”) and refused to be manipulated. The post praises Fox and correctly, as no ethical standards would support a network that allowed itself to be extorted.

      Does mu essay also denigrate the clear-cut villain in the exchange? Well, sure, but this is hardly to “pick things that help my opinion”—I assume he means cherry pick them, since the point of expository writing is to use supporting data—nor is it my best writing, since this one is pretty easy and uncpntroversial, and it should be obvious even to Trump’s brain-lesioned supporters that he screwed up. Besides, this is old news! Trump skipped the debate, it probably lost him Iowa, but a lot has happened since then.

      I don’t hate Trump, any more than I hate Hillary Clinton. I call him a blathering, posturing narcissist here because he is one, and a commenter who wants to show that this assessment is unfair is obligated to explain why someone who makes no sense, rambles, says whatever junk is molding in his head at the moment and constantly praises himself while blaming everyone else for his own failings isn’t a blathering, posturing narcissist. This is mandatory in an ethics comment, and just saying that I write such descriptions because I “hate” him cannot stand scrutiny without a coherent argument in that vein. But, you see, there is no such argument, and thus the infantile “you just hate him” is the best argument a Trump supporter can come up with.

      So I guess this must be one, even though he is capable of using big words like “negation.”


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