This appears atop the newsletters page of townhall.com at 3:40 pm ET today:
What appears to be the lead story is actual a link to an external site. Yes, the Megyn Kelly link is an advertisement, though not so mentioned. And it leads to Health-E News where you can read the heretofore secret reason Megyn Kelly left Fox News:
A source close to Megyn revealed that the star was not concerned about making millions of dollars, in fact, Megyn’s main concern was that Fox News was so demanding, it was interfering with her secret side business. “Megyn has been hard at work on her own company for many years but she was finding it harder and harder to devote time to it due to the pressure of her job with Fox News,” her close friend revealed.
Investigations have revealed that Megyn Kelly is in fact the CEO of skincare company LuxAllure which has become a cult favorite over the past year. Their two hero products the LuxAllure Ageless Moisturizer and the LuxAllure Eye Serum have garnered a mass following after receiving rave reviews about their anti-aging properties online.
A series of photos follows, each with a glowing (and dubious) quote about Megyn and her “magic cream,” followed by a special offer: “Claim yours now before they’re all gone!” and a series of faux Facebook comments rhapsodizing about the magic cream. Buried at the bottom of the page, in tiny grey-on-gray type, is a series of disclaimers that the site is an advertisement, completely with a “marketing disclosure” and an “advertising disclosure,” like “Any photographs of persons on this site are models” (clearly that’s not true), “Before/after images used on this site are not real,” and so on.
This sounds suspiciously like how Joy Behar left The View because she was hard at work on her own line of skin care products (more details on how this con operates here). Needless to say your Cable Gamer could find no evidence that Ms. Kelly is a secret skin care CEO, or that the anti-aging cream being hawked in her name is anything more than another internet rip-off. This is not a new scam; it’s been around for years. So why is Townhall.com promoting it?
There’s a lot of talk about “fake news,” but some fake news rarely if ever gets flagged, because the fact-checkers don’t care. Some hate crime hoaxes fall into this category; they fit an approved meme. And of course the fake news that is spun to smear Fox News rarely gets fact-checked at all.
That’s how a Huffington Post writer can say this and nobody bats an eyelid:
Time and time again, Fox News hosts questioned whether the 44th president was even eligible to hold the office, saying he was born in Kenya and then that he had released a fake birth certificate to lie about his origins.
Who are the Fox News hosts who said “time and time again” that Obama was born in Kenya? HuffPo doesn’t say, because there aren’t any. It’s a lie, a classic of “fake news,” but one that will never rouse the ire of Brian Stelter.
There are few websites with a longer pedigree in fake news than News Hounds. Whether it’s Karl Rove indicted, George Bush’s cocaine arrest, or Sandy Berger being cleared of all charges, they have fabricated farcical prevarications for years. And as spectacular as those may be, they save their most creative falsehoods for their obsession with Fox News. Did you know Oliver North is a “convicted traitor?” Somehow The Cable Gamer missed that trial. And there’s the little matter of their ugly smears of Megyn Kelly.
The above examples just scratch the surface. Writer “Priscilla,” who your Cable Gamer knows from one of her O’Reilly lies, has a long record in the fake news game. And her Christmas offering proves to be a one-paragraph tour de force of dishonest fakery, not just wrong but fake in multiple respects.
Fox & Friends Has “Merry Christmas” Message – But No “Happy Hanukkah”
POSTED BY PRISCILLA
While claiming to be “America’s Newsroom,” Fox News sure doesn’t reflect the religious diversity of America. Look no further than today’s Fox & Friends graphic (right) to see that Fox is targeting a very specific audience. There’s obviously no room at the Fox inn for Jewish folks whose holiday began last night.
On the basic facts, this is a lie. Fox & Friends did have a Happy Hanukkah message, and it said “Happy Hanukkah,” the precise wording “Priscilla” said was not used. See for yourself:
But there’s more. Fox & Friends has been airing this message for several days now, not just today. Not only have they been airing this message, they’ve also solicited, received, and showed Hanukkah photos from viewers, like the one you see to the right. It’s no surprise none of these facts are in Priscilla’s post–these multiple lies of omission increase the fakery of their fake news to a higher order of, well, fakery.
And there’s still more. In addition to all of the above, the program’s host Abby Huntsman took to twitter to alert viewers that today’s program would be a celebration of Christmas–and Hanukkah:
Another lie of omission. Is it possible for one paragraph of fake news to be any faker than Priscilla’s: misleading, dishonest, and outright fraudulent in every respect? It’s clearly a deliberate lie, written without even two minutes’ attempt to determine the facts, simply to smear Fox News.
The Cable Gamer feels safe going out on a limb and predicting that News Hounds will post no apology for this. Why should they? Priscilla was just doing her job: fake news. Who’s going to call her out? Google? Facebook? They’re not going to tag this, or any News Hounds smear, as “fake.” Brian Stelter, who himself promotes fake news without fact-checking? He’s more likely to retweet it than call it out.
The News Hounds dishonor Christmas by using it to lie about the Feast of Dedication, yet they’ll continue to be listed as a source of “news” by Google no matter how many times we see them lie. But it’s still fake news, from fake News Hounds.
There’s a new report out from the folks at Gender Avenger, the site that tracks how many women get invited to panels, cable news shows, and the like. Whatever you think of the validity of this exercise The Cable Gamer thinks it’s a good thing to have straight, impartial statistical data of this sort. But is everything what it seems?
The announcement for the month of May is described as follows:
Who Talks? monitors the highest-rated morning and evening shows on three major television news networks: CNN, FOX, and MSNBC. Any guest who is not the host (or substitute host) and is asked to comment substantively on the 2016 presidential election is counted as an analyst. We count the total number of election analyst of each gender in each show and then compare aggregate numbers and proportional representation. Data is published monthly.
Sounds pretty straightforward. Here are their May stats on the percentages of female pundits:
- New Day: 31%
- Fox & Friends: 22%
- Morning Joe: 24%
- Anderson Cooper: 48%
- The Kelly File: 15%
- Rachel Maddow: 33%
You’ll note CNN shows win in both morning and evening categories. In fact several times Anderson Cooper has been singled out for “hall of fame” status. In one odd case he made the “hall of fame” for a 43% week, even though Rachel Maddow scored 50% (sorry Rachel, no “hall of fame” for you!).
These scorecards get a lot of play from friendly media sites, some of them quite knowledgeable, so The Cable Gamer is mildly surprised that none of them spotted a disconnect in the methodology. The criteria state they monitor the “highest-rated” evening shows on the three cable news nets—so where is Bill O’Reilly? O’Reilly has had the #1 program on cable news for “15 years and counting” (as viewers are reminded every evening). Yet The Factor has never been rated by Gender Avenger.
The Cable Gamer recently asked GA how it is that they skipped over the undisputed “highest-rated” evening cable news program, and got this response:
We too noticed the error in describing all the targeted shows as “highest rated” and have since amended our references to “popular” to encompass all. The reason we picked Megyn Kelley [sic] is that we wanted to follow all the 9 o’clock hour shows in the evening.
Yeah, well, we aren’t sure exactly where “highest-rated” as been amended to “popular.” The Cable Gamer couldn’t find it on the GA website, where “highest-rated” still appears in the criteria. And if the intention is to cover the 9 o’clock shows, why not just say that? Mind you, CNN doesn’t always run Anderson Cooper at 9 o’clock; sometimes they have documentaries and series like The Eighties in that time slot. What effect does that have on the stats?
This seems like a lot of finagling in what would otherwise be a straightforward contest among highest-rated shows. But what if it was as advertised: a contest among the most-watched programs? The results would be mostly as they are, except The O’Reilly Factor would replace The Kelly File. We started too late to capture the first part of May, but other than that we made a count, sticking to the criteria, and got these results for the last three weeks of the month:
- The O’Reilly Factor: 40%
In fact for the week of May 16th O’Reilly scored an impressive 46%—that’s higher than the measly 43% Anderson Cooper scored in his “hall of fame” week. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Mr. O’Reilly has a repertory company of female guests who appear regularly: Katie Pavlich, Eboni Williams, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Lis Wiehl, Martha MacCallum, Monica Crowley, Mary Anne Marsh, Dana Perino, Kirsten Powers, etc.
One would think Gender Avenger would want to throw a little “hall of fame” action O’Reilly’s way, as an encouragement to people who do provide the diversity GA calls for. But the rules have been quietly bent just enough to exclude Bill O’Reilly from contention. Funny that.
The Cable Gamer is trying to decipher what’s behind Gabriel Sherman’s latest grab-bag of imaginary sources and conspiracy theories. Some of it even contradicts Sherman’s own “reporting.” He goes on for paragraphs describing how Fox has fallen into line behind Donald Trump (painting Trump a victor is a common thread in most Shermanesque tales). There are “revelations” of secret phone calls and negotiations in order to seal the deal. But it was just last month that Sherman had a juicier explanation: Trump had secret dirt about Fox News that effectively blackmailed the news channel into backing him. Sherman ran that one up the flagpole in April but few outside his circle saluted. So now it’s forgotten. Inoperative.
Mr. Sherman also wants you to believe Fox anchors secretly speak to him:
A Fox anchor told me that the message from Roger Ailes’s executives is they need to go easy on Trump. “It’s, ‘Make sure we don’t go after Trump,’” the anchor said. “We’ve thrown in the towel.”
Really? Nobody is allowed to air negative Trump news? Plotting like this would be ludicrous in the most surreal sitcom. Presenting it as fact is preposterous, unbelievable and utterly disconnected to the way news organizations work—not to mention a smear of every anchor on Fox News. And is easily debunked by a plethora of examples.
But Sherman’s biggest target is Megyn Kelly. You may recall how quickly he advanced the notion that Fox went too far defending her against Trump’s insults. And now, since she stands as a visible refutation of his latest conspiratorial twist, Mr. Sherman strips from her the achievement that placed her on the media map:
In fact, according to one high-level Fox source, it was Murdoch himself who directed Kelly to hammer Trump during the debut GOP debate, in Cleveland, that sparked the feud in the first place. “Rupert told her to do that,” the source said.
See? She was just following orders. But doesn’t this mean Gabriel Sherman is calling Megyn Kelly a liar? Because her version is considerably different:
Fox News research assistants put together massive binders on the candidates, on everything they’d ever said on every topic. As she read Trump’s, a couple of themes began to emerge. The one that hadn’t been explored was his sexism. Knowing that if Hillary were to be the nominee she’d hit him with that issue, Kelly had her first question. “I wrote it. I researched each line item myself. It was interesting to me after the debate when people started fact-checking my question. My own reaction was ‘Bring it on.’ You think I’d go out there and ask a question like that at the first G.O.P. debate without making sure I was bulletproof on every single word?” She drafted and re-drafted it, and showed it to her fellow moderators, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier, whose initial reaction, Baier recalls, was “Wow, let’s think about this … there clearly was going to be pushback.”
Kelly almost didn’t get a chance to ask it. The morning of the debate, while doing debate prep, she got violently ill. But, she says, “I would have crawled over a pile of hot coals to make it to that debate. No one was going to be sitting in for me, reading my questions.”
For all the hullabaloo over the questioning of Trump, it’s generally forgotten that Ms. Kelly and her colleagues didn’t single out The Donald: they were tough on the other candidates too. Which makes the notion that Murdoch had to order her to be tough on one of them even more nonsensical. Mind you, at the time Sherman was saying the tough questions to Trump were no surprise. But that, like the “secret dirt” on Fox, is now a discarded theory from yesteryear, forgotten in the light of a shiny new “scoop.”
So in Sherman’s World Megyn Kelly is reduced to an unprincipled puppet, sacrificing integrity for job security, and ultimately saying whatever her male boss tells her to say. It’s an ugly portrayal, but thoroughly Shermanesque.
You know Sherman: nice kid, but kind of clueless without Mr. Peabody to explain stuff to him. So when Sherman says something, it helps to look behind the curtain to see who’s playing Mr. Peabody these days. Case in point, Gabriel Sherman’s latest, highly touted opus about the Trump campaign:
OPERATION TRUMP: Inside the most unorthodox campaign in political history.
A lengthy article goes into excruciating detail about the Trump effort, and it’s clear that Sherman’s new-found status as chief engineer on the Trump Train may have given him actual, non-fictional sources, mainly The Man himself. The article is peppered with quotes from The Donald: “Trump told me,” “he told me,” “he said of Rubio,” “Trump said,” “he said,” “Trump shouted,” “he said,”—no way is anyone going to critique Sherman for fuzzy anonymous sources this time.
Slog through this War and Peace of campaign puffery far enough and you’ll find a nugget relating to The Cable Game. It involved Brian Lewis, a Fox News PR executive, and his attorney:
Lewis hired Judd Burstein, a powerhouse litigator, and claimed he had “bombs” that would destroy Ailes and Fox News. That’s when Trump got involved. “When Roger was having problems, he didn’t call 97 people, he called me,” Trump said. Burstein, it turned out, had worked for Trump briefly in the ’90s, and Ailes asked Trump to mediate. Trump ran the negotiations out of his office at Trump Tower. “Roger had lawyers, very expensive lawyers, and they couldn’t do anything. I solved the problem.” Fox paid Lewis millions to go away quietly, and Trump, I’m told, learned everything Lewis had planned to leak. If Ailes ever truly went to war against Trump, Trump would have the arsenal to launch a retaliatory strike.
This allegation made headlines at places like Slate, Talking Points Memo, Media Matters, Huffington Post, National Review, Salon, Gawker and others too humorous to mention. Needless to say it made Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources newsletter. In fact it was the top story:
Is this Trump’s “Trump card” against Fox?
What dirt does Donald Trump have on Roger Ailes?
Mr. Stelter notes:
Crucially, this info is not anonymously sourced: Trump is on the record saying Ailes “called me” to mediate…Why was Trump involved in the first place? Maybe because Burstein had briefly worked for Trump many years earlier. “Fox paid Lewis millions to go away quietly, and Trump, I’m told, learned everything Lewis had planned to leak,” Sherman writes, describing it as the “arsenal” for a “retaliatory strike” against Fox…
With so much of Sherman’s story not anonymously sourced, why does Mr. Stelter single out one statement as crucial? And why does he completely overlook the elephant in the journalistic room? Throughout Sherman’s interminable account “Trump said” is cited way more than any other source. And yet there’s a unique phrase that, in over 7,000 words, only appears once:
Fox paid Lewis millions to go away quietly, and Trump, I’m told, learned everything Lewis had planned to leak.
“I’m told.” Passive voice: one of the greatest fact-avoidance tools in the English language. “Rocks were thrown.” “Mistakes were made.” “I was told.” Funny that should turn up in the one paragraph that got so many media headlines. This matter-of-fact reversion to an unknown source, without even a description (e.g. “a high-level source in the Trump campaign”) to give it a fig leaf of verisimilitude, has been pretty much ignored by all the people promoting Sherman’s claim.
STELTER: Well, these are clearly sources that were in the room with Roger Ailes. You know, authors like Gabriel Sherman don’t make up this stuff.
STELTER: We’ve seen a lot of anonymous sources and I wonder if there’s any way around that. Because when readers and viewers hear anonymous sources, they’re very skeptical. They wonder if they should trust the information.
Would that Brian Stelter settle for “I’m told” as all the sourcing necessary for a headline story? Especially when the premise is inconsistent with known facts? Ailes and Fox refused to remove Megyn Kelly, issued many statements defending Ms. Kelly and ripping Trump (one of which Sherman even suggested was too harsh!), and ultimately gave up a scheduled debate that was cancelled because Trump was displeased and refused to appear. None of this is consistent with a Roger Ailes trembling in acquiescence because Trump has “bombs” that could destroy him. In fact, it suggests just the opposite. Brian Stelter’s only comment on this enters the Lame Explanations Hall of Fame: “Maybe the candidate is showing uncharacteristic restraint.”
Another writer noticed the disconnect between Sherman’s claims and reality:
OK, this might explain why Fox News talent such as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Greta Van Susteren and all of Fox and Friends appear to big Trump supporters. But, Fox News is one of the few networks to call Trump out. The network did release a public statement against Trump and his attacks on Megyn Kelly.
So, the bigger question……
What dirt does Donald Trump have on Jeff Zucker? That’s what we want to know.
Placing an incendiary charge into an overlong, little-read treatise is standard self-promotional procedure, but the way it was done here is considered journalistically unacceptable:
Be as specific as possible. Negotiate hard with your source to agree a description that is sufficiently precise to enable readers to trust the reliability of our anonymous sourcing. “A source” or “sources”, “observers” or “quarters” with no further description is vague and unacceptable.
Thanks to the passive voice, Sherman didn’t even give us “a source” or “observers.” No descriptors necessary!
Trump has been playing Mr. Peabody to Gabriel Sherman for months now. And if that’s where the story about “bombs” came from it’s obvious why Sherman wouldn’t want readers to know: Donald Trump’s rep for honesty and truthfulness is pitiful at best. Who’d believe him?
Sherman desperately needs a better, more trustworthy Peabody. Too bad the original is unavailable, being a dog—and a cartoon dog at that. Mr. Sherman could use a man like Mr. Peabody again.
GREAT MINDS UPDATE: Moments after publishing, The Cable Gamer learned that Erik Wemple of the post had just written an article tackling this same subject. Recommended reading.
The Cable Gamer doesn’t remember ever seeing this sort of thing before. As Megyn Kelly was recording her town hall with Ted Cruz this morning (which aired on Fox News at 9:00 pm as scheduled) it turned up on MSNBC:
MSNBC went live to the camera of a network embed for just under 15 minutes around 11:30 a.m., when Tamron Hall was anchoring. Viewers of MSNBC saw and heard Kelly ask questions of Cruz as well as his answers. MSNBC staff at the event were approached by a campaign staffer a short time later, who asked the network to stop, someone with knowledge of the situation said.
What was MSNBC thinking? Does anyone believe they would take kindly to one of their competitors bringing a camera in to an event they were putting on and airing it live as it happened? The Cable Gamer is no lawyer but she has to wonder about things like proprietary material, commercial use of Megyn Kelly’s persona without consent, and other things with words even bigger than those. Maybe MSNBC was thinking along the same lines: after the town hall began they reframed the image to crop Ms. Kelly out of the picture, though maybe that did that just to be petty:
Whether there is a legal case or not this a low trick to pull, especially for a channel that’s trying to work its way back to respectability in the world of hard news. Cable Gamer Johnny Dollar called it “sleazy.” That may be an overstatement, but at best this was a bush-league move, something you might expect from the likes of One America News rather than an arm of the National Broadcasting Company. And Tamron Hall, fairly or not, may lose a few reputation points as well.
Image credits: Mediaite
“I stand with Megyn Kelly.” The Cable Gamer signs on to that sentiment whole heartedly, without reservation. That’s been the case since Ms. Kelly first appeared on the national news stage. Of course standing with Megyn is much trendier than it used to be. It even has its own hashtag: #IStandWithMegyn. How times change!
Not that long ago anti-Fox websites reveled in dumping on Megyn’s rise to cable news stardom. NewsCorpse, on a good day just short of delusional, called her a liar and yammered about her hair color. DailyKos called her a racist and yammered about her hair color. Crooks & Liars called her an actress and yammered about her hair color. And so it goes.
The NewsHounds, of course, yammered about her hair color, but there was so much more. Megyn Kelly is a racist; Megyn Kelly is a liar. Perhaps their greatest achievement in character assassination (second only to accusing John Gibson of an especially detestable felony) was Ellen Brodsky’s claim Megyn Kelly was given her own show (which at the time didn’t even exist) because she slept with Brit Hume. Personal smears of this sort are a NewsHound speciality but this one has lasted longer, and was repeated more frequently than most of the site’s many smears. Even after all parties involved denied it on the record that didn’t stop Brodsky, who upped the ante by elevating what was unsupported gossip and reporting it as fact. Years later it still pops up in newshounds posts just to keep the story alive.
So The Cable Gamer is a tad bit skeptical, and downright suspicious, when she sees smear artist Brodsky getting all worked up over Trump calling Megyn “crazy” and “overrated.” Really? After calling her a racist and a slut (not to mention a sneering phony) Brodsky is now riding to Megyn’s rescue because Trump called her “average?” Please.
If that’s not enough, here’s a sampling of the comments about Megyn Kelly Ms. Brodsky approved for publication, all of them still on the NewsHounds website today:
- Megyn Kelly is a whore.
- I find that evil, repulsive wench taking up half the screen too much.
- Megyn oinked: “and it was selective prosecution…”
- The Barbie is a certified bimbo just like the rest of the Fox “News” broads.
- The outright arrogance of this bubbleheaded bimbo bitch is astounding.
- If Bildo doesn’t want to even hear contrary views, he should stick with the BJs he gets from Skanky Laura and Blackroots Barbie Kelly.
- I think human suffering is a sexual fetish for this woman. And she’s mad here because she thinks she’s been cock-blocked.
- Skanky Megyn KKKelly does not own a skirt short enough to make me watch this tripe.
Yes, Ellen Brodsky and the NewsHounds stand with Megyn. So that the minute she looks the other way they can stab her in the back. Again. Sickening hypocrites.