April 20, 2017: Exeunt O’Reilly | Environmental Earthquakes | Pajama Boy Ossoff
1. The King is Dead: Soros Did Him In
Nobody was bigger in right-wing media than Bill O’Reilly. Well, maybe Rush -- but, boy, it was close. And now the big man has been toppled. The allegations of repeat sexual harassment were too much for advertisers and, finally, for Fox. Many of his fellow conservative pundit stars seemed willing to only lightly glance at the story. LifeZette, Laura Ingraham’s site, only posted, without comment, a video of O’Reilly exploding at guests. Of course, O’Reilly famously exploded at Ingraham on air in 2013, so no love lost there.
Similarly, O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh have had their battles. In 2008, O’Reilly said, “Most talk radio is conservative-dominated ideologues; Kool-Aid drinking idiots.” So, on Wednesday’s show, Limbaugh just warned his listeners that the Mainstream Media would be gleeful about O'Reilly's beheading.
To be sure, some stars rallied to his defense. There were two lines of argument. The first followed the one advanced by O’Reilly’s lawyers, namely that the talk show host was a victim of a well-orchestrated smear campaign by the left.
Pay attention closely here because the logic takes some twists and turns. Glenn Beck’s The Blaze argued that the advertiser exodus from O’Reilly’s show was orchestrated by the Bonner Group. The Bonner Group has done fundraising for all sorts of liberal causes, including the Clinton campaign. And, indeed, it appears that the chief executive of the Bonner Group did write advertisers asking them to boycott O’Reilly.
Now, if it seems routine to you that a progressive fundraiser would urge advertisers to boycott O’Reilly, you’ve missed the links that make this explosive to the Right. The Bonner Group helps raise funds for the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters.
You see, Media Matters specializes in unearthing inaccuracies perpetuated by Fox and other conservative outlets and is hated, hated by the right. And to make matters worse, Media Matters has actually received funds from that most vilified of all progressive donors, George Soros. If you want some context for this hate, check out this Politico story from 2010.
The Blaze didn’t make the connection to Soros and O’Reilly directly. It wasn’t necessary. The Red Twittersphere did it for them. As Trump 24/7 @MichaelDelauzon, with 15.3k followers, wrote:
George Soros Media Matters organization spearheaded campaign to persuade advertisers to drop Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show.— TRUMP 24/7 (@MichaelDelauzon) April 19, 2017
Meanwhile, Beck himself offered one of the few full-throated defenses of O’Reilly, using a reference to the Fox host’s nickname of Papa Bear. “What’s happening now is a giant smear campaign, and they work,” Beck said on his radio program Wednesday morning, later adding that the left is “splitting the conservative movement and they’re taking the bear out of the door.” Beck, of course, knows about ad boycotts. He was evicted from Fox after one a few years back.
Argument number two in defense of O’Reilly bubbled up organically from Twitter and Reddit. It was far less imaginative. It boiled down to this: O’Reilly isn’t as bad as Bill Clinton.
Tim from Texas @ts422a, with 2k followers, wrote,
The same people cheering Bill O'Reilly being fired are happy to pay rapist Bill Clinton $100K for a speech. Confusing.— Tim from Texas (@ts422a) April 19, 2017
Jim Minardi @AMillennialMind with nearly 8k followers wrote:
Some of the people outraged by sexual harassment claims against Bill O'Reilly, defended Bill Clinton after learning he raped multiple women.— Jim Minardi (@AMillennialMind) April 19, 2017
What We’re Watching:
Interestingly, the Murdochs, who own and run Fox, were not getting much of the blame for O'Reilly's termination, even though it was their decision. But there were hints of pushback. The headline of The Drudge Report was "James Murdoch Plans New Fox News. O'Reilly Didn't Even Get to Say Goodbye." Ouch.
One question is whether loyalists will accept a replacement host for O’Reilly or punish the network by tuning out. The other question being bandied about is whether Fox just bowed to pressure. This article, written before the firing by The Federalist Papers Project, warned that trouble might ensue if Fox just caved and rid itself of O’Reilly because of the witch hunt and not because it found evidence of actual wrongdoing.
If Fox were to fire O’Reilly, they would need to have something behind their decision other than public pressure. If they don’t, it seems likely that many viewers would not respond kindly to the network caving in to what, at this point, looks like a witch-hunt.
Moreover, if O’Reilly did do what he has been accused of, it would be reasonable to fire him, although there would be further, reasonable questions about how long the network knew he was guilty, and if it was for very long, why didn’t they fire him then? We’ll see how it all pans out. Hopefully they base their decision on the truth and not on public pressure.
2. The Last Time Trump Saw Paris
With Earth Day right around the corner on Saturday, the battle for our planet’s future suddenly took up new urgency this week.
First and foremost, Red Media pundits seemed deeply concerned that Trump has changed his mind about pulling out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which binds participating nations to a plan to limit carbon emissions. Trump campaigned against the accord, but is now being lobbied by the moderate wing of the administration (which includes Ivanka, Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson) to stay in and negotiate for less stringent reduction targets -- essentially to undermine from within.
Needless to say, this is unpopular with hardliners like Steve Bannon and the E.P.A. chief, Scott Pruitt, who want Trump to keep his campaign pledge. Not surprisingly, Breitbart gave the hardliners back-up. The website featured an interview with H. Sterling Burnett of the Heartland Institute, a climate change-denial think tank, who insisted that the negotiating argument is false.
Problem is, there are no terms within the treaty to cut a better deal. You’re not allowed within the treaty to cut a better deal. And the worst problem is, is there’s no better deal to be had, in the sense that if you’re forcing America to cut its emissions, you’re having big government intervene in the economy,” he concluded.
The Red Media also seemed to fear the upcoming “March for Science,” a series of hundreds of rallies planned for Saturday. While billed as a non-partisan event to defend the vital role of science, conservative commentators were having none of it.
The National Review pointed out that the march organizers are more focused on diversity than actual science:
March for Science is purportedly a group of scientists and science-lovers who are organizing a worldwide march on April 22. Though the event is disguised as a rally for all things sciency, it is in reality intended to be a massive protest against President Trump, Republicans, and climate-change “deniers.” Its Twitter page has nearly 350,000 followers, and its website mentions “diversity” and “inclusion” repeatedly while saying nothing about specific scientific issues. It has come under fire from some within the scientific establishment for being too divisive and overly obsessed with identity politics, and for excluding scientists who might not toe the Democratic-party line.
The far right blog Legal Insurrection also condemned the political correctness of the march, chortling that the science educator Bill Nye had been booted from its leadership because he is a white male. Actually, Nye hasn’t been booted. For context on diversity arguments surrounding his appointment as co-leader of the march see this BuzzFeed article.
3. #PajamaBoy Ossoff
The Right spent Wednesday mostly gloating about Democrat Jon Ossoff’s narrow loss in the much-hyped Georgia House race. Ossoff received 48.1 percent of the votes, just short of the 50 percent needed to win the seat in a heavily conservative district. He will face Republican Karen Handel in a June runoff.
Wrote the National Review:
For months, this race has been cast by activists and pundits as indicative of the road ahead for the current presidential administration, perhaps illustrating whether Donald Trump’s abrasive personality and controversial agenda have already turned off voters. But as the results rolled in on Tuesday evening, it became clear that the GA-06 special election has been perhaps the best example of the national media making nothing into something.
Lifezette was quick to deflate Democrats’ positive spin on the results -- and to call out the DNC chair, Tom Perez. on his “excuses.” Lifezette wrote:
Perez dubiously claimed on CNN's "New Day" that Ossoff was "outspent 2-to-1," saying, "[The Republicans] hit the panic button big-time."
But Ossoff far outraised his GOP rivals, netting roughly $9 million dollars from liberal donors nationwide. Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, by comparison, raised $463,000, according to April 6 filings. No single GOP competitor raised $1 million.
It is worth noting that Perez smears have been in much supply this week. A trending YouTube video showed him being booed at his own rally, and a Free Beacon article blamed him for Pew poll results indicating a decline in Democratic favorability ratings.
What We’re Noticing:
As part of the battle against Ossoff, this meme/hashtag surfaced on Reddit and Twitter after Limbaugh called the Democrat “Pajama Boy”:
The talk radio host christened the phrase after learning that Ossoff was living full-time with his medical student girlfriend outside the district. After ridiculing Ossoff for this and chiding him for his many Hollywood endorsements, Rush dug in:
Right on. So I’m running for an election in the district. If I win, we’ll come back after she graduates medical school and becomes the meal ticket for the family. But if I lose, we’ll stay wherever she wants to go, because she’s the meal ticket, and I’ll go back to doing Pajama Boy commercials.
We think Pajama Boy as a phrase may outlast even the runoff. We’ll keep you posted.
4. Town Hall Rowdiness
Speaking of local elections, the angry voters at town halls around the country are starting to make an impact on Republican officials who’ve been working hard to distance themselves from Trump -- or who have avoided town halls altogether.
Chris Stirewalt of Fox Halftime Report writes:
Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, facing a bushel of angry voters at her town hall this week, described a president “that has a number of flaws.” The Iowa freshman went on to say that she does “support a majority of the policies versus the actual person.”
Ernst even elaborated saying that she wished the president would stop his expensive weekend trips to his Florida country club, something she says bothers her and “other members of our caucus.”
Down in Oklahoma her colleague James Lankford took the president to task on his refusal to release his tax returns, saying that Trump should “keep his promise.”
It’s starting to feel a little bit like the Republican primaries when Trump kept winning elections but members of his party kept moving away from him. Both Lankford and Ernst made their comments in the context of back-to-back special election wins in red districts where Democrats had hoped to swipe seats from the GOP.
And the local CBS Sacramento reports that Congressman Doug LaMalfa walked off the stage during a town hall in his California district, after being met with boos.
Do you yell at church?” LaMalfa asked the crowd at one point. That comment was met with intense booing and shouts of “Do you lie in church?”
After fielding several questions and hearing comments on a range of issues, LaMalfa moved on to healthcare where he struggled through a PowerPoint presentation. His narration was hard to follow as shouts continued from the crowd.
At one point. the congressman walked off stage, returning a few moments later to finish his presentation amidst the noise.
Conservatives on Reddit and elsewhere were not amused.
Keypuncher on Reddit commented:
Can't blame him. Leftist idiots are making the town halls into anti-Republican advertisements, and the media is running them for free.
There's no reason for any Republican congressman to play that game.
Another commenter on the same thread, m37driver, smelled a conspiracy:
do we know what groups are organizing to disrupt the town halls? Some of the clips look like they had pre-printed signs..
Meanwhile, the congressman for Indiana’s 9th District, Trey Hollingsworth, told The Herald-Times in Bloomington that he’d be forgoing town hall-style meetings altogether:
Hollingsworth said when he is in the district, both he and his staff are putting together meetings and having dialogues with small groups of constituents. He said he thinks that method is the best way to engage with people and work on solutions to issues.
And after Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas also came under fire in a rowdy town hall on Tuesday, the Right was quick yet again to point to a conspiracy. Moola @Moo57556470 blamed (Guess who?) George Soros for the disruption:
Soros must've flown a bunch of his paid-protesters to Arkansas, to show up at Tom Cotton's town hall & pretend they're angry constituents! pic.twitter.com/hrKPhQ5Usc— Moola (@Moo57556470) April 17, 2017
Also of Note:
The Red Press wasn’t just blaming Democrats. There were moments of introspection. The Conservative Review published an article that centered on MarkWayne Mullin, the Oklahoma congressman who recently lost his temper with a raucous audience in a town hall, saying it was “bullcrap” to suggest that taxpayers pay his salary. The author was incensed to see Mullin entertain the idea of breaking his pledge to serve no more than six years by running for a fourth term and wrote:
...like most Republican politicians who lack a core conservative foundation, Mullin quickly became addicted to the leadership table and the establishment elites. Instead of fighting the liberal leaders in both parties, Mullin became a conduit for leadership, offering excuses back home in his district for every betrayal on the major legislative and budget battles. He is very proud of being a member of the Ryan/McCarthy/Scalise whip team.
The article then raised concerns about the fate of the Republican party itself:
Conservatives are facing a nightmare scenario. As evidenced by last night’s special congressional election in suburban Atlanta, the Democrat base is energized, Independents are trending Democrat, and Republicans are caught in the most awkward position of having all the power but accomplishing nothing.