Dispatches From Fox Nation: Obama and 9/11 Scare Tactics

foxnation_8-26Dispatches From Fox Nation:

Did you know that Pres. Obama is “changing” the meaning of 9/11? Well, The Fox Nation wants to help you figure out why. In a story that has been on the front page for more than three days, the headline reads, “Why Is Obama Changing the 9/11 Anniversary?” And what’s inside is one of the most egregious examples of scare tactics employed by the site.

The post is simply a link and paragraph from an American Spectator column by Matthew Vadum. Here’s the Fox Nation pullquote:

The Obama White House is behind a cynical, coldly calculated political effort to erase the meaning of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from the American psyche and convert Sept. 11 into a day of leftist celebration and statist idolatry. This effort to reshape the American psyche has nothing to do with healing the nation and everything to do with easing the nation along in the ongoing radical transformation of America that President Obama promised during last year’s election campaign. The president signed into law a measure in April that designated Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service, but it’s not likely many lawmakers thought this meant that day was going to be turned into a celebration of ethanol, carbon emission controls, and radical community organizing.

Besides the fact that this is a gross misreading of the bill, nowhere does the column point out that this organization was started by a 9/11 family member, and has the support of a wide spectrum of groups. Including several 9/11 family organizations.

Of course, that’s ignoring the “poor taste” factor – leaving this drivel up in the wake of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death, since the bill is part of “The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.”

But “poor taste” doesn’t exist in The Fox Nation. Just take a look at a sample comment from “Enman”:

9/11 should be a national nuke Mecca day…..and tell them that we believe in “do unto others…..” Obama wants to get rid of some of our nukes….and there is no better way to do this than to eliminate the city of Mecca.
Muslims are a curse to the world….Muhammad leading them straight to HELL, and they go willingly

We like to be sarcastic with these, but this is disgusting. Whatever Fox News wants to say about the site (that it is opinion, and social networking), they include FoxNation.com web stats as part of the FoxNews.com metrics. So it is most certainly in the fold. And they are allowing comments like this, and stories like this, to be out in the open, ginning up political, and religious, fervor. It is a new low for The Nation.

Do you see something of interest at The Fox Nation? Email it to Steve@Mediaite.com

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O’Reilly Pushes Back: Addresses Kennedy Commenters, NBC, Beck

oreilly_8-27Bill O’Reilly weighed in on several of the stories we’ve written about here this week last night on The O’Reilly Factor.

And some of the ways he addressed the big stories of the day – the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy, his ongoing feud with Keith Olbermann and the Glenn Beck boycott – may surprise some people.

Yesterday we wondered if O’Reilly would “shame commenters bashing Kennedy,” and Joe Coscarelli guessed, “It seems doubtful.” Well – O’Reilly did just that. “Unfortunately there have been some vicious posting on the internet about Senator Kennedy, and they are disgraceful,” he said. “If you are a religious person, you know the bible states quite clearly that personal judgments should be made by God and God alone. All of us are flawed, and none of us have the right to demean a public servant who just died.”

This is classic O’Reilly – take the high road, but by not making “personal judgments,” he can introduce all aspects of the Kennedy legacy, both good and bad. Overall, O’Reilly was gracious, dubbing Kennedy a “patriot,” which in the No-Spin Zone, is about as good as it gets. Here’s the clip:

So while Kennedy was a patriot…NBCU President Jeff Zucker was a “pinhead.” Really though, Zucker just served the role of place-holder for Olbermann. This comes on the heels of an Olbermann personal attack on the FNC host that we thought O’Reilly wouldn’t respond to. But he did. “Last night on MSNBC, someone said the people, you guys, who watch Fox News are paranoid and racist,” said O’Reilly. “Pinhead, doesn’t begin to cover it.”

This is about as close to saying the words “Keith Olbermann” O’Reilly has gotten to – and the MSNBC host is likely to love the attention. While our predictions haven’t been right recently, look for an O’Reilly mention on Countdown tonight.

And finally, O’Reilly had Glenn Beck on to chat about the boycott against him. In reality, it served mostly as a way for the 5pmET host to gain more exposure for his “special” this week.

Pentagon Papers: Stars & Stripes Reports on DoD Journalist Profiling

3075_aIt appears that there is another news aggregator in the media business, but one of a very different stripe. The official newspaper of the Department of Defense Stars and Stripes reports that the Pentagon has been keeping track of reporters’ coverage of the US Military, grading them as “positive,” “neutral” or “negative.” This, despite strong denials from the Pentagon that no such “tracking” has been taking place.

Earlier this week reports surfaced that, as more journalists sought permission to accompany U.S. forces engaged in Afghanistan, many of them could be screened by The Rendon Group, a public relations firm contracted by the Pentagon to determine whether their past coverage has portrayed the U.S. military in a positive light.

In the wake of that story, officials of both the Defense Department and Rendon denied that any rating system existed. “They are not doing that [rating reporters], that’s not been a practice for some time — actually since the creation of U.S. Forces–Afghanistan”  Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters Monday. “I can tell you that the way in which the Department of Defense evaluates an article is its accuracy. It’s a good article if it’s accurate. It’s a bad article if it’s inaccurate. That’s the only measurement that we use here at the Defense Department.”

However,  Stars and Stripes uncovered files that appears to approve that such ranking system, and profiling of embedded journalists does in fact exist:

Contrary to the insistence of Pentagon officials this week that they are not rating the work of reporters covering U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Stars and Stripes has obtained documents that prove that reporters’ coverage is being graded as “positive,” “neutral” or “negative.”

Moreover, the documents — recent confidential profiles of the work of individual reporters prepared by a Pentagon contractor — indicate that the ratings are intended to help Pentagon image-makers manipulate the types of stories that reporters produce while they are embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Thus far the legality of this program has not yet been determined. And the dates on the files recovered go back to October of 2008, so this appears to be less a partisan issue on which blame would be assigned to Bush Administration or Obama Administration.

One thing is clear: this story is far from over, particularly given the specific denials of the Dept of Defense. Stay tuned.

Dan Abrams Remembers Dominick Dunne

smile-dd-selectA-048It was no easy feat becoming Dominick Dunne. Think about it. He was the most celebrated chronicler of downtrodden socialites. He feasted on their famine with little sympathy or admiration for their formerly exalted positions. Yet somehow they invited him back. Not only was he invited back to the most exclusive and social-est of socialite events, but his attendance celebrated. If Dominick Dunne’s cackle could be heard in the room, it was, by definition an A-list event.

So how did he do it? How in the often surreptitious world of vapid excess did he break their tacit rules of secrecy and still return to a hero’s welcome every night? How did the man once blackballed from the Hollywood insider scene he so adored manage to avoid reliving that fate as he dissected the innards of the latest society scandal? Some might say, as he aged, his unimposing appearance helped. Small, rotund and bespectacled, walking with what might be described as a waddle, Dominick never looked or felt remotely intimidating. But that explanation hardly does him justice. He was not a jovial “little man.” Dominick Dunne had a dark side and dark past. In the end, he utilized the same tools that made him a great reporter to transform himself into an equally welcome, acclaimed, and ever so eloquent social traitor.

He listened, he followed up, he cared. Truly. He knew what people wanted to hear and said it, often along with a guffaw. Dominick working a party often felt like an animated film — bright colors, loud noises, and action packed adventure. But more important he extracted confidence by regaling groups with self-deprecating stories of his own life as well as amusing but relatively innocuous gossip about others. His disarming manner combined with the media muscle of his Vanity Fair column led most to forgive what might be seen in some cases as social perfidy. Maybe forgive is too strong, because he also had something so many of them coveted, the key to a world of fame and, when necessary, the key out.

On the one hand, the uber-social, and often equally wealthy were generally appreciative of, if not downright eager to be mentioned by the equally social (but not quite as wealthy) Dominick Dunne, but they almost never wanted to be the subject of his latest piece. After all, that likely meant that he or she was accused of something dark, scandalous and almost certainly criminal.

I met Dominick when I was a cub reporter for Court TV on the OJ Simpson case. He was, at that time, just beginning to enjoy his notoriety as a celebrity journalist covering and critiquing the celebrity world. During the nine months of that trial all the reporters developed the sort of friendships you generally only develop in college living together day in and day out. Day after day we took our assigned seats in the courtroom and then met in the hall during breaks as we stalked the attorneys. As a 28-year-old reporter for a small cable channel, I turned to him as a mentor. I was hungry and eager to break stories. He admired that tenacity and devotion. But he wasn’t looking to be the purveyor of sage advice. He wanted information from me too.

What started as a symbiotic professional relationship became a cherished friendship. He introduced me to his fantasy world. It felt like he knew everyone in Hollywood. Anytime we went out to dinner to discuss the latest in the case, we would spend a third of the evening greeting well wishers, often faces anyone would recognize. “Oh and you must know Dan Abrams of Court TV,” he would say, which, of course, they didn’t. But it wasn’t just social. He was working too. Many would provide him with a nugget of information or gossip at which point he would scramble to scribble it down in one of his leather notebooks. They trusted him and so did I. His work was his life because his life was also his work. The things he seemed to love most were socializing with the elite and then writing about them.

He was forty years my senior and I would say that even then he was less like a father figure and more like my great, cool, interesting friend. I introduced him to girlfriends, went out for nights on the town and shared some of my most jealously protected secrets. While I did not see him as much in the last few years I always knew he was there when I needed him and vice versa.

I will miss my pal Dominick Dunne. I am sure his funeral will be just the sort of event he would have loved. Based on who will be there, I am sure he wishes he could have been there to cover it.

Your DNA Could Save Newspapers

minority-reportIt’s no secret that plummeting ad sales is the biggest challenge facing the newspaper industry today. Online advertising, for a variety of reasons, does not generate the same revenue that print advertising has traditionally done. To make up for the lack publishers have been considering any manner of income generators. However according to an piece on Forbes.com today, the solution may be as simple as getting readers to cough up a whole lot of personal information.

In a report released Monday, advertising broker and technology firm Pontiflex says that marketers will pay publishers an average price of $2.27 for each reader they can convince to fill out a form with their real name and e-mail address, along with a few bits of personal data such as their Twitter handle, phone number or answers to questions about their shopping habits.

That hefty price suggests publishers should consider abandoning cheap ads sold for guaranteed prices and should instead try to use space on their Web pages to convince readers to turn over their personal information.

Sound frightening? Maybe the next step is asking everyone to send in a strand of hair for DNA testing when they subscribe! Truly, at the rate we’re going it’s just a matter of time before our lives as consumers turn into that scene from Minority Report where the subway ads change depending who is walking by them (video below). The truth of the matter, of course, is that people volunteer an enormous personal information about themselves online every day without ever being asked — I know more about the personal lives of some people I follow on Twitter but haven’t met, than I do about some of my close friends. It’s the asking that usually turns them off. So really it may just be a matter of connecting Twitter Search with IP addresses, or something like that. In the meantime…

ESPN Gives Footballers Chance to Take Fantasy Offline

ESPN-FantasyFF-0ESPN has finally realized the ultimate way to connect with its fan base – throwing a house party. Still riding the wave of the undying phenomenon that is Fantasy Sports, the network is going one step further in engaging their Fantasy Footballers at the most crucial time of their year (the draft): local events and draft parties!

This week they’re organizing 1,000 house parties nationwide with ESPN.com league managers and recruited “ambassadors” hosting drafts. They’ve advertised the event on the air and have gotten the help of House Party, Inc., a social marketing company specializing in event production. By the looks of it, ESPN is relying on social media to market, encouraging fans to “Spread the word by posting to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.” Videos of live drafts online provide ways for Footballers and leagues to interact and add to the fervor.

For most of the male population this is the funnest, most anticipated event of their sports year. But for those of us who don’t understand the allure, this story is utterly incomprehensible – a television network hosting 1,000 parties around the country to do what? But that’s the brilliance of the whole concept: targeting an ultra-specific but ultra-enthused demographic eager to throw down money for their chance to draft the perfect team.

Plugging the event in a press release, Jason Waram claims the parties are to “celebrate” the small congregations of straight men who have made the Fantasy a such a successful Reality.

“We’re kicking off fantasy football this year by celebrating it the way it began – in people’s homes and social circles,” said Jason Waram, vice president of fantasy games for ESPN. “The strength of this game is rooted in its communities and the sports passions they share, and that is why we’ve seen ESPN Fantasy Football grow nearly exponentially since it began on ESPN.com, including over 33 times the participation since 2005 alone.”

Sports have always been events that distract people from real life, and perhaps ESPN is taking advantage of these times of recession to provide some fun for the whole family (and simultaneously market the shit out of Fantasy). Check out at this picture from a recent fantasy draft party on the front page of ESPN’s Fantasy Football page today:


Aside from distracting from the plummeting economy, draft parties are also stimulating the job market. Behold, the greatest post to ever grace the food/beverage/hospitality jobs section of Craig’s List:

“I am looking for an attractive woman in her twenties to grill hotdogs on my rooftop wearing a bikini for my fantasy football draft. This will be an easy job and pays well. It will only be a couple hours work and I will pay you 200 dollars; all you have to do is look pretty and serve us hotdogs. After your work is done you are welcome to stay longer for free beer, food, and all the fantasy football tips and analysis you can handle. Please tell me a little bit about yourself and be sure to include photos. Thanks!”

Kudos to Fantasy Football for relieving all our distress over unemployment.

SEX WATCH: Murdered Bikini Model Jasmine Fiore’s “Fast Life”

Jasmine FioreThe grisly murder of Jasmine Fiore and subsequent suicide of her husband and prime suspect Ryan Jenkins is exactly the sort of brutal and sexy story made for sensational coverage. Earlier this week, we wondered about the media’s go-to descriptor of Jenkins as a “reality star” despite his humble, low-brow brand of “fame.” But equally interesting has been the sex-centric coverage of Fiore’s tragic story, especially her career as a Playboy model and stripper. Today Sex Watch scours the web for the most shameless exploitation.

The blogosphere’s “strange, mad hunt” for Jasmine Fiore Playboy pictures The Week, Soft Sailor, Right Celebrity

There was an “online scurry” to find naked photos of the deceased — a search that proved futile when a handful of sources reported that although Fiore worked for Playboy, the nude pictures did not exist.

“Jasmine Fiore Pictures and the Ryan Alexander Jenkins Reality” Associated Content

According the this lede, the fact that the internet is “burning for Jasmine Fiore pictures” was more newsworthy than the murder itself. The article goes on to identify the woman as “the swimsuit model whose naked body was found stuffed in a suitcase.”

“Police ID’d murdered model Jasmine Fiore by her breast implants; mom wants revenge on killer” New York Daily News

The popular tabloid reported that the despite her mutilated body, the “murdered bikini model” was identified by the serial number on her breast implants.

“Jasmine Fiore: Bikini Model Murder Photos” CBS News

Wasting little time on words, CBS News relied heavily on a photo slideshow to tell Fiore’s story. She was “a former swimsuit model seen here in a 2006 Lingerie Bowl promotional photo” according to the piece and can be seen here in various states of undress. Interspersed with the cleavage-filled set is one photo of Fiore’s family in mourning.