Political News, Ratings Forward

How Fox News prioritizes ratings above truth or principles of journalism; How Florida is seeking to replace SAT with “Christian” testing; How and why to shame Republican judges; How the far-right is ascendant on college campuses.

NY Times, Michelle Goldberg, 17 Feb 2023: What Fox News Says When You’re Not Listening

The brief, a motion for summary judgment in a case stemming from Fox’s egregiously false claims of Dominion-abetted election fraud, offers a portrait of extravagant cynicism. It reveals how obsessed Carlson and other leading Fox News figures were with audience share, and their fear of being outflanked by even further-right outlets like Newsmax.

“It’s remarkable how weak ratings make good journalists do bad things,” Bill Sammon, a Fox senior vice president until 2021, is quoted as saying. It’s a line that would fall flat on “Succession” because it’s too absurdly on the nose.

Fox News correctly called Arizona for Biden.

Despite its accuracy, the call was viewed, internally, as a catastrophe.

“Do the executives understand how much credibility and trust we’ve lost with our audience?” Carlson texted his producer. He added, “An alternative like Newsmax could be devastating to us.” Sean Hannity, in an exchange with fellow hosts Carlson and Laura Ingraham, fretted about the “incalculable” damage the Arizona projection did to the Fox News brand and worried about a competitor emerging: “Serious $$ with serious distribution could be a real problem.”

Fox is about ratings, telling a delusional audience what it wants to hear. Otherwise, their audience will switch to another channel that will tell them what they want to hear.

On Nov. 18, 2020, Carlson told Ingraham: “Sidney Powell is lying by the way. Caught her. It’s insane.” Ingraham wrote back that Powell was a “complete nut.”

But according to the Dominion brief, an analysis by Ron Mitchell, the senior vice president for prime-time programming and analytics, found that “Fox viewers were switching the channel specifically to watch Sidney Powell as a guest” on Newsmax. A few days after this analysis, Powell was a guest on Hannity’s show.


Washington Post, Erik Wemple, 17 Feb 2023: Opinion | Fox News is worse than you thought

The network’s prime-time stars — Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, along with other top names — care about ratings first, second and third, a consideration that eclipses the truth and other principles of journalism. “Sidney Powell is lying,” Carlson wrote on Nov. 16, 2020, to a producer about President Donald Trump’s lawyer, who played a leading role in pushing far-out theories about election theft. The Dominion filing makes clear that the stars and Fox executives knew there was no evidence behind the election-denial lies repeated on the network’s broadcasts — a bombshell that is likely to take Fox years to live down.


Miami Herald, 17 Feb 2023: Florida education officials discuss SAT alternative focused on ‘Western tradition’ via DeSantis Seeks To Replace SATs With “Christian” Testing

How much more blatant can Florida get about institutionalizing Christian indoctrination? They really think that of everything that’s happened in the world, or in the US the past 300 years, only white, Christian experience is worth teaching, or knowing; anything else is to be condemned as woke-ism, as (non-Christian) indoctrination.


Washington Post, Perry Bacon Jr., 19 Feb 2023: Opinion, subtitled “There is only one way to rein in Republican judges: Shaming them.”

But these appointments don’t come close to addressing the problem: America’s judiciary is dominated by conservatives issuing an endless stream of rulings that help corporations, the rich and the bigoted while hurting working-class people, women and minorities in particular. Biden’s lower-court appointees must follow the precedents set by the Republican-dominated U.S. Supreme Court or their rulings will be overturned. Meanwhile, the high court usually allows very-right-wing opinions issued by lower-level conservative judges to remain in place.

So at least in the short term, there is only one real option to rein in America’s overly conservative judiciary: shame.

Examples. Also:

But the real goal is to make Republican judges less conservative in their rulings right now. Why would that happen? Because many judges care deeply about their reputations. They want to be seen more as umpires than politicians. I’m not guessing — several Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices have complained about being cast as Republican partisans.

This kind of shaming has already been shown to work. After intense criticism from liberals about the court’s usage of the shadow docket to issue conservative rulings without even hearing arguments, the court has stopped using the practice as often. Many of the opinions of Kavanaugh, who is now the court’s swing justice, seem almost intentionally written to minimize public blowback. He seems to want to be respected by people across the political spectrum as a fair-minded judge. People on the left need to make clear he won’t get that respect if all he does is issue opinions that align with what the Republican Party wants.


In their thinking about the judiciary, Democrats should be more like Trump. While in office, Trump criticized a ruling he didn’t like by casting the judge who wrote it as an “Obama judge.” Roberts then issued a sanctimonious statement, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges.”

But at least right now, Trump is right. Roberts and his colleagues are acting like Republicans, not judges — and Democrats should say that loudly and often.


Salon, A.F. Lewis and Christopher T. Conner, 19 Feb 2023: Why the far-right is ascendant on college campuses, subtitled “Conservatives crow about college campuses being hives of the radical left. On the ground, it’s not especially true”

Most Americans hold the view, largely shaped by the media, that college and university campuses are bastions of left-wing ideology. Yet American colleges and universities have long had a prominent conservative contingent — even during the antiwar protest movement of the 1960s. Over time, the work of student movements has been folded into the corporate structure of the institution; this is well-known. Yet most are likely unaware of a new phenomenon occurring across college campuses, in which far-right organizers have sought to use them as a place for contestation, recruitment, and protest/counter protest.


Since 2011, hate crimes on college campuses have sharply risen in the United States. The latest available data, at time of publication, from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found a total of 313 cases of white supremacist material on campuses for the 2018-2019 school year. These cases include bomb threats to historically Black Colleges and University, gag orders against teaching, threats to specific scholars, and the weaponization of critical race theory to create controversy over curriculum.

It goes on, with photos of flyers aimed an aggrieved whites on various campuses.

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