Opinion » The Rant

Truth in Broadcasting?

We shouldn’t have to live our lives wondering what “tweet-trashing” will come next.



Nobody should have to live like this: to have to go about your daily business while in the back of your mind there's a constant nagging concern that the psychotic sonofabitch who occupies the White House will do something else insane. As the mounting evidence of his criminal activities creeps closer to the president during the impeachment hearings, expect his conduct to grow even more aberrant, lashing out madly at everyone or anyone who dares criticize him.

The latest victim of a Trump tweet-trashing is Fox News correspondent Chris Wallace, who dismantled Representative Steve Scalise's GOP talking points justifying Trump's conduct toward the Ukrainian government on Fox News Sunday.

Chris Wallace interviews Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise.
  • Chris Wallace interviews Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise.

In response, Trump tweeted professorially, "Steve Scalise blew the nasty and obnoxious Chris Wallace (will never be his father, Mike!) away on Chris' lowest rated (unless I'm on) morning show. This kind of dumb and unfair interview would never have happened in the Fox News Past."

Well, Roger Ailes died and Shepard Smith quit, so maybe some of the reporters over at Big Brother Central are developing consciences. Trump can still count on folks like Fox & Friends and the other half-wits who spew propaganda and lies on behalf of this president, but two scholastic studies, one by the University of Maryland, the other by Fairleigh Dickinson University, have determined that people who watch only Fox News are less informed than all other news consumers — and are much more inclined to believe false information.

There is a federal law called the Truth in Advertising Act, which states that "all ads must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence." The Federal Trade Commission enforces the law, whether it's an ad online, in the mail, or on billboards and buses. For punishment, a federal court can demand a desist order, freeze the assets of the offender, and get compensation for the victims.

Why can't we have a Truth in Broadcasting law as well, to halt the torrent of lies that create the dual realities in which we live? Basically, people who follow politics fall into two major categories: those who watch and read the news from a variety of sources, and those who watch Fox News. If you're reading this, you most likely fit in the former category.

During the Nixon nightmare, the president railed against the media, charging the media with all manner of lies and slander, right up until the time it was proven that Nixon was the liar and the journalists had it right. Anyone who saw All the President's Men knows that there are rules that professional journalists must follow to protect their paper's integrity and abide by the First Amendment. If there were a Truth in Broadcasting law, Fox News would either have to change its name, like World Wrestling Entertainment, or conform to the principles that govern legitimate news organizations.

Any real journalist worth his salt would love to work for The New York Times or the Washington Post. Since those papers have been proven right many times before, I'd believe them before I would the inane tweets coming from the carbuncle on the posterior of humanity.

While the impeachment hearings into Trump's phone calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky make for great television, there's an undercurrent of questionable behavior that's much worse than trying to dirty up the Bidens. The Trump gang's conspiracy theories about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, are based on allegations already debunked by State Department officials. Far more ominous is this continual stream of information concerning Ukraine's natural gas industry. The firing of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was less about opening investigations on Biden and Clinton and more about clearing the way for Trump's allies to set up business deals with Naftogaz, the Ukrainian state-owned oil company. Trump initially tried to blame his disastrous call to Zelensky on Rick Perry, the secretary of the Energy Department he once vowed to dismantle. Trump claimed, "The only reason I made the call was because Rick asked me to. Something about a liquefied natural gas plant."

This is where Lev, Igor, and Rudy Giuliani enter the plot. Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas were at the center of efforts to turn their ties to Trump into revenue-producing gas sales. The two were also instrumental in disseminating rumors about the Biden family and also behind the push to remove Ambassador Yovanovitch. The Associated Press reported, "This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine's massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies."

Perry urged Zelensky to fire the Naftogaz advisory board and came up with a list of suggested replacements approved by the president. Perry only recently announced his resignation, and Parnas hinted he may testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

There's another federal law called the RICO statute (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), which says the leaders of a criminal syndicate can be tried for any crimes they order. This makes asking a foreign leader to smear a political rival pale in comparison. It's all about the gas. If the Judiciary decides to look into this, you can say goodbye to the GOP $1 million donor, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, and goodbye to Perry, Giuliani, Lev, Igor, Bill Barr, Mick Mulvaney, Don Jr., Mike Pompeo, and Donald J. Trump. The revolution will be televised.

Randy Haspel writes the "Recycled Hippies" blog.

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