The Lies That Will Kill America

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News Corp. headquarters in New York
News Corp. headquarters in New York. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP/DAPD)

Here in Manhattan the other day, you couldn’t miss it — the big bold headline across the front page of the tabloid New York Post, screaming one of those sick, slick lies that are a trademark of Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing media empire. There was Uncle Sam, brandishing a revolver and wearing a burglar’s mask. “UNCLE SCAM,” the headline shouted. “US robs bank of $13 billion.”

Say what? Pure whitewash, and Murdoch’s minions know it. That $13 billion dollars is the settlement JPMorgan Chase, the country’s biggest bank, is negotiating with the government to settle its own rip-off of American homeowners and investors — those shady practices that five years ago helped trigger the financial meltdown, including manipulating mortgages and sending millions of Americans into bankruptcy or foreclosure. If anybody’s been robbed it’s not JPMorgan Chase, which can absorb the loss and probably take a tax write-off for at least part of it. No, it’s the American public. In addition to financial heartache we still have been denied the satisfaction of seeing jail time for any of the banksters who put our feet in cement and pushed us off the cliff.

This isn’t the only scandal JPMorgan Chase is juggling. A $6 billion settlement with institutional investors is in the works and criminal charges may still be filed in California. The bank is under investigation on so many fronts it’s hard to keep them sorted out – everything from deceptive sales in its credit card unit to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme to the criminal manipulation of energy markets and bribing Chinese officials by offering jobs to their kids.

Nor is JPMorgan Chase the only culprit under scrutiny. Bank of America was found guilty just this week of civil fraud, and a gaggle of other banks is being investigated by the government for mortgage fraud. No wonder the camp followers at Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC and other cheerleaders have ganged up to whitewash the banks. If justice is somehow served, this could be the biggest egg yet across the smug face of unfettered, unchecked, unaccountable capitalism.

One face in particular: Jamie Dimon, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. One of Murdoch’s Fox Business News hosts, Charlie Gasparino, claims the Feds are on a witch hunt against Dimon for criticizing President Obama, whose administration, we are told, “is brutally determined and efficient when it comes to squashing those who oppose their policies.” But hold on: Dimon is a Democrat, said to be Obama’s favorite banker, with so much entree he’s been doing his own negotiating with the attorney general of the United States.

But that’s crony capitalism for you, bipartisan to a fault. Rupert Murdoch has been defending Dimon in his media for a long time. Last spring, when it looked like there might be a stockholders revolt against Dimon, Murdoch was one of many bigwigs who rushed to his defense. He tweeted that JPMorgan would be “up a creek” without Dimon. “One of the smartest, toughest guys around,” Murdoch insisted. Whether Murdoch’s exaltation had an effect or not, Dimon was handily reelected.

Over the last few days, The Wall Street Journal, both Bible and supplicant of high finance as well as one of Murdoch’s more reputable publications — at least in its reporting — echoed the “UNCLE SCAM” indignation of the more lowbrow Post. The government just wants “to appease their left-wing populist allies,” its editorial writers raged, with a “political shakedown and wealth-redistribution scheme.” Perhaps, the paper suggested, the White House will distribute some of the JPMorgan Chase penalty to consumers and advocacy groups and “have the checks arrive in swing congressional districts right before the 2014 election.” We can hear the closet Bolsheviks panting for their handouts now and getting ready to use their phony ID’s to stuff the box on Election Day with multiple illegal ballots.

Such fantasies are all part of the Murdoch News Corp. pattern, an unending flow of falsehood and phony populism that in reality serves only the wealthy elite. Fox News is its ministry of misinformation, the fake jewel of the News Corp. crown, a 24/7 purveyor of flimflam and the occasional selective truth. Look at the pounding they’ve given Obama’s healthcare reform right from the very start, whether the non-existent death panels or claims that it would cause the highest tax increase in history.

While it’s true that the startup of Obamacare has been plagued by its website nightmare and other problems, Fox News consistently has failed to mention Republican roadblocks that prevented the program from getting proper funding or the fact that so many states ruled by Republican governors and legislatures — more than 30 — have deliberately failed to set up the insurance marketplaces critical to making the new system work. Just the other day, Eric Stern at Salon.com fact-checked a segment on Sean Hannity’s show. “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity declared, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.”

Eric Stern tracked down each of the Hannity Six and found that while their questions about health reform may have been valid, the answers they received from Hannity or had decided for themselves were not. “I don’t doubt that these six individuals believe that Obamacare is a disaster,” Stern reported. “But none of them had even visited the insurance exchange.”

And there you have the problem: ideology and self-interest trump the facts or even caring about the facts, whether it’s banking, Obamacare or global warming. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists say that climate change is happening and that humans have made it so, but only four in ten Americans realize it’s true. According to a new study in the journal Public Understanding of Science, written by a team that includes Yale University’s Anthony Leiserowitz, the more that people listen to conservative media like Fox News or Limbaugh, the less sure they are that global warming is real. And even worse, the less they trust science.

Such ignorance will kill democracy as surely as the big money that funds and encourages the media outlets, parties and individuals who spew the lies and hate. The ground is all too fertile for those who will only believe whatever best fits their resentment or particular brand of paranoia. It is, as an old song lyric goes, “the self-deception that believes the lie.” The truth will set us free; the lie will make prisoners of us all.

Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com.
Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, and a senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos.
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  • FreeDolley Madison

    600 BILLION dollars is hardly “starving” the healthcare rollout….

  • Becca

    I have been fortunate to be in Canada for business since the end of September. CBC news is a joy, just because they are reporters. They don’t make the news; they report the news. They spend more than 20 seconds on a story to give their viewers the background of what’s happening. They follow a story to its conclusion.

    CBC may not be the greatest, but it’s certainly not the worst, as ours has become.

    The trigger that broke US news was the discontinuation of the Fairness Doctrine. It was thought that broadcasters would simply continue to report both sides of the story evenly on their own. Clearly, Fox News (or Faux Noise, as some call it) took the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine as permission to deceive its viewers, presenting one side of the story and inaccurately reporting the other. There is no watchdog to call them on their inaccuracies, because there’s too much money to be made with the hatchet jobs.

    In one of your earlier stories this week, you also reported on how four corporations own an unbelievable number of media outlets across the country. That’s not helping matters either. Just like with the airlines, the Federal government is not policing mergers, which is what is also getting us into this unfair and unbalanced reporting.

  • Ben

    Jail Jail Jail!!!

  • http://theafricanamericanclarioncall.com Greg L

    Although Fox is the worst, most of the mainstream press, including the so called liberal press, lies. Fox tells outright lies while the liberal press just omits the truth and frequently both sides omit the same truths together. And occasionally, both sides come together to tell the same lie; a case in point being the near war on Syria that both sides were cheer leading before an outbreak of democracy in England saved us from that.

    Fox’s purpose is to keep the pot stirred enough to keep an underlying tension in American society to serve as a diversion from the real issues.

  • Glenn Havinoviski

    BBC and Al Jazeera Int’l also seem to understand that you need to show all sides of a story. CNN has weakened (its amazing coverage of the first Gulf war is a distant memory), the networks are at the behest of their advertisers, and RT is Fox News for Putin supporters. The news is increasingly what you want it to be, not “the way it is” as Walter Cronkite always put it night after night, on a newscast where reporters had 90 seconds or more to cover stories and get the facts right.

  • John V

    This is just more of the reverse-psychology game the Right has been playing – and winning – since Obama entered the WH. They scream “socialism” and Obama moves farther right to appease them. Is he finally catching on that he can never do enough for them, that they’re playing him for a sap?

  • MaryAnn Gorka

    We, as citizens of these United States need to seek the truth and not fall for the easy lies of today’s non-reporters.

  • GMA

    I appreciate hearing both points of view (Democrat and Republican), but cringe when I read an article that paints only one side as being manipulative and self serving. I believe our problems are much more pervasive and an ethical review and overhaul of the rules governing BOTH major parties (as well as newcomers like the Tea partiers), must be a priority. All of this is very complex…so many “favors” and projects have been bought and paid for. Still shaking my head about the large campaign contributions permitted by the Supreme Court. So, we currently have the best government money can buy…not the best government possible for serving the current and longer term interests of the Citizens (as opposed to the Congress).

  • chaudncbs

    a voice of sanity among all of the screams.

  • je_proteste

    Obama is a corporatist. (And he’s playing you for a sap.)

  • je_proteste

    With all that real reporting – and I am not disputing that – what explains Canada’s wrong-ward political drift?

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately our choices are Democrat (corporate light) or Republicon (Christiofascist).

  • je_proteste

    True – but not the whole story. We can take over the Democratic Party. Don’t tell me that progressives can’t accomplish what the ‘tea party’ can. If that bunch of clods can hijack a party, then surely we can reclaim one.

  • JonThomas

    A few years back FOX applied for a Canadian broadcast license. I don’t remember all the details, but they were turned down.

  • Almaata

    1. I agreed many of the banking institutions have done the wrong thing and deserve to pay the penalty.

    2. Many of the POOR believed in “OBAMACARE” only to find out they are not covered (I’ve heard over 3 million persons have applied and have been rejected?). My fiance was rejected. Robert, the Ex-Navy Seal, we care for, could not see his doctor because the doctor had met his quota. My daughter is a public school teacher, with 2 children, last year was cut back to 29 3/4 hours of work due to the “OBAMACARE” law. The intent was good, but the actual “OBAMACARE” is a disaster. Each section of “OBAMACARE” needs to be voted on separately.

    3. Global Warming is happening and not mainly from human action on the earth. The SUN causes most of our Global Warming and this is never mentioned. Tell the environmental extremists to take their heads out of the sand and don’t try to find a scapegoat for every environmental issue.

    Any way you look at things, the United States Economy is just a house of cards with
    our money based on the PRIVATELY OWNED FEDERAL RESERVE that has NO RESERVE! When the general public loses faith in the Federal Reserve piece of paper, it is over and house of cards will collapse. The Federal Reserve is the biggest PONZI SCHEME on the face of the earth.

  • d

    More like 70 millon, but still too much to roll out a website.

  • deborah j barnes

    the sun is responsible because of the carbon particles caused by our burning of oil, coal, wood etc.- reflecting heat -As to certain groups taking advantage of those interested in planet and therefore our health as this is a co evolutionary connection – well yes that is so true! Many products, services, ideas, stories are co-opted and used against us, all of us in sustainable guise.

  • JonThomas

    Thank you for the update. Not quite a rumor, but not the full story either.

    They were indeed turned down in 2003, but I researched your info and after re-applying with a change in it’s original proposed structure, they were approved in 2004.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/crtc-approves-fox-news-for-canada-1.492643

    I knew they had been turned down, but I did not know they were approved after re-applying. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Great to have you as a visitor “up here”. Yes, Canada’s CBC – at least the radio and a few of the TV news documentaries are good. For that reason, both our last administration and the current one has been killing both off as a former CBC executive and Progressive Conservative (we don’t have those any more) described it – “death by a thousand cuts”. Most Canadians love and support the CBC – but it has gone down hill both because people are frightened for their jobs and because they are short on funds for proper investigative journalism.

    “Fox News North” was not granted a license … but is still here trying – with the help of a former “operative” of our current Prime Minister.

    If you want something really entertaining … and to realize you folks are not alone with insanity … tune in to our current unfolding Senate boon-doogle. We the people need to find ways to reclaim our sanity, our governments and our media outlets.

  • Becca

    I am still trying to sort out exactly what went wrong in the Senate here and who’s guilty or not. I don’t think anyone really knows. But I appreciate the fact that people are at least polite when calling each other liars and thieves.

    And je_proteste, there may be a wrong-ward political drift, but with the current session having started, the conservative platform for this session is certainly something our conservatives would never propose, let alone support coming from the other side. At this point, I’m just glad anyone is talking about improving things for the middle class anywhere in North America, because we certainly aren’t doing anything in the States.

  • JonThomas

    Thank you belle for the direct info!

    So, from what I am gathering, the “FOX News Channel” that broadcasts down here in the States can also be broadcast on cable channels in Canada, but despite numerous applications, political maneuvers, and regulatory change attempts, “FOX News North” has still not been granted a license.

    Here’s a link I found from 2011… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-f-kennedy-jr/fox-news-will-not-be-moving-into-canada-after-all_b_829473.html

    Kudos to our friends up North for standing up for truth.

  • Anonymous

    Try a lot of global corporate money going into institutions like the Fraser Institute – the first “spawn” of the Institute of Economic Affairs which has now mulitiplied into over 450+ globally (Ayn Rand and von Hayek … who brought you and the world Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics), the Conservative Fund which is basically a variation of a theme of your Super pacs – one of the instigators is a hedge fund manager who used to be in our PMO (Prime Ministers Office) … also a really ineffective opposition and analysis of what was going on.

    As much as you folks have media concentration … we have it much worse … AND too many Canadians confuse our parliamentary democratic system with yours. We don’t actually elect a PM as you folks do a President.

    As for the ?? going on in our senate … really wish we had a Jon Stewart or a Stephen Colbert – so much good rare material just ripe for the picking.

    And – thank fully we are usually polite. However, our current administration and those who use their strategist – and even our local municipal level are working hard to change that.

    As for the soap opera in our Senate … we need an actual public inquiry where we the public get full disclosure … the current administration is resisting that and trying to use emotion to win the day. Fortunately, enough Canadians are insisting on “due process” – gives one hope. Even a tiny number of the current “ruling” party.

  • Anonymous

    Do you mean to say that democracy is still alive in America? Show me the evidence..

  • Anonymous

    Murdoch would make Joseph Goebbels proud.

  • Anonymous

    I’d also like to think so, but a very important factor is that the clods are supporting the corporate agenda, as right-wingers always are (knowingly or not). The rulers of this country certainly don’t want progressive voices having any real influence.

  • Anonymous

    Wasn’t Clinton President when all the rules about media moguls being able to buy up radio, print, and tv in same markets were relaxed, paving the way for people like Murdoch to be able to push their agendas by having control over everything people see, hear, and read?

  • je_proteste

    Surely you jest. To begin with, the ‘tea party’ is not a political party: they are mainly a bunch of extra-stupid Republicans or Republican-voting (supposed libertarians) who have hijacked the Republican Party. They are a subgroup, not a party.

    No ‘third party’ is sufficiently developed to function on the federal level in more than, at best, a very few states.

    All you would do is to split off the sufficiently angry from both sides of the political spectrum, leaving those who are doggedly loyal to a party to determine the election. And remember: the Republicans score higher on blind loyalty.

    Until you do all of three things, the ‘third party’ dream is just that: a dream.

    1. The party must be built up. It must demonstrate a growing record of success at the local level, then the state level. You don’t start at the federal level – ever.

    2. Election rules must change in every state: a run-off election (or something similar) is necessary. Otherwise, you simply will not persuade many people to abandon the major parties.

    3. You need to swing the Democratic Party farther leftward, even when you manage to elect a few reps or senators. Every member of Congress needs to caucus with some group. No liberal/ progressive is going to caucus with the Republicans, so they’re left with the Dems. If the Democratic Party is still mainly made up of neoliberals, these people will be in the minority and will continue to be marginalized/ kept from positions of power (committee assignments).

  • je_proteste

    I hope your new session corrects at least some of the wrong-ward drift that has mystified many of us these past years. Good luck to you. (Serious, not sarcasm.)

    Is there an industrialized nation that has a conservative base/ platform as backward as that of our Republicans (who are far more regressive than conservative)?

  • je_proteste

    Wait, are there really Canadians who think Prime Ministers are directly elected? (I remember an American suggesting a while back that the Germans were going to re-elect Merkel, but…)

    In short, you seem to be saying that the Canadian political system is being negatively changed by the same people/ processes that began far earlier to pervert the American political system? But, in contrast to Americans, the Canadian people have been quicker to mount a protest?

    That may bode well for you. Expel them before they become too securely-rooted.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately yes. And yes – a lot of the tactics are directly taken from the handbook that is perverting your political system mixed in with some refinements from Australia. Getting rid of the politicians is the easy part. More challenging is getting a political party not beholden to the corporate media or money as well as retrieving our minds from those who have been so successful in shaping them the last few decades.

    Here’s hoping enough people in both our country’s wake up, own their power and take back their countries and with that – our economies.

  • Wendell Wyland

    America is witnessing a decline in the health and vitality of our democracy. The lack of passion for liberty and equality is contributing to the slow and constant erosion of these founding principles. Like a house with a weak foundation the continued weakening of our individual liberties and equality will result in a collapse of our democracy. Like a marriage in which the husband and wife devote so much time and energy to achieve their professional and financial dreams they allow their love for each other to wither and die ultimately ending in divorce.

    Corporations are dictating government policy. Wealthy Americans are spending trillions of dollars to purchase the representative authority of our elected officials and influence our choices in federal, state and local elections. A bank CEO wears presidential seal cufflinks to a congressional hearing to remind Congress, who is running our federal government.

    The brave men and women, who served and sacrificed to secure our independence are looking down upon us in denial and disbelief that we, like the married couple have expended so much energy and determination to acquire material goods of fleeting value while trading away our liberties and equality. How could we invest in an economic system that derives its profits from the exploitation and destruction
    of the American Dream? Did we not learn from the noble Native Americans who signed treaty after treaty trying to save their land and their way of life only to be murdered and driven onto reservations by “honest and honorable men”?

    Men and women who leave their families and their communities
    to serve in our nation’s military understand and embrace the insatiable passion
    of patriotism. They leave all that they hold dear to defend their country from
    foreign enemies of democracy. They spend years living in a hostile environment
    that extracts horrendous emotional, physical and psychological tolls. They live
    with the loss of brothers and sisters in arms that often leave them with
    survivor’s guilt. Many military members return home to struggle not only with
    the personal cost of war, but the financial consequences of their absence that
    results in added stress to a family stretched to the limits by the long periods
    of separation. Imagine the sense of disappointment and betrayal when they
    witness the sad and pathetic state of their democracy. We were entrusted with
    protecting their freedom and equality here at home while they defended it far
    from home.

    Passionate patriotism is the insatiable lust for liberty and equality that drove Colonial Americans and former and current military members to throw caution to the wind and hazard all they possessed for the privilege of declaring themselves free of the oppressive tyranny of monarchies, aristocracies, dictatorships and plutocracies. It is a shame that our patriotic and political impotency here at home will ultimately result in our divorce from our democracy. When we begin our trail of tears, I wonder what the plutocracy will call the land we are forced to live on when we can no longer pay our mortgages and our student loans, If only we had been more passionate about liberty and equality and less obsessed with chasing the illusion of success in a political and economic system where the rule makers always win and the pawns ultimately forfeit their liberty and equality for slavery.

  • DavidW

    We just found out that the “totalitarians” turned out to be the “capitalists.”

  • Anonymous

    There is one effective way to deal with our major American problem, corporatism. We need massive demonstrations, multiple marches on Washington, online activism. It still may not change the election money tragedy, but it’s our only hope.
    Will America rise to the occasion? Well, I want to be positive, but my feeling is that Americans are too brainwashed now. Most still think this is the greatest country in the world. QED.

  • Pat

    See Bill Moyers interview with historian Peter Drier, who sees a grass roots rebellion against the mega-money American rule. Let’s hope he is right.

  • Anonymous

    right Jon – so far we have stopped “Fox News North” also known as Sun News.

    The “positive” of our current Senate scandal is it is waking up so many Canadians who our current regime and their “puppet masters” have worked hard and invested a lot of $ into putting to sleep or providing them with “misinformation”. It is also immensely entertaining. We used to have excellent political satirist up here … but most lost their jobs. Hopefully this will resurrect them.

    Like so many of you folks – we are doing our best re: truth …

  • Byron

    Superb reporting as always, Bill!

  • Anonymous

    Several lies:
    1) Free Trade Agreements create American jobs.
    2) Globalization will spread democracy in China and other parts of the world.
    3) Job loss is caused by advancement in technology.
    4) China is not in a Trade War with the U.S. and our allies.
    5) China can be trusted not to use our intellectual property against us.
    6) China is a Republic and not a totalitarian government.

  • Anonymous

    More lies:
    1) Best and Brightest are overseas
    2) Americans are stupid and lazy
    3) Federal Reserve Banks look out for U.S. interests and not their own profiteering.
    4) Trickle down economics builds up the middle and lower classes.
    5) Tax breaks for the rich is good for U.S. job growth.
    6) Free Trade is between countries and not foreign deployed U.S. corporations looking for tax loopholes and slave labor.
    7) Money is free speech. 8) Supreme Court is not politically slanted and unbiased.
    9) America is the land of opportunity.

  • Carole

    One of the many frustrating issues is that politicians like Paul Ryan are looking to lay the blame for all our economic woes on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Not surprising for a politician of his ilk, but what is impossible to understand is the citizens of this nation who are buying into this con, not understanding that they are slitting their own throats in the process. Our so called “economic downturns” have always begun at the top. No so called “welfare queen,” union, or increase in the minimum wage has ever damaged our economy. It’s also almost laughable that politicians such as Ryan, who have the best socialized medicine in the nation, are railing against Obamacare.

  • Anonymous

    The people will not believe in the government until some of these felons are in prison. Politicians do not want to do this, because they are afraid they will join the traders.

  • Arm of Keaau

    MSN is also a part of that “news” misinformation attack. Crap comes at us from all sides of life. (_: FBI

  • Big Bopper

    In it’s damning article the WSJ doesn’t calm fears by telling readers not to worry. The settlement is a tax right off anyway, another slap in the face to the middle class, who really pay taxes in the US.

  • http://www.facebook.com/foodpeopl Jeff Harpell

    The title implies the future. Guess what; the future is now and this death in slow motion has been occurring for some time now.

  • Bob Fishell

    Murdoch is only one of many media moguls spreading disinformation. If he’s the worst, the others aren’t that far behind. CNN has become nearly as bad as Fox. The other major news outlets enable the Murdochs of the world by striving to maintain the false balance. They, not Fox, are the reason only 4 in 10 Americans believe global warming is the result of human activity. They are the reason the banksters aren’t behind bars. Forget about Fox and the WSJ editorial board. The people who listen to them tune out what they don’t want to hear. Let’s bring some accountability to media outlets that can still reach reasonable people.

  • Anonymous

    Education is more important than indoctrination, but if voters let money become their God and wealth and power their religion just as the the Koch brothers and other rich plutocrats have done, we will have weakened the chance for a healthy society in our democracy.

  • Renegade28

    Money has always been our God. That is not new. Show us something that has not been influenced by the almighty dollar in our history or the history mankind.

  • http://oldgaylawyer.blogspot.com/ Eamon O’Connor

    All Capitalism is a wealth redistribution scheme, an upward redistribution scam.

  • http://oldgaylawyer.blogspot.com/ Eamon O’Connor

    All Capitalism is a wealth redistribution scheme, an upward redistribution scam.

  • Anonymous

    Very nice article, Mr. Moyers and Mr. Winship. I’d like to step back from the political arena for just one moment, and submit another cause for our current dilemma:
    the lack of education with so many in our society.

    I see so many faces of hardworking frustrated people that are dying to believe in something so badly, that they can’t listen (with an open mind) to any opposing points of view. They read or listen to one source of information, because they haven’t learned how to think for themselves: and they have become an easy target for those on the right, and the left as well, who keep pounding home their message day in and day out.

    These are the disenfranchised among us. And they can vote.
    Sadly, it’s become all too easy to let others do the thinking and “truthtelling” for them.

  • Anonymous

    Almaata is worse than one of those uninformed people. He is a liar who posts this nonsense on purpose even though he knows it is not true.

  • Anonymous

    Occupy was a rudderless ship. Just like the DNC. The DNC has been giving so many gifts by the K0CHG0PTaliban that they have squandered because they dont know how to message and stay on point.

  • Anonymous

    No, Capitalism does not have to trickle down. Try working in one of China’s prison slave labor camps, or pick cotton as a slave laborer in the South, or work in an Asian sweat shop making brand name products. Learn first hand what working for an evil capitalistic power really is like, then tout how wonderful capitalism can be.