Gil Bailie’s Critics Take Him to Task (The Saga Continues)

Chestertown Tea Party Festival

Chestertown Tea Party Festival

This is a continuation of the “purge” account begun in our previous two posts. As the story unfolds, Gil Bailie of The Cornerstone Forum Facebook page has jettisoned several of his critics for objecting to his calumnies against poll workers and President Obama. One of these critics, Timothy Brock, evaded his captors and has now returned to give Gil a piece of his mind about the purges and to repost Sophie Sommers’ link to this site, which Gil had deleted. Gil’s stalwart supporter, Gordon Savage, attacks this site for “crude Photoshops,” ad hominems, etc., and Timothy responds with what may be his dying breath on Gil’s site.

Timothy Brock:

Gil, you forgot to throw me overboard along with Sophie, Ben, and Jim S. As you know, my son is about to be married to his partner, so I naturally take exception to some of the ideas in your post. [re: TCF’s post of 6/23/13 on equality and the redefinition of marriage]. However, you seem to have taken all the flak you’re going to take for now, so I won’t waste my time responding at length. For those who are interested, TCF’s shadow site is here, and discussions that are not allowed here are apparently welcomed there.

In your “friends” box at the top of this page, you’ve got one “friend,” Ben Boyce. You might want to take that down now that you’ve cast him off.


Gordon Savage:

Timothy, It’s a stretch to call what goes on at Doughlas Remy’s mirror to Gil’s FB “discussion.” There is ridicule, ad hominem attack, stereotyping, crude photoshop images, and, most of all, a bizarre obsession with Gill [sic] that illustrates Girardian theory about scandal and mimetic obsession without comprehending it. But “discussion”? Hardly.

Timothy Brock:

On the contrary, Gordon. I found lots of discussion on the site. In fact, the two most recent posts are simply transcripts (without commentary) of two discussions that took place here during the past week. Remy managed to capture them before they were hatcheted here.

As for ridicule and ad hominems, I don’t see anything egregious, and certainly nothing worse than Gil’s recent slanders of poll workers and the president. What I do see is a free discussion, and free discussions do get messy at times. Why don’t you leave a comment there and see what kind of reception you get? Don’t be afraid.

Crude Photoshop image
Crude Photoshop image

Crude Photoshop images? Huh? Your standards must be much higher than mine. I thought they were very tasteful.

A bizarre obsession with Gil? Maybe it’s just an obsession with the truth. And what about Gil’s bizarre obsessions with homosexuality, abortion, and Obama? Why is it that anyone who disagrees with Gil is said to have “bizarre obsessions” about him? Let’s be fair.

Don’t flatter yourself that you are the gatekeeper for Girard’s mimetic theory. I know from what these people have written that they are all familiar with Girard and his theory, as I am, and that is precisely what brought them to Gil’s site, hoping for an open exchange of views. Furthermore, they had all read Gil’s book. Unfortunately, Gil attached the condition that one must be hard-line neo-con Catholic in order to talk about mimetic theory, and so they were thrown out of the game.

Gil’s three stipulations–(1) fidelity to the magisterium’s brand of Catholicism, (2) fidelty to his own interpretation of Girard, and (3) fidelity to his own view of reality–are fatal to any sort of productive discussion. If you want “bizarre,” you’ve got it here in spades: A purely ideological and propagandistic Facebook page that invites people to step in and comment, but then throws them out on their ear when they dare to have any views that are divergent from the host’s own. So far, upward of ten Girardians have been expelled in just the last year, and please don’t tell me they were wild-eyed radicals. Most of them were Gil’s fellow Catholics, though he would probably deem them to be “unfaithful” to traditional Christianity. Most or all of them came here in the belief that Gil was an intellectual who could enter into an honest, give-and-take discussion with them—or, at the very least—tolerate such a discussion between his guests. Instead, Gil has discussed nothing. He has just laid down ultimatums. He has been a most inhospitable host and has revealed himself as an intellectual fraud.

BTW, why are you frowning in your photo?

Gordon Savage

If I’m a gatekeeper it’s of the painfully obvious: running a parallel site that finds in the “other” a source of almost daily scandal is at the very least ironic from a Girardian perspective? You do see that? Girardian “theory” is first about untying the knots of mimetic obsession. Get out of the vortex of obsession with what others think about you — even more what you imagine they think. Doughlas’s site reminds me of that old cartoon in which a man sitting at his computer all night says to his angry wife: “I can’t come to bed, somebody on the internet disagrees with me!” 

“A bizarre obsession with Gil? Maybe it’s just an obsession with the truth. And what about Gil’s bizarre obsession with homosexuality, abortion, and Obama?”

Since he’s working on a book about the cultural crisis these topics reveal, his focus on abortion and homosexuality might qualify as research. If he was truly obsessed with Obama, on the other hand, he should set up a website dedicated to mirroring everything Obama does, photo-shopping his head on pictures of babies (sound familiar?), coming up with your own truth squad to call him out for every breath he takes — I can even recommend a website as a model for this.

Gordon Savage

Gordon Savage

Anyway, since you make it sound so inviting I’ll come by Doughlas’s website sometime. Otherwise I’ll look forward to carrying on this conversation somewhere in God’s heaven.

And who is frowning?

Timothy Brock:

Gordon, the fact that you see “othering” at TCFS but not at TCF is truly amazing and ironic from a Girardian perspective. Gil’s treatment of homosexuals is “othering” at its most vicious. You needn’t dignify it as “research.” And not only is it “othering,” but it is also scapegoating in its starkest and most repugnant form. René Girard wrote a magisterial work on scapegoating. Are you blind to what it was about, to how it might apply to what is going on in the current cultural scene, or to how Gil himself has mastered its techniques? The recent flap about the Bill O’Reilly slanders or any number of Gil’s posts about gay issues should have alerted you to this. Do you want to discuss this? I would be happy to, but apparently that discussion won’t happen here, because Gil cannot stand to hear it and I am shortly to be thrown off like the others.

So I should get out of the vortex of obsession with what others think of me? But I am not the one who squelches any whisper of dissent from my own views. Do you think Doughlas Remy does? Try him out. Go ahead, post a comment on his site and see if he throws you off for not towing his line. It seems to me that Gil is extraordinarily thin-skinned and insecure, extraordinarily concerned with his reputation and his credibility, and extraordinarily fearful. People who feel secure in their worldview do not create a “public forum” and then censor those who accept their invitation to join it. Remy was right-on in describing it as a Venus fly trap. And it does a monumental disservice not only to Girard but to Catholicism.

Gil doesn’t need to start a separate website on Obama. He’s got this one, and he is clearly obsessed with Obama as “the other.” Nothing that our president does is ever right in Gil’s view. Surely, any human being must occasionally do something right. But this is just another discussion that we’ll never have, because I’m about to disappear.

Who has photoshopped Obama’s head on pictures of babies? What are you talking about? 

To answer your last question: You are. Try smiling.

The Cornerstone Forum (Gil Bailie):

Who’s obsessed with whom? I haven’t been showing up on your timeline or Page to carp at your opinions. One can “unlike” or “unfriend” this Page with the click of a mouse, thereby relieving oneself of the experience of being offended. I cannot imagine going to a Facebook timeline or Page or website or blog just in order to carp at the opinions expressed there, opinions which—in our case—are not intended for just everyone, much less as a starting point for an endless and useless Facebook debate, but are rather offered—for what they might be worth—to those who share our perspective, and who might find them worthwhile.

Jim Daly:



Gil, “carping” really doesn’t seem like a very kind or accurate way to describe how people have gently taken you to task for some of the more questionable things you’ve posted, such as the lies you reposted from the Bill O’Reilly site. And, in any case, even when I’m in agreement with you, which is often, I still find it useful to hear dissenting views. Nobody can be right all the time. We need others to help us identify our own biases and errors and to remind us that there may be valid perspectives other than our own. 

I looked at this TCFS site and read the posts that allegedly got people banned from this page. For the most part, they seemed to have expressed their ideas and criticisms in a courteous and thoughtful manner. If it’s true (and I hope it’s not) that this was all it took to get them banished from this forum, it really does make you look bad. Were there other infractions that the TCFS site isn’t reporting?

Tim Brock (not quite dead yet):

Mr. Bailie, when you misrepresent the truth about other people in order to put them in a bad light, and then you refuse to either apologize or retract what you’ve written, then you are guilty of slander. That’s not just your private concern. Slander is not an innocent past-time. It harms people unjustly, and your own faith tells you it is a moral failing that requires redress and repentance.

SpeakeasyYou write that your opinions “are not intended for just anyone.” Who are your slanders intended for? Those who will agree to channel them or at least not challenge them? You’re on the Internet, and on Facebook, no less. If you want a private, select audience, then you’ve absolutely come to the wrong place. Even if Facebook allows you to “unfriend” people at the click of a mouse, it does not allow you the option of screening all those who view your page,  A restricted website might be the answer, and you could limit access to those personal friends who will swear an oath of fidelity to your view of Catholicism, your view of mimetic theory, and your view of reality. Better yet, make the site unidirectional, with no input allowed from visitors.

You would describe our objections as “carping.” How would you describe your own objections to everything that emanates from the Obama administration? And the Supreme Court’s recent DOMA and Prop 8 decisions? Not carping, just principled disagreement? I think carping is in the eye of the beholder.


18 comments so far

  1. Ben Boyce on

    Today, The Cornerstone Forum posted a response to the flurry of negative reactions that preceded the latest purge from the TCF FB page, which resulted in my expulsion. along with several others. The TCF Samizdat has been doing a great job posting responses from other members of the exclusive club of the “disappeared”. Given what I know of Gil Bailie’s dwindling following of hard-line Catholic conservatives, I see a need to address the internal dialog within the Catholic community over the disturbing trend of the Catholic conservatives to attempt to wrap their right-wing politics under the banner of the Church. This is the schism within the American Catholic Church, and TCF is an accellerant added to that fire. It is my duty to resist that pernicious and fundamentally un-Christian ideology.

  2. Ben Boyce on

    The purpose of setting up a FB page is to make sure that when people search for TCF, that critique will appear right alongside it. The title of this FB group is “The Cornerstone Forum Unveiled”. My goal is to narrow the focus on Mr. Bailies’ conflation of Catholicism with right-wing conservative politics. I am annoyed and deeply disappointed that he refused to answer my direct question on that topic and just banned me from posting rather than engage in it or permit his acolytes to take it on. I am not going to focuswith his positions on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, which (for better or worse) are settled within the context of Catholic teaching. I think that he is on much shakier grounds on his political positions, which do not bear the imprimatur of Catholic teaching. That’s his own interpretation, and it deserves the serious discussion that he is too cowardly and thin-skinned to engage.

  3. Ben Boyce on

    For your edification, enclosed is today’s entry. I had just about given up on spending any more time with TCF, until I saw this entry. The snearing and contemptous tone of this entry got my goat, I will admit. I am not, nor will ever be, a “Lady Gaga Liberal”! Mr. Bailie needs to respect his critics more than that, especially when they are fellow Catholics who just don’t share his right-wing politics. I secured the group name today, to prevent getting pre-empted, but it will take me a few days to set up the whole case. I will link to this site.

    Status Update
    By The Cornerstone Forum
    “A few critics seem to think that opinions expressed on this FB Page are so alien to common decency as to be intrinsically odious. These critics are unlikely to be convinced otherwise when shown that these opinions and perspectives are shared, not only by the Church to which I belong and to which I intend to remain loyal, but also by the greatest theological and philosophical minds of recent memory, including Hans Urs von Balthasar, Joseph Ratzinger, Joseph Pieper, Henri de Lubac, John XXIII, Paul IV, John Paul II and Pope Francis, to name but a few. These points of view and principles are rooted, however, in anthropological reality and moral reason, the persuasiveness of which depends on no particular religious belief.

    Those who consider the distinguished antiquity of these principles as proof of their contemporary uselessness, and who therefore regard those who adhere to them as mean-spirited Neanderthals and moral dullards, often use the comments section of the Cornerstone Forum FB Page to let fly entirely predictable salvos of contempt. When reminded that our purpose here is not to argue with those who do not share our perspective but to be of use to those who do, howls of protest arise. And when, in exasperation, we refuse to allow this Page to become a bulletin-board for anthropological nonsense, moral muddle, and anti-Catholic discourses, their authors enjoy the satisfaction of believing themselves to be martyrs in the cause of free expression.

    They are as welcome to believe that as they are to believe all the rest of what they believe. I bear them no ill-will, but they will have to find other venues for propagating ideas that, though wildly popular among Lady Gaga Liberals, evince rather than seriously address the civilizational crisis that is upon us.

  4. Ben Boyce on

    The title of this FB group will be “The Cornerstone Forum Unveiled”. My goal is to narrow the focus on Mr. Bailies’ conflation of Catholicism with right-wing conservative politics. I am really annoyed that he refused to answer my direct question on that topic and just banned me from posting. I am not going to deal with his positions on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, which (for better or worse) are settled within the context of Catholic teaching. I think that he is on much shakier grounds on his political positions, which do not bear the imprimatur of Catholic teaching. That’s his own interpretation, and it deserves the serious discussion that he is too cowardly to engage.

  5. Gordon on

    Ben Boyce, What exactly do you mean by “right wing conservative politics” and what has Gil said that makes you think he’s conflating it with Catholicism? And wouldn’t you say that the Catholic imprimatur rests mostly on warnings about what is too much: too much individualism hurting the poor and community, too much collectivism swallowing up individual rights, etc.

  6. Ben Boyce on

    I had to do a double take when I read this comment. My first reaction is that either you haven’t been keeping up with TCF for the last few years, or you live so deeply within the conservative media bubble that you are the fish that doesn’t see the water that you’re swimming in. Mr. Bailie, just in the last month, has hit on numerous right-wing media themes. There is a cacophony of right-wing dog-whistles on themes that I read in conservative media and hear on right-wing radio. Let’s see, I don’t have to go very far back to substantiate this thesis:

    June 17th Attack on Attorney General Eric Holder “Once again, it’s the network at work.” (?!)

    June 16th Islamophobic article, claiming (falsely) that the Obama Administration is coddling terrorists but persecuting “patriot groups” (what?)

    June 10th citing discredited conspiracy theorist Wayne Allen Root, claiming that Obama was never seen during his ‘supposed’ tenure at Columbia University…reinforcing the Manchurian candidate canard. Even Fox News panned this guy!

    June 8th attacking Girl Scouts for pro-lesbian, pro-abortion propaganda. Got to keep an eye on these Girl Scouts! (OMG!)

    June 8th quoting Fox News host John Stossel attempting to revive discredited IRS story.

    June 8th (a busy news day) another spin at the manufactured “IRS persecutes conservatives on behalf of the Obama Administration” manufactured scandal. (When do facts penetrate the conservative media bubble?).

    June 1st Gil joins Rush Limbaugh in attacking Georgetown student Sandra Fluke. (That cost Rush 40% of his advertiser base, deservedly).

    Anyway, it’s late and and a two week sample will do. Really, it should be embarrassing to Mr. Bailie and his followers that he now traffics in the bottom-of-the-barrel Beck/Rush Limbaugh political slime mold material. This has come as a shock to me, as someone who studied all his material intensively for years. It’s like seeing someone you love and respect get arrested on pornography charges. It’s hard to believe that such an erudite and cultured man has completely lost his critical faculties. It’s not just that he is a conservative; there’s a reasonable case to be made for that position. It’s that someone of his caliber has made himself into a tool of the most disreputable elements of the tin-foil hat right-wing. It really pains me, and my hope is that my new FB site “The Cornerstone Forum Unveiled” (opening soon!) will punish this behavior to the point of forcing him back out of the gutter and on to the high road.

    Ben Boyce

  7. Gordon on


    Please, my question was about political philosophy. Your answer is a laundry list of what you consider “right wing dog whistle themes” — whatever that means. It’s pointless to go through them because they’re all loaded with modifiers to suggest anyone who disagrees with you is either stupid or acting in bad faith: …phobic… discredited… discredited conspiracy theorist… political slime mold… manufactured (twice in the same sentence). There’s no need, for example, even to ask why for two years in a row 70% of those claiming an adoption credit were singled out for IRS audits or at least one pro-life organization was offered tax-exempt status on the condition that it didn’t protest Planned Parenthood, because our intellectual betters simply assure is that nothing is wrong here, that we should move on and stop asking “discredited” questions.

    So if by “right wing political philosophy” you simply mean “everything asserted by the bad guys,” or as you colorfully describe it “bottom-of-the-barrel Beck/Rush Limbaugh political slime mold materiel,” what room is there for discussion?

  8. Gordon on

    Ben, I am still waiting with Gil “in the gutter” to be “forced onto the high road.” All I asked for was for a definition of terms. I thought this was the place where serious questions were addressed and not avoided?

    • thebentangle on

      Gordon, I doubt Ben is avoiding you. I’ve pinged him, so I expect you’ll hear from him soon.

      • Ben Boyce on


        I replied on my smartphone Sunday afternoon, but apparently that signal did not get transmitted. Doughlas sent me a heads-up, so I will replicate my comment.

        My initial response was a request for clarification. The point I was trying to make was that Mr. Bailie was drawing on what are widely regarded as questionable or even disreputable sources. You had objected to my intentionally colorful description of these accounts, so my question to you was regarding the source of your objection: (A) my descriptions were tendentious and inaccurate (B) you regard these sources as legitimate?

        You could get a very broad consensus among educated people that figures like Rush Limbaugh, Wayne Allen Root, John Stossel, etc. are not people to be taken seriously. Fox News is widely recognized to be the propaganda arm of the Republican Party, and has provided a living for comedians and media analysts deconstructing the shameless non-stop fact-free faux journalism that they put out in the service of their propaganda mission. Fox specializes in riling up its undereducated base with manufactured issues like ‘The War on Christmas’, ‘Godlessness threatens the Girl Scouts’, ‘Is Obama a crypto-Muslim left-wing fascist?…back after commercial’.

        They will continue to bang the drum on the persecution of Tea Party groups by the IRS, long after the rest of the civilized world has moved on as it was disclosed that that was one of a range of search terms used to investigate the tax exemption of organizations across the ideological spectrum. Simlarly, Fox will still be attempting to light the soggy log of Benghazi as a political scandal going into the 2014 election. Right-wing media has encouraged an unhinged rhetorical style among conservative politicians that even many moderate Republicans recognize is tainting the image of the party. It’s not just democratic socialists like myself that regard right-wing media as a joke that would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. If those are legitimate sources for you, then we will have to recalibrate this discussion.

        Anyway, please do understand that you are not the focus of my efforts regarding The Cornerstone Forum. I am dedicating a portion of my scarce time to take on the cultural influence that Gil Bailie and TCF have as a result of years of work, which would be admirable if the effects were beneficial. I don’t want to get into a tar-baby debate with you, because that would distract me from the main goal, which is to either move Gil Bailie and TCF away from the its growing identification with the Religious Right and the Tea Party conservative movement, or failing that, to be an agent to reduce the cultural influence of TCF by exposing its ties to some of the most unsavory elements in American society.

  9. Gordon on

    My response to Ben last night was gone this morning. Since this is supposed to be a place where ideas are freely exchanged, I’m assuming a technical glitch and reposting:

    I’m not sure why I should be more alarmed by Limbaugh and Hannity than Maddow and Cooper. As far as I’m concerned they’re all philosophically unsophisticated (Stossel’s well read, but I don’t buy into his Classical Liberalism). But the numbers don’t bear out your assertion that Fox’s mission is throwing red meat to the undereducated. According to a Pew study issued last year, the total number of college educated — finished a B.A. — watching Fox is 23% versus 24% for CNN — but since Fox has over four times the audience, the actual number of college educated people watching it exceeds the college educated audiences for MSNBC, CNN and HLN combined. Not that I think intelligence distributes by degree.
    The real issue is the selection of material: CNN and MSNBC reliably covered water-boarding and Valerie Plame, but ignored Gosnell and the IRS; Fox did the reverse. I have a friend who has produced for all the big guys, from CBS to CNN to AP, and I assure you they know what their core audiences want to hear and they give them that. It’s entertainment. USC Film School will tell you the basic scheme for every screenplay is “somebody wants something very badly and is having a very hard time getting it.” In Girardian terms, we desire what our Model wants and become scandalized when someone blocks it; so if Matt Damon wants to save the city, we sit through the movie wanting to see him defeat the bad guy to save it. In American news there must be a hero (you and Chris Matthews/Hannity) who wants something very badly (the truth about “x” to come out!), but he’s being thwarted by the bad guy (Karl Rove, The Tea Party/Fox News, Obama). You know Gil and Girard, so you have no excuse not to see the exploitation of mimetic desire in media.
    But this leads to what I think you’re saying that’s entirely unfair to Gil. The division of news outlets into boutiques for various political POV’s makes it almost certain that if Gil wants to link us to, for example, an abortion story it will have to come through a “conservative” outlet. Instead of asking why Gil links to a conservative outlet on a story about abortion or the cultural marginalization of Christianity, ask why your approved news outlets don’t touch these things? Gil’s expressed little respect for Limbaugh or O’Reilly, doesn’t watch Fox, and yet you picture them as walking arm and arm. That’s wrong and it plays into the scapegoating stereotypes that our media use to rev up their audiences.
    I don’t necessarily agree with Gil about everything, but he’s a remarkable man who done more than anyone to bring Girard’s insights into the world. You could find a better way to spend your time than by attacking him.
    And you still haven’t answered my question: define “right wing political philosophy.” You’re still just giving lists of “evil people” who “lie.”

  10. thebentangle on

    Gordon, I do not delete comments unless they are spam, and my filter catches almost all of that. I don’t know why your first effort to post your comment didn’t succeed, but rest assured I’m not trying to thwart you. I am delighted that you and Ben feel comfortable having this discussion at TCFS. That’s what TCFS is for.

  11. thebentangle on

    Gordon, I’m no media expert, and I don’t even subscribe to Cable networks. I sometimes catch YouTube clips of the people you mentioned, and I know about them. On the other hand, I do a good bit of reading across all the bandwidths of the political spectrum, and one reason I’ve gone to Gil’s sites over the past 15 years or so is that he is a superb aggregator of news and opinion from the right. He introduced me to Hadley Arkes, Thomas Sowell, and Robert P. George, to name just a few. I don’t have to dig for this stuff. He’s doing the work.

    Whenever I try to buttress a point with facts or opinions, I usually avoid sources at the left end of the political spectrum because (1) I know they will be dismissed by savvy readers, and (2) they, too, may have their ideological blinders on. I’ve found I can make much more robust arguments if I cite sources that have strong reputations for non-partisanship. Of course, no source is completely non-partisan, and my detractors are usually quick to point that out, so I get no traction with them by quoting the World Health Organization or the American Medical Association or the Centers for Disease Control, etc. These organizations, it is thought, have been infiltrated by left-wing activists of various stripes. And then my detractors will proceed to quote authorities like Pope Benedict or Bill O’Reilly.

    Gil rarely, if ever, brings in quotable material from sources that have good records of objectivity. His sources are almost always highly partisan on the right. See, for example, his recent quotation from Robert P. George, author of the Manhattan Declaration, NOM founder, and board member of The Witherspoon Institute. Then check out Timothy Brock’s response, where he summarizes information (not opinion) from the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. Which one do you think has more credibility—George or NGHL?

    I don’t think Ben is mistaken in detecting a very strong right-leaning bias on Gil’s site—a bias, I might add, of which Gil seems to be unaware. If you read my post called “From Distinguished Antiquity…,” you’ll find a case in point: Gil says in a recent post that he finds validation for his opinions in the theological and philosophical works of Hans Urs van Balthasar, Joseph Ratzinger, Joseph Pieper, Henri de Lubac, John XXIII, Paul IV, John Paul II, and Pope Francis.

    Note that all of these are conservative Catholics, and five of them are popes!

    And then Gil concludes, “These points of view and principles are rooted, however, in anthropological reality and moral reason, the persuasiveness of which depends on no particular religious belief.”

    Indeed! If they’re not rooted in any particular religious belief, then why not throw in a Buddhist, a Unitarian, or an atheist? Why five popes and three Catholic theologians? Gil doesn’t have to be ecumenical if he doesn’t want to be, but I should think he could at least avoid the implication that all great ideas come from the Catholic Right.

  12. Ben Boyce on

    “The real issue is the selection of material: CNN and MSNBC reliably covered water-boarding and Valerie Plame, but ignored Gosnell and the IRS.”
    Fact check: as a regular viewer of The Rachel Maddow Show, I know for a fact that both the Gosnell issue and the IRS issue were covered. The Gosnell issue was described as an example of what we could expect more of if abortion services are driven underground, and Maddow interviewed another local clinic operator who had repeatedly reported Gosnell to health authorities as a bad actor and been ignored. The IRS issue has been covered extensively, up to and including the latest revelation, which should now put the matter to rest, that the IRS had a set of keyword searches that applied to groups that had “progressive” or “Occupy” in their titles, as well as “Tea Party”. It was bureaucrats trying to cut down on their work-load. No big scandal there. The more interesting question for me is: where did you get the misinformation that those topics had not been addressed? I feel like we’re getting warmer now. What was your source?

  13. thebentangle on

    Gordon, the following response to your comment is from Dean Hansen:


    A 2010 Stanford University survey found “more exposure to Fox News was associated with more rejection of many mainstream scientists’ claims about global warming, [and] with less trust in scientists”. A 2011 Kaiser Family Foundation survey on U.S. misperceptions about health care reform found that Fox News viewers scored lower for factual knowledge than other news viewers.cA 2010 Ohio State University study of public misperceptions about the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” found that viewers who relied on Fox News were 66% more likely to believe incorrect rumors than those with “low reliance” on Fox News.

    In 2011, a study by Fairleigh Dickinson University found that New Jersey Fox News viewers were less well informed than people who did not watch any news at all. The study employed objective questions, such as whether Hosni Mubarak was still in power in Egypt.

    Criticism includes several examples of cropping quotes from President Obama, Vice President Biden and Vice President Gore so they appear out of context, using image-manipulation software to edit the appearance of reporters from The New York Times and using footage from other events during a report on the November 5 Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C.

    Obviously, each network has their own biases in spite of whatever efforts they make to appear non-partisan. But outright manipulation of facts with an end toward distortion is not news. By whatever measure, hard-cutting TV journalism and careful reporting is extremely rare. People have strong opinions about a wide range of issues, and those charged with being messengers of the news are often at the mercy of their editorial boards if they stray too far from station policy. But no one is quite as conspicuous as Fox when it comes to blurring the distinction between opinion and reporting. They have been accused multiple times (and I think fairly) of being nothing more than a very transparent and unapologetic mouthpiece for GOP politics. Former Fox News producer Charlie Reina explained, “The roots of Fox News Channel’s day-to-day on-air bias are actual and direct. They come in the form of an executive memo distributed electronically each morning, addressing what stories will be covered and, often, suggesting how they should be covered. Somewhere behind it all sits extremely paranoid (albeit shrewd) career political strategist, CEO Roger Ailes who designed FOX news specifically to be a mouthpiece for his own political views. There’s fair and balanced for you.

    Whatever slant liberal and conservative sites give to the news, the percentage of attention they give to specific stories, or how educated or dumb their viewers are is ultimately less important then how much distortion is evident in the news they do manage to report. That of course reflects on the urgency with which people will search for public collaboration when hunting down stories that confirm their privately held views. It’s this confirmation bias that Gil Bailie manages to purposely and repeatedly extol in his pursuit of affirmation for his theology. Pointing it out is not unfair to Gil. Neglecting to point it out is unfair to his followers. Gil could of course link to liberal news on abortion if he so desired. The difference being that liberal outlets tend to include women as the centerpiece in the equation by honoring their capacity for choice, as well as providing actual information about lowering the rates of abortion through contraceptive policy which Bailie doesn’t approve of. It would also have the dangerous tendency of broadening his perception about rigid moral formulas for how people should live if they believed precisely as he does, as opposed to how they actually do live.

    If news networks endlessly drummed out wall to wall stories about the evils of abortion, or how homosexual marriage is a threat to traditional marriage (as Gil does on his site almost every day) viewers would abandon the network in droves, but they wouldn’t change their opinions. News networks are under no obligation to conform to church teachings or to mandate the Vatican’s policies. The more polarized people’s politics become, the more the news, ever hungry for market share and commercial capitalization, reveals an ever increasing ambivalence about objective reporting of facts by reflecting the distortions of their viewers.

    You know at least as well as H.L. Mencken that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. Considering that Rush Limbaugh is the highest paid syndicated radio host in the country, I think we may need to re-assess what intelligence actually means. Maybe Mike Judge had a better handle on it than we would suspect in his satirical (prophetic?) cult film “Idiocracy”.

    You mentioned that you aren’t sure why you should be more alarmed by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity than Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper. Really?! When did Ms. Maddow or Mr. Cooper conflate pedophilia with homosexuality, or proclaim that Muslims have legalized sex with corpses, or call Michael J. Fox a fake who deliberately shakes for the cameras, or suggest that woman protest because they want to be sexually harassed, or tell a black female caller to take the bone out of her nose, or suggest that Sandra Fluke was a slut who should post sex videos of herself online to help pay for her contraceptives, or state that slavery had its merits, or propose a posthumous medal for James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther King, or report that hungry kids should go dumpster diving, and that environmentalist whackos blew up the BP oil rig? None of Limbaugh’s dismissive scapegoating alarms you? How about the fact that in 1992, Ronald Reagan sent Limbaugh a letter in which he thanked him “for all you’re doing to promote Republican and conservative principles …!” At least Reagan could be excused for dementia in the form of Alzheimer’s disease.

    I think we have to describe Mr. Limbaugh as something slightly more troublesome than “philosophically unsophisticated.” A hate mongering, mean spirited, racist, misogynistic troll that makes Archie Bunker look like a saint is promoting Republican and conservative principles? Or do you think it’s all in good fun? Just another Southern, smoked-meat redneck wannabee lettin’ off a little steam and hee hawing’ for the folks back home in Hickory Holler?

    I agree that most of what appears on TV is not news. It’s mostly white noise covering the dead air that must be filled to please FCC rules. In many cases, it doesn’t even try to be news. There is more journalistic integrity, professionalism, savvy political comment and yes, even entertainment in comedic satire than there is in news. A single episode of the Daily Show manages to expose more hypocrisy and lies in the news media then Rush Limbaugh does in a year of phony bluster.

    Whatever right wing political philosophy proclaims, willfully misinforming its natural constituency with poorly reasoned arguments and willful abuse is not the path to defining it. When people are constantly fed bad information, they become less adept at advancing the valuable insights that they retain, and even worse at identifying and improving the flaws in their belief systems.

  14. Ben Boyce on

    Thank you ,Dean. Well spoken and even tempered, while deaing with a very vexing topic. I have to come to the point that I have to seriously distrust the intellectual integrity of anyone who denies the systematic shading of truth and deliberate dissemination of misinformation as a stock feature in contemporary conservative media. There are a few respectable conservative print publications, but the electronic media side is scandalously unfair and imbalanced. That’s not just because I find their policy ideas unacceptable, but because the Fox News media universe has clearly made a decision to drive the news cycle with falsehoods and exaggerated, often intensely vitriolic and libelous personal attacks on liberal and progressive political figures as part of revving up the Fox News base.

    It’s not just me that has made that observation. Respected centrist scholars Mann and Onrnstein wrote a book recently on how the superheated tone of right-wing media is driving political dysfunction in the U.S.

    ” Political scholars Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann maintain that Congress’ failure to make progress on gun control last week — despite support for background checks from 90% of the American public — is symptomatic of a legislative branch reduced to dysfunction, partisan ravings and obstruction.

    A year ago, the two — who had strong reputations as non-partisan analysts – decided to speak truth to power with their book It’s “Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism”. In it, they argue that congressional gridlock is mostly the fault of right wing radicals within the Republican Party who engage in “policy hostage-taking” to extend their political war against the president.

    What’s more, Ornstein and Mann say, the mainstream media and media fact-checkers add to the problem by indulging in “false equivalency” — pretending both parties are equally to blame.

    “Sadly, divided party government, which we have because of the Republican House, in a time of extreme partisan polarization, is a formula for inaction and absolutist opposition politics, not for problem solving,”

  15. Dean Hansen on

    Hi Ben,

    Thank you for your kind words, and welcome to our little nest in the woods! I hope we make you feel wanted here. You are always welcomed to agree or disagree with any and all viewpoints as Doughlas has already stated.

    I think in 2013, a good RSS reader, a high speed internet connection and a road tested browser have it hands down over the present (though hopefully not permanent) state of broadcast journalism. In other words, it’s both a sad state of affairs and a hopeful one. Hopeful because there are a proliferation of blogs on the web – literally millions of them! But a fair and growing number of them provide excellent insight into daily events and seem more professional by dint of the fact that they are not constrained or driven by corporate policy and can truly express an untainted point of view.

    Of course, the sheer volume, energy and size of the internet can be daunting, but with a little patience anyone can discover copious amounts of fresh air, brilliant insights and enough intellectual honesty, spiritual vitality and visionary imagination to make the search more than worthwhile.

    Enjoy your stay and visit whenever you can.

    Dean Hansen

    • Ben Boyce on


      Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. I was catapulted out of Gil Bailies’ world into a whole new domain of like-minded folks. The quality and seriousness of the discussions here are refreshing. Being part of an “exclusive” club of the banned and banished turned out to be more rewarding than I could have imagined.

      That being said, my background is as a political activist and a political organizer. I will not be content just to enjoy stimulating exchanges with other well-educated people who share my interests in religion, politics and culture. My goal is to to take on the pernicious cultural effects of The Cornerstone Forum and the allied Religious Right groups. In particular, I want to ratchet up the pressure on Mr. Bailie to get him to back away from trolling the fetid pool of discredited right-wing media sources and serving the dredgings up to his followers as heathy meal to nourish them for the great struggle for the soul of America.

      It is so preposterous and so deeply disappointing to me as someone who has studied and admired Mr. Bailie for years, that I have developed an admittedly mimetic fascination with forcing him off the ruinous and career-destroying course that he has taken. I will consider my work done when he abandons the bad company that he has taken up with (the Moral Majority culture warriors), and returns to his focus on literature, philosophy and spirituality. I don’t care whether we agree on politics or religion, but I hope that we as a group can finally make it too embarrassing to quote Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh as legitimate sources.

      To that end, I have secured a Facebook page domain (The Cornerstone Foru Unveiled), which I hope to get set up soon, given my limited time and technical skills. That will allow others who want to react to the TCF FB page a public space to do so that will get more traffic than a somewhat obscure web-blog. I hope to get that up this weekend. Watch this space.


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