Over the Top Media Coverage on Hurricane Matthew: Your Kids Are Going to Die

It's bad. There's no doubt about it. Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti and hit the Florida coastline hard --- and it's not over yet. But has the media coverage been responsible?

"There is no doubt this is a deadly, really powerful, very dangerous hurricane. But the coverage so far . . . is it just me?" Co-host Pat Gray asked Friday, filling in for Glenn.

RELATED: More Than 500 Reported Dead as Haiti Starts Long Cleanup After Hurricane Matthew

Reporting at Fox News, Shep Smith had this to say:

This moves 20 miles to the west, and you and everyone you know are dead. All of you. Because you can't survive it. It's not possible unless you're very, very lucky. And your kids die too.

"That is not responsible coverage," Co-host Stu Burguiere responded.

Granted, Smith witnessed and reported on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but does that warrant sensational fearmongering?

Read below or watch the clip for answers to these responsible questions:

• What hurricane was two categories higher than Matthew?

• Does Fox News typically cover funeral expenses for citizens?

• Do carton-like threats work better to prevent widespread panic?

• Will Hurricane Matthew be the strongest on record?

• Does climate control prevent hurricanes?

• Did hurricanes occur before people inhabited the U.S.?

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

PAT: Glenn is out today, the Glenn Beck Program. It's Pat, Stu, Jeffy, filling in.

Are you aware that we're all going to die? That's what we heard yesterday on Fox News. We'll start with the media chaos and the insane coverage that is going on, right now.

(music)

PAT: It's the Glenn Beck Program. Pat, Stu, Jeffy.

There is no doubt this is a deadly, really powerful, very dangerous hurricane. But the coverage so far has -- is it just me?

JEFFY: A little strange?

PAT: It's crazy. It is crazy. Listen to this.

SHEP: Over on our wall, a look at the storm track. The forecasters today have expanded the area where the storm may hit.

See this? Melbourne, Daytona Beach, all the way to Jacksonville. This moves 20 miles to the west, and you and everyone you know are dead. All of you. Because you can't survive it.

PAT: Wow. Wow.

SHEP: It's not possible unless you're very, very lucky. And your kids die too.

STU: What? What the hell?

PAT: Is that responsible coverage?

JEFFY: No.

STU: That is not. That is not responsible coverage.

JEFFY: That is not responsible coverage.

PAT: Then there was this.

VOICE: Hugo was, get out.

PAT: Right.

VOICE: As hundreds of thousands of people try to get out of harm's way, I'll speak with somebody who is flatout refusing to leave, and I'll ask her why she's staying and if she expects us to cover her funeral.

STU: What the hell?

PAT: I'm going to guess no, she probably doesn't -- since Fox News doesn't cover a lot of funerals, I would think the answer to that would be no.

JEFFY: No, they do not.

STU: They covered Mandela's funeral.

PAT: Mandela. Maybe Ronald Reagan.

JEFFY: They get Princess Diana?

PAT: Probably.

JEFFY: Probably?

PAT: I don't remember. Probably.

STU: They could have also picked the person in Florida who decided not to leave.

PAT: They could. It's unlikely.

STU: That is weird.

PAT: Wow, that's nutty.

STU: I think there's that element of coverage where they think if they don't scare you, you're going it think, "Eh, that's not that big of a deal."

JEFFY: Yes.

STU: So they, I think, intentionally are telling you thinks that are attempting to scare you. That being said, it actually is a very scary storm.

PAT: It is.

STU: And there is a legitimate amount of panic and preparation that should happen. And "panic" is not the right word. You shouldn't be panicking. But you should be reacting to the danger. The issue is, when you start getting carton-like threats like that, no one takes it seriously.

PAT: I know.

JEFFY: Yeah.

STU: It's like global warming. They keep telling you you're going to die every nine seconds. And when you don't die, nobody believes it anymore.

PAT: Right. Over on the Weather Channel, more of -- I mean, not quite as bad as Shep Smith. But...

VOICE: This is like no storm in the record books. We are concerned about reports of people deciding to stay in areas under mandatory evacuation orders.

PAT: Now, let me ask you just that. This is like no storm on the record books? Andrew was a Cat 5. It was much stronger than this.

JEFFY: Ever. Yeah, ever..

STU: There's only five categories.

PAT: Yeah.

STU: And we all know it's one through five.

PAT: And they're acting like this is a Category 206. There's never been a Category 206 because the scale only goes to five. What are you talking about?

VOICE: This is a mistake. This is not hype. This is not hyperbole.

PAT: Uh-huh.

VOICE: And I am not kidding. I cannot overstate the danger of the storm.

PAT: I think you just did.

VOICE: Central and North Florida have never been hit by a hurricane this strong. If you live in a Florida evacuation zone, you need to head to a safe spot now. Do not assume you can survive if you choose to stay. There will be overwhelming damage and likely a heartbreaking loss of life. Based on everything we know, Matthew will make history. The Weather Channel does not want you to be part of that history.

(music)

JEFFY: Thank you.

PAT: Is it because they haven't had a major hurricane to sink their teeth into, in 11 years in America that this kind of coverage is going on?

JEFFY: Yes. Well, we did have, what, Hermine right up in the armpit of Florida this year, earlier this year.

PAT: Although it was a Category 1.

JEFFY: Yeah. Yeah. And by the time, when it -- it made landfall as a hurricane and then broke apart, you know, almost immediately.

PAT: And, by the way, Hillary said this about Hurricane Hermine.

VOICE: What will I tell my son?

PAT: Oh, that's the other one.

STU: She does do those accent to certain audiences. You can detect it.

PAT: She does.

JEFFY: She does.

HILLARY: Another threat to our country is climate change. 2015 was the hottest year on record.

PAT: Yeah, I've been saying that.

No.

HILLARY: The science is clear.

PAT: The science is not clear. But they keep saying that so you will eventually believe it.

STU: That is --

HILLARY: It is real. It's wreaking havoc on communities across America. Last week's hurricane was another reminder of the devastation that extreme weather can cause. And I send my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by Hermine.

PAT: Yeah.

HILLARY: But this is not the last one that's going to hit Florida, given what's happening in the climate.

PAT: By the way, it's not the first either, given what's happening in the climate.

STU: I think she's right on that last part though.

PAT: It is not the last that will hit Florida. I'll guarantee you that. It's not -- there's not -- the last hurricane will never happen on this planet because hurricanes happen, and they've always happened. And they'll continue to happen. And they've happened with much more regularity than this.

STU: Because of global warming. Is that --

PAT: No, no.

STU: If you end that --

PAT: Long before global warming. Back in the third century, hurricanes were happening in Florida. Nobody lived there, so we didn't know about it. But hurricanes were happening. In the BC period of time, hurricanes were happening. Was there a lot of global warming, climate change happening at that time?

JEFFY: The media didn't cover it.

PAT: How devastating was Hermine? Because it was a Category 1.

JEFFY: Yeah, Hermine was the first one to hit since '05.

PAT: Since '05. First hurricane.

JEFFY: Technically was a hurricane. And, you know, there was some flooding and stuff. But the aftermath in Florida alone --

PAT: Yeah.

JEFFY: -- in Lee County, crews were deployed to collect plant debris.

PAT: I mean, plant debris.

JEFFY: Hernando County --

STU: You can joke about that, but what does that mean to the plant? The plant -- it hurt the plant quite a bit.

PAT: It means a lot.

JEFFY: Worked in Hernando County before. They provided curbside debris removal, and two parts were closed.

PAT: Two? Is that hyperbole on your part, Jeffy?

(laughter)

STU: I mean, look, there's a big --

JEFFY: I know there was a lot of flooding damage and stuff throughout it.

PAT: Yes.

JEFFY: But it was --

PAT: And I will say, a tree fell on a homeless person and killed him. So they were able then to call it a deadly storm.

STU: Quite a different scale of what we're looking at now.

JEFFY: No kidding.

STU: Haiti, the death toll is up to 478.

PAT: Oh, my gosh.

STU: I mean, it's brutal.

JEFFY: So sad.

PAT: But it has nothing to do --

STU: Yeah.

PAT: I can't believe they're making this into climate change. And they are. I can't believe they're making this into a climate change storm. They've had nothing to go on for 11 years.

STU: And, remember, this was the marquis claim of people who believed in global warming and wanted to scare you about it, when Al Gore's movie came out.

PAT: Right. "There's going to be stronger and more frequent hurricanes."

STU: To the point of, on the theatrical poster of An Inconvenient Truth was a giant hurricane.

PAT: Exactly.

JEFFY: Right.

STU: It was their prime time, number one claim. Following that movie, we went 11 years with no hurricanes in Florida. And, you know, nothing --

PAT: And not a single --

STU: This is the first major one.

PAT: Major hurricane in all that time. We've had a few minor ones. A few smaller ones. I think -- the one that hit us before we left Houston, Ike, was a high two or low three.

STU: Yeah, the one thing that everyone will point to is, quote, unquote, Hurricane Sandy, which was not a hurricane.

PAT: Not a hurricane.

STU: Wound up not being a hurricane before it hit. And it was not a wind-situation incident. You had an island there. There was very unique circumstances.

PAT: There was flooding.

STU: Where a storm hits the place where we store all of our tall buildings. So there was a lot of damage that happened there.

PAT: Yeah.

STU: But as far as natural disasters go that could be linked to climate, we've had a really good run there. And this is the point with global warming. It doesn't matter what the run is. It doesn't matter what the past is.

PAT: Not at all.

STU: It's just, what is happening right now? Right now, people are focusing on weather. Therefore, global warming is going to be -- Al Gore is going to be out on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton. That's what's going to happen. They're going to tell millennials that this is all daddy and grandpa's fault. You know, the people who built your society. Those terrible, terrible people, they're responsible for the .9-degree temperature rise, and they should be blamed for it. And somehow, that means you should vote for Hillary Clinton, which is inexplicable in --

JEFFY: Well, I mean, technically -- I mean, Matthew is wreaking havoc along the east coast. Right now, it's a little north of Cape Canaveral. But technically Matthew has not made landfall.

STU: Right. I thought I heard --

JEFFY: It obviously made landfall in Haiti, when it was cutting across -- you know, when it was coming across the Caribbean and the Bahamas, but not the US.

STU: Right. I thought it did on an island.

JEFFY: Yeah, that's possible.

STU: Yeah, right.

Regardless though, this is a dangerous storm.

JEFFY: Absolutely.

STU: They're saying they believe that the way it's turning -- you know, it's going to be more of a north Florida -- Georgia is going to be the hardest part hit, rather than Southern Florida, which kind of got away with --

JEFFY: Yeah.

STU: Which is great. But, I mean, the thing about this is, as you look at these hurricane paths -- you'll see this all the time. They have this -- they're called the spaghetti --

JEFFY: The spaghetti models, yeah, sure.

STU: You'll see the spaghetti models. And it looks like a bunch of lines just drawn on top of each other that all pretty much go generally same way.

JEFFY: They all want to go back east.

STU: And then there's always one or two that shows it turning back and circling South America and then stopping on Hawaii for nine months. You know, there's always that one model that's totally --

JEFFY: There's more than one model showing Matthew doing that now.

STU: Right. There's a couple that -- not that. But something else --

JEFFY: No, but turning back around. Turning back around.

STU: I'm just making a general point about when you look at these models. Because this is the time of when everybody is thinking of them. The spaghetti models, they all shoot up the same way. And then there's always one or two that drifts off that kind of just drifts off in some weird direction.

PAT: Uh-huh.

STU: With global warming predictions, they have the same modeling. They have the spaghetti model. And all of them shoot up in all of the same direction. And then there's one or two that just kind of straggle around. And there's almost no warming at all. The temperatures are matching those models. It's going the opposite way.

JEFFY: Right.

STU: The crazy, outlying -- the hurricane model that makes it circle around South America and stop over Hawaii for six months, that's the model the temperatures are actually following. And to see that, when we're supposed to be so sure about what's happening with global warming and how there's going to be so certain -- and the science is settled -- we can give you some polling on this. The American people certainly don't think the science is settled, including liberal Democrats. Even they don't buy --

JEFFY: The administration just keeps driving it home.

STU: They just keep saying it. It's like Shep Smith. I guess if you continue to tell people they're going to die, in your mind, you think, well, maybe one person will take it seriously. Maybe somebody out there will listen.

But I think the other side of that is that a lot of people kind of laugh and move on with their lives.

PAT: What happened to their theory -- and I think is fact: Weather is not climate, and climate is not weather.

JEFFY: Right.

PAT: Don't confuse a weather event with the climate. Because they always said that to us because they were predicting that there was going to be no more snow. Remember that?

STU: Yeah.

PAT: Every Democrat living today. And especially living back then in the early 2000s, would say, "There's not -- pretty soon, you're going to have to tell your children what snow was. Because we're not going to have any." Really? So every time it snowed, we said, "Well, it's still snowing."

Yeah, don't confuse climate with weather. That's just a weather event. But every weather event now that is severe, whether it's a hurricane, snowstorm, whatever, that is now climate change. Every single one of them proves their point.

STU: Right. Even the snowstorms.

PAT: Even the snowstorms.

STU: Which is amazing. Because you're right. That was their answer to, well, there's a big snowstorm. Eh, it's just the weather. It's got nothing to do with climate. Now, even the snowstorms have to do with climate.

PAT: Talk about science deniers. Oh, man.

Featured Image: Screenshot of Fox News anchor Shep Smith reporting on Hurricane Matthew.

Ryan: Kanye West and the Great Society

Graphic by Alexander Somoskey.

Donald Trump has been name-dropped by nearly every major rapper of the last 30 years, starting with a reference by Beastie Boys on their iconic album Paul's Boutique, the Sgt. Pepper of hip-hop.

He's been mentioned by Jay Z. Ludacris. Young Thug. Nelly. Kendrick Lamar. Juicy J. Rick Ross. Eminem. Big Sean. A Tribe Called Quest. Scarface. Lil Wayne. The Coup. Master P. Ice Cube. Mos Def. Raekwon, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and various other Wu-Tang Clan affiliates. R. Kelly. Pete Rock. Nas. E-40.

And don't forget this surreal moment in our nation's history.

Then-candidate Trump on SNL ... dancing to a Drake parody.(Screenshot from YouTube)

When Bun B referred to Trump on the Chopped-n-Screwed anthem "Pocket Full of Stones," he was keeping with a tradition of rappers admiring Trump. This only changed a few years ago.

But then there's Kanye West, who proudly donned the red MAGA hat after discovering Candace Owens and being called "a jackass" by our nation's first black President. Then Kanye was hugging President Trump in the Oval Office? While wearing a Make America Great Again hat, supposed symbol of white supremacy, Nazism, hate, evil?

(Screenshot from YouTube)

People flipped. Everyone did. Longtime critics suddenly — and bizarrely — embraced Kanye as an ally, while longtime defenders disowned him, abandoned him like nail clippings, often mocking his struggles with mental illness and labeling him, if you can believe it, a white supremacist.

Then, in a moment that changed music history, Kanye released the single "Ye vs. the People."

Ye vs. the People (starring TI as the People) www.youtube.com

In it, he challenges what he sees as the unspoken rule that black Americans have to vote Democrat. He had hinted at the idea on his track "Black Skinhead," from the hauntingly gorgeous album Yeezus, but now he was addressing it head-on, with the passion of a man going to Confession for the first time in a decade.

Why should black folks have to abide by any set of cultural or political or artistic guidelines to begin with? And, he argues, the pressure to adhere to this longheld framework is itself undergirded by a subtle and cleverly masked racism, imposed by a group of people who portray themselves as the champions of race and enemies of white supremacy and destroyers of dumb yokel rednecks with their Rebel flags and monster trucks and fully-automatic AR-15 assault weapons. All of which, it turns out, is some next-level projection.

Kanye also confronts the presence of these expectations and stereotypes in hip-hop. The idea that rappers must invoke a negative persona in order to succeed. And the moment they deviate from that image they are rebuked or ignored, even though the persona is damaging to the black community as a whole. Which is especially ironic given that the people who voice the most outrage tend to be highly privileged, supposedly progressive white folks who love to rant about white privilege and black oppression.

Is it better if I rap about crack? 'Cause it's cultural?
Or how about I'ma shoot you? or f**k your b***h?
Or how about all this Gucci, 'cause I'm f****n' rich?

Best of all, Kanye has answers. And they differ from the erudite solutions offered by, say, A Tribe Called Quest, who, like Kanye, have modeled a healthy, positive image of blackness for the black community.

A central theme within "Ye vs. The People" is empathy as power, rebellion, freedom.

Make America Great Again had a negative perception
I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction
Added empathy, care and love and affection
And y'all simply questionin' my methods.

This concept is an extension of the powerful devotion to positive energy that Kanye adopted around that time, a purview he has cultivated into a wild new form of electronic gospel.

But his personal transformation was tough.

That [MAGA] hat stayed in my closet like 'bout a year and a half
Then one day I was like, "F**k it, I'ma do me"
I was in the sunken place and then I found the new me.

This is a struggle that many Americans undergo. Researchers call it the spiral of silence. The idea that the news media and social media present biased opinions as though they are fact, and when the message conflicts with a person's opinions or values, they feel isolated, alone.

Kanye and T.I. during the making of "Ye vs. the People"(Screenshot from YouTube)

As Kanye raps in "Ye vs. the People"

A lot of people agree with me but they're too scared to speak up.

Because we have an incredible ability to sense public opinion. So when we suspect that we hold a belief that rails against acceptable thought, we tend to keep quiet about it. That silence makes the opinion seem even more taboo, resulting in a more widespread silence.

In reality, many of these supposedly taboo opinions are not only popular, they are normal and practical and logical. Healthy, even. And the real danger is in demonizing them. But too many people are afraid they'll be ostracized for expressing their beliefs.

Like how — despite what we've been led to believe — most Americans cannot stand political correctness.

But the small minority of people who champion it are powerful and loud. They're like that cardboard city in North Korea, just visible enough from the border to make it seem like a thriving community. They're the Wicked Witch of the West, or Iago from Othello, or Plankton from Spongebob Squarepants.

So far, they have been successful. Although "success" by their metric is anarchic and primal, all destruction and loudness and people nervous to speak their mind. And the cost of rebellion can be devastating.

By the time Kanye West wrote "Yay versus the People," he had gotten sick of this power dynamic. So he broke the spiral of silence."

*

In the words of German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, "Whoever has language has the world."

Humans alone have it.

But in order for us to know freedom in our world, our language has to be public, shared, active. Because each of us thrives constantly with language, a stream of it always in our mind. Aristotle defined "thought" as the infinite dialogue between the soul and itself. Conversation is the exchange of thought between people. When we converse, we simultaneously release our infinite dialogue and accept the other person's. By speaking, we shape the world and free ourselves.

*

Another way to say it is that Donald Trump might have inspired the song that could very well signify the end of Hip-Hop, which is not only the most popular genre of our zeitgeist, it's the most popular, and successful, form of music in American history, which is the most important era of musical history.

If the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, and Drake literally outpaces the Beatles, then, well, you get the point God forgive me. And Kanye is bigger than Drake. So who better to have the final word on the capacities of Hip-Hop than Kanye West?

Nobody.

Every genre must come to a close. There's a reason why people aren't eagerly awaiting the next great disco album, or flocking to arenas to hear the newest bluegrass superstar, or asking to get their hair done like the latest syringe-armed guitarist of Guns N Roses.

(Screenshot from Instagram)

The great era of Rock 'N' Roll ended roughly about the time Radiohead traded their guitars and drums for synthesizers and sequencers, not long after Kurt Cobain took an insane amount of heroin and cradled a shotgun in his guesthouse, only to be discovered several days later by an electrician. Even worse, Nickelback soiled Cobain's legacy with godawful anthems, and who have their own weird and contradictory and hilarious connection to President Trump.

These days, Rock N' Roll lives mostly via nostalgia, as evinced by the explosion of cover bands. Notice how you don't see any hip-hop cover bands. You will, someday. But, for now, Hip-Hop reigns supreme. And Kanye is the King.

The brilliant Nina Simone once told a reporter that "An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times."

Because music accords itself to the gravity and creative truth of the era. And currently we entrust hip-hop with this complicated maneuver.

But the past year, Kanye has been crafting a new sound through his Sunday services, weekly jam sessions with acoustic musicians and a choir and everyone dressed in white, praying through song, herding us into a better place, looking above for guidance. If it's anything like his track "Ultralight Beam," it will bring calm to our divided culture.

Mark my words: The resultant album will usher in an entirely new era, a magical flash in human history.

So far, hip-hop has been the defiant child of R&B and Electronica, the grandchild of Spoken Word and Steve Reich Minimalism, with tinges of Punk. Not for much longer. Kanye will see to that. And, weirdly, President Trump has helped inspire this transformation.

Meaning, Donald Trump will have had a hand in reinventing music as a whole, in spreading a movement of positive reformation. Love him or hate him, it does not matter. What other politician can make that claim?

There's an optimism to this that Dave Chappelle captured in his now-infamous Saturday Night Live monologue, just days after Trump was elected, asking Americans to at least give the man a chance. And again in his special "Equanimity," when he said

I swear no matter how bad it gets, you're my countrymen, and I know for a fact that I'm determined to work shit out with y'all.

In a moment of now-tired irony, the usual suspects heaped a barrage of hate at Chappelle for these remarks. But their outrage does not matter, in the grand scheme of things. Because it is an incredible time to be alive. It's beautiful. We should never forget that, no matter how petty or outrageous daily life gets.

At the moment, we are a country that is — everywhere, secretly — hurting. But we are Americans. Together. This is America. And, every day, God delights in our greatness and our empathy and our endless gift for love. So open your heart and listen. Say what you need to say.

New installments of this series come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

Ryan: Michael Bennet, Little League

Photo by Sean Ryan

Every day, life getting shorter. Every day, life going faster. Every day, like a roller coaster. These were the kinds of things that Michael Bennet was saying.

Michael Bennet, God bless him, he seemed like a decent lad. All week he had his family there. He said his campaign was their family vacation. He had had prostate cancer but would you believe he survived?

"Life is getting shorter," he said. "Every day."

Photo by Sean Ryan

He was well spoken. Dry. Talked with an air of consultation. Like you were in his office, and he had things to tell you.

Like a Little League coach who could actually be a coach someday.

*

I would encounter Bennet again the next day, at the Iowa State Fair.

Having just seen Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) at a small Baptist church, we ventured to the fair to see Bernie Sanders' riot of a Sunday speech. Bennet was on before him, so I got there early, and I paced off to get a restroom break. The media center is in the basement of the administration building, right by the Political Soapbox stage.

For whatever reason, the first-floor men's restroom has giant windows along the wall, and you can see right out onto the walkway that wraps around the building. I did not realize that this was the path that the candidates take to get to the stage.

Photo by Sean Ryan

And, this far into the 2020 presidential election, they never went many places alone. They had a press swarm and their wives and maybe an old friend who relocated here when the hurricane sank his house.

I was rushing. Panicking, really. Because I heard all the commotion. But nature abides by its own pace. And as I shuffled to the sink to wash my hands, my pants fell all the way down. I was exposed. Out in the open and in such desperation, you clobber yourself outside of time. It was all slo-mo with the Chopped-n-screwed voices as I scrambled to lift my trousers and audibly gasped the words, "Well just no." At that exact moment, that "accidental Renaissance" painting occurred as I locked eyes with Michael Bennet, slowly maneuvering the walkway.

These sorts of things happened, didn't they? There you were in a restroom, at an NFL game or a concert or maybe a bar, and you see someone you work with, or someone from church or school, and you lock eyes for a moment in confusion then revert to cave talk and shrug and get on with what you were doing. But it's weird when only one of you is actively part of the etiquette and allowances of a restroom and one of you is held to a higher standard, for the sake of common decency. Now let's say that you, the restroom occupant, happen to be credentialed press, and the outsider, Michael Bennet, happens to be a candidate for president of America.

Once the herd passed by behind him, I laughed a bit, quietly, because life could be very funny.

*

Onstage, Bennet, a senator from Colorado, gave the performance of a cake falling into a pool. Like he had been ghost-busted. Like he had spent the last two months learning the Fortnite dance moves and now that he had mastered them, suddenly Fortnite was for losers, and Fortnite dances, well, they were even worse.

The Political Soapbox is great because every candidate has 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes were theirs. Most of the time, they got romantic like a Backstreet Boy singing up toward an open window. Occasionally, they lost it. Bennet did neither. He belly-flopped into hay bales.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Remember that the growing crowd had the dangerous feel of a natural disaster. And it was gaspingly warm that day. So neither the crowd nor the environment were ready to give Bennet a freebie.

He gave a ravishing speech, full of neat invective. Then looked up and realized he still had 14 minutes on the clock. Oof. That was most of it, and he'd already done the Floss and the Robot and the Electro Shuffle, and honestly his shoulder was a little stiff from all that dance practice. So he opened the floor for questions.

Now, that was not the greatest idea. For one, this was not the type of place for such a thing. They called it a soapbox because you were meant to live out the phrase "on a soapbox" by ranting and fist-pounding and all other theatrics.

The Bernie Sanders supporters hadn't arrived en masse yet, so most of the people around the stage were clad in Trump gear. And they all had their hands up ready to ask him questions. Well, firebombs, really, masked as interrogative statements. Bennet shouted without breathing, then said, "I want to find a non-male person who has a question."

This did not sit well with the males who did not like the trend of personalizing all things, cautious gendering, and the sudden change of direction so that now they had to just listen.

Most people did not care.

"I do not support Bernie's plan," Bennet shouted. But would you believe the Bernie supporters had literally just arrived, you could smell their hair dye.

They jeered, then acted exactly — and I mean exactly — like the Trump supporters.

"I would rather support free pre-school than free college," he shouted. "Many people talk about... " but the jeering was too powerful. And the Bernie supporters had likely just had quinoa açaí bowls at their pre-Bernie brunch, so they were unstoppable. Well God bless the man for scratching "Give Presidency a Try" off his bucket list. Because at least he had a bucket list.

What did they have? Student debt and a restraining order? They being the growing factions of Bernie and Trump supporters in the audience. You could not see any pavement. It was just people and faces like the Mediterranean in the evening, all the way to the towering walls of the Grandstand.

Looking out at all that chaos, all that latent disaster, Bennet must have felt a deep stirring.

The night before, Slipknot headlined at the Grand Stand, a sold-out show. Rollicking and bursting and howling. How many drumbeats could drummer Jay Weinberg get per minute? At one point, vocalist Corey Taylor unleashed a demonic bellow, then adjusted his mask and looked out to all those people, those devoted fans, because many of them had Slipknot tattoos, and maybe he, like Bennet, indulged a moment for himself, a personalization of the grand setting, then shrieked, then persuaded the audience to lift their hands into the air, maybe toward a constellation of their choosing, and extend their middle finger like it was an egg landing on a pillow, which symbolizes the human condition.




New installments to this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. For live updates, check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

President Trump couldn't personally make it to Houston for the 3rd Democratic Debate, so he paid $7,500 for a single-engine Cessna to fly in circles over Texas Southern University campus while pulling a banner that said, "Socialism will kill Houston's economy! Vote Trump 2020!"

For four hours, it chugged around up there. You could hear it everywhere. It was the soundtrack of the night.

You can just imagine Trump's face as he had the banner-plane idea. You can hear him putting in the order. You can see his list of demands. And at the very top, "I WANT THE LOUDEST PLANE YOU CAN FIND!!!"

*

Was that Bret Baier in the aisle, adjusting his reading glasses and thumbing at the strap of his comically small backpack as he crossed the blue-carpeted gymnasium? He looked like the human version of Wisconsin. He was saying something but all you could hear was the plane overhead.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Bret Baier, the stoic host of "Special Report with Bret Baier" on Fox News and the network's chief political anchor. He's underrated, if you ask me. Legacy. Old-school. He just delivers the news, which is what most people want. He talks the way anchors used to talk, with the American accent unique to news anchors even though he was born in New Jersey and raised in Georgia.

I had spent the last year-and-a-half on a series of in-depth profiles on some of the major countercultural figures of our time. People like Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, and Carol Swain. So my first impulse was to rush over to Baier and profile the guy. Nobody else would, after all. The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper's. But they ought to. The man has a hell of a story.
He joined Fox News a year-and-a-half after it was founded, as the southeast correspondent in Atlanta. A few years later, on a Tuesday in September, nineteen terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners and crashed into America.

When the first plane hit, Fox producers told Baier to just get in his car and drive to New York City. They needed back-up reporters for the next day. When the second plane crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m., they said, "Step on it, Baier."

He and his producer were an hour outside Atlanta when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon. Still a good 8 hours away, but closer to D.C. than to New York City. So they re-routed to Arlington, Virginia, as fast as they could. Past a blur of fields full of indifferent cows. Past houses full of people who could hardly talk, people who couldn't describe what they were seeing and hearing, all the smoke and the blood and the office-supply confetti. Past towns that barely moved, gas stations with nobody in them, people sunken into a far-away stare.

Yet there was the sun, with only a few bangles of cloud every so often. America had been paralyzed but the earth kept trucking along, quiet and unbothered. It must have felt strange for Baier, to speed down empty highways — toward literal death and chaos — under a perfect sky, below cascading light and color.

Nature doesn't care if we make it out alive.

*

That day, Baier reported live from a Citgo station across the street from the Pentagon, rubble in heaps of flame behind him. It was like he'd fallen onto a different planet and was reporting back to home.

The next day arrived and it was so quiet everywhere. Nobody knew a damn thing. We could not believe our eyes. We all turned to reporters and anchors for answers. Most often, they blurted out whatever they could.

Something about Bret Baier gave audiences a much-needed boost. Reliable, sturdy. Like he said what had to be said and not a word extra.

Fox kept him in D.C., indefinitely. A friend helped him find an apartment. He never went back to Atlanta. Two weeks later, Fox News appointed him Pentagon correspondent, a position that saw him travel the world, including 13 trips to Afghanistan and 12 to Iraq.

Halfway through George W. Bush's second term, Baier became Fox News' White House correspondent.

Then, a year before he would earn his current position as anchor, Baier became a father. His son was born with holes in his heart — five congenital heart defects. Twelve days later, the boy underwent open-heart surgery. Baier and his wife waited in tiled rooms drenched with flowers and ESPN and drab ultraviolet light, surrounded by machines full of beeps and whirring and beeps and whirring.

Baier's son has since undergone two additional open-heart surgeries, nine angioplasties, and one stomach operation. In an interview with Parents Magazine, Baier said that his son's health problems have "given me perspective about my job, going through policy and politics in Washington, D.C., to see the bigger picture."

*Part of the reason I couldn't tell whether or not it was Baier is he's usually up on the main stage. For the 2012 election, he moderated five Republican debates, and co-anchored FNC's America's Election HQ alongside Megyn Kelly.

The 2016 election would propel him into a much larger role. He anchored three Republican debates, but this time he had to handle Donald Trump.

Baier knew Trump personally, from before the election. They'd played golf together. He described Trump as "a nice guy outside of his TV persona" and never thought Trump would actually make a run for the Presidency. Onstage, Trump was much different. And Baier had been tasked with maintaining control.

A devout Roman Catholic, he appreciates a nice glass of wine and a fine cut of steak. He likes a good joke, too. In January, 2019, Baier signed a multi-year deal with Fox News to continue "Special Report." A few weeks later, he and his family went to Montana for a ski trip. The weekend was wonderful. But they had to get back to New York because Baier was scheduled to appear on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" that Tuesday.

Imagine him, again in a car hurtling toward a fateful destination. How he squinted through the frost-pocked windshield and gripped the steering wheel. As he guided the white SUV along the two-lane road to the airport. The land looked haunted, barren, lifeless. Everywhere, the world was frozen white. Snow and ice blanketing the fields, gauze over the sky.

At some anonymous intersection, Baier pumped the brakes, but the tires hit an ice patch, and the SUV spun loose. An oncoming car slammed into the driver's side, launching the vehicle into an embankment, wedged on its side. A man named Zach stopped his pickup truck and helped the family crawl free, and the Montana Highway Patrol rushed them to the hospital.

"Don't take anything for granted," Baier tweeted later. "Every day is a blessing and family is everything. It's always good to remind yourself of that before something does it for you."

Before every debate that he moderates, Baier spends 10 minutes alone, praying.

*

A Freedom of Information Act request in 2011 revealed that Fox News was actually right. That the Obama Administration really did hate them. And had intentionally excluded them from a press pool two years earlier. Then laughed about it.

The documents unearthed snarky emails between various high-ranking aides in the Obama Administration. In one, the Deputy White House communications director bemoaned Baier's reporting on the bias. "I'm putting some dead fish in the [Fox News] cubby — just cause Bret Baier is a lunatic." That same day, deputy press secretary Josh Earnest bragged in an email that "we've demonstrated our willingness and ability to exclude Fox News from significant interviews."

The Trump administration pulled a similar stunt in July, 2018 by banning a CNN reporter from the press pool. Trump and Fox News had developed a beneficial relationship by then. And CNN was a lifelong competitor, a public enemy.
That night, Baier delivered an official statement, "This decision to bar a member of the press is retaliatory in nature and not indicative of an open and free press. We demand better. As a member of the White House press pool, Fox stands firmly with CNN on this issue of access."

Fox News rebuked Trump in solidarity with CNN. It was a heartening gesture between two seeming enemies. Fox News were standing up for truth, defending journalism, rejecting tyranny even though the ban would have benefitted them as a company.

Who knows how many books and dissertations and articles have been written about Fox News, usually in relation to bias, usually with a scathing tone. The conclusions differ wildly, yet each one claims certitude.

Generally, academics and journalists have taken a doomsday tone when talking about Fox News. Accusations of evil, fear-mongering, bigotry, hatred, misinformation, propaganda, racism, homophobia, and so on.

Despite these outcries, Fox News has consistently held its spot as the most-watched network in the country. Imagine how that makes its critics feel.

In an August 3, 2018 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Baier said, "the biggest problem is that the people who are most critical of Fox are usually people who have not watched Fox News."

Fox News is composed of two distinct departments. Punditry and straight news. Or "opinion news" and "descriptive news." Consistently, surveys of the public rate Fox News as both the least- and most-biased news network.
Last year, a survey found Fox News to be the second most-trusted television news brand in the country, after the BBC.

In a separate study, Democrats rated its bias score at (negative) -87, while Republicans placed it at (positive) +3. Which is like if, at a football game, one referee said "Touchdown," while the other referee said "Turnover, leading to Touchdown for the Defense." It can't be both, can it?

Public opinion may not be the best metric for understanding Fox News, especially in 2019.

Quantitative studies have offered clearer conclusions. In 2016, a content analysis used crowdsourcing and machine learning to examine over 800,000 news stories published over a year by 15 major outlets, from the New York Times to Fox News. They wanted to chart media bias.

What they discovered is that news outlets are far more similar than we believe. Much of the perceived bias is a matter of separating "opinion news" from "descriptive news." For conservatives, it's punditry. For those on the left, it's op-eds and long form investigative pieces, although the left tends to insist that they're not biased, that they are instead just more apt to tell the truth, even though research has disproven this belief.

The researchers found a much larger bias-divide in opinion news, whereas descriptive news was practically neutral. One of the researchers described Fox News' descriptive news as "guided by similar news values as more traditional, legacy media."

University of California Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild wrote that "Fox News stands next to industry, state government, church, and the regular media as an extra pillar of political culture all its own."

Say what you want about Fox News, they play a crucial role in the so-called mainstream media. And, despite what Fox News will lead you to believe, they are definitely part of the mainstream. And they are by no means the innocent victim. And certainly not powerless. And they have all kinds of problems that I will not defend. But we'll talk about that in a later installment, the one about Kamala Harris at a gun control rally, advocating for propaganda.

*

After two months of political events, I suspected that different news networks have their own signifiers, like the distinct stripes and markings on various spiders.

Wall Street Journal reporters tended to carry old-timey notepads and interview any bystander they could find. Breitbart usually only sent one person, and he wandered around with his iPhone, recording every single thing. Politico, prim-suited men who could just as easily work on the stock market.

Most of the reporters dressed like that, in stagey business attire. Prim for a high school job fair. Meanwhile, the photographers, mostly men, looked like professional paintball players. The camera crews and technical staff were the only ones decked in tattoos and wearing sandals and generally not caring about the chaos all around them. On-camera talent were covered in makeup and shrink-wrapped into dresses or suits with chip-clips along the spine.

The Washington Post sent the classiest and most bored-looking people I have ever encountered. They never looked at their laptops as their fingers chopped at the keys, and you assumed they were pretending until you read their stories online. You could spot ABC because their camera crew wore faded red ABC hats. Associated Press looked like they had just come back from a battlefield assignment in Syria, and never donned the same press credentials as everyone else, preferring a tattered AP lanyard. And you always knew when someone was with the New York Times because they announced it to the entire room.

And Fox News? At democratic events, they usually hid. But not that day, in Houston, as Bret Baier walked up the aisle to a table a couple rows in front of me.

Most people arrived in the Media Filing Center several hours before the debate. Fox News got there just slightly after that, as everyone was wiggling in their seats and connecting their laptops to a shared outlet.

There were seven or so in the pack of Fox News, all grinning. They all had white to-go sacks from Chick-fil-A. And the room got quieter, so Trump's plane got louder. It was a double trolling event.

As host of the debate, ABC would be providing dinner. This information was included in the credentials email that all of us had received. So nobody else had brought food with them. No need.

Even better, I was familiar enough with that part of Houston to know that there was not a Chick-fil-A anywhere close to us. Who knew where they'd gotten that Chick-fil-A, but odds are it wasn't warm. Who knew if there was even any food in the bags.

They had brought Chick-fil-A into a building full of national media during the third Democratic Presidential debate. The 2020 election was already full of outrage about plenty of things, and one of them was Chick-fil-A. To some folks, the red chicken logo might as well have been a swastika. That very week LGBT activists had vehemently — cartoonishly — protested the opening of several Chick-fil-A's throughout North America. Chicken sandwiches had become yet another flag on the tug-of-war rope in the Culture War of our country.

To be clear, the political left was anti-Chicken and the political right was pro-Chicken. The media tended to lean anti-Chicken, and frequently wrote about anti-Chicken causes, often scolding pro-Chicken voices, or ignoring the struggles of the pro-Chicken community only to deny any opinion on Chicken at all. That was the cowardly part, of you ask me, the pretending like they weren't activists.

The Democratic candidates definitely leaned anti-Chicken. Sometimes they took it so far that it upset moderate anti-Chicken advocates. Because was it really so bad to eat Chicken? Couldn't you be anti-Chicken but also enjoy Chicken occasionally? Why did everything have to be either "all Chicken all the time unless you hate freedom" or "no chicken ever unless you support hate"?

The fight had spread everywhere. Airports, stadiums, malls, campuses. All had served as battlegrounds for the anti-Chicken versus the pro-Chicken.

The previous President was anti-Chicken. In fact, he may well have enflamed the entire movement. During his tenure, there were nationwide protests that saw pro-Chicken advocates angrily and proudly eating Chicken while anti-Chicken advocates protested outside and occasionally engaged in homosexual affection, which was being threatened by Chicken, according to them.

Every time the pro-Chicken folks bit into a Chicken sandwich, it was like they were gnawing away at the anti-Chicken people themselves. Degrading their identity. Because, for them, it was about the identity.

But the current President, unabashedly proud of his pro-Chicken stance, once served Chicken at the White House to some winning sports team, and the anti-Chicken activists saw it as proof that Chicken and hate go together. And maybe Chicken would even lead to the impeachment of the President they hate, which would mean the Vice President would become the President, but he's one of the most pro-Chicken people in America, so they'd have to impeach him, too. And the Supreme Court, it was overrun with pro-Chicken types.

This election, the Democratic front-runners competed for the bolder plan. They would end Chicken in America once and for all. They would obliterate our evil President and his Chicken Supremacy. Their stump speeches relied on harsh criticisms of pro-Chicken voters, who pretended to find the whole anti-Chicken movement amusing but were secretly enraged by it. In fact, they were certain that the anti-Chicken movement had been systematically silencing them for years, and that they had to fight for their Chicken in order to keep everything that they valued, even all the not-Chicken.

The media and the democrats and Hollywood and academia — all hated the Chicken, because they hated the pro-Chicken people. If they had their way, no more Chicken, ever again. And no more pro-Chicken deplorables. And tonight the anti-Chicken politico-culture complex would prove it, with long rants which get confirmed by glowing articles, calculated takedowns about the merits of anti-Chicken and the evils of pro-Chicken.

Yet here was Fox News, with actual Chicken. And they were smiling. Maybe in part because the police who were guarding us all tended to be pro-Chicken. And this was Texas, after all, an incredibly pro-Chicken state. But there were 49 other states and 14 territories, and all of them were fighting for or against Chicken.

Some experts even said we were on the cusp of a Civil War.


New installments to this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. For live updates, check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

We've heard the catchphrase "follow the money" so often that it's nearly a joke. It gained added attention in the 1976 movie All the President's Men, which follows the story of the two journalists who uncovered Watergate. "Follow the money," their source told them, "and you'll find corruption."

Problem is, corrupters hide their bad behavior remarkably well. They are masters of disguise. But if you look closely enough, you can spot the seams splitting in their choreographed routine.

One technique that magicians use for psychological misdirection is called the false solution. The goal is to distract the audience, to make them believe that they know what's really happening. All the while, the machinations of the actual trick are happening right in front of them, because "implanting an unlikely and unfamiliar idea in the mind can prevent participants from finding a more obvious one."

Billions of dollars. Lost. Gone.

I want to tell you a story of tremendous corruption, masked cleverly, using many of the same techniques that magicians have used for centuries. Only it's not a rabbit disappearing into a hat or a coin vanishing behind an ear. It's billions of dollars. Lost. Gone.

And the people responsible are the same people who have been so monstrously worked up about Trump's impeachment. The same people screaming about Trump's malfeasance with Ukraine are actually the ones misbehaving in Ukraine.

It's essentially an elevated, highly organized form of projection. Only instead of one person lashing out at the world, it's an entire political party, right up to the top. The very top. Barack Obama. It's right there on video.

Or how about the audio recording we uncovered, with Artem Sytnyk, Director of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine, openly admitting a connection between the DNC and Ukraine?

So far, the story told by the Democrats and the media has been about Trump and Ukraine. Every so often, you hear mention of Joe Biden's dubious history with the war-torn country.

We were the first to talk about Joe Biden's connections to Ukraine back in April, with our candidate profile on Biden.

It turns out, the whole debacle was much worse than we thought. It stretched further than Uncle Joe. What we found out is that the DNC was working with the Ukrainian government.

This isn't a conspiracy theory. And we have the documents to prove it.

Read on to discover everything you need for a 30-second elevator pitch that you can give to your friend and say, "Look, here's what you need to know. Here's what's really going on."

If anyone is guilty, they should go to jail.

Last night, in Ukraine: The Democrats' Russia I revealed the elaborate misdirection taking place.

I said it last night and I'll say it again: If Trump is guilty, he should go to jail. If anyone is guilty, they should go to jail. Because this is too important to the Republic.

Watch the hands, follow the money.

Here are the documents, video, and audio that we found in our reporting. This is the hard evidence that will help you explain this unbelievable situation to other people.



  • June 2016 State Department memos detailing contacts between George Soros' office and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.




As you can see, we did a lot of research on this, and we've done our best to condense it for you. It still requires you to do your own homework, but there's a tremendous freedom to that.

You are seeking the truth.

You are bucking the mainstream media. You are rejecting them. And you are seeking truth. Because they abandoned truth a long time ago and they certainly aren't interested in recovering it now.