Friday, January 30, 2015

Amid hubbub over the RNC trip to Israel in cahoots with American Family Association crackpots, AFA's super-crackpot Bryan Fischer is dumped


You know my sad history with non-YouTube video embedding. If the clip doesn't play, watch it onsite.

by Ken

Noah tipped me the other night to Rachel Maddow's report on weird doings growing out of the Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus's scheme to take a bunch of his people on an all-expenses paid trip to Israel -- with those expenses paid by the American Family Association, which sounds like just another right-wing propaganda outfit but, as we've had frequent occasion to note, is in fact one of the more incendiary hotbeds of American crackpottery, thanks in good part to one of the Right's more notorious crackpots, Bryan Fischer, who until Wednesday was the organization's director of issue analysis. At that point, however, he was suddenly and summarily relieved of any role as a spokesman for the AFA, though he remains a talk-show host for them.

(You'll recall that Bryan was a nominee for Noah's 2014 Crazyspeak of the Year Award -- and while he didn't cop the coveted award, but as Noah pointed out, when it comes to right-wing crazyspeak, all the nominees were winners.)

The timing is mysterious, in that Fischer hasn't said anything different from what he's been saying from time immemorial. It may just be coincidence that the separation occurred just as the RNC is having to answer questions about the Israel trip in cahoots with AFA, after Haaretz published a story about the trip, with Israelis voicing notable lack of enthusiasm for the aegis of the impending American Republican crusade to the Holy Land. (In the clip, Rachel talks to the reporter of the Haaretz story, Debra Nussbaum Cohen.)

Here is Steve Benen's MaddowBlog report.
The Rachel Maddow Show / The MaddowBlog
AFA ousts Bryan Fischer as group spokesperson

01/29/15 08:00 AM—UPDATED 01/29/15 04:30 PM

By Steve Benen

For those unfamiliar with Bryan Fischer, the religious right leader is practically a real-life caricature of an evangelical radical. Fischer, a prominent voice for the American Family Association for many years, makes ugly and ridiculous comments – about minority faiths, about gays, about Democrats, et al – on a nearly daily basis.

But going forward, Fischer will no longer make ugly and ridiculous comments in his capacity as a spokesperson for the AFA. Rachel reported on the show last night that the AFA has fired Bryan Fischer from his post:
“Fischer has been their director of issue analysis, the director of issue analysis for the American Family Association forever. He’s basically quoted everywhere for years now as the organization’s spokesman. […]

“The president of the American Family Association telling us tonight, that as of today, Bryan Fischer should no longer be described as the director of issue analysis for that group, he should not be quoted as a spokesman for the group. As of today, the American Family Association tells us that Bryan Fischer is, and I quote, ‘just a talk show host.’”
When “The Rachel Maddow Show” asked AFA President Don Wildmon what prompted Fischer’s ouster, Wildmon specifically referenced Fischer’s bizarre assertions connecting Nazis and homosexuality. Fischer, of course, originally made these remarks years ago, and has repeated related comments in the years since, but talking to us last night, Wildmon now says, “We reject that.”

As of last night, Fischer’s bio page on the AFA website has been removed.

The timing of this unexpected shakeup is probably not a coincidence: the American Family Association, despite years of right-wing extremism, is partnering with Reince Priebus and members of the Republican National Committee on a trip to Israel, which created an awkward dynamic. Why would the RNC team up with a group whose spokesperson says things like, “Counterfeit religions, alternative religions of Christianity have no right to the free exercise of religion”?

Nearly 100 RNC members are scheduled to participate in the AFA-sponsored Israel trip, which begins this weekend. It’s against this backdrop that, all of a sudden, Fischer is no longer the religious right group’s spokesperson.

Since our broadcast last night, Mediaite reported at 11:11 p.m. (ET), “For the sake of clarification, Fischer has been fired as a spokesperson and director of issues analysis, but is still a radio show host for the AFA.”

Around the same time, Fischer himself said on Twitter that his right-wing radio show will air today in its usual timeslot and on the same station.

We’ll have more on this as the story unfolds, but it seems at this point that the American Family Association has indeed fired Fischer as a spokesperson for the organization, but will keep him on as the host of an AFA-backed radio program. When AFA President Don Wildmon described Fisher as “just a talk show host,” the unstated subtext may have been “just our talk show host.”


And I'm not sure much will. Yes, there's an embarrassment here, but really, is the RNC (or its lustily reelected chairman, Reince Priebus) any stranger to embarrassment? If they have any brains they'll abort their Israel jaunt, or find a less toxic partner. But really, does anyone look to the RNC for smartness?

Or the AFA? So maybe, as Rachel notices in connection with "prophet" Cindy Jacbos and her embarrassing connection to GOP presidential hopeful Booby Jindal, some more Web pages will need to be disappeared. And here I have to suggest to Rachel that it doesn't matter whether they're scrubbed-clean removed, because Americans by and large just don't care about this stuff. Blow away the smoke from the smoking guns, and I'm not sure much of anything can even be said to happen.

That said, removing Bryan Fischer -- the man we see in Rachel's segment saying, "Counterfeit religions, alternative religions to Chritianity, have no First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion" -- from his AFA platform is a good thing. But even for the AFA this may be a gain. The organization hasn't suddenly become any less committed to the promulgation of ignorance and hate, but it becomes a tad less conspicuously egregious shorn of its most inflammatory mouthpiece.

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