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O'Reilly: FOX Is a Network Under Fire

Reported by Marie Therese - August 7, 2004 -

The O'Reilly Factor. August 5, 2004. 8:39 PM to 8:45 PM EDT.
(Complete transcript of interview to be posted shortly & separately under title: "Transcript of O'Reilly-Block Interview, FNC, 8/5/2004".)

During his interview with Alex Ben Block, editor of Television Week, Bill O'Reilly revealed that FOX is a "network under fire almost on a daily basis from the liberal media primarily, which, for whatever reason, doesn't like us."

Mr. Block wrote a column in TV Week criticizing FOX for blacklisting a well-respected Associated Press reporter.

From Disinfopedia: Fox News:

"In July 2004, ODwyers PR Daily reported that an article by Alex Ben Block in TV Week revealed that FNC's media relations department has adopted the practice of blacklisting journalists critical of the network. Included on the blacklist are David Bauder, an AP TV reporter who offended FNC by writing on the departure of Paula Zahn to CNN."

"Block quotes FNC's media minder, Irena Briganti, stating 'Why we're not dealing with him is that he treated us completely unfairly ... He took a story when we were just doing our job, being a resource, and made(the Fox publicist) a part of the story.'"

"Others on the blacklist include Mike James, the editor of TV news industry website NewsBlue (who called a FNC anchor a 'bonehead') and Baltimore Sun reporter David Folkenflik, for reporting that Geraldo Rivera had claimed that he was at a battle in Afghanistan when he wasn't."

"'You know, everyone tries to hold us accountable. The reporters should be held accountable for what they do. A lot of media relations people won't do that. Well, we do,' FNC flack Robert Zimmerman told TV Week." (end of excerpt)

Mr. Block notes in the 8/5 O'Reilly Factor interview that such a scorched earth policy vis a vis critics is hardly business-as-usual in most PR departments:

BLOCK: "What I wrote about is a public relations department that, yes, gets hundreds of calls and, compared to other news organizations and other corporate organizations I've dealt with, is much more demanding, much tougher. PR people, typically, are a bunch of pussy cats. They're there to help you, to be a resource."

O'REILLY (overtalks): OK. That's fair enough. Fair enough.

BLOCK (keeps speaking): This is not the way it works at FOX News.

During this interview, Bill O'Reilly defends the quasi-siege mentality at FOX News and lashes out at an unnamed "smear merchant":

O'REILLY (8:40 PM): "But we want to persuade people, all people, that we are a fair operation here, that we - you just heard the guy, Krugman, saying, 'Oh, they get memos' and, you know what he's doing, he's taking this from a smear movie that cut and paste all this kind of propaganda."

"Sure FOX News issues a morning briefing. Every network does, alright, but this isn't unusual, but he takes it in the way the smear merchants want him to take it, 'cause he's a puppet. Now, if Krugman wants to come on The Factor and debate, I'll take him all day long. If Krugman wants to roam around the building, I'm not lettin' him in, because we're not gonna get a fair shake from him and that's, I think, the point here."

Later O'Reilly returns to this theme:

O'REILLY (8:43 PM): "OK. We have been attacked more viciously than any channel in the history of American television, so you must have tough guys at the door, bouncers, if you will, because these people are blatantly dishonest. You know this smear merchant stole video from us, stole video over an eight-year period and put it out. Anybod - I could make you, Mr. Block, look like a communist, a fascist, a muslim or a mudwrestling woman, if I get eight years of video and cut and paste it. You know what I'm talkin' about here."


When we News Hounds were in New York for the premiere of the "smear movie" Mr. O'Reilly alludes to here (Outfoxed), as a lark, a few of us decided to go and take pictures of ourselves in front of the FOX News HQ.

There we were, a giggling group of women who had met only a few days before, after collectively working unpaid for 18 hours a day over four months to provide the initial research for "Outfoxed". We were exhilarated by the reception we'd received at the premiere the night before, so, I'm sure, to those milling around the FOX atrium, we looked like what we were - happy tourists from all parts of the United States having a great time taking pictures of ourselves in front of FOX News.

So it was no surprise that a young man, a FOX employee, approached us and asked if we'd like to be in the audience for "Dayside With Linda Vester". We burst into laughter and told him that that probably wasn't such a good idea. Being a dutiful employee with a task to complete, he gently tried to persuade us to come inside. For one brief moment we actually considered it. However, we had other things planned.

He really wanted us to attend and tried valiantly to talk us into it. At one point we told him that he probably wouldn't want us in the audience. His persistence and amiability were charming and we realized he was just doing his job (very well, I might add), so, finally, in order to get him to stop, we told him that we had worked on the movie "Outfoxed" and that he really didn't want us in the audience.

He looked startled, then blurted out, completely spontaneously, "Thanks for telling me. I would have lost my job." He left quickly.

That about says it all, doesn't it?