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That Horrible, Awful, Elitist, Left-Wing New York Times!

Reported by Marie Therese - March 18, 2005

On Wednesday's O'Reilly Factor, Bill and his guests FOX News Military Analyst Colonel David Hunt and University of Virginia Law Professor Rosa Brooks discussed an article about Iraqi inmate deaths in the 3/16/05 edition of the New York Times. The Colonel and O'Reilly naturally offered a rousing defense of the U.S. military and roundly condemned that liberal rag, the New York Times. Professor Brooks took the position that the Times articles was not distorted and was, in fact, based on information from numerous sources inside of the military and the Department of Defense.

For a goodly chunk of the segment, the good professor held her own against O'Reilly and Hunt, even though she was being interviewed by satellite while the Colonel was comfortably ensconced with O'Reilly at FOX News central. She was the recipient of numerous interruptions, cut-offs and overtalking. She even laughed a few times and obviously found the whole process just a little ridiculous.

In the first exchange Colonel Hunt quibbled over numbers, stating that there were not 26 inmate deaths, but only four, arguing that the Times had misrepresented the numbers and based their reportage on the word of one disgruntled ex-Army officer.

HUNT: ...It's old information. They [the Times] didn't check. They didn't do their homework. They threw out a number that's wrong. The number's four ...

O'REILLY: Not 26?

HUNT: Absolutely not....

Ms. Brooks responded that the Times had used the Church report as one of its sources and that report noted that six murder cases had already been settled. She went on to comment that she guessed Colonel Hunt was "calling Vice Admiral Church a liar, too. It was the Church report that actually said that there were six that they knew of, that they had closed, documented as criminal homicides."

Of course the FOX viewers didn't get to hear the last five or six words because - true to form - O'Reilly interrupted her to say "Well six is a lot different than 26" - completely ignoring the fact that - by agreeing with her larger number - he labelled Colonel Hunt a liar for insisting on the number four.

Colonel Hunt, a member of the "American military can do no wrong and even if they do something wrong it's the best damned military in the world so leave them alone" school of thought avowed " ... We don't like to torture. The Agency doesn't - the CIA - doesn't like it because you don't get the information you need and it's very - it's been an aggressive questioning but none of that happened."

O'REILLY (to Professor Brooks): Did you believe the article?

BROOKS: I did believe the article. .. And let me say a word about biased reporting here. One of the things that actually struck me about the article was that the New York Times actually cites 11 sources, 9 of those 11 sources are from the US military or Defense Department. Only two are outsiders. Of the named sources - there are five named sources - four of them are from the US military or Defense Department. Only one is an outside.

HUNT: For me the issue is very clear - that the US government is being accused of murder. They're sanctioning murder. ... It's not true. There were, again, hundreds - we had hundreds of cases. It happens we had 40,000 prisoners in Iraq. There were mistakes made. There's no question. And this is the country that says "We made mistakes." It's very open about it ...

BROOKS: Oh, I don't think anybody's accusing the US of sanctioning murder ...

HUNT: Yes. Yes, they are!

O'REILLY: No. They are.

HUNT: The New York Times is and now you are!

BROOKS: No. I think the issue is how do we prevent this, how do we punish people who have committed abuses and how do we prevent future abuses.

HUNT (overtalks her last 10 words): No. No. No. No. You just said .... Look. You said you believe it, the New York Times accusing the military of ...

O'REILLY: Well, let me just re-read the headline, so we'll settle this argument right now. (reads) "US Military says 26 inmate deaths may be homicides." Now, they did put "may be homicides" in there, but certainly that is an accusation, madame. I mean, it's an accusation. There's no question about it."

BROOKS: It's an accusation and I don't .. quite see why we're all being so defensive. Let's say we're trying to ....

[COMMENT: With this answer, Ms. Brooks lost the upper hand in the debate. By agreeing that the New York Times headline was accusatory (which it is not), she allowed O'Reilly to frame the argument and dictate the course of the rest of the segment.]

BROOKS: We have one of the best militaries in the world.

HUNT: We have THE best.

BROOKS: I'd like to think that we do have the best military in the world. It would shock me, frankly, if there weren't abuses and there weren't deaths.

O'REILLY (overtalks last 4 words): I agree with you. I agree with you but ...

BROOKS: The point is to be open about it. The point is to punish them ...

HUNT: We have.

BROOKS: ... if they [did this?] And the point is to put into ... place whatever mechanisms we need to have [in order] to prevent this.

O'REILLY (overtalks her entire statement): But, the point of the matter is - and I don't think there's any question about this, Miss Brooks - that the New York Times is trying to say on a daily basis almost that it [the military] is out of control - torture, murder - in this country.

BROOKS (overtalks last 5 words): I - you're, you're reading a different New York Times than I'm reading.

O'REILLY: No. I'm not. I got 48 Abu Graib stories, far more than any other newspaper in the world, far more!

BROOKS: One of the things that always strikes me as funny here is the number of folks that talk about liberal media. It's one of those things that, if you say it often enough, unfortunately, people start to believe it. It's just not true.

HUNT: Who [said it on the air?]

O'REILLY: I did. I did. I said it.

BROOKS: Look at all the letters to the editor of the angry liberals, who say the New York Times is a lapdog for the Bush administration.

O'REILLY: Alright. Well, we've documented - I have to, I have to - I don't want to gang up on you. I'm gonna give you the last word, Miss Brooks. There's a study we cited yesterday, alright, that proved the elite media in this country is left-wing, alright? It was a study done by Columbia University - Excellence in Journalism. It proved it flat out. Read the study. There's no question about it. So there it is!

[COMMENT: As usual, Bill O'Reilly misinterpreted Columbia University's recent study on Excellence in Journalism. See Chrish's earlier post on this topic.]

BROOKS: Bill, if the New York Times is left-wing, then ...

O'REILLY: So, if you don't believe it, if you don't believe the New York Times is left-wing, I can't - there's nothin' I can tell ya'.

BROOKS: If the New York Times is left-wing, then I am Sean Hannity. I think the real issue ..

O'REILLY: Aw! Jeesh!

BROOKS: Why don't you do an issue on why the war in Iraq is going badly? Why don't you do a segment on why our allies are pulling out of the coalition?

O'REILLY: Alright. We'll get into that another day. We got our accusation that there were 26 murders by US forces. (to Col. Hunt) You go. Wrap it up.

HUNT: The New York Times has missed it again. There are not 26 murders. There are 4 and the Admiral's report that this woman is quoting ...

O'REILLY: The Church report.

HUNT: The Church report is not confirming 26 murders. They are accusing the US government of sanctioning murder by US forces. Didn't happen.

O'REILLY: Alright.

HUNT: We had mistakes made.

BROOKS: I hope that your viewers are gonna read the article for themselves.

O'REILLY: I do, too. I want everybody to read the article.

HUNT: Absolutely. So do I.

O'REILLY: I think we all do. And we want everybody to make up thier minds as well.

HUNT: The New York Times is wrong.

O'REILLY: OK. Professor. Colonel.


Colonel Hunt made sure that he got in the last word before O'Reilly signed off. As I tell my students when they are scheduled to perform in a recital or competition: Do your best, have fun but make sure that you really wow 'em with the last ten measures because the ending is what the listener remembers.

Colonel Hunt knows this little trick, too. He grabbed the "coda" of this segment and left FOX viewers with the categorical statement "The New York Times is wrong." We all know that the average FOX viewer did not immediately run to his/her computer and dutifully read the New York Times article. Quite the opposite. It is more likely that they nodded their heads and agreed with the Colonel because, after many years of intensive brainwashing and behavioral modification by the likes of Limbaugh and O'Reilly, like Pavlov's dog, when they hear the words "New York Times," they growl and show their teeth, convinced that it is a waste of their valuable time to read such a hateful biased mouthpiece for the liberal elite.

As Professor Brooks said above: "One of the things that always strikes me as funny here is the number of folks that talk about liberal media. It's one of those things that, if you say it often enough, unfortunately, people start to believe it."

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