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O'Reilly Describes Extremists, Discusses Hugo Chavez & Terrorism

Reported by Marie Therese - August 25, 2005

Last night [8/24/05] Bill O'Reilly delivered a nauseating Talking Points memo in which he labeled just about everyone in the world as "an extremist" (You can read it, if you REALLY want to, at FOX News).

Here's a sample:

O'Reilly: "... there's a problem with labeling someone an extremist. And that is they may be rational in most areas, but off the wall in a few. But I think we can safely establish some rules for the road here. An extremist is someone who rejects facts and holds on to opinions no matter what."

Here's my favorite. By inference O'Reilly labeled we News Hounds as extremists, saying: "If you think the documentary 'Outfoxed' tells the truth about this network, you're in the extreme zone."

His first interview segment featured two guests with opposite opinions about Pat Robertson's distinctly "extremist" call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugh Chavez. Stone-faced, deadpan Douglas MacKinnon, former Press Secretary to Bob Dole and former Defense Department spokesman who just returned from Venezuela, had little good to say about Chavez. MacKinnon recently wrote an article outlining - are you ready for this! - Venezuela's secret plans for developing nuclear weapons!!

[Comment: Is the administration setting us up for another phony war, complete with more of those WMDs Dubya couldn't find in his office? Douglas Mackinnon's whole demeanor during the following interview rang little alarms in my head, saying CIA black ops, CIA black ops, Chavez better watch out ....]

MACKINNON: "... in my opinion and in the opinion of a lot of people in our government Hugo Chavez represents an extreme threat not only to our nation but to our hemisphere ... because he's basically exporting terrorism throughout South America, Central America. He's - he's using the petrodollars that he's getting to prop up Cuba, to destabilize Brazil, to destabilize Colombia. ... If you have any government representative on from Colombia, and you ask them, they'll tell you - point blank - that he's funding the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia[ and the FARC is trying to destabilize Colombia."

After saying this, MacKinnon used a classic "non sequitur" [putting two or more unrelated statements together in such a way that the audience perceives them as connected, when, in fact, they are not] saying: "Not just my opinion but the opinion of anybody who's really studying that country. I just got back from Caracas after two weeks down there and the country's a mess, the city's a mess. It's very, very dangerous down there and Chavez is getting $65.00 a barrel and basically using that money not only to prop up his regime - he's basically a dictator in everything but name - but to go after the United States."

See how it works? First he mentioned the terrible situation in Venezuela. Then he mentioned $65.00 a barrel for oil. And finally he said Chavez is coming after the United States. Not one concrete statement about FARC or proffer of solid evidence that Chavez is funding FARC. It simply amazes me how many times this kind of technique is used by FOX News hosts and guests to mislead their audience!

Mackinnon spoke uninterrupted for two minutes before O'Reilly questioned the other guest, Deborah James of San Francisco-based Global Exchange. Ms. James is a senior fellow at the Oakland Institute and serves on the board of the California Coatlition for Fair Trade and Human Rights, the Fair Trade Association and the Center for Corporate Policy. She ably defended President Chavez, calling for the administration to strongly repudiate Pat Robertson's fatwah against President Hugo Chavez.

While FOX News aired stills of President Chavez with his arm around Fidel Castro, Ms. James noted that Chavez survived a referendum last year with 59% of the vote, that the election was "certified internationally as a free and fair vote" and that Chavez has a 70% popularity rating throughout South America. When O'Reilly claimed that former President Jimmy Carter said the election was fraudulent, she caught O'Reilly in a mistake, noting that the Carter Center and the Organization of American States had certified the election. Mackinnon nodded his head in agreement with her.

Deborah James noted that Chavez "is a democratically elected leader. Venezuela has absolute freedom of press, assembly, civil rights and every serious human rights organization has acknowledged the fact that Venezuela actually has - their human rights situation compares favorably to previous governments ...."

Later O'Reilly verbally confirmed the information about President Carter with Mackinnon, clearly demonstrating that he did not believe Ms. James. He was clearly annoyed that she asserted herself and at one point got a little testy.

O'REILLY: "You're makin' him sound like Tony Blair, Miss James, but Mr. Mackinnon, am I wrong about Carter?".

JAMES (overtalking him): What I'm saying is that he is ...

O'REILLY: Mr. Mackinnon, am I wrong about Carter?"

JAMES: Yes, you are wrong about Carter.

O'REILLY: Well let Mr. Mackinnon just jump in here, Miss James.

JAMES (overtalking, trying to make her point): The issue happening in Venezuela is that ...

MACKINNON: Bill...

O'REILLY (upset): Miss James ... Miss James ...

JAMES: ... there is a social transformation happening in the country ...

(MACKINNON makes a dismissive movement to indicate that he did not agree with her)

O'REILLY (points at camera): Alright. Let Mr. McKinnon jump in, OK? We have three individuals here.

MACKINNON: Liberals ...

JAMES: Yeah, well he talked for five minutes already.

MACKINNON: No I didn't, but liberals don't like you to talk. Jimmy Carter in fact did certify that election. It was a disgrace. He knows it was a disgrace. And one of the other things too I ....

JAMES (interrupting): He used the same monitoring techniques that he used on 50 other elections. It was the same monitoring technique.

O'REILLY: Well. look, if I'm wrong, I'm wrong. If Carter did certify it, then you're right Miss James.

Mackinnon's whole demeanor throughout was totally impassive, with little body movement and only the occasional sneer or smile to indicate his opinion. He spoke in a monotone. Deborah James, by contrast, seemed hysterical, pushy anbd strident and therefore she did not come across on-screen as well as she could have. However, she did get her points across, which is difficult to do when FOX News uses its tried and true "gang-up-on-the-lone-liberal" technique.

Towards the end of the interview Mackinnon asked James if she had been the Executive Director of the Venezuela Information Office. When she answered in the affirmative, he pounced, noting that Chavez funded that organization. She did not deny it, but continued to redirect the conversation back to the topic, i.e., the death threat issued by Pat Robertson.

Ms. James was a passionate and articulate spokesperson, and she valiantly tried to get her point across, i.e., that Venezuela does NOT fund terrorism, as earlier claimed by Mackinnon. After she listed the social improvements in Venezuela, O'Reilly quizzed her about terrorism.

O'REILLY: And no, no undermine - no funding of terrorists, Miss James? They don't fund terrorists at all?

JAMES: Absolutely not. There is not one shred of evidence ...

O'REILLY (under his breath): Uh...

JAMES: ... that Venezuela is doing that.

MACKINNON: They gave $1 million to Al Qaeda ...

JAMES (agitated): That's absolutely not true!!!

MACKINNON: ... right after September 11th.

JAMES: That is NOT TRUE!!

MACKINNON: It is true.

JAMES: There's not one shred of evidence. These so-called government officials ...

O'REILLY: I can't prove it ...

JAMES: .... they don't have any evidence.

O'REILLY (sharply): Miss James! (lowers voice) Miss James. I can't prove whether they gave money to Al Qaeda or not. I do believe they do help the communists in Colombia but I maybe I'm wrong. I was wrong about Carter.

JAMES: Well, it would be nice if our government actually had evidence for these baseless facts.

O'REILLY: Well, maybe they do and we'll look into it.

MACKINNON shakes his head "no.

JAMES: ... these baseless accusations

MACKINNON (monotone, robotic): We have to wake up to the threat of Hugo Chavez.

JAMES: The issue is that a key supporter of the Bush administration .... (Ms. James was referring to Pat Robertson here, I believe).

Both guest screens abruptly disappeared.


COMMENT

Oh, no!

Not the old Al Qaeda-WMD gambit again! Does the Bush administration actually think Americans are stupid enough to fall for the same lies a second time?!!

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me!

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