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O'Reilly's breaking news turns out to be big PR stunt

Reported by Chrish - December 19, 2006 -

It was teased last week on The Factor (Thursday and Friday) that O'Reilly was "on assignment" and would have a major breaking news story tonight, Monday 12/18/06. Maybe "breaking news" was a bit of hyperbole, as O'Reilly reported his first-hand experiences thanking about 3,000 American troops in Iraq and signing donated copies of his latest work of fiction, Culture Warrior.

His Talking Points Memo detailed very little of his trip and he made sure to let viewers know he was privy to off-the-record information that he was not at liberty to share (with us commoners - how do they keep swallowing that "one of the folks" line?)

HIs tone was lecturing again, telling us we have to honor the troops and their service even if we don't support the mission. Here's a news flash: most of us can walk and chew gum, i.e. support the troops and oppose the war.

He did bring bad tidings, saying the Iraqi police are virtually useless, scared and/or corrupt, so it will be up to the Iraqi army to take over from the US troops. Again, no news there.

Perhaps Kasich misspoke and meant "exclusive interview" rather than "breaking news," but the latter builds much more anticipation and would presumably help bolster sagging ratings. Critically thinking Factor viewers (now there's an oxymoron for ya!) would have to wonder, on Thursday, how Kasich was predicting breaking news for Monday, and if it was indeed newsworthy and known Thursday, is it ethical to tease it for 4 days?

So the interview: General Martin Dempsey is now in charge of standing up the Iraqi army so ours can stand down. Dempsey denies the "perception in the United States" that the war in Iraq is a loser, contradicting the likes of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, or, as O'Reilly framed it, "the media says 'it's a loser.'"

It was a poor interview even though it was apparently heavily edited. O'Reilly was lackluster and sloppy in his questioning and indignantly cut off the general's answers at times. As an example, O'Reilly said "But, 3,000 American dead, and, you know, like, 15,000 wounded or something - you know, Americans are saying, 'not worth it.'" O'Reilly can stay up to date on the rising death and casualty toll at Iraq Coalition Casulaty Count, icasulaties.org, where today it is reported that 2,949 Americans have been killed and 22,057 have been wounded. Add in various medical evacuations and the non-mortal casualty figure is an under-reported 46,880, triple O'Reilly's guesstimate.

O'Reilly seems to have lost his enthusiasm for this war but has swallowed the latest rationale - we're in Iraq to protect the Middle East and indeed, the whole world, from Iran - hook, line and sinker. As he spreads fear of Ahmadinejad and his purported WMDs he would do well to remember who got us into this fiasco, and how. Skepticism is not a dirty word.