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O'Reilly honors KIA soldiers by ignoring them

Reported by Chrish - February 12, 2007 -

Bill O'Reilly has been pretty cold towards the late Anna Nicole Smith, saying he feels no sympathy for her and using her death, which he insists was the result of drug abuse, as a cautionary tale. All the while he claimed to be disgusted by the press coverage he was right in the thick of it, and had the audacity to excuse his callousness by saying he reserves his sympathy for our troops - whom he never mentions except as political pawns.

On February 8th, the day Smith died, O'Reilly pre-empted his Talking Points Memo, which was relegated to "the Impact Segment." (I don't understand the necessity of such rigidity in adhering to the sequence of segment titles. All I can conclude is they don't want to throw their regular viewers off too far; it might be upsetting. It has apparently thrown the FOX News webmaster for a loop too; as of right now the headlines of his TPMs and the embedded graphics are off by a day.) He got right to Smith, something I don't recall ever seeing done in my time monitoring The Factor. To his guests he protested "I had no interest in her, because she wasn't doing anything, and I've got to pay attention to the war and politicians and all this business..." and then proceeded to devote a quarter of the show to her.

The TPM/Impact Segment was devoted to the war in a tangential manner - a five-minute tirade against "the far-left" and liberal media, specifically this time the Houston Chronicle, NBC, and the Washington Post, as Deborah reported 2/08/07. The Arkin story was revisited later in the show with Jane Hall and Bernie Goldberg. After spending about a minute and a half with them on the death of ANS, O'Reilly said "let's get to something that matters - not to say that Miss Smith's death doesn't matter, but you know, when it stacks up against people dying in a war, you know, ok..." He then proceeded into another two-and-a-half minutes tirade against Arkin, and that's his contribution to covering the Iraq war - you know, the important stuff. Like the use of a verboten word on a blog by someone (a four-year Army veteran) who's not a big fan of the military.

A third segment later in the show, with guest Greta Van Susteren, went on for over 3 minutes, making the allocation of airtime for the day about 3:2, Smith over "Iraq coverage" which was no such thing - it was bashing a competitor.

An email read aloud the following night, Friday 2/09/07, said the writer was disgusted with O'Reilly because he said Smith's death was not as important as the deaths of soldiers in Iraq, to which BOR replied "I stand by that, ma'am."

Ironically, he had just spent a large part of his program talking about Ms. Smith. After a two-minute TPM on the perils of celebrity and drug abuse, he introduced a guest from the National Enquirer with "If ever there was a story for the National Enquirer, this is it." Helloooo! The tabloid reporter and the National Enquirer guy spent 4 minutes talking in-depth about details of Smith's life and death. The Impact Segment, which apparently must follow TPM or else, included a lawyer for Smith's deceased husband and a discussion of the legal and financial aspects of her death - 3 minutes for that angle.

Another ANS segment featured Geraldo Rivera (whose upcoming weekend program, "Tragic Beauty", about you-know-who, was promoted during The Factor) where, after 4 minutes debating whether or not we "should" feel sorry for her, O'Reilly paid more lip service to the troops. He said he had to do the obligatory reporting last night, it was breaking news, (Not: it had been covered the entire hour of The Big Story three hours earlier) and (looking right at the camera and acting, I swear to God) "I said, now we're gonna go, we're gonna talk about Iraq and the soldiers there dying, which is a lot more important than Anna Nicole Smith. I said that, on this show.' I'm here to tell you, he said no such thing. He said "let's get to something that matters - not to say that Miss Smith's death doesn't matter, but you know, when it stacks up against people dying in a war, you know, ok..." and then proceeded to bash (see above). O'Reilly put on his best Cavuto-ish soft, concerned voice and talked for a moment about how important the men and women in Iraq are, and how he can't get all excited about ANS when we got that goin' on over there. One wonders how he gets all het up about librul judges and sexy teachers and wayward columnists, when we got that goin' on over there. Anyway, 4-and-a-half minutes for this segment, where we learned that O'Reilly has (in his own words) no sympathy for this woman.

So this night, not counting teasers, promos, and the emails viewers sent about the previous night's coverage, BOR spent 13-and-a-half minute (m/l) on Anna Nicole Smith, and zero on Iraq - unless you count the 3-and-a-half minutes bashing Arkin, GE, NBC and the Washingtom Post for the incendiary columns about the troops. I guess O'Reilly feels that those segments, bashing detractors, are tantamount to reporting on the war.

Tonight there was only one segment on Smith, three minutes, and nothing on Iraq. "Because of viewer interest" the new poll question is "Do you feel sorry for ANS?" The letters segment was still heavy on Smith, and BOR used the opportunity to again declare his limited capacity for caring. One writer agreed that a soldier's death in Iraq is more important than ANS and people who are upset with his comment (above) should be ashamed. This prompted a speech from O'Reilly: "It might be my fault, (as near as he can get to an apology, it seems) but I appreciate your kind words. The death of any human being should not be taken lightly, which is why I oppose the death penalty. But as far as sympathy is concerned, mine primarily lies with our armed forces."

So why did we have this obscene tabloid coverage of a celebrity's death and virtually no coverage of what's going on in Iraq? And the Persian Gulf? And North Korea? Why did he scold the Houston Chronicle for wanting to show flag-draped coffins? If the deaths of our soldiers in Iraq is so important and reverence-inspiring, why don't we ever hear about it anymore? Factor viewers are probably unaware that the current death toll, as of today, is 3,125, with over ten times that number wounded and airlifted out.

Readers who want to honor the fallen can participate in a living on-line memorial, The Iraq veteran's Memorial. Please visit.