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O'Reilly and Malkin worried about powerful networks' faux objectivity leading up to 2008 election

Reported by Chrish - February 20, 2007 -

UPDATED WITH VIDEO

You know FOX is harping on all the negative coverage of Bush and the Iraq war, insisting that things are going better than portrayed by the so-called "liberal media." Tonight on the O'Reilly Factor there wasn't a peep about that war, or the rumors of a resurgent Al Queda in Pakistan, or Iran war games and our positioning in the Gulf, taking the old adage "no news is good news" to new heights. Things must be simply terrific in the Middle East! There was time, however, for another unprofessional (and weak, weak, weak) stab at rival NBC.

The NBC attack was well-placed in the the "Personal Story" segment, as the beef with the network is a personal one between O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann. O'Reilly played an eight-second clip (from February 13, 6 days ago) of NBC correspondent Chip Reid speaking with Anna Marie Cox (identified as Time Magazine contributor and former editor of "a Marxist magazine" (does he mean Mother Jones?); her work at the "Wonkette" blog was not mentioned) and claimed "more evidence NBC News is now a committed left-wing organization." In the clip, which broadcast shortly after Mitt Romney announced for president, Reid said to Cox: "He's barely out of the starting blocks and I'm going to go straight for the knees: number one, he's a Mormon, and Evangelicals have a problem, and number two, he's a flip-flopper." The clip ended abruptly, and O'Reilly repeated "he's a flip-flopper" and sarcastically berated Reid for his "nice objectivity."

As it happens, Romney is widely regarded and documented as a flip-flopper, a derogatory term coined at FOX News during the 2004 presidential election to describe Democrat John Kerry. Romney has been labeled a flip-flopper by the decidedly not liberal Rich Lowry at the National Review On-line, conservative Republican Sam Brownback (who said "Mitt Romney’s flip flops are enough to make John Kerry blush"), Outright Libertarians, and RightMarch.com, a conservative political action committee. Given that sampling, Reid was merely repeating the common wisdom as expressed by conservatives and not exhibiting "liberal bias." But to notoriously thin-skinned O'Reilly it was a liberal attack with nobody stickin' up for Romney.

NBC is still refusing to accommodate O'Reilly's demand for a list of paid analysts, more evidence (to him) that they are hiding something. O'Reilly repeats that anyone who wants to can got to the FOX News website and find their list right there (I won't give you the direct link - happy hunting) but the list is incomplete, leaving off such regular right-wing guests and contributors as Ann Coulter, Dick Morris, Bo Dietl, Danny Bonaduce, Rich Lowry, and Bob Novak. Does O'Reilly think that FOX News using unpaid media whores makes them somehow morally superior?

Guests Michelle Malkin (listed) and Kirsten Powers (not) were on to analyze the latest fart. It's notable that O'Reilly, while hollering "fair and balanced", gave Malkin the opening and closing statements and interrupted and talked over Powers middle comments.

Malkin said that Reid's comment (they could have shown a much longer piece but chose not to, said O'Reilly. Yeah. we'll take your word for it.) was so out of touch with political reality, unaware of her co-conservatives' views on the man's 180s. She called him a mainstream Republican, elected in the People's Republic of Taxachusetts (yeah, when he pretended to be moderate) and this clip has larger implications for coverage leading up to 2008, for sure.

O'Reilly argued with Powers over the fact that Reid is a correspondent, claiming he wouldn't care if an analyst said Romney was a flip-flopper, and unfortunately Powers could not come up with any right-wing reporters who used the term. (David Asman, Carl Cameron, and Brit Hume, Neil Cavuto, John Gibson, Greg Kelly, and Sean Hannity as seen in Outfoxed.) O'Reilly claims that if a FOX News correspondent did this, he's be chastened. But I recall Carl Cameron putting phony posts up on the FOX News website in 2004 and not suffering any consequences; in fact, after the election he was promoted to White House correspondent.

O'Reilly changed the subject to an NBC interview with former Edwards' campaign staffer, blogger Amanda Marcotte, and did a truly horrifying falsetto impersonation of the alleged softball questions, more evidence (to him) of NBC's bias. He got very shrill and Powers looked embarrassed while Malkin laughed. Powers agreed that the interview was not hard-hitting enough and they shouldn't have let her "get away with that."

Then, the piece de resistance wrapped up the segment:

BOR "Any organization with power in this country conducting themselves the way NBC News is conducting itself, has to be, has to be exposed, Michelle, and I'll tell you why. We have a very important presidential election coming up. If you have one network, powerful network, rooting for the Democrats to win, which NBC News clearly is, you have to put that on the table, so everybody knows. Am I wrong?"

MM "You're absolutely right. Look, and if there are networks out there that lean one way or the other, or certain programs that go one or the other, and they're transparent about it and open about it, that's one thing. But if you're going to wear this mantle of objectivity and neutrality leading up to the 2008 campaign and that's not what you're selling your viewers, well they're going to do exactly what viewers have been doing - bolting...."

BOR "Well, I just wanted to be upfront about it."

This is classic projection, FOX-style, accusing their opponents of the very thing they do to deflect attention. If all he's got is a refusal to hand over personnel records and closely edited clips taken out of context, well, he's got nothing. Media Matters has a wealth of information documenting NBC's and MSNBC's reporting and commentary that falsely impugns Democrats that will easily and professionally counter any smears O'Reilly lobs at his rival.