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O'Reilly: Radical left presented as representative, radical right presented as...non-existent

Reported by Chrish - March 27, 2007 -

Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points Memo tonight 3/26/07 was focused on the war protests in Portland OR last week, where a small group of anti-militarists burned a US flag and an effigy of a US Serviceman. According to all reports, the group was so smalll (about 30 people) as to be immaterial and unnoticed by the large (15,000) mass of peaceful protesters. O'Reilly took the opportunity to smear anti-war protesters, the Oregonian newspaper, and the media in general.

O'Reilly (mis)led off his Talking Points Memo by saying that "in Portland Oregon, a so-called peace rally featured masked America-haters..." (see video below for full TPM). Note that he has disrespected the peace rally right off the bat, dismissing the other 14,970 people there who did not burn American flags or dummy soldiers. His use of the word "featured" insinuates that this was a main event: M-W.com defines it as 2 : displayed, advertised, or presented as a special attraction. While the video played of the extremists having their say the banner read "Anti-war rally, Portland OR."

According to the Oregonian,

"A reported 15,000 marched and chanted in opposition to the war and the White House strategy in Iraq -- many more than gathered in San Francisco or New York.

Most of the marchers were peaceful and reasonable. A few were not. Unfortunately, the most memorable images from the protest will be of the few and not of the many.

On the South Park Blocks, a handful of people set afire a uniformed effigy of a U.S. soldier and an upside-down flag. Around them, bystanders took pictures. Some of these images have made several loops of the planet by now, with the "Portland" marquee from the Performing Arts Center centered in the background. "

"Others of the 15,000 or so marchers were horrified to learn about the small demonstration with the burning effigy. They say they weren't aware it was happening and wish that it hadn't."

"The country's sentiment has shifted in the past two years, with a majority of the American people deeply troubled about the nation's course in Iraq, along with the continuing carnage and instability. This majority delivered a powerful political message in November, unseating the Republican congressional majorities and providing what the president himself called "a whuppin'."

The march through downtown Portland near the fourth anniversary of the invasion was a loud, colorful expression of this new majority sentiment. Old folks, children, men and women marched the streets in force, reinforcing the message of last November."

"Sadly for the 15,000 or so, the sidebar demonstration undermines the dominant message of peaceful dissent."

The still photos that had the right-wing bloggers in hysterics last week (notaby radical rightie Michelle Malkin, whom the Oregonian politely refers to as "conservative commentator Michelle Malkin") were taken by student Rachael Palinkas, who was quoted in the Oregonian:

"What they're doing is wrong," she said. "They're twisting my pictures and misrepresenting what happened on that day."

In the past few days, the 19-year-old mass communications major said she has learned the power of a picture. And the power of people with an agenda on the Internet.

Palinkas said she posted to her Facebook site 240 photos from the peace rally and march that reportedly drew 15,000 people. Almost all of them showed "people laughing, talking, dancing, marching" at what she called a "family-friendly" event.

Only 13 of the 240 images in Palinkas' Facebook album show what she describes as "the extreme fringe."

After spending months planning what was for the most part a civil demonstration, organizers say they are aghast.

"We had a massive, peaceful demonstration against the killing and destruction going on every day in Iraq, a positive experience for thousands of people from different walks of life," said Kelly Campbell of American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization, "and apparently the right-wing fringe is going to pick up that little portion."

Elijah Smith, a Marine reservist who served three months as a combat engineer in Iraq, said he was personally appalled by the group's fiery demonstration.

But Smith, a 27-year-old Portland substitute teacher who opposes the war, also thought the way the images are being used is misleading. "Anyone who was at the event," he said, "knows it."

O'Reilly does at least note that the war in Iraq has gone so badly that it has emboldened people to speak out against it and Bush, but he disapproves. He also gets some unsubstantiated, broad swipes in at "the media" excluding FOX, who are the only ones he knows of reporting on this incident. Someday he will get a clue that when the media at large does not pick up a story he is covering, it is because it really isn't important in the grand scheme of things - 30 protesters in Portland should not spark outrage the way, say, 76 more American deaths in Iraq (so far this month) should. We won't be hearing about that on the Factor, though.

At the end of the program he gave the results of the poll on his website that asked "who is the most radical left?" The poll results were Rosie O'Donnell 50%, Bill Maher 26%, Sean Penn 21%, and Natalie Maines 3%. O'Reilly said he didn't think people knew who she was and he should have said "the Dixie Chick Natalie Maines", knowing that would trigger the Pavlovian response. He was surprised at the Rosie margin (not I - they've been bashing her regularly on FOX). He went off on Sean Penn for remarks made in California (all the FOX shows today were calling it an angry rant ; it was angry but hardly what I'd call a rant, after watching the pros at FOX). Penn wanted to ask the Bush twins, who he noted are no longer children so presumably no longer off limits to the press, if they support their father's policy in Iraq. And if they do, he wants to know why they aren't in uniform? Good questions, and millions of us would like an answer. O'Reilly just called him "a hater." How lame.

Well, O'Reilly said, to be fair and balanced, now they're going to ask "Who's the most 'right-wing'?" Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan, Tom DeLay are the choices.

But the funny part is, the graphic read "who is the most radical right?" and O'Reilly couldn't bring himself to say it - twice he said "the most right-wing." On The Radio Factor last Friday 3/23/07, O'Reilly invited listeners to vote in the radical left poll (still ongoing at that time) and then promoted

"And then next week we're going to have 'who is the most (pause) right... who is the most...you can't be radical right, so, who's the furthest right, I think I'm gonna put, and we'll have four names there."

Fair and balanced? No spin? If there is anyone who still believes that, I've got a bridge for you.