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O'Reilly Says Fox Only Aggressively “Covered” the Tea Party Protest (Like Real Journalists)

Reported by Ellen - April 16, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Julie

I watched The O'Reilly Factor tonight, 4/15/09, the big “Tea Party” protest day, and what I didn't see in his coverage of this right-wing fringe groupie stuff was the kind of hatred I saw today at the Chicago Tea Party protest, which I “gate-crashed.” (Incidentally, I didn't see ACORN lurking behind any bushes, though I did hear some protesters asking if anyone had seen ACORN – like it's a single person or something.) You gotta know Chicago to really understand what's up here. I mean, Chicago is Obama territory, so the protest in Chicago is probably a little more understated than in, say, Texas. With photos.

O'Reilly began by talking about the protests in all 50 states today by people who are opposed to “entitlement spending.” (I didn't see that on any sign.) Claiming that President Obama always had an “entitlement vision,” O'Reilly said that the “class warfare” (didn't see that on a sign, either) has been successful for the President, but that the Tea Party protests are “valid.” Valid to offer complaints and whines but no solutions? As Howard Fineman said tonight on Keith Olbermann's Countdown, “This does not a Party make.” He also said that if Republicans think this is the “next big wave . . . it doesn't add up.”

People with little or no income, O'Reilly claimed, will get some breaks, while the rich will pay more to, well, I guess subsidize these poorer folks. That, I suppose, is “entitlement vision.”

No O'Reilly show would be complete, of course, without some swipes at the liberal media. In talking about the Tea Party protests, and how “valid” the protesters' message is, O'Reilly said that the “liberal media doesn't want to hear that.” He claimed that NBC allowed its commentators to “viciously attack Americans,” and specifically mentioned GE CEO Jeff Immelt and NBC President and CEO, Jeff Zucker. He called them “corrupt” and said they were “greatly damaging” the nation. Try as I might, I failed to find any video or other support for his claim that they “viciously attacked America.”

Getting down to the (red) meat and potatoes, O'Reilly brought in “radio talk show powerhouse” Laura Ingraham to comment on the protests. Three guesses what she said (the first two don't count).

When O'Reilly asked Ingraham what the “main point” people should be taking away from these protests (as if there is one aside from “we hate Obama”), Ingraham said that the thousand people at the D.C. Rally “really feel like the political process has really passed them by.” If this is the main point, it's both stunning in its simplicity and stunning in its vacancy.

Ingraham claimed that the “Democrats led by Barack Obama” are re-making America, including amnesty and “nationalizing health care” (Nationalizing? Really? When did this happen?) and that the protesters are “righteously angry.” Apparently getting the memo that says all successful protests need to have a goal and a demand, Ingraham said the protesters are demanding better and more effective leadership.

Okay, so the main point is that the political process passed them by, and the second point is that they need better and more effective leadership. Yeah, well, the first is called voting. The second is called an election. And we just had one. And you lost – mainly because you right-wing protesters couldn't produce one single “more effective” leader, and still can't.

Of course, O'Reilly asked Ms. Powerhouse whether she had watched any of the media coverage, and of course she replied that she had. He played a clip of a CNN reporter interviewing a male protester, who was holding a small child and spewing nonsense about Lincoln's primary thing being peoples' right to liberty. The CNN reporter legitimately challenged the protester on what that had to do with taxes and spending, cut him off when he started yelling and, talking to the camera, stated that the Tea Party events were “highly promoted by right-wing conservative network Fox.” Memo to Bill: Questioning people is what reporters do. Challenging absurdities is what reporters should do. And what Fox News didn't show a clip of was their own Cody Willard demonstrating how deep Fox News is with the teabaggers by ranting at the Boston rally, “Guys, when are we going to wake up and start fighting the fascism that seems to be permeating this country?” Who does he think he is, Rick Santelli?

But old Bill, he had a different agenda, and despite the fact that pictures (in this case videos) paint a thousand words, defensively stated that Fox News only saw it as a “major story” and Fox simply promoted the fact that they were going to “cover” the story aggressively. Uh, Bill, Glenn Beck planned to fund-raise for 'em. The network aggressively promoted them. Neil Cavuto and Fox Contributor Michelle Malkin were issuing red alerts about the rumored “infiltration” of left-wing extremists like Daily Kos, Huffington Post and, of course, ACORN. Your guy, Willard, signed, sealed and delivered the Fox-is-in-bed-with-teabaggers. News flash: Fox News didn't cover the FACT that it was going to cover the story and Fox News didn't JUST cover the story; Fox News, from Beck to Cavuto and so forth, in cahoots with well-funded conservative groups, effectively co-sponsored the event.

Ingraham made a point of saying that this was an “organic” movement and that the thousands who showed up are “fed up.” (Astroturf is considered “organic” now?) She denigrated the “dismissive, elitist” CNN reporter for the “very disturbing display . . . of media bias.” Oh. My. God. Why isn't it a “disturbing display . . . of media bias” for Fox News to actively PROMOTE – not COVER, PROMOTE – an event run by and funded by right-wing conservatives? “These people aren't reporting the real news,” Ingraham sneered. What is the “real news,” Laur? Is it the fact that of all Fox News' rally clips no rabid anti-Obama signs were displayed? ('Cause I was at the Chicago rally, and believe you me, even in Obama country there was some rabid anti-Obama (and anti-ACORN, just for fun) sentiment, including a big “hi ACORN” by the podium guy (who I think was radio “personality” Mancow Muller) and something about ACORN lurking around and something else about hell.

Isn't “real news” the fact that at the DC protest Secret Service derailed the rally because a protester threw something over the fence onto the White House lawn? Isn't it “real news” that the DC protest organizers couldn't dump their truckload of teabags because they lacked a permit? Isn't it “real news” that the Secret Service in D.C. also shut down the plans to rally at the Treasury Department? (See The Huffington Post for information on those stories.) O'Reilly mentioned none of it, instead blowing sunshine up our asses about the happy little people just protesting. No mention, either, that almost half of all Americans, according to a Gallup poll, feel they're paying the right amount of taxes.

O'Reilly jumped in, saying that “debate is . . . not being respected” by the liberal media. He used as an example the media who “wails” about wire-tapping but doesn't jump up and down when Janet Napolitano talks about “right-wing extremism” in a Department of Homeland Security memo. (Well, I'll tell you why the liberal media elite and a lot of Americans don't think Napolitano's comments are so off-base: Hate crimes are up more than 50% in the past eight years. O'Reilly sneered that the liberal media has “no credibility on this.”

Cut to Cavuto in California . . . who said that the one major beef the protesters have is that they're “tired of the government getting too big.” Different city, different message, I guess. (Does this mean the political process didn't pass the Californians by and they don't want better and more effective leadership?) Cavuto claimed the protests were not “right-wing or left-wing,” and that even the people who voted for President Obama wanted “more government . . . not this much more.”

Again, amidst the sea of nearly all-white faces, I didn't spot one rabidly anti-Obama sign. I also didn't hear them interview any Obama fans or “populist” people, though to hear Cavuto tell it they were everywhere. O'Reilly never fails us in his attacks on the liberal media, telling Cavuto that the New York Times ignored coverage of the protests, while CNN and NBC's coverage focused on the fact that the protests were “driven by Fox News, right-wing kooks . . . .”

O'Reilly asked Cavuto if the folks at the rally resented being described that way, to which Cavuto predictably replied, “Sure do.” He said they were “deeply offended” by the characterizations of them that were created, that the protesters are “not rich folks” (then what the hell are they doing out there, since they're getting a tax break under President Obama?!? Predictably, I didn't see him ask.) O'Reilly mentioned that he doesn't see a lot of anger at the rally, people aren't “frothing at the mouth.”

Cavuto replied that the people are “respectful but a little bit disagreeable” and that they don't like being “dismissed . . . laughed at.” O'Reilly gravely stated that the people appreciate the fact that “Fox News respects dissent.”

Now, whether O'Reilly is familiar with the sexual connotation of the term “teabagging” or not (all I'll say is that I HEARD it involves male scrotum and a face), O'Reilly complained about the "guttersnipes" at DailyKos who put “pornography” on their website (Hey, the protesters picked the name, not us.) And they wonder why they're laughed at . . . oh, and by the way, Bill, was the DailyKos “pornography” something like this sign, which I spotted and photographed at the Chicago Tea Party protest today? (Note the position of the teabag on President Obama's forehead and remember the thing about scrotum and a face . . . .)


Okay, so while we're on the subject, back to Chicago and the rally. There were more than the usual amount of white faces, with people being bused in from the . . . less-integrated suburbs. (About an hour and half into the rally, an intercom announcement called for people to gather for the bus back to the suburb of Elgin.) NoBama buttons were going for $6 a pop (or maybe $5, I didn't buy one). They were handing out fake (obviously) $3 bills with a picture of Obama as Frankenstein on the front and the signatures of Harry Reid “Prince Pinky” on the lower left and Nancy Pelosi “The Iron Maiden” on the lower right. The back highlighted the oh-so-clever and cute and classy “www.buttcrackobama.com.” (But, the bill text states, buttcrackobama.com is “not an Obama bashing site.”) Mm-hmm. No, I didn't visit the site. I barely held my lunch down at the rally. It's probably just an oversight that Fox News didn't report on these little gems.

Well, running in tandem with Rush Limbaugh's defense of the Somali pirates and his claim of “three teenagers shot on the high seas at the order of President Obama” (translation: Somali pirates), these signs were prominently displayed in Chicago:



And having a little fun with Janet Napolitano's memo, I guess, or maybe just 'cause they're psychos:


And a few more you didn't see on Fox News' coverage, including a few gratuitous swipes at ACORN:



So, what can we take away from this protest? An interview would probably go something like this. So, what's your reason for being here? “Uh, we're mad 'cause we're out of power and, oh yeah, we hate Obama.” Okay, and what's the goal? “Uh, we're just mad.” Right, got that, and your solution? “Uh, be mad some more and create a website called buttcrackobama.com.”

Stunning in its simplicity.