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O'Reilly Brags About Tea Party Ratings, Discards Journalistic Integrity

Reported by Ellen - April 17, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Julie

O'Reilly, when Eminem sang, “Rock star, baby, everybody wants you . . . ,” I thought of you immediately.

On last night's (4/16/09) O'Reilly Factor Talking Points, O'Reilly broke his arm patting himself on the back over the ratings, and of course trumpeted that hundreds of thousands protested the day before against “big government, massive spending, and what they believe is irresponsible behavior by the Feds.” By the Feds. Curiouser and curiouser . . . None of his ilk threw tea around in protest of the former administration's spendthrift ways. With video.

O'Reilly then went in for some big-time Fox News damage control in defense of its intense, highly emotional, hugely invested, and feel-the-love-for-the-right “coverage” of the Tea Party rallies, by slamming the left-wing media for its failure to live up to Fox' obsession with the event.

“There is no question these protests were newsworthy but they deeply offended the committed left-wing press . . .the uber-liberal New York Times buried the Tea Party story on page 16 and grossly underestimated the crowds involved . . . the Wall Street Journal ran the story on page 3, USA Today also on page 3.” Well, now, Bill, to be fair, you have to give these guys a break because they, unlike Fox News, were not de facto co-sponsors, attendees, champions, cheerleaders and groupies of these right-wing fringe group protests. And page 16 . . . I, personally, would have picked the Classified section, but that's just me.

O'Reilly gravely pointed out the (liberal) tone on the network news, such as this, from Charlie Gibson: “The self-styled tea parties were aimed squarely at Obama . . . .” On ABC World News, “Cheered on by Fox News and talk radio, the hundreds of tea parties today were designed to protest the bailouts, the stimulus plan, and President Obama's budget.” NBC Nightly News, “. . . not all of it was as homegrown as it may seem.” CBS Evening News reported, “ . . . a fistful of rightward-leaning websites and commentators . . . [cut to clips of Glenn Beck and Neil Cavuto] embraced the cause.” (Thank you, Bill, you saved me tons of Googling time tonight.) And it's amusing, because O'Reilly criticized these news organizations for reporting the news that Fox didn't really report because it WAS the news. Confusing.

O'Reilly turned up the heat on the Fox News damage control. “Now, there is no question that Fox News recognized the Tea Party as a major story and promoted our coverage of the protests heavily this week . . . Fox News analysts were at some of the events . .. that strategy was very smart.” This week? How about Fox practically becoming the 24-hour Tea Party Channel for the past month? Fine line between genius and insanity, Bill, which Fox News has without a doubt now crossed.

O'Reilly claimed that millions of Americans feel they have no voice in the left-wing media that comprises about 75% of the press, and when “folks hit the streets in a big way it should be covered.” Sure, cover it. Run a little video clip, maybe interview an organizer or two, send a reporter out to a rally. But weeks of “coverage” and red alerts about infiltrators, and blogs and twitters and shout-outs and free advertising and attendance as, like, hosts at the events . . . little overkill on the “coverage,” maybe? Well, journalistic integrity be damned, it's ratings (translation, money) that really counts.

“That is why Fox News destroys NBC and CNN on cable every night,” O'Reilly bragged. “We cover the news, we don't ignore it and we don't denigrate it.” Sing it, Eminem . . . “When you walked through the door it was clear to me, you're the one they adore, who they came to see – you're a rock star, everybody wants you . . . ”

Cutting to some more glaring examples of left-wing elitist gotcha media bias, O'Reilly highlighted The Ed Show: “ . . . and of course right-wingers are going nuts on tax day . . . holding these tea parties across the country.”

And playing a video clip of the CNN reporter saying, “It's anti-government, anti-CNN, since this is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network Fox.”

Said Wayne Slater, Dallas Morning News, “What you also saw was this sort of fringe group, the secessionists, the militia types.”

And on MSNBC: “These tea parties were filled and fueled with one network . . . which has got of course a stable of talk show hosts that just throw around the word 'revolution' all the time.”

O'Reilly: “Unbelievable.”

Damn, he makes my job easy.

“Summing it up, many in the American media are not very interested in reporting the news, their mission is to promote ideology, left-wing ideology, and this network has been accused [which he didn't deny] of the opposite, but our coverage of the Tea Parties was vastly superior to anything else around.” Well, duh, nobody's participation – not coverage, participation – could have been more “superior” than that of Fox News, who probably tried to figure out a way to hold a rally at their studios. And we'll keep that in mind, O'Reilly – Fox News' strict adherence to covering every event in “superior” journalist fashion whenever folks hit the street – the next time gay folks rally in favor of gay marriage, or unions rally, or anti-war protesters gather, or (perish the thought) thousands of liberals gather to protest Rush Limbaugh. We're sure you'll not only be on the scene, you'll be doing shout-outs weeks before and Glenn Beck will be the first on line carrying signs.

“You make the call . . . last night the Factor beat CNN, MSNBC, Headline News and CNBC . . . with 50,000 viewers to spare . . . we beat the haters at NBC by almost a half million viewers. No parties over there.” 50,000 viewers to spare? Impressive – but our guy beat your guy, almost 10 million votes to spare.

Speaking of haters . . . stage left, Newt Gingrich, a New York Tea Party-goer, to talk about the crowd of 12,500 by “New York police estimates.” Live from the New York's Tea Party protest, Gingrich declared on Fox News, “Here we've thousands, thousands of people at City Hall.” According to the Village Voice, the crowd was estimated at about 2,000.

New York Tea Party organizer Kellen Giuda and "managing partner" at ParcBench introduced Gingrich, who gave a brief speech encouraging people to tell their legislators to vote against the upcoming budget, with this ultimatum: “If you vote against America’s future, we’re gonna fire you.” (Hell, you get a 90-day probation period even at regular jobs; shouldn't our President get more than that without being threatened with a pink slip?) Quoting the Declaration of Independence and playing to the red-meat gang by invoking God, he told the crowd, “God has given each of you sovereignty.”

Gingrich insisted to O'Reilly that Giuda “went out on his own, set up a website.” (It looks like it might be BlogNetNews.com; it's got Giuda's name at the top and a bunch of Republican dogma, so yeah.) It's also a fairly nice website for some upstart who just decided one day he'd rather create a website than, say, take a nap. Gingrich also insisted that the protesters were people who “don't like having big government,” and denied there was anti-Obama sentiment. Some people, Gingrich said, “were as hostile to the Bush Administration spending” as Obama's. Decidedly absent from O'Reilly and Fox News' coverage of the protests, however, was any evidence at all – no signs, no interviews – that anyone at these rallies even remembered Bush's name, much less his spending.

Fair and Balanced O'Reilly and Gingrich talked about the fact that 62 million people voted against Obama (nice spin) and 69 million voted for the “entitlement cult” and “nanny state.” (Actually the voter differential was over 9 million.) Gingrich hopefully daydreamed that people would become disenchanted with the “Obama debt” as the year goes on. The Obama debt. Priceless. And by the way, we can sacrifice about 5 million supporters and still eat you for lunch, Newt.

Incidentally, a little Googling on simple, "grassroots" Giuda turned up the sophisticated site of Parcbench, presumably the website of “managing partner” Giuda's business, whatever it is. The main page featured tea party, tea party, tea party, juxtaposed with an appropriately red warning: “Do not read this if you have moral, ethical or religious reasons against hurting (or even killing) someone who violently attacks you, your wife or your kids.” Clicking that merry link takes you to Captain Chris' Close Combat Training: “Discover the 'Forgotten' Fighting System That the Martial Artists and the Military Don't Want You to Know Even Exists' . . . .” You know how Wayne Slater talked about the “milita types?” Uh-huh, yup.

O'Reilly, you're a rock star, everybody wants you. You can quit your day job as a “journalist” now.

If you can't view the videos below, here's a link to Talking Points Memo and here's a link to the discussion with Gingrich.