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Bill O'Reilly, Bernard Goldberg and Dick Morris On the Defensive About Fox News' Fairness to President Obama

Reported by Ellen - June 22, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Julie

On The O'Reilly Factor last Wednesday tonight (6/17/09), first Bill O'Reilly in his Talking Points Memo, then with a couple of tried and true guests, Dick Morris and Bernard Goldberg, hashed and re-hashed and backed and ducked on President Obama's comments on CNBC that Fox News seems devoted to attacking his administration. Three conservatives, three Fox News employees, three opinions supportive of Fox, no opposing view - what a shock! But a careful look between the lines revealed that Goldberg and O'Reilly tacitly conceded at least some of Obama's point. With video.

O'Reilly brayed, “Once again, Barack Obama complains about Fox News . . . speaking on NBC yesterday, the President said this . . . .”

Roll the clip.

President Obama: “First of all, I've got one television station that is [laughing] entirely devoted to attacking my Administration . . . . (The interviewer interjects, “I assume you're talking about Fox”) “. . . that's a pretty big megaphone. And you'd be hard-pressed, if you watched the entire day, to find a positive story about me on that front.”

And, oh my, they've come out in droves on Fox News to defend themselves. Ya got your Steve Doocy, ya got your Gretchen Carlson, ya got your Greta van Susteren – among others.

O'Reilly continued, “The question is . . . are we unfair to President Obama? Let's look at it methodically. First of all, a study by the Pew Research Center said flat out Fox News had the most balanced coverage of the presidential campaign. That is irrefutable.” As they say, that was then, this is now.

“Secondly,” O'Reilly said defensively, “The President is now moving the country left, so Reagan conservatives like Sean Hannity are gonna have a problem with that. So will Libertarians like Glenn Beck. There are very few conservative Republicans on TV so that may be why the President is horrified by some criticism – I mean, everybody knows that liberals own the media.”

“In the Fox lineup,” O'Reilly plunged on, “Bret Baier seems to be neutral. So does Shepherd Smith, and Greta. Fox News commentators Alan Colmes, Juan Williams, Mara Liasson, Marc Lamont Hill, Ellis Henican and Bob Beckel all generally support President Obama.” Oops, you left out a few, who, well, generally don't – Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham, Karl Rove, Mary Katharine Ham, Andrea Tantaros, Megyn Kelly. Gosh, I know I'm forgetting some esteemed members of the No-Obama Club.

“And then there's the Factor . . . .” O'Reilly said. “I've tried hard to be fair to the President . . . but my job's to look out for you so when the President's policies are wrong, in my opinion, I say it.” I've gotta say it – the truth is, within the Fox News lineup, O'Reilly actually does temper his direct criticism of President Obama, and I have heard him more than once defend the President. I almost think . . . he likes the guy. That, of course, does not preclude him from suggesting Obama engages in pay-to-play politics with NBC or letting his guests do the other heavy lifting on the anti-Obama front.

To back up his assertion, O'Reilly showed several clips of him giving President Obama props for a few things, such as not releasing the torture photos and authorizing the shooting of the pirates in the Captain Phillips rescue mission.

O'Reilly went on to say that maybe the President's favorable treatment from other media outlets is “skewing his thinking . . . any criticism becomes a major event for him.”

Normally I watch the Factor, and when I write my posts I lay it out from start to finish, so you can kind of feel it. This time, though, I'm a little anxious to get to it – that Goldberg and O'Reilly alluded to the fact that Fox News is doing exactly what they're mad at President Obama for saying it's doing. When I saw it at first, I almost missed it. Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees on Fox News.

So, here's a little background, to set the tone. O'Reilly and Morris, and then O'Reilly and Goldberg, spent a whole lot of time talking about the ways in which President Obama is wrong about his gripe about Fox. Among the comments was that President Obama is being whiny, and he's just too sensitive, or he's just too used to the media adoration, he can't stand criticism, blah blah blah.

“. . . In researching the President,” O'Reilly asserted, “I've found he has rarely been criticized in his life . . . he's a sensitive guy and when he gets criticism, not used to it . . . and again, the Obama Administration invited on, any time to discuss anything. That is fair and balanced.” Kinda like you invited ACORN leaders on to sabotage them, or had Joan Walsh from Salon on so you could attack her relentlessly?

Morris attributed the President's complaints to some political strategy to trick the American people into thinking the media really doesn't love him that much or convince the public he's not getting a “sweetheart deal.” Goldberg just thinks President Obama is greedy, that 95% of the mainstream loving him isn't enough, and he's trying to grab it all. I could go on and on about all the stuff they said, about how O'Reilly said President Obama or his people can come on any time, release a statement, talk about anything, etc., etc., but it isn't necessary.

Both Morris and Goldberg were insistent, though, that Fox News covers President Obama fairly.

O'Reilly said to Morris, “I don't think Obama has a legitimate beef here, do you?” to which Morris replied, “No, of course not . . . of course not.”

And we hear, like an echo, from Goldberg.

“There are two points . . . one is that he's wrong,” Goldberg insisted. “There are liberals and Democratic strategists on this network all day long . . . there are a couple of people, very few, but a couple of people on this network who suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome, they won't give Obama a break under any circumstances . . . .”

So, there's the big denial – President Obama is wrong. Fox is, honest to God, as “fair and balanced” as the day is long.

But what can we make of this, then, toward the end of the Goldberg segment?

Said O'Reilly, “I think they're a little bit worried in the White House that we are doing so well while CNN and NBC on cable are doing so poorly . . . .”

And Goldberg took it home: “Couple that with a poll that just came out this week that says 40% of the American people identify themselves as conservatives, only half that number . . . as liberals . . . he may in fact be concerned that, what if this stuff that they hear on Fox catches on?”

“Yeah, starts to resonate,” responded O'Reilly, and then went on quickly to say that Fox News gives “both sides.”

Seems like they might have shut the barn door after the horses were out – because what “stuff” are Goldberg and O'Reilly talking about that “they hear on Fox?” You cite a poll touting Republicans, then you talk about the stuff on Fox News that might “catch on” and “resonate” and you seem to think the Democratic White House might find it threatening – what's a gal to think? Let's be real here, what part of “Fair and Balanced” reporting could possibly “catch on” and “resonate” and scare the President? Do you suppose they mean that stuff that Fox supposedly doesn't do, like the petty criticisms they don't level at President Obama – for everything from putting mustard on a burger to the White House dog?

And even on his segment, while declaring Fox News to be “fair and balanced,” Morris slammed the President, saying, “Obama has a . . . political MO, if you will, which is he says very often the precise opposite of what he and everybody else knows to be true.” Wow, in my neighborhood that's calling someone a liar.

Morris went on to talk about what he implied were lies Obama told in an article in the Wall Street Journal – about having a light regulatory hand, for example (“Yeah,” Morris sniped, “Tell that to the guys at GM that are getting fired”) and that the President wants to leave peoples' health insurance untouched. So, let me get this straight – you defend Fox News as granting the President fair coverage, but in the same breath you call President Obama a liar? And without having a balancing guest?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fox News has a dungeon, and that's where “Fair and Balanced” is kept chained up.

If you can't view the Fox News videos below, here are links to O'Reilly's Talking Points Memo and the Dick Morris interview.