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Bernie Goldberg on The Factor Slams “Some” at Fox News: “They pretend to be journalists . . . they then state as facts things that aren’t facts at all.”

Reported by Julie - September 29, 2009 -

What started out as a typical Bill O’Reilly cry-me-a-river Fox News pity party on The O’Reilly Factor veered wildly out of control when O’Reilly’s BFF Bernie Goldberg “went rogue” and called out “some programs” on Fox for misinformation, saying, “If you’re not a journalist, don’t pretend to be one.” Though Goldberg named no names, O’Reilly was happy to offer up Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity – and I heard no dissent from Goldberg. With video.

Said O’Reilly to Goldberg pompously, “Never in the history of broadcasting in this country has one network, Fox News Channel, been attacked so . . . unrelentingly as this one has. Why?”

So, like most things that you don’t see coming, it started out innocently enough. O’Reilly lobbed his question, and Goldberg lobbed a few answers back. Then bam! An overhead forehand smash from Goldberg, right into O’Reilly’s mid-section.

But first, Goldberg benignly offered three reasons in answer to O’Reilly’s first lob: First, he said, Fox is more conservative than other networks, and second – which hinges on the first -- is that Fox is successful; he said if Fox weren’t successful, it wouldn’t matter. And his third reason is that Fox is “provocative,” and the combination of conservative, successful and provocative creates an “explosive mix” where “they come after you.”

“By and large,” Goldberg offered, “They’re throwing spitballs at a battleship.”

O’Reilly listened without interruption – a first, I’m sure – lapping it up as Goldberg gave O’Reilly his props, talking about the “so-called” mainstream media getting angry at Fox, about Fox News’ success, about Fox News’ coverage of stories. Like the lover leaning back on the pillows in a post-coital glow, smoking, when the guy drops the “you’re too good for me, you deserve better” line, O’Reilly never saw it coming.

“But sometimes, Bill,” Goldberg smashed one over the net, “Whether you acknowledge it or not, I’m gonna state it, sometimes Fox brings on the criticism itself. There are some programs on Fox [naming no names, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity] that are not only not ‘fair and balanced’ – they’re commentary shows, they don’t have to be – but they brag about how ‘fair and balanced’ they are. They don’t cover rallies and tea parties, they cheerlead for rallies and tea parties. And as a journalist, I am totally against that . . . to that extent the criticism is legitimate.”

Doing a little throat-clearing to buy some time, and, finally, coming up with the weak but tried-and-true “best defense/good offense” argument, O’Reilly responded that “all editorial pages cheerlead for their crew.”

“I don’t have any problem with ‘get out on earth’ day and ‘be environmentally correct,’” O’Reilly said, his skin becoming as thin as paper mache, “No problem, they all do it. But if you then take a commentary program, clearly labeled as such, and they say, hey, you know, you tea party people, go on out there and show ‘em that you don’t like this big government intrusion. What’s the difference between Earth Day and Tea Party? What’s the difference . . . it’s a good question, Bernie, what’s the difference?”

Serving up an ace, Goldberg said, “. . . Don’t pretend that you’re being objective, don’t go on the air . . . and say, these tea parties are a cross-section of America. They are not a cross-section. Don’t pretend to be a journalist if you’re not a journalist. If you want to be a commentator, and comment, be my guest. But don’t pretend to be a . . . .”

So much for quiet listening – O’Reilly jumped in at the first sign that a spitball was denting the battleship.

“I think we clearly label here . . . at the Fox News Channel – this is a good discussion,” O’Reilly offered flatly, “. . . Glenn Beck comes on, and Glenn Beck is now in the target, he’s the big target . . . so let’s get Glenn Beck. But what does Glenn Beck do? Glenn Beck comes on and he basically says, look, I’m everyman, I’m not a journalist, he says he’s not a journalist, I’m everyman, and I’m worried about the country, and this is why I’m worried, and he has the blackboard and he has this . . . and this is who I like, Tea Party Guys, and this is who I don’t like, whoever Beck doesn’t like that day. I don’t see any subterfuge there at all.”

“Sean Hannity comes on right after the Factor,” O’Reilly continued to steamroll, “And Sean Hannity says, look, I’m a Reagan Republican, that’s who I am. Sean Hannity. He’s not trying to fool anybody, not trying to say anything like that, he says, I’m a Reagan Republican. So this is how I see the world. I mean, come on, Bernie, these are legitimate stances: Everyman, Reagan Republican. What’s the beef?”

“The commentary part of it is totally legitimate,” Goldberg agreed. “But to give false information just because you’re a commentator . . . .”

“If it’s false information, I agree,” O’Reilly admitted.

Goldberg, clearly showing some ire, said incredulously, “Are you telling me – wait a second, are you telling me that you think those people at the tea parties were a cross-section of America, there were as many liberal Democrats as conservatives? There were as many people who voted for Obama as McCain?”

“I didn’t hear anybody say there were as many liberal Democrats,” O’Reilly said weakly.

“Oh, I did, I did, you want a few names? I know you don’t,” Goldberg said pugnaciously.

O’Reilly aimed for the groin, saying, “No, I don’t . . . because then I’d have to go back and research it.”

“You don’t have to research it,” said Goldberg, appearing to be angry now. “If I would go on your air and tell you a name, you can go to the bank on it. I’m not gonna do it out of respect to you, but those people pretend, they pretend to be journalists at the same time that they’re saying, I’m not a journalist. Well, if you’re not a journalist, don’t pretend to be one, just give us your . . . opinions . . . .”

“I don’t know how you can – Bernie, I don’t know how you can pretend to be a journalist if you say you’re not, how do you do that?” O’Reilly almost pleaded.

“I just told you, they go on the air after they give their opinions -- which is fine with me -- they then state as facts things that aren’t facts at all,” Goldberg repeated.

“That’s legitimate and that should be criticized,” said O’Reilly dismissively. “But not personal attacks! Not trying to tear somebody’s throat out and that’s what we get.”

“I totally agree . . . ,” Goldberg said, no doubt causing O’Reilly to breathe a sigh of relief.

“Let’s go on to Dan Rather . . . .” said O’Reilly.

Whew.

Whatever the reason (as a Fox News contributor, he might have begun to fear folks would think water seeks its own level) it appears that the journalist in Goldberg was stronger than his desire to liberal bash, and, finally, he couldn’t quite bring himself to stay silent about the kind of non-existent journalism “some” of Fox News’ commentators and programs peddle – it finally got to him. Whatever his goofy political leanings, Goldberg is not a “pretend” journalist – he’s a former CBS News reporter, a reporter for Real Sports and HBO, and has ten Emmies and other assorted journalism awards under his belt.

I don't know what did it. Maybe it was the frog.