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O’Reilly Misses The Point – And The Truth – About Fox News’ Role In Michael Brown’s Oil Spill Interview

Reported by Ellen - May 6, 2010 -

Bill O’Reilly took to the airwaves for his Talking Points Memo yesterday (5/5/10) to add his spin to the controversy over Michael “Heckuva job, Brownie” Brown’s outlandish allegation to Neil Cavuto that President Obama deliberately sabotaged the Louisiana oil spill cleanup in order to back away from his support for offshore drilling. One day after Brown made that accusation, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs smacked down Fox News reporter Wendell Goler about it during Tuesday’s (5/4/10) press briefing. Then the Fox News spinning commenced. O’Reilly’s novel take included the untrue assertion that Cavuto “actually stuck up for” Obama to Brown. In fact, Cavuto seemed to agree with Brown. O’Reilly also disingenuously defended giving Brown an unimpeded platform by saying, “Look, we can’t control what the guests say.” With video.

O’Reilly’s “we can’t control what the guests say” defense is a close relation to Fox News’ “just asking” questions such as whether the White House is “attacking the American dream?” or “Are Democrats trying to steal Abraham Lincoln's legacy?” or “What are the Nobel Prize Committee Chairman's Socialist Ties?” It’s Fox News’ way of propagandizing under the disingenuous cover of a “question.” By coincidence, Jon Stewart named this tactic The Cavuto Mark, after Neil Cavuto.

In Brownie’s case, Fox News merely outsourced the propaganda and absolved themselves by saying, “the guest said it.” This same kind of outsourcing is often used to attack African Americans on Fox.

O’Reilly was just plain wrong when he said Cavuto "actually stuck up for" the president during the interview with Brown.” Not only did Cavuto not stick up for the president, his words signaled agreement with Brown. Cavuto said, ““So by constantly referring to this as ‘the BP spill,’ ‘the BP leak,’ ‘the BP disaster,’ there’s a method to that, right?”

More to the point, Cavuto’s role is not to “stick up for” anybody but to offer a bona fide forum for ideas and news. Of course, Cavuto should not control what a guest says. But he has every obligation in the world to challenge anything that’s as baseless, incendiary and far out as Brown’s accusation.

Otherwise, it’s a tacit endorsement of legitimacy.


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