Bill O’Reilly Lectures Guests To Back Up Allegations, Then Takes Credit For Drop In Public Approval For Occupy Wall Street
Reported by Ellen - October 29, 2011 -
I seriously think Bill O’Reilly has jumped the shark over the Occupy Wall Street protests. First, he spent the Talking Points segment that opened the show last night alleging (without any proof, I might add) that Occupy Wall Street is some kind of plot to “bring down the infrastructure of this country” and turn us into an “entitlement state.” Then, with his two liberal, female guests, O’Reilly turned insufferably condescending and hostile. He scolded Fox News contributor Leslie Marshall, “I want to remind you not to make statements you can’t back up on this network. We don’t do that on this network.” And then, moments later, he did exactly that by taking credit for a drop in the public approval of the protests.
In the Talking Points opener, O’Reilly intoned that the Occupy Wall Street protesters “are being exploited by some powerful, radical organizations. They are being used in the hopes of embarrassing the USA.”
Really? Where’s the proof of that? O’Reilly didn’t say.
“The Occupy Wall Street movement is not a spontaneous protest against economic inequality,” O’Reilly contined. “It is a well thought-out campaign to bring down the infrastructure of this country, to turn us into a western European type entitlement state. That’s what George Soros, MoveOn and the SEIC (he later corrected himself to say he meant the SEIU) and many far–left journalists want and they are using the protest to that end.”
Where’s the evidence? O’Reilly’s say so? Just how does that collusion work? O’Reilly never explained.
The first guests, there to discuss O'Reilly's contentions, were two Fox News liberals: contributor Leslie Marshall and Professor Caroline Heldman.
Marshall said, “Well, first of all, Bill, any organization, any movement, any protest, is going to be exploited - to use your term – by somebody, whether it be the Koch brothers with the Tea Party on the right, George Soros with the Occupy Wall Street movement on the left.”
She later added that she thought the majority of the protesters were just people frustrated “by the current state of their country.”
O’Reilly responded, “Well, you can believe anything you want, you’re an American. But you made a statement that the Koch brothers were tied into the Tea Party financially. Can you prove that?”
Marshall correctly said that the Kochs funded Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
O’Reilly rudely interrupted. “Wait, wait, wait, wait.” He said condescendingly, “Leslie, you’re a Fox News contributor. You have a responsibility. Can you prove the Koch brothers are tied into the Tea Party financially?”
Unfortunately, Marshall faltered. “With a check in hand? No,” she said. “But the Koch brothers have never denied…”
O’Reilly interrupted her again. “Your turn is over, Leslie,” he said with more hostile condescension. And don’t tell me he wasn’t being sexist. He said, “I want to remind you not to make statements you can’t back up on this network. We don’t do that on this network. Other networks do, we don’t.”
In the first place, Marshall was entirely right about the Koch brothers funding the Tea Party. Bloomberg recently reported, for example, “Charles and David (Koch) have supported the Tea Party, a loosely organized group that aims to shrink the size of government and cut federal spending.” A 2010 New York Times piece goes much more deeply into the ties between the Kochs and the Tea Party. It’s hard to believe a smart guy like O’Reilly wouldn’t know about it.
As for the “We don’t make statements you can’t back up on this network” bit, well, it’s hard to know where to begin. Where was O’Reilly when Glenn Beck announced that President Obama is a racist with a “deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture?” And why didn’t O’Reilly demand Fox News' Monica Crowley back up her accusation that the thwarted 2009 Christmas terror attack was part of President Obama’s radical agenda? O’Reilly challenged Crowley by saying, “He can’t want Americans to be killed.” But there was no demand for proof and no reproof for not backing up what was a far more outrageous accusation.
In fact, O’Reilly, himself, went on to make his own unsupported accusation. But first, he scolded Heldman, too.
When Heldman said, “More than half of the American public has a favorable rating of Occupy Wall Street,” O’Reilly interrupted her and said condescendingly, “Not any more… Now I’m going to stop you. Not. Any. More. OK?” He cited a new Fox News poll that shows 38% think the Occupy Wall Street movement is good and 41% bad. Given the 3% margin of error, that’s probably about even. In fact, it could even be the other way around. Meanwhile, other polls have shown that Americans have a generally favorable opinion of Occupy Wall Street. One poll does not a trend make.
But O’Reilly wasn’t done with the crazy. He said about the supposed downturn, “Now that’s directly because of my reporting, Glenn Beck, talk radio when we’re not hysterical, and we’re asking valid questions.” Not hysterical? The guy who accused the protesters of wanting to "bring down the infrastructure of this country?"
And, by the way, where was O'Reilly's evidence that it was because of him or anyone else that the public approval dipped somewhat in this poll? Also, it’s worth noting that the poll question was whether or not the movement “is good or bad for the country,” which is slightly different from supporting or approving.
O’Reilly allowed as how “there are sincere protesters” but “they’re long gone. They’re not there for a month.”
Heldman asked him if he could back that up.
“Yes! Absolutely!” O’Reilly exclaimed. “We have reporters down there all the time and the reporters ask people who they are…. The spontaneous people are back to their jobs. 85% of them, Dr. Heldman, have jobs. You can’t stay off the job for a month! I can back what I say up.”
But he didn’t.
By the way, the New York Times reported yesterday about a scientifically conducted survey of the protesters in lower Manhattan that found 25% are students, 30% percent have full-time jobs and 18% are employed part-time.