Bill O’Reilly, in yet another segment attacking the Westchester, New York News Journal’s publication of a map of gun owners, accused the paper last night of having a “left-wing agenda” because its editorial policy is Democratic supporting. “The publisher oversees the editorial side,” O’Reilly snapped at his guest who disagreed. But this is in complete disagreement with what Fox News executives always say in defense of their own conservative-dominated “opinion shows.”
Fox’s purported wall between news and editorial is something that it touts over and over:
TVNewser quoted Fox News SVP Michael Clemente, on 10/11/09:
(T)he average news consumer can certainly distinguish between the A-section of the newspaper and the editorial page, which is what our programming represents. So, with all due respect to anyone who might still be confused about the difference between news reporting and vibrant opinion, my suggestion would be to talk about the stories and the facts, rather than attack the messenger…which over time, has never worked.”
On the same day, the New York Times reported:
Fox argues that its news hours — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays — are objective. The channel has taken pains recently to highlight its news programs, including the two hours led by Shepard Smith, its chief news anchor. And its daytime newscasts draw more viewers than CNN or MSNBC’s prime-time programs.
“The average consumer certainly knows the difference between the A section of the newspaper and the editorial page,” Mr. Clemente said.
In December, 2012, media critic David Zurawik wrote:
Sure, Fox executives have said to me, the prime-time shows have opinion in them – just like opinion pages in a newspaper. But not our news programs and the reports by our correspondents.
But while that may hold true for TV Goliath Fox – whose “publisher” made a name for himself as a Republican strategist – apparently, it doesn’t hold true for the little community newspaper that had the audacity to publish a map of gun owners in the vicinity.
Last night, O’Reilly engaged in the following exchange with guest Beth Knobel, Ph.D. and former CBS News correspondent:
O’Reilly: What about the comparison, a lot of people are making that this is an ideological jihad by this newspaper and this publisher, that they never would have done this in other areas where people’s names are given to the government, i.e. welfare, unemployment. They never would have done that. But they will do this. Do you see validity there?
Knobel: Uh, no. I think that what you said just a few minutes ago about this paper having a left-wing agenda is undoubtedly untrue.
O’Reilly: Untrue? 36 out of 36 endorsements to the Democratic Party?
Knobel: Yeah, but Bill, remember, the editorial policy at papers like the Journal News and the reporting are done by completely separate bunches of people.
O’Reilly, interrupting: The publisher oversees the editorial side. You know that.
For the record, I do believe it's quite possible for an editorial and news-gathering side to be independent, though I do not believe Fox News comes even remotely near such a standard. But to sweepingly suggest that this is impossible, as O'Reilly did, contradicts Fox's long-standing assertions about itself.