Juan Williams guest hosted on The O’Reilly Factor Friday night (8/17/12) where he welcomed Scott Taylor, one of the OPSEC swift boaters against President Obama, for a chat so friendly that Sean Hannity (and Roger Ailes) would undoubtedly have approved. In fact, I suspect Bill O’Reilly would have been tougher on Taylor than liberal Williams. Nevertheless, after ignoring evidence of the group's ties to Republicans and their hyocrisy about keeping sensitive national security matters secret, Williams thanked Taylor for "standing up."
Williams started by playing some clips from the OPSEC’s new video accusing President Obama of taking too much credit for the killing of Osama Bin Laden and also of endangering national security with intelligence leaks. Williams “balanced” the clip by saying, “In response to the video, the far left says the retired Navy SEALs are GUTLESS (his emphasis) for not admitting they’re running a GOP anti-Obama campaign.” As he spoke, a graphic of, presumably, Navy SEALs appeared against a backdrop of an American flag and above the words: FACING LEFT-WING ATTACKS.
Nice way to sidestep the issue of their ties to Republicans and demonize liberals at the same time, Juan!
Memo to Fox News, not having the “guts to admit” to their agenda is not the same thing as being gutless in general. And in case you missed it, Boehlert’s tweet linked to a New York Times article noting a number of ties to Republicans among the group as well as a seemingly biased attack on President Obama. But what could be more “real journalism, fair and balanced” than to wave away evidence that an anti-Obama guest is covertly acting on behalf of Republicans by demonizing one of the messengers? Oh, and the fact that Boehlert is connected to a Fox News nemesis? No need to bring that up!
Williams’ first question was, “So, Mr. Taylor, gutless? (Williams made a face of disbelief and disgust.) Is that right?”
Taylor answered, “Well, normally, wolves don’t really care what sheep think about but I would suggest that I doubt that he would walk out of his air-conditioned office into a bar and call any Special Operator ‘gutless.’ I seriously doubt that.”
“Is there political motivation behind the ad?” Williams asked.
No, Taylor said – as anyone who read the Times article would have predicted. “We have folks from both sides of the aisle.” He added that he thought most were “apolitical.” He didn’t say a thing about who’s funding and/or organizing the campaign.
Nor did Williams ask. He did, however, point out that Taylor is a Republican and “doing this in the middle of a presidential campaign, so it’s gonna have political consequence and people are gonna raise political questions about your intent.”
Taylor was obviously well prepped for media appearances. He insisted he’s an American first and the reason the campaign is running now is because “this is the only time politicians seem to pay attention.” Right.
Williams, though, bought it without question. He didn’t mention any of the indications from the Times article contradicting that claim – such as the fact that the group shares an office suite with a Republican consulting group and that another leading member “became a spokesman for the Tea Party Express and several Republican campaigns” after serving in Iraq. Williams did not ask who in the group are Democrats. Nor did he point out that two of the members are or were Fox News contributors. Also not discussed was a Los Angeles Times article noting that several members of the group “have themselves talked publicly about sensitive security matters.”
But Williams closed the segment with these friendly words: “Well, you know what, Mr. Taylor? I think that you have a right to speak your mind political season or no political season (as if that had ever been in dispute) and I think America clearly feels you should speak out if that’s what you and your group – as you point out, bipartisan – wants to do. So thank you for standing up, Mr. Taylor.”
Oh, Juan, I thought you were better than this.