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O'Reilly On Memogate: FOX Rules, CBS Drools.

Reported by Marie Therese - September 17, 2004 -

In the promo for his September 16, 2004 O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly asked: "Is it all over for CBS News? The Wall Street Journal believes that Memogate will have wide implications to the American media." The lower third graphic flashed across the screen: CBS SWAN SONG? He then delivered his daily Talking Points Memo as follows:

O'REILLY: "The changing of the media guard. That is the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo. The fallout over the document fiasco at CBS News is having unintended consequences all over the place."

O'Reilly: "A lead editorial in ‘The Wall Street Journal" today says, "The widespread challenge to Dan Rather's reporting, to his credibility, means that the liberal media establishment has ceased to set the U.S. political agenda. This is potentially a big cultural moment. For decades liberal media elites were able to define current debates by all kicking in the same direction, like the Rockettes ... but the last month has widened cracks in that media monopoly that have been developing for some time.'" (WSJ Online, 9/16/04)

"The editorial goes on to say that Fox News, talk radio and the Internet have all eroded the power of the elites. And it is true. When FNC won the ratings battle at the Republican Convention, despite being available in far fewer homes than the network news, the proof was on the table. This, of course, is good news for us, but also a daunting scenario. Tom Brokaw is retiring, Mr. Rather is embattled and Peter Jennings remains trapped in the early evening when many Americans aren't home to watch."

"Thus The Factor and other Fox News programs are accumulating millions of viewers. We are no longer the new kids. We are now the big kids. Now some Fox viewers want an ideological operation that hates Kerry and endorses Republican candidates. That, of course, cannot happen here. Our slogan is fair and balanced and we have to be."

"So we have lost a few viewers, but most Americans who watch us understand that our reporting and analysis is geared toward them. We are indeed looking out for you. And we try to be as down to earth as possible. That populiststrain runs through most FNC programs. No elitism here. We go to work every day, just like you do."

"Next week, I will be interviewing President Bush. And I'm very grateful for the opportunity. I spoke with the president during the last campaign. He knows he got a fair shake from us. So we'll do it again. And I hope John Kerry will speak to me as well. He also will be treated fairly."

"And that's the crux of the matter. The perception is that CBS News was not fair in Memogate. And as Talking Points said yesterday, the Guard story doesn't even matter anymore. Most Americans admire fairness far more than blindideology. Our mandate is to continue to adhere to that and stay away from any Memogates. And that is the memo."


Just a few observations. One, Bill O'Reilly tended to use the words "Wall Street Journal", which to most people means a printed newspaper, when, in fact, he actually meant the paperless online edition. He also tended to forget to qualify the paper's name with the word "editorial." The viewer is left with a confused impression, to whit, that the Wall Street Journal - a paper made out of paper - had written an article rather than an editorial that hauled CBS over the coals, tolled the death knell of the "elite media" and trumpeted the ascendancy of FOX News, talk radio and right wing bloggers as the new "kings of the road".