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O'Reilly misrepresents Washington Post columns to bash NBC

Reported by Chrish - February 6, 2007 -

Bill O'Reilly was full of faux outrage last night 2/05/07 and used his Talking Points Memo to slam NBC News' Military Analyst William Arkin for remarks he made in a Washington Post column January 30 (yes, 6 days ago - a little late to the party, eh?) about the troops in Iraq. Although Arkin clarified his remarks in a later column February 1, O'Reilly remained focused on a few offending phrases that enable his agenda of hammering all things NBC.

The TPM, "Attacking the Military", was a "stunning display of hatred" according to O'Reilly, who then took these salient comments out of the article to support this view:

"I've been mulling over an NBC Nightly News report from Iraq last Friday in which a number of soldiers expressed frustration with opposition to war in the United States."

"Through every Abu Ghraib and Haditha, through every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order."

"So, we pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, ..., and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war,..."

..."(this) NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary - oops sorry, volunteer - force...."

From this edited selection O'Reilly misinterprets that Arkin is implying that Abu Ghraib and Haditha define how Americans have performed in Iraq, and "flat out calls our military 'mercenaries', that is people who fight solely for money with no patriotic intent at all."

O'Reilly conveniently ignores the second column, which begins

"I knew when I used the word "mercenary" in my Tuesday column that I was being highly inflammatory.

NBC News ran a piece in which enlisted soldiers in Iraq expressed frustration about waning American support.

I intentionally chose to criticize the military and used the word to incite and call into question their presumption that the public had a duty to support them. The public has duties, but not to the American military.

So I committed blasphemy, and for this seeming lack of respect and appreciation for individuals in uniform, I have been roundly criticized and condemned.

Mercenary, of course, is an insult and pejorative, and it does not accurately describe the condition of the American soldier today. I sincerely apologize to anyone in the military who took my words literally.

Almost every day, we can hear or read someone in uniform saying that they are just doing a "job." We don't necessarily take this to literally mean that they are only in it for the work.

Of course those who choose to wear the uniform do so because they are patriots and because they feel compelled to take up arms to defend the nation. What we take from their self-deprecating description that they are only doing their job is that they are not glory seeking, and that in order to make war and put themselves in the unnatural position of risking their lives and killing others, they have to focus on their profession, to do what they have been trained to do, to put aside the seeming inhumanity, to just "soldier on."

FOX News pest Jesse Waters accosted Mr. Arkin in a parking lot (apparently with his kids right there) and couldn't produce a business card so Arkin declined to talk to him. For this O'Reilly dubbed him "Mr. Courage," before calling him a long-time military hater - (like John Kerry, Arkin is also a vet who served in the U.S. Army from 1974-1978) who wrote a book exposing some code-names. According to a reviewer , in Code Names "Arkin has a specific goal. He believes the post-9/11 drive for secrecy has imperiled American security and democracy. Information is often classified, he writes, not because of the danger of passing information to those who would harm the United States, but in order to close down public debate about controversial activities. The intelligence failures that allowed 9/11 to occur, Arkin writes, show that safety is better achieved when the national-security establishment is subjected to oversight and scrutiny. His book caused a small sensation even before it came out and is essential reading for understanding the mechanics of the U.S. military and intelligence apparatus." (Alex Roslin)

O'Reilly can't understand why the Washington Post and NBC would hire this guy, and ties it to their "recent sharp turn to the left." (Arkin has worked for them since at least 1998.) He uses this clever segue to name the three head honchoes at NBC (Robert Wright, Jeff Zucker, and Steve Capus) and accuse them of making a business decision to veerleft. With their approval "certain elements" that shall not be named are allowed to spew far-left propaganda on a daily basis and make vicious personal attacks on people with whom they disagree.... students of journalism know that this kind of garbage is unprecedented at the network level.

Oh stop, you're killin' me.

Asked for a statement regarding Arkin, NBC replied that his comments appeared in The Washington Post and he does not speak on behalf of NBC. That's not enough for O'Reilly, who snidely notes that they did not criticize his comments. But he puts the onus directly on the shoulders of NBC parent company GE's CEO, Jeffrey Imelt, who is "aware of the Arkin problem" and the tone at NBC, and it is up to him to do something about this "debacle." O'Reilly got really lous at the end, calling for all Americans to condemn "this" (i.e., his abbreviated summary of Arkin's remarks SANS full context and the exculpatory follow-up.)

In a segment immediately following TPM, Michelle Malkin and Kirsten Powers joined the bashing. O'Reilly said that NBC would say "let all voices be heard, freedom of speech, blah blah blah; what say you?"

Well, who cares what MM says? Not I. If all voices can't be heard and we just want echos of our own views then why should I transcribe her (outraged, indignant, damning) remarks? I'm sure she has them posted at her aptly named hot air blog.

OK, just a little: she says anyone who gives Arkin a platform should let people know he's an intellectual coward, a thug, and a radical left-wing loon. (And an independent writer, investigator, and consultant specializing in national security affairs. He is the "Dot.Mil" columnist for the Washington Post's online service and has written the "Last Word" column in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1985. He is also a regular contributor to Defense Daily. He is an adjunct professor at the U.S. Air Force's School of Advanced Airpower Studies.
But wait, there's more! Mr. Arkin is the author or co-author of several books, including SIOP: The Secret US Plan for Nuclear War (1983); Encyclopedia of the US Military; and, most recently, The U.S. Military Online (1998, 2nd edition). He also co-authored and co-edited the prestigious encyclopedia of nuclear weapons, the five-volume Nuclear Weapons Databook, undertaken by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Mr. Arkin served in the U.S. Army from 1974-1978, and was an assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the US Commander Berlin. He was engaged in a number of covert intelligence collection projects and was the primary intelligence analyst for the West Berlin command.)

He writes "tripe" that can be found in the "far-left swamps" and has shown us just how "unhinged" some of these so-called mainstream journalists are. Not to be out-hyperboled, O'Reilly says that they (the factor?) has uncovered the fraud perpetrated on viewers when Arkin is presented as an objective military analyst. His prior relationships with Greenpeace, NRDC, and Human Rights Watch prove he is a leftist, and his book - his book might have gotten people killed. He is a military hater, said the TV announcer who taught high school (where he learned all about teenagers) rather than serve in Viet Nam.

Malkin says that in defense of NBC, the item that set Arkin off was a show that aired military troops stating that anti-war sentiments equaled, to them, non-support of the troops. malking said such a show was the exception but offered no stats or analysis, just her impression. O'Reilly denied that and said there are good people at NBC - it's not a cabal, but management has made a decision to go to the left to pick up viewers. Sounds to me like he's contradicting himself. He might even be admitting that NBC is balanced. His conclusion, though, is that" they're selling out their country for ratings points."

I'm going to die of hypocrisy poisoning if this doesn't stop.

O'Reilly finally turned to former Democratic strategist and recently promoted FOX News Analyst Kirsten Powers, who jumped the proverbial shark this night, saying that she thought when she read the column she was looking at a "far-left blog." She and O'Reilly continued to nit-pick the first column and ignore the second one, and then O'Reilly cut her off and went back to Malkin. Get a clue, girlfriend.

So much for fair and balanced.