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O'Reilly: "I'd like an honest media in this country...is this too much to ask?"

Reported by Chrish - May 12, 2007 -

Bill O'Reilly was on a tear on the Factor last night 5/11/07 because an 8-page article by retired General McCaffrey that says there are some positive signs in Iraq is not on the front page of the New York Times or the Boston Globe. I don't know how to break it to him, but it's not on FOXNews.com either. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the article is over six weeks old, and in that time 150 more Americans have lost their lives in Iraq.

First O'Reilly summarized the eight pages for us, and it was strikingly like all the talking points we hear on FOX on a daily basis: our cause is just; the consequence of failure will be severe; we now need a last powerful effort to provide the politcal support, economic resources, and military strength it needs to succeed. In faint yellow-on-pink print in the graphic you can make out the date: March 26th, 2007.

O'Reilly then devoted his Talking Points Memo to a rant against the "left-wing" media, which has declared Iraq a lost cause, blames Republicans for it, and wants to seat a Democrat in the White House in 2008.

O'Reilly continued to talk about the memo and McCaffrey's assessment in the present tense, saying he (McCaffrey) believes progress is being made, and Sunnis are turning against Al Qaeda.

O'Reilly opines that with as much as we've already invested, we should let the end game play out, but the anti-war crew is "invested in defeat." Iraq is a shooting war, he said, but America is a political war. Both are driven by hate.

O'Reilly failed to mention some other comments by McCaffrey, although he did allude to previous criticisms. In an interview with the Kansas City Star a month after the memo O'Reilly chose to highlight, McCaffrey said of the war in Iraq:

"We're in trouble.

The Iraqi government in power is dysfunctional. There is no essentially province in Iraq where the central government holds sway. It’s not true in the Kurdish areas … It’s not true in Basra, where there’s a struggle for power among the Shiites; it’s essentially not true in any part of the country.

But collectively the American people have said that the conduct of the war has been so incompetent that we’ve come to disbelieve the administration has the ability to carry this off.

The next president, unless the situation in Iraq is dramatically turned around, is pulling the plug.

I see no political energy at all to increase the size of military. … Who says we can’t get America’s sons and daughters. We’re willing to pay the resources to (defense contractor) KBR and (private security firm) Blackwater, but we think it’s mercenary to pay more to a Marine pfc. …

They got one line in a (presidential) speech at Fort Bragg about ‘for those of you who are interested in a career of service in the armed forces, there’s no more noble thing to do.’ That isn’t what is going on here. We don’t need people to consider a career in the armed forces. We need their sons and daughters to go out and carry a gun for us."

Of interest, a similar article that ran the following day in The Star omitted that last bit about the mercenaries and sons and daughters as cannon-fodder, and replaced the question/answer with one about Pat Tillman. Too much truth for the so-called liberal media?

After TPM, O'Reilly brought on Colonel David Hunt (who coincidentally is promoting a book) as the sole guest to discuss McCaffrey's comments and to further bash the media for not reporting them. (A Google News search finds three copies of the same article that refers to McCaffrey's comments at blogs like the Intellectual Conservative and the Conservative Voice, posted earlier this week.) A brief search of articles on McCaffrey shows him to be a controversial figure whom some have charged committed war crimes in the first Gulf War, while others laud his leadership.

O'Reilly introduced a graphic which showed that the US Military ranks the media alongside drug cartels and Al Qaeda as a threat to national security. (This would have been an appropriate moment for FOX graphics to run a "Mission Accomplished" banner behing O'Reilly, who has done more to damage the reputation of the mainstream media than any other single person.) Ironically, for the moment he includes himself in the media for a change and asks if "we" should take that seriously?

Hunt explained that the comparison was included in a draft presentation outlining changes in 2007 to the Army's Operational Security Manual (the 'how to protect secrets manual'). He said that the Columbia School of Journalism, on a blogsite, took exception to the inclusion in a Power Point presentation. (The prestigious CSJ ran an article on its website; Hunt's characterization of it was demeaning.) Hunt agreed that people in Operations should not talk to the media or anyone, for that matter, on matters of security, but O'Reilly went back to the fact that "that's not great company for us, Colonel." Hunt protested that it was just a draft and that the Army is doing the right thing, it's common sense. "Loose lips sink ships."

O'Reilly, ever the narcissist, said that the troops are watching them "this second, in the field." (Can you just see everyone in Iraq stopping what they're doing and heading for the TV; "gotta run, O'Reilly's on!") He asked if, with all the "negativity" every day, does Hunt think the armed forces respect the media today? Hunt said they don't care about them much, they care about the fight they're in right now. "The press and the politicians don't mean that much to a soldier in combat."

Changing the subject, O'Reilly asked if Hunt had any use for McCaffrey. Hunt replied that he didn't for a long time. McCaffrey was a brave guy, he said, but until recently he didn't like how he covered the war, but the last 3-4 "tomes" were on the money. He writes positively about "the surge" but he's also sobering about realities like you can't travel anywhere in Iraq without bodyguards. Hunt wishes it was getting a lot more visibility, leading O'Reilly to smugly ask "why isn't it getting visibility? Why?"

Hunt said BOR would know much better than he, but the war isn't "selling" and people aren't "watching." O'Reilly allowed that people are depressed about it, but stated that he is

"firmly, firmly convinced that there is an element in the media, strong element, that wants the defeat for political purposes. I do believe that with every fiber in my body. They have already said it's a lost cause, they are not going to go back no matter what happens, and that's why this McCaffrey thing is not going to get any exposure."

Hunt demurred, saying BOR would know better than he, but although he'd understand people who'd say for political reasons that the war is lost, and who disagree with policy, he doesn't think there are people in the press who are un-American.

O'Reilly took on a hands-off attitude, telling Hunt he can make the call on un-American, but Hunt can't tell him that the Boston Globe (Hunt lives in Maine) is going to put good news about Iraq on the front page. Hunt agreed and said neither is the New York Times, but what he is saying...

We don't know, because O'Reilly got loud and sneering and overtalked: "Then you make the call on un-American. I'd like to have an honest media, you know, Colonel? Is that too much to ask for the United States?"

Hunt said (of course) no, but there's bad as well as good and he thinks McCaffrey's is an honest assessment.

The Washington Post thought so, too, and ran an article on the memo back when it was news.

This is a straw-man argument we've seen before. O'Reilly will take a focus that HE wants to hammer and then bitch that the rest of the media is not covering it. We saw it with William Arkin, and we're seeing it weekly as he bemoans media focusing on the deaths of innocent children, drunk driver deaths, and terrorism plotters and not on his preferred target of "illegal aliens."