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O’Reilly Tries -- And Fails -- To Make A Case for Democratic Turmoil

Reported by Ellen - March 6, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Julie

On Tuesday night’s Talking Points (3/3/09), “fair and balanced” Bill O’Reilly attempted to paint President’s Obama’s relationship with Nancy Pelosi as fraught with tension, signaling trouble in paradise. Captioned “Turmoil in Both Political Parties,” O’Reilly unfortunately forgot to talk about the “turmoil” in the Republican Party, and only remembered to talk about the “turmoil“ among the Democrats.

O'Reilly seized on a Newsweek article entitled, Obama’s Pelosi Problem, which reported on rumored friction between Obama and Pelosi. O’Reilly alleged that Pelosi’s “anti-Republican stance is annoying Mr. Obama.” However, he failed to note several key points about the Newsweek article, namely (1) it also pointed out that “Obama and Pelosi respect, even like, each other,” (2) the article cited no sources other than “some White House aides” and “a senior Obama official” (who “asked not to be named so he could speak candidly”), (3) the author did not quote either President Obama or Pelosi in the article to validate or dispute its accuracy, and (4) the article made note that “Pelosi's hard-edged style also benefits Obama.”

O’Reilly also didn’t, of course, cite a recent New York Times article entitled, Frustrated G.O.P. Tries to Drive Wedge Between Obama and Pelosi, which claims that “For Republicans, it makes much more sense to focus their disdain on the speaker rather than Mr. Obama, who remains very popular.” The article goes on to say that “the two share plenty of common philosophical ground and have similar policy goals. House Democrats may have stuffed a few clunkers into the $787 billion economic stimulus legislation crafted under Ms. Pelosi’s direction, but Mr. Obama was totally on board with the vast majority of the bill.”

Using this alleged dispute as an unfettered opportunity to paint Democrats as radicals and socialists and spin his conspiracy theories, O’Reilly rolled out his attack on the “far left extremists” (presumably including Nancy Pelosi) who “are going for the gold.” Appearing to be mired in a Robert Ludlum novel, he claimed that the terms “social justice” and “shared sacrifice” are “code words.” In O’Reilly’s world, “social justice” really means empowering the government to seize the assets of affluent Americans (a category that definitely includes O’Reilly - you could almost see him clutching his wallet) and distribute them to the less well off, while “shared sacrifice” means punitive taxation on high wage earners and corporations (categories that also include O‘Reilly, as he‘s so fond of telling his viewers how wealthy he is). “That of course is socialism.” (That, of course, is not socialism, but a progressive tax system, which I guess he forgot that a Republican president kind of invented.)

O’Reilly also took a swipe at the Service Employees International Union, which represents 2 million workers in the U.S. and Canada. Ads run by the SEIU asking for a “shared sacrifice” (you know what THAT’s a “code word” for) to help burdened Americans drew particular ire from O’Reilly, who portrayed them as attackers of capitalism.

But the Wall Street Journal sees the danger! O’Reilly plucked a paragraph out of the editorial (which, yeah, would be an opinion piece) stating that, “The market has notably plunged since Mr. Obama introduced his budget last week . . . The document was a declaration of hostility toward capitalists across the economy.” O’Reilly solemnly opined that, while President Obama may be trying to fix the economy, he’s letting left-wing radicals run wild, and “being battered” by the far left -- and if he doesn’t stand up to them, we will all suffer “dire consequences.”

Unfortunately for O’Reilly, his Obama v. Pelosi battle of the radicals didn’t stand up to Fox News’ Brit Hume’s scrutiny, who appeared later in a segment entitled “Democrats Divided?” Reining O‘Reilly in, Hume said, “I gotta tell you, Bill, I don’t see a lot of daylight between Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and the elements in the Congress who presented him, for example, with that stimulus bill . . . He objected to very little that was in that bill.” He went on to say that “there may be something behind the scenes that I don’t know about, but I don’t see any real disagreement or tension between those two sides.” Although Hume suggested Obama may be a little impatient and disappointed with Pelosi’s “style,” but went on to imply that Obama’s attempts at bipartisanship (which is the crux of the supposed tension between Obama and Pelosi) were very thin anyway, complaining that “Republicans have had almost no say at all.” Hume refused to validate O’Reilly’s there’s-tension-due-to-the-radical-Nancy-Pelosi-left-wing theory, and in fact made it clear he felt Obama and Pelosi were on the same team.