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O’Reilly Obsesses About Target Boycott, Uses It To Deflect Criticism Of Rove’s Anonymous Donors

Reported by Ellen - October 14, 2010 -

The O’Reilly Factor “discussion” last night (10/13/10) about a boycott against Target is a perfect example of what bugs me the most about Fox News - besides its constant hate mongering. Rather than explore the issues behind Target’s decision to give $150,000 to a group that paid for ads supporting Minnesota’s virulently anti-gay, Republican gubernatorial candidate or the ensuing boycott by MoveOn.org and others, we got a one-sided, anti-MoveOn editorial from O’Reilly followed up with “analysis” from hyper-partisan Republican Karl Rove. Even worse, O’Reilly’s attack on the left over Target served as a neat set up to deflect attention from Rove’s role in a GOP slush fund, American Crossroads, for which he has come under a great deal of critical scrutiny lately.

O’Reilly devoted his Talking Points Memo last night to the Target boycott. As O’Reilly described it, the “vicious MoveOn crew” (unlike the kind and gentle hosts at Fox News, I suppose) was going after Target “just because it donated money to a pro-business organization.”

Actually, MoveOn’s stance is that neither Target, nor other corporations, should be donating to organizations that support candidates. Even if Target did not know in advance, as O'Reilly suggested, that its $150,000 donation would go toward supporting the extreme right-wingerTom Emmer, O’Reilly should have found out and relayed to “the folks,” as he’s so fond of calling his viewers, what can be known about Target’s donation, as well as MoveOn’s actual objections, rather than to just assume that Target had no intention of funneling money to Emmer or that MoveOn objected just because Emmer is “pro-business.” Despite the network’s “we report, you decide” mantra, there was no reporting, just deciding.

Oh, yeah, and a call to action. O’Reilly concluded the Memo with, “So the next time you hear the left scream about dirty money and shifty tactics on the right, think about Target. You might also go to the store this upcoming weekend and buy something at Target just to send MoveOn and its acolytes a message.”

Then it was time for Rove and the “Top Story” segment. O’Reilly began with a quote from Maureen Dowd’s column the day before, “Karl Rove has put together a potent operation to use anonymous donors to flood the airwaves with attack ads against Democrats.” That’s an accurate quote from Dowd but O’Reilly forgot to mention that that was an aside to the rest of the column which was about the GOP’s retread of Bush-era politics. O’Reilly neatly left out the next sentence in the column: “And a gaunt-looking Dick Cheney is out of the hospital and back to raking in money defending torture and pre-emptive war.” Also not discussed was Dowd’s main thrust, a prediction that the smear tactics used against Valerie Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, were about to come round again.

You have to wonder if O’Reilly actually read Dowd’s column as he told Rove, “I’m not quite sure what she’s after you about. …Have you done anything wrong?”

If Rove read the editorial, then he deliberately misled in his response. “She’s after me because I’m a conservative who’s following the tactics of liberals.” He repeated his “the left does it, too” defense of his anonymous donors (neatly debunked by Media Matters).

“So you’re saying that the left does the same thing as the right does,” O’Reilly interrupted, evidently eager to change the subject, rather than really find out about Dowd’s beef. He asked, “What about this Target thing?”

Don’t tell me O’Reilly didn’t know that Rove would seize the opportunity to further attack the left. Rove said, “The Target thing gives me some concern because …the left has already won this battle… Give money to a pro-business group in the state that in turn has said something favorable about a conservative Republican candidate and they get beaten up for it.”

Rove went on to complain that the result is that business and business executives will be discouraged “from taking an active role in politics. And that’s exactly what they want. The left wants to intimidate people into stepping back from active political participation in our country because they’re afraid that they’re gonna get beaten up in the public arena.”

O’Reilly said, “The right, though, plays hardball too.” Maybe he had read Dowd's column, after all. O'Reilly said that what disturbed him most about Target is that the company “just gave money to a pro-business organization. They didn’t give money to Emmer. Emmer was supported by the business organization.”

Of course, that IS the point: what O’Reilly calls a “business organization,” is really a front group through which corporations can funnel cash. And that’s Dowd’s (and others’) complaint about Rove's group.

O’Reilly’s harping on Target, while ostensibly discussing questions about Rove’s electoral operations, conveniently conflated the two issues with one attack on the left. O’Reilly said, “By MoveOn’s definition, if you gave any money to any organization that supports capitalism in the United States, and any of that support wound up at any candidate who opposes gay marriage, they should be boycotted. That’s insane.” He later said that MoveOn is also “after” Rove.

Rove said, “It’s the reality of the left… The likelihood of any law being changed in Minnesota that would undermine the gay-friendly agenda, the gay-friendly policies of Target are slim and none and Slim is gettin’ on his horse. But that’s not what this is about. There is an alliance between most of the people on the left so that they take care of each other (kind of like what he and O'Reilly were doing right then, eh?) and one of the things that they take care of each other is, is intimidating people from taking an active role in politics.”

That’s right, the GOP’s most notorious dirty trickster is suddenly concerned about others being intimidated from “an active role” in politics. Touching. I'm sure John McCain would agree.

There are other questions, too, about Rove’s electoral activities, such as whether he’s playing any role in deciding which races get funded. But, as Matt Gertz at Media Matters pointed out,

“Fox has been utterly unconcerned that their top ‘political analyst,’ who regularly appears on air unopposed by any Democrat to discuss the 2010 elections, is simultaneously raising money that is being used to bolster Republican campaigns. But you think they'd care if he's guiding American Crossroads' decisions on which races to spend that money on.

If Karl Rove is reading his group's polling of Senate race, picking out the best paths of attack on Democrats, and simultaneously channeling those attacks into TV ads and his Fox News commentary, you would think that even Fox would have to respond.”

I wouldn’t bet on it.

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