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Attempting To Defend Fox News, O’Reilly Segment Proves Its Bias

Reported by Ellen - November 9, 2010 -

Perhaps stung by the latest revelations of concerns by Fox News insiders about its bias, Bill O’Reilly took to the O’Reilly Factor airwaves last night (11/8/10) with what he thought disproved any accusations of Fox News partisanship. But by focusing the segment on ridiculing Fox News’ Mara Liasson’s comparison of Nancy Pelosi to Winston Churchill, ignoring the fact that Liasson was saying that Pelosi should step aside, and stacking his panel with both a conservative and a liberal who agreed with him, O’Reilly comically demolished his own argument. And if that wasn’t enough, a Fox Nation post about Liasson’s comments called Pelosi an “antiwar socialist.” Yeah, that’s impartial. But wait, there’s more. Near the end of the segment, O’Reilly wondered “what America” President Obama loves.

O’Reilly began the segment by saying, “As you may have heard, some far-left loons define the Fox News Channel as a network in business to promote the Republican Party. That, of course, is nonsense.” Even if O’Reilly discounts our six and a half years of blog posts and the Outfoxed documentary film, I wonder if he’d call the Fox News staff who have spoken out about the network’s bias “far-left-loons.”

O'Reilly's so-called proof of Fox's impartiality was a statement by Fox News analyst Mara Liasson on Fox News Sunday the day before in which she compared Nancy Pelosi to Winston Churchill. Liasson said, “She (Pelosi) was an incredibly effective majority leader when there was an opposition president. It’s kind of like Winston Churchill. I mean, she accomplished historic things for the Democrats and they should be sending her off in a blaze of glory and adjusting for this new regime.”

Alright, Liasson may have overstated her case. But would this be news unless someone was looking to attack Pelosi (and, by suggestion, a woman who praised her)? I mean, who cares what Liasson says about Pelosi? But since O'Reilly did, he should have at least pointed out that Liasson, while giving Pelosi recognition for past accomplishments, was not voicing support for her now but saying it was time for her to be sent off. So eager were O’Reilly and his two like-minded guests to sneer at Liasson’s comparison that they didn’t seem to get its plain meaning.

O’Reilly did not bother to hide his scornful laughter as he went on to say that Liasson was “unavailable to speak with us tonight and Mr. Churchill is deceased.” So instead we got Fox News analysts Mary Katharine Ham and Juan Williams. All three snickered at Liasson.

Ever since he got fired from NPR, Williams has seemed more eager to climb on the Fox News bandwagon than to be a voice of liberal dissent (he could be very effective at times). But not lately. After giving an incomprehensible explanation of what he thought Liasson meant, Williams called her statement “a really thin analogy.” It was O’Reilly who acknowledged, as the discussion about Liasson wound down, that “There is some similarity in the sense that both of them (Pelosi and Churchill) lost in the end.”

O’Reilly said he was not trying to “beat up” Liasson but had brought up the topic because “when you hear the propaganda that Fox News network’s in the tank for the Republicans and we’re GOP all the time, and then you have somebody like Liasson who’s a pretty big platform on this network say that, which I know most conservatives are going, ‘That is absolutely insane.’ You know we foster that kind of discussion here and we do it all the time, unlike our competition.”

Sorry, Bill, but spending a segment obsessing over an insignificant anti-Pelosi statement because it’s too pro-Pelosi - and with two guests who share your opinion - is not exactly my idea of a slam dunk for “fair and balanced.”

Williams agreed wholeheartedly with O’Reilly’s viewpoint. “I don’t get it,” Williams said. “I think the myth is that somehow Fox is, you know, orthodox and it’s just Republican… Look, clearly, the Fox News Channel’s more conservative, I’ll say that, but nobody tells me what to say. I’m allowed to ask questions, to respond to questions honestly and I value it as a forum. People say, ‘Well, what about Beck? What about Hannity? They’re far right.’ I say, ‘You know what? That’s not the entirety of Fox.’”

Earth to Williams: Not even we say that Fox spends every moment of air time promoting Republicans. And we have an entire category recognizing Democrats and liberals who do a good job advocating for their side on Fox. But just as a criminal has moments of honesty, just as an alcoholic has bouts of sobriety or a mean-tempered dog doesn’t always bite, that doesn’t mean there isn’t enough of a pattern to arrive at a reasonable conclusion.

O’Reilly said, “We try to sprinkle the panels with all kinds of points of view.”

Yeah, except that the conservative/Republican point of view always seems to predominate. And here was another case in point.

Then O’Reilly moved on to say that he’s getting “more worried” because he doesn’t know “who Barack Obama is.”

Once again, there was no real voice of dissent. Williams offered faint praise for Obama. “Obama is “a brilliant guy… but when it comes to hot-button issues, when it comes to revealing yourself and taking a risk in doing it, that’s where you don’t see him. He’s the kind of guy also, Bill, who… the common wisdom in Washington is, he’ll let the bus run over you. If you’re not valuable to him, if he doesn’t see some purpose in having you around or what you have to say, you’re a goner. And I think you’ll see that all around him. So in that sense, you might have to question his loyalty but, you know, in terms of the general stuff, love of America, I don’t think there’s any question that he loves America.’

O’Reilly said, “No, but I don’t know what America he loves, whether his vision of America he loves or the tradition that we have, I just don’t know.”

There was no pushback from “liberal” Williams.

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