This week, there was an internet kerfuffle over Bill O’Reilly’s statement that he hasn’t heard “anything” over at NBC about President Obama’s controversial drone policy. In fact, NBC News broke the story. Last night, O’Reilly addressed the matter in his “Tip of the Day” segment – by arguing that he had been referring to NBC analysis, not news. And you know what? I agree with him. I saw the original segment and although what he literally said was incorrect, I thought his meaning was clear within the context of the discussion. But, as my grandmother used to say in situations like this, O’Reilly started out in the right but his handling of it put him in the wrong.
Here’s a transcript of O’Reilly’s original comments to Bob Beckel, via Mediaite:
“Remember the outcry over waterboarding? You know, everybody jumping up and down? NBC News, I thought they were going to, like, melt down over there. You heard anything on NBC about the drones?”
…“So you haven’t heard anything over about this, and neither have I. Neither has my staff. Okay? So we haven’t heard anything. But we heard a lot about waterboarding, but nothing about drone strikes. How do you process that?”
To me, it’s pretty clear – especially if you watch the entire segment below – that O’Reilly was talking about opinion programming, not news reporting, despite the fact that he did not phrase it that way. However, that would have been false, too, because Mediaite pointed out that there was plenty of discussion on MSNBC about the drones. But I believe that what O’Reilly really meant was that while the left was up in arms against President Bush over waterboarding, nobody seemed to be holding the drones against President Obama.
Now, I could argue that it’s because President Obama’s thoughtful demeanor and his anti-war policies stand in stark contrast to George W. Bush’s cowboy swagger. But for the sake of argument, I’ll grant O’Reilly’s likely point for him – that there’s some partisan hypocrisy there. And I won’t dwell on the fact that I can’t see a single reason for making that point other than as yet another excuse to attack the left.
But here’s where O’Reilly blew it, in my view: Instead of taking any responsibility for what was at best inartful wording and arguing that people should look beyond quickie video clips, O’Reilly played the victim and turned the whole thing into yet another screed, sympathetically titled on FoxNews.com as "More deceit from the far left."
I hate to say it, Bill, but that sounds like spin not straight talk. And whining:
Once again, we have a propaganda campaign designed to make ignorant people on the left even more ignorant. Factor Tip of the Day: Don’t deal with loons. I have to. You shouldn’t have to.
O’Reilly could have used the moment to point out how, in the internet age, “going viral” can take the place of “national discussion.” How someone’s thoughts can get twisted in an inflammatory soundbite for yucks and sneers rather than listened to and considered. Or used to promote an agenda. If you were looking for something to go viral at O’Reilly's expense, this was a good candidate – and it worked. If you were interested in the substance of what O'Reilly was getting at - better luck next time.
Unfortunately for O’Reilly, he doesn’t have a lot of standing to complain about this. His network does it all the time. Remember “You didn’t build that?” Even worse, Sandra Fluke? She presented an adult discussion about why contraception should be mandatory in health insurance – and O’Reilly framed the issue by painting her as a whore looking for sexual freebies. But that doesn't mean he couldn't have tried.
It’s too bad he didn't. Instead, it was just more of the same old, same old sniping.
Below are both the segments. Share your thoughts on this in the comments section. Maybe we can have the kind of real discussion O’Reilly blew off.
1) Things where he’s in an impossible situation, and no one seems to remember the other parties involved. Take indefinite detention- How many people were outraged that John McCain wrote it, and it was slipped into the NDAA during closed door, all Republican appointments while Congress was in session. All the blame seemed to be on Carl Levin for being a sponsor (which he deserves), and Obama for failing to negotiate it out.
2) Obama deserves his share of the blame, but it’s an existing policy he can’t or won’t remove. See article, it saves me time.
3) The policy is genuinely worthy of concern or contempt, and it gets plenty from both sides… but the right makes part of it that the left isn’t going far enough. They have to go as hard as the GOP deludes themselves into thinking we went on Bush or harder. Even when the whole “who’s guiltier?” game isn’t kind to Bush.
O’Reilly, and every other host at Fox News seem to have no ability to comprehend this. They don’t want us to be consistent, they want us to join them in baselessly attacking our own side, instead of only condemning them when they done goofed.
Bush got it 24/7 because Countries that don’t have maps to prove they could find us on had stories about how much the damage from everything he did reached even them. I think there were two days of his whole eight years where he didn’t piss off half the world. Obama doesn’t screw up even close to that- live with it.
“To me, it’s pretty clear – especially if you watch the entire segment below – that O’Reilly was talking about opinion programming, not news reporting . . .”
And therein lies BillO’s problem: he thinks that, because Fox presents opinion disguised as news, every other network should do the same . . .
^I’m using this video as my example.
The media… is giving a pass… Obama… got a pass… from the media…
ARE YOU PEOPLE FUCKING STUPID?!? I know your viewers are, I’m sure the ones who post here will be on later to prove it. But I’m asking about you- The hosts, co-hosts and contributors of Fox News.
This story was broken on NBC; The reporter who broke it has provided analysis and commentary on several MSNBC shows. This has been a top story on CNN since it broke. They were the first to report that Obama was turning over the memos, in fact. ABC and CBS have been dedicating large chunks of thier news programming to it. It’s been a huge story on radio outlets like NPR. Publications considered leftist have been all over it.
You know what their coverage is? They pointed out that laws written in response to 9/11, such as this one?
They validate legality, which makes a large portion of the argument whether or not the laws went too far to start with. The lion’s share of what I’ve heard about the memo itself is that it’s a morality issue, as well as a legal one. Republicans are openly wringing their hands with the ideas invading their heads on how to use this if it’s still around in 2016, what do we do if them or someone of equal to greater irresponsibility gets in then?
And if you want to whine about transparency… Obama turned over the memo and his notes, no questions asked. Many of the questions have been answered by it to even Boehner’s satisfaction, including that some of the memos were working out how to put the final say in the courts.
Fox News will give all this minor mentions in their website articles, but what does their TV channel do? “Oh, boo hoo hoo! Bush couldn’t get away with abusing his power! So let’s lie about the story, as well as how it’s being covered!”
Seriously, Fox… and I do mean seriously. Shut the fuck up- You’d be doing less damage if you pretended it was Bush and ignored the story. Which might not be much of a stretch, since he’s all you can talk about covering this, anyways.
I have yet to see a different approach, even from their news programming. Jenna Lee did an almost 10 minute interview with Karl Rove where all he did was go into rants filled with gems like “liberals hated Bush for his measures because he loves this country; Obama gets a pass because he doesn’t.”
About the only person who’s capable of getting off that kick is Gutfeld- And he can only get off to make jokes about drones being “Planned Parenthood with sensors.”