Al Sharpton made a mistake on the air about Bill O’Reilly. He took O’Reilly’s comments about Nelson Mandela out of context to suggest that O’Reilly had criticized Mandela as a communist. In reality, O’Reilly was praising Mandela as a great man with whom he disagreed. Should Sharpton apologize? Yes. But does he deserve O’Reilly’s campaign to get him fired? I don’t think so. He especially doesn’t deserve to be racially smeared over it. But that’s exactly how low O'Reilly's two guests, Howard Kurtz and Bernard Goldberg, took their attack tonight.
O’Reilly’s truth crusade is severely undercut by the falsehoods and distortions in his own record as well as those elsewhere on Fox. Since it’s the War on Christmas season, we can start with O’Reilly’s less-than-truthful claim to have saved the holiday from the Christmas “discouragers” in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Plus, there’s his false claim that his boycott of France a few years back “hurt France” and cost them “billions.” More recently, he laughably said he’s “not aware” of harsh personal attacks being made on Fox. Not only did I prove him wrong, the comment was voted the Most Outrageous in our weekly Outrageous Quote of the Week poll.
As for untruths elsewhere on the channel – there are so many, it’s hard to know where to begin. If you type in “lie” in the search box in the upper right corner of this page, you can get an idea. But to pick a few, how about the long list of phony ObamaCare victims Fox has been trotting out lately? Or the promotion of Donald Trump’s birtherism? Last I checked, Trump is still treated as a credible pundit and Fox enthuses over his (very unlikely) future political career.
And to get back to Sharpton, O’Reilly rewrote his own history over a fateful dinner they had together at Sylvia’s in Harlem. There, O’Reilly “couldn’t get over” how well behaved the patrons were and that nobody was saying, “M-Fer, I want more iced tea.” But that was during a friendlier time between the two hosts. Now, O’Reilly is in a fury that Sharpton misquoted him over Mandela. Maybe it’s because O’Reilly seemed so determined to be on the side of the angels about Mandela.
Whatever the reason, O’Reilly can’t stop talking about Sharpton’s mistake, as if this is more egregious than, say, Fox’s mistaken report that Congressman Bill Young had died. Or the fake story about Obama funding a Muslim museum. Or the one about Obama attending a radical Muslim school.
And, surprise! Surprise! O’Reilly, et al. are going after Sharpton with race-baiting venom. O'Reilly got the racial ball rolling in his Talking Points commentary that preceded this segment. In it, O'Reilly attacked Sharpton for deceptively editing a clip of George Zimmerman to make it seem that Zimmerman said Trayvon Martin (whom he later shot and killed) looked suspicious because he was black.
Goldberg picked up the ball and ran with it.
Every important Democratic politician running for high office has to go to Harlem and kiss Al Sharpton’s ring, OK? Every one of them. They’re concerned about him. They have to pay him respect.
So if powerful politicians are doing that, are we supposed to believe that Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC or the people who run Comcast aren’t equally – I’ll use the word “afraid” – of him? I think they are because who the hell knows what he’s gonna say the next day after he gets fired or what he’s gonna do? They’re not gonna take that chance, I don’t think.
Kurtz took his own racial dig:
Now, Al Sharpton has always worn two hats on MSNBC. Civil rights activist - some would say “racial ambulance chaser.” He was intimately involved in the Trayvon Martin murder case and then went on MSNBC and took one side. So clearly he is treated very, very differently than most talk show hosts.
Um, Howie, did you ever take a look at how Fox covered the George Zimmerman case? There was Megyn Kelly helping Zimmerman’s attorney demonize Martin, Sean Hannity all but signing up to join the Zimmerman defense team, and Geraldo Rivera opining that each of the Zimmerman jurors would have probably shot Martin, too. That’s not counting the cynical and insensitive use of Mark Fuhrman as a neutral expert.
O’Reilly said, “If MSNBC is not going to do anything, Bernie, this means all standards have collapsed at that news organization, have they not?” Later, he said threateningly, “I’m just outraged that NBC News and NBC Universal, as powerful as they are… allow Sharpton and this stuff to go on. It’s a disgrace. And I have to expose it.”
For the record, I’m not a big Sharpton fan, myself. But O’Reilly’s obsession with this particular lapse reeks of self-interest. Even if you think what Sharpton did was wrong, why is it getting so much attention, especially since Fox Newsies (and this segment was no exception) are always sneering about MSNBC’s insignificance? And why are Kurtz and Goldberg so ready to jump on board and make a racial mountain out of a molehill?
I’ll report and let you decide.
I think there’s a good argument to be made (and I tried to make it in my original post about O’Reilly’s comments) that O’Reilly’s magnanimity was for show or you could say that he could have done a better job of honoring Mandela beyond using his death to advance O’Reilly’s own GOP interests.
But ultimately, I think Sharpton did mischaracterize the nature of O’Reilly’s remarks and should own up to it.
But there are people who feel that O’Reilly was trying to throw out a sincere praise while toting the Fox Line- And, to the credit of those people, if you use an audio editor to edit out the “communist” shout outs, O’Reilly did sound somewhat genuine.
Fox News has the right to lie about people on the air.
Fox News is exempt from retractions- They only have to post them if they feel like it.
Fox News is exempt from Standards and practices.
And, thanks to Jana Winter, Fox News became officially exempt from the Evidence 501 rule yesterday.
They are now exempt from every rule of journalism, and they don’t even pretend like they plan to show the first shred of anything resembling ethics by even the faintest accident. But yeah- Let’s hear what they have to say when a real reporter, or at least a commentator that abides by the rules screws up.
Fuck these people.