Savvy Fox News watchers caught Bill O’Reilly’s scathing jabs at his colleagues’ championing of Cliven Bundy Friday night. But O’Reilly also whitewashed Fox’s fawning coverage of Bundy by saying there had been “a wide variety of opinion expressed in a vibrant way.” Furthermore, O’Reilly camouflaged his criticism of Fox by accusing CNN’s Brian Stelter of dishonesty and worse – and suggesting that Fox’s Bundy coverage was no different than MSNBC’s coverage of Chris Christie’s Bridgegate.
O’Reilly said in his commentary (below):
Some commentators, including a handful on Fox News, rallied to Mr. Bundy’s side. But most Fox News people did not. And that’s why we’re successful. We have a wide variety of opinion expressed in a vibrant way.
…When ideological commentators make mistakes, it hurts their own cause.
…There comes a point when honest Americans have to step back from false idols.
In reality, most Fox News people did rally to Bundy’s side. O’Reilly’s own producer, Jesse Watters, blatantly promoted Bundy on Fox Nation. That promotion included a post called, “The Case for a Little Sedition.” The article likened Bundy to Thoreau and Ghandhi. It featured a photo of what were presumably Bundy supporters carrying a large American flag.
Even Megyn Kelly, who acknowledged Bundy didn’t have a legal “leg to stand on,” repeatedly downplayed her own criticisms in favor of guests who painted Bundy as emblematic of “the American spirit.” She also introduced a discussion with a Bundy supporter by saying, “”For so many, this fight had little to do with animals; but everything to do with freedom.”
O’Reilly even went so far on Friday as to suggest that Bundy’s not such a bad guy after all. Out of “fairness,” O’Reilly said, he played a clip showing Bundy’s sympathy to Hispanics:
I understand that they come over here against our Constitution and cross our border. But they’re here and they’re people and I’ve worked beside to side a lot of them. Don’t tell me they don’t work and don’t tell me they don’t pay taxes. And don’t tell me they don’t have better family structures than most of us white people.
As if that’s supposed to mitigate in some way Bundy’s obvious disgust for African Americans.
On to “the dishonest media.” “Leading the league,” according to O’Reilly, is CNN’s Brian Stelter. Stelter’s “crime” is saying, “I can’t think of MSNBC taking an equivalent story on the left and spending weeks covering it the way Fox News has and Sean Hannity chief among them.”
Hard to believe. So, Mr. Stelter, did you miss the months – the months – of coverage about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on MSNBC? Did you miss that? Are you that dense? That uninformed that you make an outrageous assertion that MSNBC would not overdo a story for ideological reasons? MSNBC has convicted – convicted – Governor Christie of crimes over and over and over again in the Bridgegate story.
…If Stelter doesn’t know that, he’s not qualified to do any reporting anywhere at any time. If he does know it, he lied on national TV. And that’s far worse than some Fox News commentators sympathizing with an ill-informed rancher in Nevada against a big government overreach.
As O’Reilly surely knows, there is absolutely no comparison between “over coverage” of Bridgegate which, whether O’Reilly likes it or not, is a genuine scandal involving governmental wrongdoing. Bundy, on the other hand, is the lawbreaker. The lawbreaker most of Fox News was portraying as a hero until it backfired.
I give props to O’Reilly for having resisted what was surely his network’s pressure to join the Bundy fan club. But Fox’s attempts to lionize – while covering up the very seamy side of his beliefs – is a journalistic crime that sought to aid and abet Bundy’s misdeeds.
There’s just no way to put a good spin on it.
No amount of mopping, spinning or pointing fingers at the “liberal” media by BOR is is going to clean the taint off of FOX “news”. The damage has been done – they own Bundy.
We will soon hear from Fux Noise how Stirling’s vile racist comments are part of his sincere religious beliefs (ala Uncle Phil of Duck Dynasty). And that his African-American girlfriend is a extortionist thug (ala Trayvon Martin’s demonization). And that he is an all-around great guy being unfairly maligned by President Obama while Obama’s best buddy Louis Farrakhan skates.