If ever you doubted that Fox News’ interest in Benghazi was about anything other than using it as political fodder against Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration, check out last night’s “debate” between Bill O’Reilly and James Carville. That is, it’s a debate only if your definition includes the host browbeating the guest and declaring he’s not interested in the facts.
The supposed pretext for the discussion was, as O’Reilly put it, “how the Benghazi debacle is being presented to the American people.”
What O’Reilly really meant – as he made clear in his earlier Talking Points – was that he wants to bully the rest of the media into covering Benghazi the way he thinks they should. Not as “we’re all in this together,” and without “Monday morning quarterbacking” the way O’Reilly was with Dick Cheney and his misbegotten Iraq war. But as in “Benghazi is a very important story because it goes to the efficiency and honesty of the federal government.” And because gosh darn it, “the USA is not a country currently served by a fair media …and will only reluctantly cover stories that make the Dems look bad.”
In other words, Fox News “fair and balanced” isn’t good enough. Every other media outlet should be just the same.
O’Reilly began his Talking Points with the following:
First of all, an amazing thing happened. On Tuesday night, none of the three network news broadcasts even covered the House report that says then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told President Obama on the very day Libyan ambassador Christopher Stevens was assassinated that terrorists did it. No one covered it at night; no net covered it Wednesday morning—nothing.
Got that? O’Reilly was supposedly upset because the media didn’t cover a House report on Benghazi. But during the discussion that followed, O’Reilly attacked Carville for discussing a bi-partisan Senate report and accused him of boring everybody with the facts.
O’Reilly was disdainful as soon as Carville got out his first answer. The interview deteriorated from there. O’Reilly’s second question was, “Why was Susan Rice allowed to get out there and do what she did when the president knew from Leon Panetta (that the video was not the cause of the attack on the Benghazi compound, as per O’Reilly). Very simple. Do you know the answer to that question?”
Yes, Carville did. He explained that it was “addressed in the Senate… Committee report, that was a bipartisan report that said there was intelligence reflective of the fact that it was (partly due to) the video.”
That’s when O’Reilly exposed his disingenuousness: “Carville, Carville, Don’t try to razzle dazzle. Everybody knows it.”
In fact, it was O’Reilly engaging in the “razzle dazzle.” I’ve got to think that on some level O’Reilly knows there’s no real “there” there in this endless Benghazi brouhaha that Fox seems determined to carry on right through the 2016 election. Unless, of course, Hillary Clinton is not the nominee or decides not to run for president. In that case, watch Fox drop their fascination with Benghazi like it’s weapons of mass destruction.
Meanwhile, O’Reilly began badgering Carville. Perhaps nothing encapsulated the whole effort so much as O’Reilly’s line: “I don’t care about the bloody report!”
Just so you can keep score, on The Factor, the media should be talking about the House report that served O’Reilly’s narrative and ignore the bi-partisan Senate report that didn’t.
As the segment closed, O’Reilly sneered, “Carville, you know how bad you looked tonight? Do you know?” He demanded that Carville rate himself on a scale of 1-10. Carville good-naturedly gave himself “a good 2 ½.”
O’Reilly called that the “first sane thing” Carville said and told him, “You gotta up your game” to come on The Factor.
My personal suspicion is that Carville is angling for a paid gig on Fox. While I’m all for liberals going on Fox, I think they should only do so when they understand and deal with the agenda, which so rarely happens, especially with the paid contributors.
I’d like to hope that Carville got a good, clear understanding of just how Fox operates as a political operation and hit back appropriately.
But I’m not holding my breath.
I'm including O'Reilly's Talking Points video as the second video below, so you can see the contrast between his stated purpose and his behavior.
Hell, even when he’s been on Bill Maher’s HBO show, he doesn’t seem as feisty (but when he does get feisty, he doesn’t hold back).