Bill O’Reilly STILL Needs To Fire His Research Staff: The Drone Edition

Last night Bill O’Reilly mustered up his signature pomposity in a debate with Bob Beckel over whether or not NBC had ever criticized President Obama on the use of drones or even reported on the controversy. O’Reilly was almost shaking with contempt at what he considered an outrageous example of hypocrisy. Beckel didn’t seem to care much about NBC’s reporting or pretend that he knew anything about their coverage of this story. But O’Reilly was relentless about NBC’s reporting and refused to let it go.

O’Reilly: “Remember the outcry about waterboarding? You know, everybody jumping up and down? Uh, NBC News, I thought they were going to, like, melt down over there. You heard anything on NBC about the drones? [...] Neither have I. Neither has my staff.”

O’Reilly went on to accuse NBC of deliberately avoiding the story “because they are protecting the President.” There’s only one small thing wrong with O’Reilly’s bombastic condemnation of NBC: It was NBC who broke the story that made the drone controversy the lead on every news network on television. A little exclusive published by NBC’s investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff revealed the memo that outlined the administration’s rational for drone strikes targeted at American citizens.

The intensity with which O’Reilly insisted that NBC was derelict in their reporting only made his egregious mangling of the facts all the more preposterous. And by explicitly affirming his mistaken assertions with his staff, he casts doubt on their competence as well. In that regard, this isn’t the first time that O’Reilly’s staff has let him down in spectacular fashion. Back in April of 2010, O’Reilly reproached GOP senator Tom Coburn for suggesting that Fox had aired allegations that failure to get health insurance under ObamaCare would subject you to a prison term. He vigorously denied that anyone at Fox had ever said such a thing saying…

O’Reilly: “It doesn’t happen here, and we’ve researched to find out if anybody on Fox News has ever said ‘You’re going to jail if you don’t buy health insurance.’ Nobody’s ever said it. So it seems to me what you did was, you used Fox News as a whipping boy when we didn’t qualify there.”

Unfortunately for O’Reilly and his crack research team, the video record was readily available (And this pretty hilarious stuff. The “jail” assertion was even made on O’Reilly’s program by Glenn Beck):

Fox News has been blathering for much of this week about what they delusionally call the “liberal” media for ignoring the drone story. One of the more prominent critics is the fake Fox version of a Democrat, Kirsten Powers. She has taken to the Fox airwaves to lambaste liberals and Democrats for not challenging the administration on their drone policy. However, no one has been more critical of the President on this than Isikoff, the reporter who broke the story, and Rachel Maddow, who devoted extensive portions of her show to it.

If anyone is guilty of hypocrisy it’s the Fox/GOP crowd who only seem to care about human rights when a Democratic president is accused of violating them. Both Fox and the Republican Party fiercely defended George Bush’s use of torture and wiretapping. Democrats opposed those breaches of human rights, and they are consistent today in opposing the use of drones and the targeting of Americans without due process. But these facts escape dullards like O’Reilly whose only purpose is to bash his adversaries and the facts be damned. However, if there is one thing that O’Reilly is consistent about, it’s his indifference to journalistic ethics or standards.

Bill O'Reilly

I couldn’t agree more, Bill-O.

[Update] O’Reilly addressed the response to his deliberately deceitful characterization of NBC’s reporting the following night. As might have been expected, he lied through his teeth absolving himself of any responsibility. His argument was simply that “I didn’t say NBC broke the memo story because we weren’t talking about that.” Not true. For the record, let’s review what he was talking about: “You heard anything on NBC about the drones? [...] Neither have I. Neither has my staff.” Either he and his staff weren’t listening very closely or they don’t regard talking about drones to be talking about drones.

Fox News: The Whiniest ‘News’ Network Ever

Earlier this week President Obama correctly noted that the penchant Fox News has for punishing Republicans who dare to work cooperatively with Democrats has the effect of discouraging Republicans from such cooperation. That rather modest observation has sent Fox News into a tizzy that all but validates the President’s point. They are simply incapable of processing anything this president says in a rational manner. In this case, all he said was this:

“One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.”

Fox News/Nation

That fired up the outrage machine at Fox. Fox Nation declared it to be a threat. Steve Doocy cast it as an attack on the First Amendment. Of course, any reasonable reading of it would find nothing approaching either of those wild overreactions. A threats implies consequences which were never articulated by the President. Nor was the First Amendment infringed upon because the free speech rights of Fox were never in any danger.

Doocy also lamented that Obama has some “scared Republicans in his camp.” By characterizing Republicans who have found some common ground with the President as “scared,” Doocy has also validated the President’s point that Fox punishes such agreement. In Fox’s world compromising with Democrats to move the country forward is evidence of cowardice. That sort of derision is exactly what Obama was referring to.

And it gets worse. Fox’s Peter Johnson, Jr. visited his kiddie pals at Fox & Friends to say that the First Amendment is now “seriously in doubt.” He interpreted Obama’s remarks to mean that the President regards anyone who disagrees with him as “an enemy of the state.” Where does he get this stuff? Johnson was so apoplectic about Obama expressing his opinion (which is also permitted by the First Amendment) that he wedded Fox News to the very concept of freedom saying “Without a free Fox, there is not a free America” Apparently, therefore, there was not a free America prior to 1996; there was not a free America during the entire Reagan Administration.

On the Fox News web site, fake Democrat Kirsten Powers wrote a scathing editorial bashing Obama as waging a war of terror on Fox News. She complained that “President Obama was back to his grousing about the one television news outlet in America that won’t fall in line and treat him as emperor.” Powers has gulped down massive quantities of the Fox Kool-Aid. But she is representative of the so-called Democrats that appear on Fox only to criticize other Democrats. The Fox version of fairness and balance is when Republicans and Democrats hate Democrats equally.

Ironically, the claim that the President makes about Republicans being vulnerable to Fox’s criticisms is one that Fox makes about itself. They consider themselves the last stand against the socialism they imagine is emanating from the White House. As Johnson said, they regard themselves as “the bulwark of our democracy.” Fox’s CEO Roger Ailes once assured Glenn Beck that he would have a free hand because “I see this as the Alamo. If I just had somebody who was willing to sit on the other side of the camera until the last shot is fired, we’d be fine.”

Fox freely admits that their intent is have an impact on government. They actually boast about the influence they have over representatives in Washington. Then, when the President notes that that is occurring, they explode with indignation over his alleged assault on freedom. It’s a cognitive disconnect that could span the Grand Canyon.

Most of all, it is whining of the highest order. No network bitches more about how they are perceived than Fox News. They spend innumerable hours complaining about their treatment by politicians, other pundits, and the whole of what they call the “mainstream media.” Sean Hannity has devoted whole programs to it. Fox & Friends denounces every media analyst as corrupt or even crazy. Bill O’Reilly has made the destruction of these scoundrels his life’s ambition, saying…

“[T]here is a huge problem in this country and I’m going to attack that problem. I’m going to attack it. These people aren’t getting away with this. I’m going to go right where they live. Every corrupt media person in this country is on notice, right now. I’m coming after you…I’m going to hunt you down [...] if I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed…I would.”

Setting aside O’Reilly’s insane vigilantism, the thing that Fox fails to understand is that the First Amendment applies to everyone, including the President. Fox seems to think that free speech is a one-way street and that if they express their brazenly biased views, anyone who who disagrees with them is trampling on their Constitutional rights. It’s a perspective that reeks of the censorship they pretend to be disturbed by.

Has Obama Shunned Fox News At His Press Conferences?

Fox NewsA study out of the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs ranked the number of times various news outlets were called on by President Obama in a press conference. The results have stirred some controversy with regard to whether certain outlets were favored, or disfavored, by the President.

The University’s Smart Politics blog revealed their own prejudicial assessment in a headline that declared “FOX Still Shunned at Obama Press Conferences.” There is much to ponder in that headline. For instance, the characterization of Fox being shunned “still” made no sense because they never bothered to establish that Fox had been shunned previously. But even worse, the overall assertion that Fox was shunned is not borne out by the study’s results.

Fox earned a ninth place showing by having been called on for questions fourteen times. That is only two fewer nods than CNN and the New York Times received. And if Fox can be described as having been shunned, then the Washington Post, USA Today, and NPR were victims of blatant and deliberate neglect since they came in even lower than Fox at tenth, eleventh, and thirteenth.

Nevertheless, Fox seems to be the only news outlet that is complaining about their treatment by the President. They devoted a segment of their Fox News Watch program to whining that they aren’t getting enough attention, poor things. Host Jon Scott started the bitch session by crying “Why does the president not like to call on us?” Jumping in without being recognized was Fox’s fake Democrat Kirsten Powers who shot back “Because he doesn’t want to be embarrassed. When Ed Henry asks questions to Jay Carney, inevitably Jay Carney ends up looking stupid because he doesn’t know how to answer the question. He’s used to pushing people around.” And she’s supposed to be the voice of the left on Fox’s fair and balanced roster.

With friends like Kirsten Powers who needs enemas? And that is a perfect illustration of why Obama ought to start shunning Fox News. It has never been a credible journalistic operation. It is an unabashed agent of the Republican Party whose only purpose is to bash the President and support the right-wing agenda.

While the study’s results show that Fox was treated no worse than several other prominent news outlets, the record of overt bias exhibited by Fox should excuse the administration if it decides to banish Fox altogether from the White House press room. They are no more deserving of press credentials than the Sasquatch Gazette or the Journal of the American Astrological Society.

Hilarious MoveOn.org Video Rankles Right-Wing Prudes

A new video produced by MoveOn.org with help from Michael Moore is causing some right-wingers to reach for the smelling salts. The rest are falling off their chairs with outrage and frothing criticisms. What has them so unraveled?

OMG! Old people cussing. The world has finally succumbed to Satan’s call. What better evidence is there that Armageddon is imminent?

This little video is generating thousands of views, and millions of guffaws, across the InterTubes, but in the realm of the right it is stirring nothing but anxiety and outrage. It has been featured on Fox News on at least three programs: America Live with Megyn Kelly, Hannity, and the O’Reilly Factor. All of these “news” alerts castigated the video with vitriol usually reserved for terrorist bombings or Obama sightings.

Sean Hannity and Megyn Kelly both brought Fox News “Democrat” Kirsten Powers on to fulfill her mission of pretending to be a liberal while bashing her alleged allies. As the representative of the left she responded to Kelly’s leading questions saying “I don’t know why Michael Moore would do it, but even worse, I don’t know why MoveOn.org would be associated with it.”

Far worse, however, was Bill O’Reilly’s Talking Points Memo segment that he titled “Threats From The Far Left.” In his feverish denouncement of the video he said “So now the far left is threatening violence if President Obama loses the election.” Then he charged that President Obama is “culpable” for the video because he hasn’t condemned it. Really?

Someone needs to inform O’Reilly that this video is what we humans like to call “comedy.” It is not threatening any actual violence. For a demonstration of actual threats, just visit the Fox News community web site, Fox Nation. There you will find Fox fans literally yearning for Harry Reid to die; for Nancy Pelosi to have her skull crushed; cheering Arlen Specter’s death; advocating the assassination of President Obama. Since O’Reilly has never condemned these remarks he must be regarded as culpable for them.

The zealous acrimony expressed by these puritanical louts is almost as funny as the video. They clearly have a hard time discerning the difference between comedy and reality. And that may explain why they are unable to see the humor in this video but they can take Mitt Romney seriously.

ADDENDUM: For an idea of what the Fox News crowd thinks is funny, note this item posted on Fox Nation:

Fox Nation

The rating given to this article by the Fox Nationalists is “Funny.” Apparently they regard bad news for American businesses and workers as a joke. These cretins actually celebrate the hardships of fellow citizens. For the record, Fox failed to note that GM’s earnings statement was actually better than analysts expected and the stock rose almost 10% after the release. It was an indication of an improving economy. But that didn’t stop Fox from latching on to what they could spin as bad news and lifting the hearts of their America-hating audience.

Fox News “Democrat” Kirsten Powers Accuses Obama Of Sympathizing With Terrorists

The next time you hear the Fox News slogan “fair and balanced,” be sure to remember that their rendering of fairness is to trot out covert conservatives and label them Democrats. Their concept of balance is to pair a right-winger with a far-right-winger.

Kirsten Powers - Ann Coulter

A perfect illustration of this is the op-ed on the Fox News web site posted by Kirsten Powers. If you changed the name in the byline to Ann Coulter nobody would have blinked an eye. And the anti-Obama bile begins with the title: “President Obama, stop blaming the victim for Mideast violence.”

This characterization of the debate could not be more biased and dishonest if it had come from Sean Hannity (on whose show Powers frequently appears). Her article takes the position that President Obama has not directed enough outrage to the perpetrators of the recent atrocities in Libya and Egypt. Her evidence of this is that Obama referred to the anti-Islam film reputed to have inspired the violence as “disgusting and reprehensible,” but went soft in criticizing the rioters by saying only that he “strongly condemn[ed] the outrageous attack.”

First of all, I’m not sure that Powers understands that a strong condemnation is just as resolute a criticism as an expression of disgust. They both send a pretty clear message of unmitigated disapproval. But Powers left out of her wimp-baiting the fact that Obama also declared unequivocally that those responsible for the attacks would be brought to justice. His record on accomplishing that task is familiar to the dozens of dead Al Qaeda operatives, including Osama Bin Laden.

In an effort to bolster her liberal bona fides, Powers brags that she has…

“…defended the Obama administration against the complaints from the right that they have run an ‘apology tour’ in the Middle East because I believe the US should admit when we make mistakes.”

Of course an actual liberal spokesperson who isn’t a Fox toady would have defended the President because there never was an “apology tour.” It was a complete fabrication by rightist liars. Yet Powers has accepted the phony premise and is now complicit in propagating it.

Powers spends much of her column seemingly offended herself that the Da Vinci Code or Bill Maher have engaged in offensive utterings directed at Christians. It’s a comparison that is so absurdly misused that one has to be concerned about her mental stability. Her contention is that our response to religious insults, and the actions they provoke, be the same for American Christians as for Middle-Eastern Muslims. But she is ignoring reality with that shallow opinion. There are, after all, no Christians rioting in the streets of Tuscaloosa.

Whether we approve or not, there are distinct differences between our cultures. Most of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims have not participated in any violence, and in fact reject it. There were probably no more than a hundred protesters who have resorted to violence in the events of the past week. But the President, and the official American position, has to take into account the potential for harm to Americans at home and abroad and to mitigate such dangers. That’s a responsibility that Powers and her pundit class don’t have to labor under. And it’s the reason that Obama’s public statements exhibit a measure of diplomacy that loudmouth commentators lack.

The President is doing what presidents do. He is accumulating facts and intelligence. He is communicating with allies and his defense and security staff. He is strategizing in private so as not to alert our enemies or further inflame an already volatile situation. That’s how adults with real responsibilities, and lives in the balance, handle these matters. Already Libya has arrested four suspects in the embassy murders.

Obama doesn’t have to talk tough and thump his chest (like our last president, Bush, who achieved nothing). He just needs to get results and administer justice. With less than a week having transpired, there is no reason to believe that Obama is not progressing toward those ends. And it doesn’t help to have Fox propagandists pretending to be on the President’s side and making irresponsible statements like this:

“The condemnations are paired in with claims about respecting religious beliefs, which is implicit sympathy for the claims of some of the attackers and rioters.”

So Powers thinks that respecting religious beliefs is tantamount to sympathizing with terrorists. She cannot comprehend that the respect is offered to the vast majority of peaceful Muslims who had nothing to do with last week’s murders. If she thinks that demonstrating American principles of freedom of religion must be dispensed with because a few members of a religion are reprehensible killers, then she doesn’t have much faith in American principles.

It’s a good thing that Powers is confined to the narrow plank of conservative media that is willing to tolerate her, because her views would be tragically inappropriate in any official diplomatic post. What’s more, she is not the sort of person that liberals want representing their views on national television. She is just another Fox News phony (ala Pat Caddell, Doug Schoen, etc.) acting as an accomplice to tarnish liberals and fill the seat of someone who might otherwise take legitimately progressive positions.

The Fox Nation Is Suffering Full Blown Obama Derangement Syndrome

In my ongoing series “Fox Nation vs. Reality” I have endeavored to expose some of the more brazen departures from truthful reporting that so often make their way onto the pages of the Fox Nation web site. But today the Fox Nationalists have ventured beyond even their typical separation from the facts by posting as their headline story this sensationalistic declaration: White House ‘Panicked’ Over Gas Prices, President Becoming ‘Incoherent’

Fox Nation

The associated article said nothing about the White House being panicked. It said nothing about the President being incoherent. Despite those words being put in quotes in the headline, they were not referencing any citation by any person. In fact, they were not a part of the story in any respect – not directly, indirectly, insinuated, implied, hypothetical, allegorical, or…well you get the idea. The entire piece consisted of a video of a Fox News report on the presidential campaign, an excerpt of results from a Fox News poll, and one paragraph that briefly abstracted part of the content of the video.

Where the Fox Nation editors got the idea that the president was panicked and incoherent is a mystery. The only explanation is that they are so infected with Obama Derangement Syndrome that they were in the throes of a hallucinatory seizure. Either that or their determination to slander the President is so overpowering that they could not resist the urge to invent derogatory adjectives to attach to his name.

It’s bad enough when the Fox Nationalists post stories with pejorative quotes from the likes of Hannity or Limbaugh as if it were news, but when they don’t even have a source and they still put their insults in quotes, they have crossed a line that could only be acceptable to the most untrustworthy purveyors of schlock journalism – aka Fox News.

Update: The Fox Nationalists edited the article this morning. They swapped out the video for one that consists of a panel discussion with Jonah Goldberg, who made the following statement in response to a question from anchor Bret Baier:

Baier: The president is out almost every other day, it seems, talking about gas prices. Is it a sign that this White House is concerned about this issue? What does it tell us?

Goldberg: I think it tells us they’re in something of a panic over it. We’ve seen his poll numbers drop precipitously. And you can’t prove it, but most people think the gas thing is a major driver of it. And the problem is that he basically beyond doubling down, he’s tripling down on the same stuff he was saying three years ago, and it’s fundamentally incoherent.

So now they have the basis for their quotes – a highly partisan right-winger with an agenda to peddle. However, from the same segment they completely ignored the statements by panelist Kirsten Powers who called it hypocritical:

Powers: This is a real exercise in hypocrisy because when George Bush was being blamed for high prices by Democrats, Republicans were saying the president doesn’t have any control over that and now we have the exact reverse.

Obviously somebody at Fox Nation wasn’t paying attention when they first posted this item. But what’s worse is that the correction includes a clip of Fox’s chief news anchor, citing a Fox News poll, saying that “the majority said the president is to blame for gas prices.” Except that the majority in the Fox poll said exactly the opposite. The majority (52%) said the President is not to blame, and only 40% said that he is. So Fox News compounds their erroneous reporting even as they attempt to correct it.

Is Megyn Kelly Worse Than Glenn Beck?

It goes without saying that Fox News is a seething cauldron of sensationalistic propaganda. There have been innumerable examples of bias so egregious it would be more accurate to call it fiction. Still, the degree of separation from reality, or the Fox Fake Factor (3F) is not uniform across the Fox schedule. It can be segmented into three general categories that I define as…

  • Blatant Dishonesty (i.e. Sean Hannity)
  • Acute Idiocy (i.e. Steve Doocy)
  • Hysterical Dementia (i.e. Glenn Beck)

Defenders of Fox News argue that the network functions like a newspaper with clearly delineated sections containing straight news or editorial opinion. This includes Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who went so far as to say that

“…it’s a mistake to look at Fox News Channel’s primetime opinion shows and say they represent the channel’s journalism.”

In support of Ailes’ admission that his primetime lineup should not be mistaken for journalism, Fox’s Sr. VP Michael Clemente drew distinct boundaries in order to identify the channel’s actual “news” content. He said that it is just the hours of 9am to 4pm, and 6pm to 8pm, that air straight news. Of course that would include such thoroughly opinionated programs as Fox & Friends, Your World With Neil Cavuto, and Glenn Beck. It would also include Megyn Kelly.

For the past week or so, Kelly has been rabidly attached to a bogus two year old story about members of the New Black Panther Party who have been accused of voter intimidation. She has hosted numerous interviews with W. Christian Adams, a notoriously partisan activist who claims that Obama’s Department of Justice has adopted a policy of not pursuing cases involving white victims. Never mind the fact that it was the Bush Justice Department that degraded the case against the NBPP and concluded that the evidence did not merit criminal prosecution. Kelly would not let up and continued, day after day, to present the story with an overt expression of shock and judgmental disgust.

Kelly’s demeanor was hardly what one could call objective. In yesterday’s program she nearly bit the head off of Fox News Democrat, Kirsten Powers, who soldiered on despite Kelly’s insulting declarations that Powers didn’t know what she was talking about. And in a bid for total domination, Kelly even threatened to cut Powers’ mic.

This is not an isolated incident for Kelly. A few weeks ago she displayed the same sort of wild-eyed obsession over speculation of whether Pennsylvania senate candidate Joe Sestak had received improper incentives from the White House to drop out of the race. Sestak didn’t drop out, and there was never any evidence of wrongdoing on his part or that of the White House. But that didn’t stop Kelly from pushing the story incessantly. On one occasion she devoted fully 75% of her two hour program to just the Sestak matter, never once reporting on the gulf oil spill, Afghanistan or the economy.

Add to these the following journalistic indiscretions that seem to characterize Kelly’s absence of standards.

  • The false assertion that the Department of Health and Human Services had authored a report that showed the costs of health care rising as a result of the new legislation, and the allegation that the report was suppressed by HHS and/or the White House prior to the vote in Congress. This story was debunked later by Fox’s own Bret Baier.
  • The suppression of a letter revealing the marital infidelity of Senator John Ensign. Kelly kept the letter, from the husband of Ensign’s mistress, secret for five days, thus protecting the Senator from scandal. The story broke anyway and there is a possibility that it was Kelly who tipped off Ensign about the imminently breaking news.
  • The promotion of a non-scientific survey on the military’s support of Obama as if it were a real poll. Kelly misrepresented the survey to disparage the President shortly after he received an endorsement from Gen. Colin Powell.

The behavior of Kelly in these examples is squarely in alignment with the mission of Fox News. However, it is directly contrary to what they claim. It is the antithesis of fairness or balance. And it puts Kelly in the running to surpass Glenn Beck on the scale of reportorial incompetence and deceit.

I know that’s a harsh assessment, but look at the facts. Beck is a purveyor of paranoid conspiracies. People expect him to be a hyperbolic nutcase. Kelly is on from 1:00pm to 3:00pm ET, smack in the middle of the news day. She is supposed to be, according to Ailes and others, a straight news reporter. Yet while Beck (who is also in the news daypart) can be placed into only one of the 3F categories above, Kelly may qualify for all three.

Sure, she’s not as bombastic as Beck, but Beck doesn’t have a law degree or the implied credibility that comes with it. And she’s not as inclined to present herself as a cult or spiritual leader, but she does impose her views on an audience that has been made gullible by fear and repetition. Her imputed authority, and the force of her argumentativeness, has the potential to sway people from realistic appraisals of current events. And she has the added benefit of not appearing to be as obviously disturbed as Beck, which helps her to advance her opinions.

The manner in which Kelly presents her reporting is every bit as phony as Beck’s hallucinatory drivel. But the only people who will believe Beck are those who are already inclined to accept delusion as truth. Kelly, on the other hand, manages to come off as a serious newscaster whose reports contain some semblance of substance. And that’s what makes Kelly worse, or potentially more dangerous, than Beck. While Beck casts himself as a rodeo clown, Kelly is portrayed as a wise and sober analyst.

In the larger picture, Kelly is merely following the Fox format which also has so-called “news” casters like Neil Cavuto, Jon Scott, Bill Hemmer, and Bret Baier engaging in observably biased broadcasts. It’s a deliberate and articulated strategy by Ailes, Murdoch, et al. It’s the Fox Way.