As the full scope of the devastation in Haiti was just beginning to be understood Wednesday, MSNBC and CNN devoted extensive coverage to the crisis, including during their primetime coverage. Fox News did cover the aftermath of the earthquake in its dayside programming, but the Three Musketeers -- Beck, O'Reilly and Hannity -- couldn't be bothered.
Beck devoted his entire show to an interview with Sarah Palin. He didn't mention Haiti once but instead chose to read her his diary. To be fair, Beck's interview may have been taped prior to the Haiti crisis, but he certainly wasn't obligated to air it Wednesday. It's not as if Fox News viewers won't hear her views now that she's a Fox News contributor.
On his show Hannity did mention Haiti in the first two minutes and offered this segue:
We're going to continue to update you as new details become available on the very tragic situation that is unfolding in Haiti tonight. Now, meanwhile all eyes are on the Senate race in Massachusetts.
No, actually, most eyes are on the Haiti tragedy.
But Hannity felt it more important to break down a reporter getting shoved on the streets of Washington, D.C.
Tens of thousands are dead in Haiti with some victims still clinging to life under toppled buildings, and Hannity devoted the first segment of his show to a political reporter getting pushed down on the sidewalk (and helped back up).
He should be embarrassed.
But how did the top-rated prime-time news program address the crisis?
O'Reilly mentioned Haiti in his "Talking Points Memo" -- "Haiti, Liberalism, and America" -- arguing that the U.S. will do more than any country to aid the people of Haiti but that much of that aid will be stolen. But then it was on to business as usual -- attacking President Obama. O'Reilly discussed polls on Obama's approval with Dana Perino - obviously much needed political analysis in a time of great tragedy.
O'Reilly used his second segment to attack Jon Stewart because he had made fun of O'Reilly and his Factor guests for their discussion of Obama's reaction to the underwear bomber. Attacking the media (and anyone who makes fun of him) is O'Reilly's shtick -- it's easy. O'Reilly even brought on a political analyst to break down the comments a comedian made on a comedy show -- rather than, say, a political analyst to explain how and whether Haiti's government would respond to the crisis.
The third segment brought another attack on the Obama administration (and the Clinton administration) - this time from former CIA agent Michael Scheurer, who once said, "The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States." Scheurer spent most of the interview again trashing Obama's counterterrorism chief, John Brennan. Here's a suggestion -- how about a segment on the implications of the crisis in Haiti to the national security of the U.S., as well as to the Dominican Republic and other nations.
It was during the fourth segment that O'Reilly's obtuseness was on full display. While many Americans clamored for more information on the crisis in Haiti (with some even turning to such coverage because of loved ones back in Haiti), O'Reilly brought on actress Bo Derek to discuss Japanese whaling and the possible roundup of wild horses in Nevada. How about just directing viewers to Whale Wars and instead discussing the impact of the earthquake on Haiti's natural resources?
One might think that bringing on comedian Dennis Miller to crack jokes while survivors of the earthquake were still trapped under rubble might be just a little insensitive. Not O'Reilly. Sarah Palin, Harry Reid and Leno/Conan were far more important topics of discussion Wednesday night. Miller might have provided insight on how comedians consider humor in times of great tragedy - but then again, Miler hasn't been funny since the "Off-White Album."
O'Reilly then discussed an attack ad produced by Liz Cheney's Keep America Safe. After airing the ad in full, O'Reilly said:
Very slick. That was one of the slickest pieces of propaganda - and I say propaganda because it is. It's designed to make President Obama look bad by a group that opposes the president.
Well, good thing he devoted prime-time coverage to it rather than anything else related to Haiti.
It should come as no surprise that more Leno/Conan, more Palin and Tiger Woods were the subjects of the rest of O'Reilly's show. Visitors to PerezHilton.com on Wednesday would have learned more about the crisis than from watching O'Reilly's top-rated prime-time Fox News show.
That's not a joke.
O'Reilly and his fellow Fox News cohorts should be ashamed of themselves.