New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman highlighted the ongoing "civil war" between Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and contributor George Will over O'Reilly's newest book, Killing Reagan, in a new report. Sherman interviewed executives at the network who call O'Reilly's books "a joke" and offered insight on a feud between Fox executives Bill Shine and Mike Clemente.
The recent feud began after Will published a November 5 Washington Post column titled, "Bill O'Reilly slanders Ronald Reagan." In the column, Will called the book "nonsensical history and execrable citizenship," with a "preposterous premise" that "should come with a warning: 'Caution -- you are about to enter a no-facts zone.'"
O'Reilly responded to Will's column later that night, calling it "libel," and challenged Will to come onto his show and attack him in person - a challenge Will accepted.
Sherman's November 9 exclusive highlighted the "civil war" currently raging at Fox, noting the distain for O'Reilly and his Killing books and how the rift has strengthened the rivalry between Mike Clemente, who oversees the news division, and Bill Shine, who oversees the prime-time shows. Both are high level executives hoping to replace Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. According to Sherman, a Fox executive also commented O'Reilly's Killing series of books are considered "something of a joke inside the network," with the executive saying, "[O'Reilly] certainly doesn't research his books":
Inside Fox, the O'Reilly-Will feud is being closely studied by executives because it is part of a larger power struggle that's taking place at the highest reaches of the organization. On opposing sides of the fault line are Clemente, who oversees news (where Will works), and executive vice-president Bill Shine, who oversees prime-time shows (where O'Reilly works). Clemente and Shine are vying to replace Ailes and are such bitter rivals that they barely speak, numerous Fox employees say. In August 2014, the rivalry intensified when Ailes put Shine in charge of the Fox Business Network. "This is some Game of Thrones shit," one insider told me. The relationship is so bad that Clemente is not involved at all in preparing for the upcoming GOP debate on Fox Business.
Shine's loyalists tell me that Clemente did not confer with Shine about Will's anti-O'Reilly column before it was published. Furthermore, they're furious at Clemente for not stopping Will from embarrassing Fox's highest-rated host in the pages of the Post. They reminded me that it was Clemente who recruited Will to Fox from ABC in 2013. One source also explained that Will received a special contributor contract with Fox that grants him editorial independence for his column (other contributors are barred from writing about Fox without permission). "He doesn't have to check with Fox," the source said.
Clemente did not comment, but his camp is firing back off the record. "Almost everyone is on team George," one said. "Everyone is snickering and thinks it's a riot." Another told me that O'Reilly's Killing series is considered something of a joke inside the network. "He certainly doesn't research his books," one executive said.
Where Ailes stands remains unclear. In the past he's been critical of O'Reilly's book-writing ventures. In my biography of Ailes, I reported Ailes told colleagues that O'Reilly is "a book salesman with a TV show." Fox News has not commented on the mess. "Roger is probably in the men's room hoping this whole thing blows over," one insider told me today. That might be wishful thinking. The rumor at Fox is that Will is preparing to write another O'Reilly column. Will did not respond to requests for comment.
In a story discussing how the truth is "starting to look deeply out of fashion" during the 2016 presidential campaign, The New York Times bent over backwards to create the impression of a "bipartisan" trend by equating unambiguous falsehoods from several Republican candidates with incomplete retellings of stories about Hillary Clinton and false statements made by Democratic candidates decades ago.
The Times noted Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina's false debate claim attacking Planned Parenthood has been "roundly disputed" by media fact-checkers yet the candidate has refused to admit she exaggerated when pressed about its veracity.
The article also described the current controversy around Ben Carson and the authenticity of several stories in his autobiography, including claims that he was offered a scholarship to the U.S. Military Academy, and that he attempted to stab a childhood friend. The story goes on to relate several verifiably false claims Donald Trump has made on the campaign trail, conceding that he "utters plenty of refutable claims," and "has set the tone for the embroidery" by "generat[ing] an entirely new category of overstatement in American politics."
Yet the paper claimed that "the tendency to bend facts is bipartisan."
As evidence, the Times cited falsehoods told by presidential candidates Bill Clinton, Gary Hart, and Joe Biden more than two decades ago.
The stories the Times cited as evidence of current falsehoods from a Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, are specious examples and simply not on par with what they detailed about the Republicans.
First the paper reported that "Hillary Rodham Clinton has said that all of her grandparents were immigrants, even though her paternal grandmother was born in Pennsylvania."
But that story is more complex than its presentation by the Times. Clinton's grandfather, but not grandmother, was an immigrant. When this was pointed out, the campaign told Buzzfeed, "Her grandparents always spoke about the immigrant experience and, as a result she has always thought of them as immigrants" adding, "As has been correctly pointed out, while her grandfather was an immigrant, it appears that Hillary's grandmother was born shortly after her parents and siblings arrived in the U.S. in the early 1880s."
The Times also refers to Clinton's private email server:
Mrs. Clinton has rationalized her reliance on a private server for both her personal and State Department emails by saying she preferred using a single electronic device, even though she used multiple devices, like an iPad, to read and send email.
But Clinton using an iPad to access her email does not make her earlier statement a falsehood. When Clinton first set up her email in 2009, the iPad did not exist. It was not released until 2010, a year after Clinton became secretary of state. According to her campaign, "Clinton relied on her Blackberry for emailing. This was easiest for her. When the iPad came out in 2010, she was as curious as others and found it great for shopping, browsing, and reading articles when she traveled. She also had access to her email account on her iPad and sometimes used it for that too."
The two examples are very different from the straight-out falsehoods being used by the Republican campaigns. And the concession from the Clinton campaign is very different from the Fiorina campaign's response to disparities in her past statements about Hewlett-Packard, in which the Times noted "Mrs. Fiorina's campaign aides seemed unperturbed by the discrepancies and declined to make the candidate available for comment."
Rather than report on the phenomenon of falsehoods from Republican candidates and how those campaigns are responding to reporting and fact checking of those stories, the Times instead chose to create a false equivalence and pretend that the problem is "bipartisan."
From the November 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
Loading the player reg...
Fox News reported on a supposedly "bombshell" document signed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that acknowledged the possibility of facing criminal penalties for mishandling classified information, while ignoring the revelation earlier the same day that two emails she had received, which the intelligence community had previously deemed top secret, did not contain such information.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly responded to criticism from Fox contributor George Will, who called O'Reilly's newest book Killing Reagan, a "nonsensical history and execrable citizenship." O'Reilly called criticism Will's commentary "libel" and questioned his courage to face him on his show.
In a November 5 opinion piece for The Washington Post, Will criticized the book for "distort[ing]" the public's understanding of Reagan's presidency. Will writes that Killing Reagan has "two and a half pages of 'sources,'" which "unspecifically and implausibly" refer to the FBI, CIA, presidential libraries, and world travels. However, Will reported that there is no record of either O'Reilly or Dugard using the Reagan presidential library for research. The piece noted that several of Reagan's advisers, including his Secretary of State George Shultz and Chief of Staff James Baker, were not interviewed for the book. Will concluded that Killing Reagan's "perfunctory pieties about Reagan's greatness are inundated by its flood of regurgitated slanders about his supposed lassitude and manipulability. This book is nonsensical history and execrable citizenship, and should come with a warning: 'Caution -- you are about to enter a no-facts zone.'"
O'Reilly addressed Will's criticism during the final segment of his show, calling Will's column "libel" and challenging Will to appear on his show. From the November 5 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
BILL O'REILLY: George Will wrote a column entitled "Bill O'Reilly Slander's Ronald Reagan." But it is his column that is the libel.
George Will regurgitates attacks on the book from Reagan loyalists who tried to get Killing Reagan spiked even before it was published, because they wanted a deification of the president, not an honest look at him. Will never called me, even though it's not direct dial. I mean, he can just punch up a little extension and there I am, because he works at Fox News. But, even so, we harbor no ill will, pun intended, and invited George on the Factor tomorrow. We'll see if he has the courage factor.
Will is not the first to criticize O'Reilly's scholarship on Reagan. Past Reagan aides and biographers have called out O'Reilly's work in Killing Reagan, with one biographer calling the book "garbage, total B.S.," and a former Reagan national security advisor saying the book contains "plagiarism, simplicity and deception."
From the November 5 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
Loading the player reg...
From the November 4 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
Loading the player reg...
The Washington Post editorial board condemned the list of demands compiled by several presidential campaigns for media organizations sponsoring Republican primary debates, predicting that the stipulations "could harm the integrity of the debates." The board called the GOP letter "a threat" that "responsible journalists will ignore."
Following conservative backlash against the October 28 CNBC moderators for their alleged liberal bias, GOP presidential candidates rallied to seek greater control over future debate formats. Republican lawyer Ben Ginsburg distributed a list of demands to media sponsors, including a commitment to not "ask the candidates to raise their hands to answer a question" and to "provide equal time/an equal number of questions to each candidate." Several media outlets have mocked the GOP for "whining" and drafting a "ridiculous manifesto" of unnecessary demands, with one journalist calling it an effort to "bully the press."
On November 3, The Washington Post editorial board warned that there is great "potential for harm" in the debate demands and that "future moderators may now feel pressure to pull their punches." The board stated that "Republicans [choosing] to debate before conservative-friendly media organizations" with the goal of "replac[ing] perceived liberal bias among moderators with explicit and purposeful conservative bias" could be "the largest danger to the [debate] process":
Three debates into the Republican presidential contest, the candidates are staging a revolt. Piling onto CNBC for its mediocre -- but hardly scandalous -- moderating last week, several campaigns are drawing up demands for the media organizations sponsoring debates during the rest of the nominating season. Others are issuing demands on their own. Their discontent has already led to real-world changes: The Republican National Committee reshuffled staff in response.
A staff reshuffle is one thing.Anything that could harm the integrity of the debates, on the other hand, must be rejected.
Some of the changes on the table are virtually irrelevant to the public at large. It won't matter much to anyone other than micromanaging campaign staff if TV networks keep debate halls below 67 degrees or decline to televise empty podiums. At least one suggestion -- that all debates be live-streamed online -- would, in fact, be helpful to those who don't have cable connections.
But the potential for harm is much greater. Candidates appear to want to ban questions that require them to raise their hands or to give yes-or-no answers, on the pretext that such questions don't allow for substantive discussion. At times, that's certainly the case. At others -- such as when, in the 2012 nominating cycle, the Republican candidates raised their hands in opposition to a 10-to-1 budget deal in the GOP's favor -- binary questions can produce illuminating results.
The same goes for the push to ban candidate-to-candidate questioning, or to allow campaigns to vet graphics and candidate biographies flashed on screen. Journalists should be vetting that material, not campaigns seeking soft treatment. Another potential demand -- for 30-second opening and closing statements so that the candidates can recite generally unenlightening prepared remarks -- is a plainly terrible idea.
The largest danger to the process, though, is that this controversy might lead Republicans to choose to debate before conservative-friendly media organizations instead of outlets more likely to offer questions out of line with right-wing orthodoxies. Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) suggested that irresponsible ideologues Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin or Sean Hannity moderate the GOP debates. Carly Fiorina wants the RNC to organize future debates with fringey networks such as the Blaze and One America News. The goal, it seems, is to replace perceived liberal bias among moderators with explicit and purposeful conservative bias.
Even if that doesn't happen, future moderators may now feel pressure to pull their punches, particularly if their networks want to keep hosting debates that draw high ratings. A draft letter to television networks warns that "the quality and fairness of your moderators' questions" will determine "whether the candidates wish to participate in your future debates." This is a threat. Responsible journalists will ignore it.
Media commentators criticized the Republican presidential candidates' demands to media sponsors for future presidential primary debates, noting that because debates are "a chief means for Americans to hear and weigh the ideas of the candidates," they're "too important to be guided" by a "ridiculous manifesto" of demands from candidates.
From the November 2 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Loading the player reg...
From the November 2 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
Loading the player reg...
From the November 2 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
Loading the player reg...
After the CNBC Republican presidential debate generated controversy, conservative media have suggested upcoming debates should be moderated by right-wing pundits. Their suggestions have included serial misinformers and inflammatory commentators like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, and Erick Erickson. Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz also proposed "a debate moderated by Sean Hannity and Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh."
Here is a look at what right-wing figures like Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, Beck, and Erickson would bring to the debate stage.
Rush Limbaugh has a long history of offensive and controversial remarks during his decades-long radio career. He came under heavy fire and lost advertisers and affiliates following his nasty attacks on Georgetown University Law Center student Sandra Fluke in 2012.
Limbaugh Regularly Engages In Misogynistic Smears And Attacks On Women. Limbaugh once compared a young Chelsea Clinton to a dog, claimed feminism "was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream," and said Hillary Clinton is in possession of a "testicle lockbox." He repeatedly attacked Sandra Fluke, calling her "a slut" and "a prostitute." [Media Matters, 3/5/12, 3/5/12, 3/15/12]
Limbaugh's Long History Of Making Outrageous, Offensive Comparisons And Invoking Rape When Discussing Politics. Limbaugh has compared welfare recipients to wild animals who rely on humans for food, health care reform to Nazi policies, and President Obama to various dictators. In 2013, Limbaugh compared changing Senate filibuster rules to "allow[ing] women to be raped." [Media Matters, 11/23/13]
Limbaugh Has Made Offensive And Controversial Remarks Targeting Immigrants. Limbaugh has described undocumented immigrants as an "invasive species," and repeatedly mocked, denigrated, and insulted them as disease-ridden, criminal, and unintelligent. [Media Matters, 3/10/12]
Limbaugh Uses His Program To Mock Those Suffering From Natural Disasters And Illnesses. Limbaugh once accused actor Michael J. Fox of "exaggerating" the symptoms of his Parkinson's disease in a commercial for a Senate candidate, and expressed amusement that a deadly earthquake hit an environmentally conscious country. [Media Matters, 3/11/12]
Limbaugh Launches Racial Attacks Against Minorities And President Obama. Limbaugh has a long history of discriminatory attacks on minorities, which escalated during President Obama's presidency. During a 2013 discussion of George Zimmerman's trial, Limbaugh claimed he could now use the word "nigga" because a trial witness used the word. [Media Matters, 3/7/12, 7/16/13]
Limbaugh Frequently Engages In Attacks Against LGBT People And Issues. [Media Matters, 3/9/12]
For more on Rush Limbaugh, go here.
Sean Hannity has used his radio and Fox News programs to push false information and smears against progressives.
Hannity Fed The Birther Conspiracy Movement And Questioned President Obama's Religion. Hannity called on President Obama to produce his birth certificate, claimed he "grew up in Kenya," and asserted that he "went to a Muslim school." [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
Hannity Launched A Vicious Anti-Gay Smear Campaign Against Former Obama Administration Official Kevin Jennings. [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
Hannity's History Of Race-Baiting. Hannity repeatedly pushed the bogus connection between President Obama and the New Black Panther Party, and wondered if the "Obamas have a race problem of their own." [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
Hannity Has Frequently Pushed Falsehoods About The Environment. Hannity has claimed global warming "doesn't exist," and said the "true agenda" behind climate change science is to punish the United States and redistribute wealth. [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
Hannity Has A History Of Fearmongering About Muslims. Hannity has fearmongered about Sharia law, and defended attacks on Islam. [Media Matters, 4/20/12]
For more on Sean Hannity, go here.
Radio host Mark Levin uses toxic rhetoric to rail against progressives and those he sees as insufficiently conservative.
Levin's Long History Of Pushing Conservative Lies And Hateful Rhetoric. Levin has compared marriage equality to incest, polygamy, and drug use; compared supporters of the health care law to Nazi "brown shirts"; and likened immigration reform to the "destruction" and "unraveling" of society. [Media Matters, 3/6/14]
Levin: President Obama Is A "Low-Life" And A "Racist" For Using "The N-Word" After Charleston Shooting. [Media Matters, 6/23/15]
Levin Accused Obama Of Being Anti-Semitic. [Media Matters, 3/18/15]
For more on Mark Levin, go here.
TheBlaze host Glenn Beck is best-known for his fringe rhetoric and outlandish conspiracy theories that helped lead to his parting from Fox News in 2011.
Media Matters' Comprehensive Guide To Glenn Beck's Tenure With Fox News. Beck's tenure at Fox News included violent rhetoric; conspiratorial musings; and rhetoric steeped in steeped in anti-Semitic stereotypes. [Media Matters, 6/29/11]
Beck Smeared President Obama As A Racist With "Deep-Seated Hatred For White People." [Media Matters, 7/30/09]
The 8 Most Ridiculous Attacks On Public Education In Glenn Beck's Book Conform: Exposing The Truth About Common Core And Public Education. [Media Matters, 5/13/14]
Glenn Beck Has History Of Using The Holocaust To Advance His Political Agenda. Beck has repeatedly invoked Nazis, Hitler, and the Holocaust to attack his political opponents. [Media Matters, 8/22/11]
For more on Glenn Beck, go here.
Erick Erickson is a conservative blogger, radio host, and Fox News contributor. He's used his media platforms to push ugly rhetoric about women, LGBT people, and progressives.
Erickson's Fringe Rhetoric: Supreme Court Justice A "Goat Fucking Child Molester," When Are We Going To Beat Legislators To "A Bloody Pulp?" [Media Matters, 8/4/15]
Erickson Has A History Of Sexism, Including Claiming That Males Should Be "Dominant," "Feminazis" Are "Ugly," And Michelle Obama Is A "Marxist Harpy Wife." [Media Matters,8/4/15]
Erickson Has Been Called Out By Colleagues For "Being Disrespectful To Women." [Media Matters, 8/4/15]
For more on Erick Erickson, go here.
From the November 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Sunday:
Loading the player reg...
On the October 30 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, host Megyn Kelly promoted Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio's debunked claim from the October 28 presidential debate on CNBC that Hillary Clinton "got exposed as a liar" during her recent day-long testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Rubio's remark was given "Two Pinnochios" by The Washington Post's FactChecker, and the senator was unable to defend his claim when pressed during interviews with CBS and CNN. That has not stopped Fox News from repeatedly championing Rubio's false claim. Kelly furthered her network's defense, wondering why Rubio is not "entitled to his opinion that she lied," despite the fact that it is not true. From The Kelly File:
Loading the player reg...