A few nights ago, Bill O'Reilly got into quite the tizzy over praise Arabic network Al Jazeera is receiving for its coverage of the Egypt protests. Desperate to push his theory that Al Jazeera is "anti-American" and "anti-Semitic," O'Reilly got so worked up he ended up screaming at guest Alan Colmes over it.
The exchange started like this:
O'REILLY: I just ran a Talking Points Memo that backed up, all right, with four specific things that this is an anti-Semitic, anti-American network, and I could do 40 of them.
COLMES: What you said, those were people on the network as guests. That wasn't --
O'REILLY: There is no counter --
COLMES: That wasn't editorializing by the network.
O'Reilly then blew a gasket:
O'REILLY: Why don't you grasp this? And I'm getting a little mad at you. Grasp this! There's no counter on it! You got it? There's no counter on it!
But as Colmes rightly noted, the statements O'Reilly lifted to make his point were made by guests, not by the network or its journalists. During his "Talking Points Memo," O'Reilly included comments from Iraq cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, former Guantánamo detainee Walid Muhammad Hajj, and Ibrahim Alloush, a Palestinian-Jordanian journalist and professor. He added that his show "could provide hundreds, hundreds of examples of anti-Semitism and hate-America rhetoric displayed on Al Jazeera." O'Reilly then called praise for the network, "totally absurd," saying: "Any fair-minded person who follows Al Jazeera knows it's anti-American and anti-Semitic."
Indeed, the distinction between editorial and news is one Fox News itself has taken pains to point out when critics accuse it of advancing a certain point of view.
Fox has repeatedly maintained that there is a clear division between its opinion and objective programming. For example, in an article reporting on the "volatile" relationship between the White House and Fox News and how President Obama sees the outlet as "part of the political opposition," The New York Times reported that "Fox argues that its news hours -- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on weekdays -- are objective." The article further quoted Michael Clemente, the channel's senior vice president for news, as saying: "The average consumer certainly knows the difference between the A section of the newspaper and the editorial page." And O'Reilly himself has pushed that distinction, arguing in November 2010 that his show is a "fact-based news analysis broadcast."
All that aside, however, if taken in the same vein, a "fair-minded person" could reasonably argue that The O'Reilly Factor is an anti-Muslim program that also hates progressives. O'Reilly routinely hosts guests or advances views that demonize progressives and advance anti-Muslim rhetoric. O'Reilly, himself, has done so on more than one occasion.
For example, O'Reilly has said repeatedly that progressives are comparable to Nazis:
- O'Reilly has said liberals who support gun control are "today's totalitarians," adding that in the past people like "Hitler and Mussolini" held such positions in favor of "state control."
- O'Reilly has written that "The far left is trying to create a huge federal apparatus that will promote income redistribution and 'social justice.' Also, the left sees a major opportunity to knock out Judeo-Christian traditions, replacing them with a secular philosophy." He added that "the left-wing media is marginalizing people like Sarah Palin who oppose the strategy. Under the guise of hard news reporting, the media is pushing rank propaganda on the citizenry. Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, successfully developed this tactic in the 1930's."
- O'Reilly has said "And I said that these tactics that are being used on this website, The Huffington Post, are the same exact tactics that the Nazis used in the late '20s and early '30s to demonize certain groups of people, so it would become easier for them, the Nazis, when they took power, to hurt those people."
- O'Reilly has also said that "I don't see any difference between [Arianna] Huffington and the Nazis. ... I don't see any difference."
- On the December 13, 2007, O'Reilly Factor, Jane Hall said that comments made by actor Tim Robbins while campaigning for John Edwards, in which Robbins criticized the media for focusing more on "the most recent pop star's fall from grace" instead of "veterans returning from Iraq," were "valid." In response, O'Reilly said, "But Von Ribbentrop in the Nazi hierarchy made valid points, Jane."
- O'Reilly said that the Daily Kos is "like the Ku Klux Klan. It's like the Nazi party. There's no difference here." A day later, O'Reilly said "That website traffics in [hate], as do the Nazi websites. No difference." On July 19, 2007, O'Reilly said of Daily Kos: "The hate this website traffics in rivals the KKK and Nazi websites."
And he has repeatedly bashed Islam and advanced anti-Muslim rhetoric:
- O'Reilly said he supports Muslim radicalization hearings "as long as [they're] fact-based."
- O'Reilly has insisted that extremism is "a Muslim problem."
- O'Reilly has repeatedly claimed that "[t]here's no question there is a Muslim problem in the world," saying that "folks are fed up with politically correct nonsense. There's no question there is a Muslim problem in the world" and "most Americans well understand the danger coming out of the Muslim world." His on-screen text read: "The Muslim Dilemma."
- During an appearance on The View, O'Reilly was asked by co-host Whoopi Goldberg why building an Islamic cultural center near ground zero was "inappropriate." O'Reilly responded: "Because Muslims killed us on 9-11."
- O'Reilly said that "our liberal media ... now are buying into the genteel Islam. You saw that with the mosque controversy. See, they now are taking the European media approach -- 'Oh, wait a minute. You have to give peace a chance. You can't be stirring up trouble because they're Muslim people. You have to give them what they want.' "
I'm pretty sure I could provide hundreds, hundreds of anti-Muslim, anti-progressives rhetoric displayed on The O'Reilly Factor and on Fox News.