Fox News host Bill O'Reilly asserted that The New York Times was responsible for the focus on Social Security at President Bush's April 28 prime-time press conference, claiming that the Times "sets the agenda."
From O'Reilly's discussion of the media's coverage of immigration issues with Steven Camarota, director of research at the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, on the May 3 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: They could care less, and you could see it at the press conference with President Bush when not one question was asked about the border by the Washington pinhead press corps.
CAMAROTA: Bill, that's exactly right. And the kind of elite echo chamber that they all live in.
O'REILLY: Yeah, Social Security was their big issue because they think that The New York Times sets the agenda. And I think Americans are concerned about it, but I don't think it's nearly what the security issue is.
O'Reilly offered no evidence for his assertion, but Fox News itself reported that Bush himself set that agenda. Prior to the April 28 press conference, Fox News reported that Bush "will address the public in prime time ... to push his Social Security and energy proposals, two high-profile issues that Bush has made centerpieces of his second term." The president spent the vast majority of his opening statement discussing his Social Security proposals, and the White House's "fact sheet" for the day's events focused solely on Social Security.
Moreover, when Bush called on Times White House correspondent David E. Sanger during the press conference, Sanger chose to ask about whether the large number of U.S. troops in Iraq limited Bush's "options elsewhere in the world."
Finally, it isn't the New York Times that has held at least 60 campaign events around the country in an attempt to gain support for Social Security privatization; it's President Bush.