O'Reilly falsely claimed NY Times editorial board "is sitting ... out" Israel-Hezbollah conflict

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that The New York Times editorial board has not commented on the current conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, alleging that the Times editorial board has not criticized Israel's actions because "[m]any American Jews are liberal," and "the Times cannot afford to alienate its liberal base." In fact, since the onset of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, the New York Times editorial page as authored three different editorials on the subject, on July 13, 15, and 18.

On the July 19 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that the New York Times editorial board has not commented on the current conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, stating: "it [the Times] is sitting this one out editorially so far." O'Reilly alleged that the Times editorial board has not criticized Israel's actions because "[m]any American Jews are liberal," and "the Times cannot afford to alienate its liberal base." In fact, since the onset of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, the New York Times editorial page has published three different editorials on the subject, on July 13, 15, and 18. O'Reilly made similar remarks during the July 20 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, on which he asserted that because the Times "do[es] not want to alienate" its liberal and Jewish "base," the newspaper "is not going to say a word" about the conflict. Further, contrary to O'Reilly's suggestion that the Times is among those who "see Israel as a villain," the Times' July 15 editorial asserted that "Hamas and Hezbollah" are "responsible for the latest outbreak" of violence in the Middle East, although it urged Israel to use restraint in responding militarily to the two organizations.

On July 13, the Times published an editorial titled "Israel's Two-Front Battle," which criticized Hezbollah's "[k]idnapping Israeli soldiers to use as bargaining chips for the release of Arab prisoners" as being "horrible behavior for groups that claim international recognition and political legitimacy, as Hamas and Hezbollah do." The editorial continued, advising Israel to respond by "acting wisely and proportionately" by "focus[ing] military actions as narrowly as possible on those individuals, organizations and governments directly complicit in the attacks, while sparing the civilian populations that surround them."

The Times' July 15 editorial, titled "Playing Hamas's Game," argued that "Hamas and Hezbollah" are "not only who is responsible for the latest outbreak" of violence in the Middle East, "but who stands to gain most from its continued escalation." The editorial, again, urged Israel to use restraint in responding militarily to the organizations so as not to "end up advancing the political agenda that Hamas and Hezbollah hard-liners had in mind when they conceived and executed the kidnappings of Israeli soldiers that detonated the fighting." An "inevitably fierce and devastating Israeli military response," the Times editors argued, would give Hamas and Hezbollah "an opportunity to radicalize Arab politics and thereby pressure moderate Arab leaders to distance themselves from Israel and embrace the guerrilla cause."

In a July 18 editorial, "Diplomacy's Turn in Lebanon," the Times focused on diplomatic solutions to the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. The editorial acknowledged that "[s]topping the fighting won't be easy" and that the "challenge for everyone else is to find a formula to achieve peacefully what just about every country apart from Syria and Iran now seems to agree has to happen," the disarmament and political weakening of Hezbollah. The editorial board argued that Hezbollah "should disarm its private militia, stop operating as a state within a state in southern Lebanon and allow the Lebanese government in Beirut to exercise the full sovereignty it has been denied for decades." To do so, the editorial stated, the United Nations Security Council needed to be "unified" in pushing these "provisions into reality." The editorial concluded:

[T]he killing and human suffering can stop as soon as possible. Washington is right to press for the release of the Israeli soldiers held hostage. But this should not be a precondition for the earliest possible cease-fire. Many lives and the stability of the wider region depend on achieving a quick halt to the fighting.

From the July 19 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight. The case against Israel, that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."

There are some Americans who see Israel as a villain, just as there are some who believe the USA has brought the war on terror on itself. That kind of thinking is important to understand so it can be defeated in debate.

As we mentioned, the committed left-wing newspapers in America have been largely silent about the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict, largely for economic reasons. Many American Jews are liberal. Many of them love The New York Times, for example. The Times cannot afford to alienate its liberal base.

Thus, it is sitting this one out editorially so far. Although efforts will be made to blame President Bush for the whole thing down the road, wait and see.

From the July 20 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: The left-wing newspapers, The New York Times and all of these papers, very quiet, very quiet about the Middle East action and conflict. And the reason is because the New York Times base reader is liberal, and thousands of them are Jewish. And they do not want to alienate that base. So where The New York Times may feel that Israel has overreached, is too aggressive, it's all Bush's fault, whatever, The New York Times is not going to say a word here. Because they're in economic trouble anyway over there.

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