O'Reilly cited Hunt interview to rebut criticism of Fox News' Iraq coverage -- but Hunt agreed with critics

››› ››› ANDREW IRONSIDE

During the June 14 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly claimed that his program does not cover "the explosion du jour" but rather "report[s] honestly on the Iraq war and bring[s] you reports that advance the story." O'Reilly was responding to criticism of Fox News' Iraq war coverage stemming from a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which found that Fox News spent far less time covering the conflict than CNN and MSNBC. As evidence of his program's "honest[]" reporting on Iraq, O'Reilly cited comments made by Fox News military analyst Col. David Hunt on the June 12 edition of O'Reilly's nationally syndicated radio show: "[E]arlier this week on The Radio Factor, Colonel David Hunt said that the surge has improved things in the Anbar province, the Sunni stronghold, but not yet in Baghdad." However, O'Reilly failed to mention that, during the June 12 interview, Hunt disagreed with O'Reilly's assertion that "[t]here's no news value" in reporting on "the latest explosion" in Iraq.

During the interview, O'Reilly asked Hunt: "When you're watching the news cruising around, is there any value to you, as an American, not as a military analyst, to see the latest atrocity du jour, the latest explosion du jour? Do you want to see that?" Hunt responded: "Yeah, we've got to disagree on this one. ... I care about the bomb in Tikrit if it kills American soldiers. That's why I think it's important, and I -- we've got guys in combat -- we seem, as a nation -- I'm not hitting the press, but as a nation, we've turned our back on this." O'Reilly went on to assert: "I think Americans understand that soldiers and Marines are dying. I think they know they die in explosions." Hunt replied, "It's too easy to forget, Bill. Look at the people in VA hospitals," to which O'Reilly responded, "I'm not buying it. ... There's no news value to it, Colonel. There's just no news value to it. Just trust me on this."

Additionally, O'Reilly continued his attacks on NBC during the June 14 O'Reilly Factor. He stated that the "latest NBC News indignity is trying to convince their few viewers that Fox News is negligent because we don't cover every terrorist incident in Iraq." O'Reilly continued: "NBC News is, of course, entitled to its opinion in the commentary realm, and the results of said opinion are seen every day in their disastrous ratings. However, for these clowns to say Fox News is insulting military families because we don't show every bombing is dishonest in the extreme, which is what we've come to expect from that organization." He also stated: "NBC News correspondent Jane Arraf blogged that Iraqis who have lost loved ones during the war were scarred much more than they were under Saddam. Well yeah, but what's the point? Millions of Iraqis were given the chance to have freedom, madam."

O'Reilly's comments are just his latest attack in an ongoing feud between Fox News and NBC/MSNBC, as Media Matters for America has documented (here, here, and here).

From the June 14 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight. Supporting the troops in Iraq. That's the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."

As part of their business plan to woo left-wing viewers, NBC News consistently attacks Fox News, as you know. Well, it hasn't worked, as they're losing ratings. And there is big trouble at that network.

Now the latest NBC News indignity is trying to convince their few viewers that Fox News is negligent because we don't cover every terrorist incident in Iraq. Somehow we're insulting military families if we don't run in the explosion du jour. As everybody knows, Al Qaeda's strategy is to break the will of the American people to fight the jihad. Osama bin Laden has stated that in writing.

So blowing things up and hopefully getting the carnage on TV is what the terrorists want. Here at The Factor, we report honestly on the Iraq war and bring you reports that advance the story. For example, earlier this week on The Radio Factor, Colonel David Hunt said that the surge has improved things in the Anbar province, the Sunni stronghold, but not yet in Baghdad.

And we believe that analysis is accurate. NBC News, on the other hand, has, well, let's say just their Iraq coverage has been questionable. Item: NBC News analyst William Arkin called troops mercenaries and disparaged the sacrifice they're making to bring freedom to that country.

Item: NBC News correspondent Richard Engel filed a report that said one American combat unit, quote, "all told me it's time to end the war," unquote.

Well, The Factor received emails from some soldiers in that unit saying that was absolutely false.

Item: NBC News correspondent Jane Arraf blogged that Iraqis who have lost loved ones during the war were scarred much more than they were under Saddam. Well yeah, but what's the point? Millions of Iraqis were given the chance to have freedom, madam.

An NBC commentator also called funding for the war in Iraq "asinine." NBC News is, of course, entitled to its opinion in the commentary realm, and the results of said opinion are seen every day in their disastrous ratings. However, for these clowns to say Fox News is insulting military families because we don't show every bombing is dishonest in the extreme, which is what we've come to expect from that organization.

And that's the "Memo."

From the June 12 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: OK. So there's some progress in the western part of the state, the country, but Baghdad is still chaotic.

HUNT: Yeah, and we've lost -- the last two months were the largest fatalities of the American soldiers in the war combined.

O'REILLY: Right.

HUNT: And we've got over 33 young great guys already gone now. There was never going to be a battle in which the American military moves into Baghdad and kills all the bad guys. It was an idea to create some security to allow some breathing room for the Iraqi government, military, and police to actually pick up the fight. We give them that street. They keep it.

O'REILLY: All right.

HUNT: That's when -- so at this moment --

O'REILLY: So my analysis --

HUNT: -- it's not working.

O'REILLY: So my analysis that the Iraqis are primarily at fault for their chaos in their own country is correct.

HUNT: You bet. You bet.

O'REILLY: All right. So, OK, and that's the best we can get; that at this point, time's running out for the Iraqis. I believe that. I'm not real optimistic that they're going to be able to do anything. I think we'll probably have to pull back in the fall and let them do whatever they have to do, because I don't think we can sustain this level of casualties. Do you agree with that?

HUNT: Yeah, I think at the end of the summer, I think -- I think -- the politics of our presidential election are going to dictate a lot more. We -- we're -- yeah, we cannot keep going -- getting it done like this.

O'REILLY: No, if they Iraqis aren't going to help themselves in Baghdad, then we have to pull back and let them -- whatever happens, happens. We can't abandon the region. We have to stay there to make sure the Iranians and the Al Qaeda don't run wild, but Baghdad is Baghdad, and they gotta sort it out.

Anything else? Let me just ask you this. When you're watching the news cruising around, is there any value to you, as an American, not as a military analyst, to see the latest atrocity du jour, the latest explosion du jour? Do you want to see that?

HUNT: Yeah, we've got to disagree on this one, Bill, and we're friends, because we're gonna disagree. I care about the bomb in Tikrit if it kills American soldiers. That's why I think it's important, and I -- we've got guys in combat -- we seem, as a nation -- I'm not hitting the press, but as a nation, we've turned our back on this.

O'REILLY: All right, now do you believe that the strategy of the terrorist is to have that happen so it will be shown on American television, just as the Vietnamese strategy was to break the will of the American people?

HUNT: Yes, I do, and it worked -- it work its way -- some in Vietnam.

O'REILLY: It absolutely worked there.

HUNT: And it worked that way here, but we've got a bigger government, and we're smarter, and we ought to be able to push back on public relations. There's so many good stories that we're not doing.

O'REILLY: Nah, that's not gonna work.

HUNT: Well, we're not trying. All I'm suggesting is that -- you asked.

O'REILLY: No, I know. We disagree on this. I mean, I think Americans -- I think Americans understand that soldiers and Marines are dying. I think they know they die in explosions.

HUNT: It's too easy to forget, Bill. Look at the people in VA hospitals.

O'REILLY: Ahh. Ya know. I don't -- I'm not buying it.

HUNT: It's too easy to forget.

O'REILLY: I don't think so.

HUNT: They're not our sons and daughters. They're somebody else's. Look at the treatment in VA hospitals. It took The Washington Post to bring that up. I want the American public -- I want -- and I don't think they don't care. I want them to see it to know that Private Johnson from Bat Cave, North Carolina, or Long Island is out there doing this, and were not, and that's not a hit on Fox or NBC or anybody. I think as a nation --

O'REILLY: Look, if you did that in World War II or even in Vietnam, the people would have been so horrified that the war would have been a different situation. People's capacity to absorb other people's pain is limited, and on a big thing, yes. But every day, the same thing; here's another explosion. There's no news value to it, Colonel. There's just no news value to it. Just trust me on this. I know you're an ex-soldier. I know you feel for the guys. I feel for the guys, too. You know, our audience, in 48 hours, sent 25,000 phone cards over there. Did you know that?

HUNT: Yeah, yeah, I think it's great.

O'REILLY: OK, so our audience, here, they know -- they know -- what's going on over in Iraq. Colonel David Hunt, buy his book, On the Hunt. We'll be back with your calls and comments in a moment.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The O'Reilly Factor
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Propaganda/Noise Machine
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