Following a recent trend of portraying bad news for President Bush as a blessing in disguise for Republicans and the White House, various news outlets and media figures have uncritically echoed the Bush administration's claim that the recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Hezbollah represents a "leadership opportunity" for Bush.
During his interview with U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton, Bill O'Reilly repeatedly lashed out at the U.N., putting Bolton -- who, before being appointed ambassador to the U.N., had made comments that were harshly critical of the organization -- in the position of defending the U.N. and its Security Council.
On Fox News and his radio show, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that, because of criticism The New York Times has received for publishing a "terror finance story," the newspaper "announced ... it was cutting 25 percent of its work force." Based on figures provided in a Times article, the announced reductions amount to just over 2 percent of the work force. Similarly, on Your World, guest host David Asman falsely suggested the Times' cutbacks were a result of the public's reaction to the paper's recent reporting. In fact, the Times announced a plan to cut half its production staff by 2017 in September 2004, well before it reported on warrantless wiretapping or the Bush administration's bank-monitoring program.
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.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly claimed he has "never said liberal America wants the USA to lose in Iraq." Media Matters for America has found numerous examples in which he has asserted that very thing.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly renewed his false attacks on Media Matters, claiming that we, along with the Democracy Alliance, an organization of donors formed to support progressive groups, and other recipients of funding from Alliance donors, represent a "left-wing Mafia" dedicated to "nefarious purposes." O'Reilly leveled specific attacks at Media Matters -- making the blatantly false suggestion that we "give directions to" the homes of O'Reilly and others in order to "intimidate good people who may want to come into the public arena as politicians or commentators" and calling us "character assassins" and a "smear website" that "lie[s]."
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Bill O'Reilly and Laura Ingraham baselessly attacked the The New York Times for publishing a photo of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's vacation home. In fact, Rumsfeld's public affairs director confirmed that he granted the Times permission to run the photo, the Secret Service confirmed that the photo "is not a threat" to Rumsfeld's security, and numerous media -- including Fox News -- had previously reported the location of Rumsfeld's residence. Further, a nearly identical photo ran in The Washington Post six months earlier.
Though White House press secretary Tony Snow criticized "attempts to try to describe" North Korea's recent missile tests "in breathless World War III terms," Fox News hosts, analysts, and guests repeatedly suggested using force to prevent North Korea from conducting further missile tests and acquiring more nuclear weapons-grade material, with one military analyst even advocating the "nuclear" option.
A Media Matters analysis of the media coverage of the Iraq war debate shows that the favored Republican talking points on Iraq have gone largely unchallenged in the media and have even been adopted as truths by some media outlets and figures.
Bill O'Reilly attributed Gary Krantz's recent move to step down as president of Air America Radio and Rick Kaplan's decision to leave MSNBC to "karma" and "two bad guys [getting] theirs," saying, "Do bad things, you'll get yours eventually. Do good things, you'll get rewarded."
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly claimed that U.S. Customs agents and Palm Beach County sheriffs were engaged in "political persecution" of radio host Rush Limbaugh, who was detained at the Palm Beach, Florida, international airport for possessing a bottle of Viagra that was reportedly not prescribed to him. O'Reilly stated that he "believe[d] powerful people in" Limbaugh's "home county are trying to unjustly harm him," asserting repeatedly that Limbaugh engaged in "no wrongdoing"
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Bill O'Reilly railed against The New York Times' disclosure of a secret Bush administration program designed to monitor international financial transactions, falsely claiming that "by all accounts" the program is "entirely legal" and that "[n]obody is asserting that they [the Bush administration] overstepped their authority." Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter similarly asserted that "no one thinks" the program "violates any laws." In fact, some legal experts and politicians have indeed questioned the legality of the newly disclosed program.