Bill O'Reilly Drops the Other Shoe; I go on CNN Sunday
The War on Christmas has turned him into a laughingstock. And the GOP's decisive electoral defeat in November made his views on the war suspect.
With the nation's TV critics?
Here's his rant, from Thursday's Talking Points Memo: "If FOX News is the dominant number one rated cable network, and our presentation appeals to millions, why are we hammered in the press? The answer, of course, is ideology.
We can't find one TV critic in the United States of America, not one who isn't a liberal or a registered Democrat. Most are committed liberals, who dislike us for giving conservative and traditional Americans a fair shot.
By the way, if you know of a non-liberal TV critic, please let us know because we always want to be fair and balanced."
Of course, I predicted this nonsense weeks ago, when a researcher from O'Reilly's staff called to ask about my party affiliation and political contribution history. I predicted he would use his findings to pick a fight with TV critics across the country, and try demonizing our work through our affiliations.
What's also predictable is O'Reilly's twisted presentation of his "results." We don't for example, know how he knows what he says he does. Was this a public records search, phone calls similar to the one I endured, or more? How many critics are we talking about?
His phrasing is also suspect: "We can't find one TV critic in the United States of America, not one who isn't a liberal or a registered Democrat. Most are committed liberals, who dislike us for giving conservative and traditional Americans a fair shot."
He said they can't find a liberal critic, without saying what they've done to find one. My hunch is that a lot of us blew off the personal calls -- especially after my column about his nonsense surfaced in the Huffington Post -- and the records checks didn't reveal much.
But what really spun my top, was when he went on to point out that industry magazines such as Daily Variety, Broadcasting and Cable and Publisher's Weekly are all owned by Reed Business Information, whose CEO is Tad Smith:
"And who is Tad Smith?
He's a far left guy who donates major money to people like Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton. Nothing wrong with that! But Smith also hires editors in his own image and his publications often disparage conservatives and praised liberals."
O'Reilly's no fool. So he knows critics like me will note that he is employed by right-leaning Fox News Channel, which is owned by News Corp., which is owned by Australian mogul Rupert Murdoch -- a longtime Republican supporter whose holdings also include the right-leaning newspaper the New York Post and the right-leaning magazine the Weekly Standard.
He knows we will also note that there are plenty of other right-leaning media moguls who copuld face similar scrutiny: conservative stalwart Richard Mellon Scaife, the Pittsburgh billionaire who owns the local Tribune-Review newspaper and part of the conservative-oriented Newsmax Web site, also owned the American Spectator magazine when it decided to dig up dirt on then-President and Democrat Bill Clinton.
And there's David Smith, the conservative president and CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group, a nationwide chain of more than 60 TV stations which refused to air Nightline's tribute to soldiers killed in Iraq (for fear it would hurt the war effort), and insisted its stations air Stolen Honor, a documentary supported by political opponents of Democratic candidate John Kerry which criticized his activism against the Vietnam War. (though Smith has denied he has a political agenda, Washington Post noted his federal contributions to Republicans dwarfed those given to Democrats)
So if O'Reilly's conservative-backing boss can bankroll a "fair and balanced" news operation, why can't we TV critics overcome our party affiliations?
As usual, O'Reilly has exposed the silliness of criticizing journalists' political affiliations without also looking at the substance of their work.
And then we come to his primary piece of liberal bias evidence: that Fox News receives constant criticism from TV columnists despite the fact that they are the Number One cable news network.
And I'm sure no one would suggest there isn't lots to criticize on their programs.
The Last DEGGANS Punditry in '06
I just wrapped pre-taping a fun exchange with Batimore sun TV critic David Zurawik and Philadelphia Inquirer TV columnist Gail Shister on CNN's Reliable Sources regarding the state of TV this year -- including runaway coverage of lost climbers, the network news anchor wars and, of course, Donald VS Rosie.
The episode airs Sunday at 10 a.m., I believe, hosted by Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz. Watch it while you're firing up the yule log and mixing up the egg nog...