O’Reilly Responds… If You Can Call It That


The other day I put up a note concerning Jon Stewart running a piece on The Daily Show about Fox News that really spoke to why I have issues with its network, its message and that of many of its chief pundits.

Well, it seems it hit the appropriate nerve and Fox’s Bill O’Reilly decided to respond to it on The Factor. The most incredible part to it is that, with a smug face thoughout, Bill appears to believe that what he’s saying in the rebuttal actually rebuts any of the charges Stewart made.

As always, the guy can’t go 10 seconds without insulting someone he disagrees with. He starts right off suggesting that Stewart has “gone off the rails”. He then proclaims that he feels it’s his duty to set the record straight.

His first major gaffe is to miss the entire joke of The Daily Show piece suggesting Fox is now liberal due to their stance on recent issues and how they’re generally viewed as the domain of liberals. O’Reilly rolls on the word liberal, not as an indication of awareness but to drive home to his viewers how wrong Stewart can be by suggesting Fox is liberal.

The next mistake comes when O’Reilly goes after Stewart’s deft use of video to show Bill’s hypocrisy—in this case over the use of the word “loons”. O’Reilly had pointed out that Fox doesn’t refer to protesters as loons only to have Stewart present video of him saying exactly that—”….surveys show many protesters are simply loons.” O’Reilly jumps on the fact that this was just a snippet of the overall piece and tries to claim that the full clip clearly shows how out-of-context the quote is.

The problem is that the full segment (from 2004) doesn’t do that. In it O’Reilly says, “There are the anti-Bush protesters here in New York City. While most of these people have been peaceful more than a thousand have been arrested and survey’s show many protesters are simply loons calling for destruction of the American system. Calling for retreat in the face of terrorism. Here’s a bulletin for you Bush-haters. The protesters are not helping John Kerry.”

He returns from showing the full clip and loudly claiming, “No, we were talking about the arrested protesters.” Really? Read the above quote. He does mention arrested protesters but that comment isn’t tied to the one after it. If he meant for these to be connected he would have likely said “….and surveys show they’re simply loons.” Except that he wasn’t claiming that. He was trying for the bigger hit—that many protesters, arrested or not, are “simply loons.” If he really was referring to just the arrested protesters then then rest of the quote makes no sense. Just the arrested protesters call for the destruction of the American system and retreat in the face of terrorism? Give me a break.

The next problem with the rebuttal is when O’Reilly claims that 45% of The Daily Show audience is liberal according to a Pew Research study. He says that makes it the biggest liberal percentage on TV.

Again, the problem here is that the study doesn’t say that. It says 45% of viewers of The Daily Show identify themselves as liberal. Nothing in this study suggests that this is the biggest liberal audience on TV. The study shows nightly network news and MSNBC viewers are 45% liberal. NewsHour is shown as having 46% liberal viewship while CNN gets 51% liberal viewership. Me makes this claim by mis-reading (or not) a single break-out box in the study that compares a select grouping of shows for comparison.

Furthermore, he tries to play this off as suggesting that The Daily Show isn’t very balanced. His own show is covered in this same study and it shows that 66% of his viewers are conservative with only 3% being liberal. So much for balance.

Next up he goes on a ridiculous rant about how Stewart has to play to these viewers to retain them as if he’s immune to such things or suggesting to us that all TV personalities don’t do this.

Lastly he plays a clip of when he was on Stewart’s show and presents it as proof that Stewart admits that it’s his job to cheap-shot people. The sarcasm of Stewart’s playing along is totally missed on O’Reilly—or, as I believe, isn’t missed at all by him but that he realizes his audience won’t see it. The hilarious part of this is the little snippet of it that he totally missed where, in response to O’Reilly saying he hasn’t taken cheap shots at President Obama, Stewart “admits” that he has. This is hilarious because O’Reilly ends the piece talking about how Stewart isn’t worried about President Obama. “We now do know how Barrack is governing and some of us are very worried about that. But not Jon Stewart. Nooooooo! He continues to dance down the liberal yellow brick road.” So I guess now the liberal yellow brick road includes taking cheap-shots at liberals. Interesting.

Everything about this “rebuttal” is weak. The segments he plays in it don’t support either rebutting the original accusations or what he claims they are saying. Bill O’Reilly exists purely on the ignorance of a willing viewership that ignore common sense and the simplest of deductive reasoning. He lies to his audience time and again knowing they will never bother to check the facts of what he says. The sooner this guy retires the sooner America can be the better for it.

Note that the Pew Research study O’Reilly works from was done in August of 2008. In October of last year Pew found that Fox News’ audience was 39% liberal. Maybe Stewart is right about them being liberal after all.

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