On the front page of today’s Arts section, New York Times reporter Brian Stelter has a story with the headline, “Gotcha TV: Crews Stalk Bill O’Reilly’s Targets.” In the piece, Stelter notes that over the past three years, O’Reilly’s “young producers” have stalked more than 50 people. In “almost every case,” the Fox News host has used ambushes “to campaign for his point of view,” and 10 of the last 12 ambush targets “were either outwardly liberal or had criticized Republicans.” The network began using the tactic in 2002, but it became an O’Reilly Factor “staple” in 2006. (It has now spread to otherFox shows as well.)
The Fox News producer responsible for most of the ambush interviews, Jesse Watters, refused repeated interview requests. But the network did make David Tabacoff, the program’s senior executive producer, available to comment. Mr. Tabacoff — who started a telephone interview by asking, “This is going to be a fair piece, correct?” — said the interviews are “part of the journalistic mission” of “The O’Reilly Factor.” He called the program an “opinion-driven show that has a journalistic basis.”
“We’re trying to get answers from people,” he said. “Sometimes the only way to get them is via these methods.”
The attitude, as summarized by Mr. Watters in a BillOReilly.com blog post: “If they don’t come to us, we’ll go to them.”
Spencer Ackerman points out one thing missing from this article: “Stelter might also have noted in this piece that O’Reilly’s people never once contacted for comment Amanda before following her to a vacation spot, despite the Factor’s frequent protestations that the ambush-interviews are a last journalistic resort.”
Fox can try to deny the fact that they aggressively pushed yesterday’s tea parties, but Media Matters has the proof. They found Fox aired 23 separate segments promoting the protests between April 6-13, along with 73 in-show and commercial promotions. Hannity and Neil Cavuto were the biggest offenders, as you can see from the Media Matters table. With so much Tea Party coverage, when does Fox Find time for real news?
Here are some highlights from yesterday’s teabaggery.
Glenn Beck was able to keep a dry eye earlier today when he offered up a new-to-me conspiracy theory about gay marriage, that it’s really about “going into churches and attacking churches… Then you also have to go into the schools.” His guest for the segment was Megyn “I love to hatepeopleofcolor” Kelly. Kelly didn’t buy Beck’s theory. Instead, she took a gratuitous swipe at President Barack Obama, offering her own conspiracy theory, that he secretly supports gay marriage. Of course, she had no evidence to back that up, just her “feeling” that he leans further left than he wants to admit.
In a discussion about the recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, Beck said he agrees with Obama in that they both support civil unions for gays. But marriage is different, according to Beck. Lowering his head with dramatic intensity, he said, “I believe this case is actually about going into churches and going in and attacking churches and saying you can’t teach anything else. When you say marriage – civil unions is different – when you say marriage must be defined as this, well then you also have to go into the schools.”
Like many progressives, I’ve been laughing a lot about the GOP’s tea-bagging antitaxation demonstrations planned for tomorrow. But childish jokes aside, here’s why these protests are so insidious. They will provide a staged, corporate lobbyist-sponsored moment for Republicans and Fox News personalities to amplify their specious objections to President Obama’s tax increase for the rich, while furthering their own right-wing conspiratorial claims about liberal values. By usurping and bastardizing an iconic event from the American Revolution, they offer an ersatz grassroots movement from the right–complete and utter AstroTurf–in an attempt to reclaim the national spotlight.
As Think Progress’s Faiz Shakir exclaimed last night on Fox Business as he ripped the network a new one:
These tea parties are a sham. The reason they’re a sham is because they’re directed by lobbyists here in D.C. … And on top of that, you’ve got this network, Fox News, which is advocacy — pushing this, promoting this with all of its heart. And it is not a grassroots movement when you have Jonathan Hoenig, Neil Cavuto, Glenn Beck, Greta Van Susteren promoting this up the wazoo. That is not a grassroots movement.
When I was a kid in Philly, Veterans Stadium was known as a “career-killer” because the cement-like AstroTurf wrecked the knees and ankles of so many promising baseball and football players. Let’s hope tomorrow’s AstroTurf movement turns out to be a career-killer for all the lunatic Republicans and hedge fund directors and Fox shock jocks who make the wild accusations that Obama isn’t from our country, or that evolution is a lie.
Teabagging is sweeping the nation. Rachel Maddow did a report on this new, conservative, right-wing phenomenon on her show recently, in a segment that began with the chyron “InsaniTea.” She summarized the high points of Fox News’s plethora of coverage including Neil Cavuto saying “we’re all over it” (eww) and Griff Jenkins (sporting colonial hat) reading the movement’s admonition to “teabag the White House.” (Lots of cajones needed for a building that size; but today’s conservatives are muy macho!)
Maddow’s coverage was quite informative. While she said that the movement’s organizers can’t be held responsible for who shows up, there is a great deal of interest in the white supremacist and militia community. (Fans of Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, or leftist “plants?”) She said that Republican Senator David (diaper) Vitter wants a law honoring April 15th as a national tea party day. But I thought that Ana Marie Cox’s comment was just so right – “who wouldn’t want to teabag John McCain?” Speaking of Fox, when Glenn Beck and Neil Cavuto were doing a little teabagging talk, Beck said that the teabaggers were “hacked off at George W. Bush” because “they were angry at the spending of the Republicans.” Funny, I don’t recall any populist outrage. Is that because their mouths were full of tea – bags? Who knows! But one thing is for sure – Fox News loves teabagging.
We need Glenn Beck kicked off the air before he hurts someone. If the lunatic Fox personality could havemotivated Pittsburgh cop killer Richard Poplawski by erroneously claiming President Obama is comin’ to get yer guns, I can only imagine the harm all of Beck’s fearmongering will cause. In the past few weeks alone, Beck has spewed the apocalyptic ideas that Chinese and Russian spies have hacked into the United States, Iran and Russia are swapping nuclear secrets, and FEMA is setting up concentration camps. Oh, and then there’s Beck’s run-of-the-mill fearmongering about our country heading toward a socialist totalitarian state.
With Beck on board, Fox’s right-wing agenda and whatever-it-takes mentality to boost ratings are clearer than ever. I mean, who needs accurate reporting when Beck can pretend to douse someone in gasoline and light a match while he rants about Obama’s budget and new immigration plan? The thing is though, this is akin to yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. The tragic irony is that Beck and his War Room have the potential to do some serious damage.
Last year, the New York Times revealed that numerous cable news “military analysts” never disclosed their ties to military contractors. Yesterday, Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney appeared on Fox News to discuss the Somali pirates situation, and managed to use it as an opportunity to shill for the F-22:
McINERNEY: I’d put F-22s and combat air patrol out there, two of them, with tankers. … The reason I’d put the F-22s is because they can go 1.6 to mach 2, and they have a very quick reaction time and a 20 millimeter canon.
Looks like Rush Limbaugh got a dose of his own OxyContin yesterday, when he got a call on his radio show from a Republican veteran who lashed out at Limbaugh for his stance on torture. The caller said Limbaugh was a “brainwashed Nazi” for claiming torture was an effective interrogation technique and giving the U.S. a pass for using it at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. The caller also said Limbaugh was in part to blame for the Republicans losing last November.
Limbaugh was befuddled at first, trying to write the caller off as an Obama voter. Then, when the caller set Limbaugh straight on his political leanings, Limbaugh went on the offensive, cutting off the caller and calling him “stupid” and “ignorant.” But the caller wouldn’t let up, cornering Limbaugh to the point that he made the ludicrous assertion, “I don’t know of anybody who died from torture.”
Clearly, Limbaugh has absolutely no respect for our country’s veterans. As Richard Smith points out at VetVoice, Limbaugh has a long history of attacking vets, even though he never served. What’s more, it’s evident Limbaugh will do and say whatever it takes to silence veterans’ views of national security, particularly when they run opposite to his own erroneous ideological beliefs.
I love watching Jon Stewart shred right-wingers and their sour grape-fueled conspiracy theories, especially when it involves the idiocy espoused by FOX blowhards Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. It is astounding though to see the these shock jocks do a complete 180 from when Bush was in power, back when they labeled you unpatriotic simply for criticizing the President.
Stewart: Yes, tyranny. A.K.A. our democratically elected President. You know what guys….I think you might be confusing tyranny with losing. And I feel for you because ah…I’ve been there. A few times. In fact one of them was a bit of a nail biter. But see, when the guy that you disagree with gets elected, he’s probably going to do things you disagree with. He could cut taxes on the wealthy. Remove government’s oversight capability. Invade a country that you thought should not be invaded but that’s not tyranny. That’s democracy.
See now you’re in the minority. It’s supposed to taste like a s#%t taco. And by the way, if I remember correctly when a disagreement was expressed about that President’s actions when ya’ll were in power I believe the response was “Why do you hate America?”. “Watch what you say.” “Love it or leave it.” “Suck on my truck nuts.”
For god’s sake guys. You’ve been out of power for ten f*%#ng weeks. You’ve got a mid-term election in twenty months. Pace your rage!
During last night’s “Great American Panel” segment on Hannity, panelist Layla Kayleigh confronted Sean Hannity on his divisive tactics against President Barack Obama. When he insisted he was only being “critical,” she noted that when Democrats criticized President Bush, they were called unpatriotic. “No, they weren’t,” Hannity disingenuously said (or else he suffers from amnesia). OK, so maybe they weren’t called “unpatriotic.” They were “only” accused of being sick, hating America, undermining the troops and more.
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