Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, JFK Terror Plot, Think Progress
Lefty Attack Against Talkers Over JFK Plot Coverage Backfires
Who are the real "big fat" liars?
After their assertion was refuted even by the New York Times itself, a nasty attack by liberal bloggers against conservative talk show hosts has backfired.
After Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and other hosts lambasted the Sunday New York Times for burying news of the JFK terror plot bust, Think Progress, News Hounds and other lefties accused them of lying.
By claiming the story actually was covered on page one and even asserting that O'Reilly intentionally misled viewers by showing only the top part of the page on camera, these smear sites were truly pulling a fast one.
While Limbaugh said JFK terrorism plot coverage was found on page A30, O'Reilly says he found it on A37.
From the O'Reilly Factor:
Over the weekend, four Muslims were accused of planning to blowup JFK airport here in New York City. That comes on the heels of six Muslims arrested for planning to kill U.S. soldiers in New Jersey. But hey, don't be alarmed. According to John Edwards and The New York Times, this is no big deal.
In Sunday's Times, editor Bill Keller put the JFK story on, ready, page 37 right above a story about kids playing at a Fuddrucker's restaurant. Every other New York City paper had the Muslim suspects on page one, where they should have been.
Now apparently The Times isn't real concerned about Muslim guys allegedly trying to set up another 9/11. On page one of Sunday's New York Times was this story: some poor people in India making bricks.
And from Limbaugh's transcript:
RUSH: This terror plot. As I say, I found this on page 30 of the New York Times. They didn't think it was a big deal at all. Here's a report from CBS in New York: "Feds Say Terrorist Plot Poorly Planned -- In the latest terrorist threat to New York City, the alleged terrorists are all middle-aged men, the oldest 63-year-old Guyanese immigrant Russell Defreitas." It's not Russell. He calls himself "Mohammed." See, this is exactly what I'm talking about. One of these guys is a citizen.
These are homegrown, and whether or not their plot made any sense and whether or not it worked -- and it probably wouldn't have worked. The problem with blowing up jet fuel or gasoline is, jet fuel is essentially kerosene, and it burns in a very narrow range of fuel and air mixtures.
Everybody's downplaying this as, "Well, this wouldn't have worked," and, 'These guys are just a bunch of idiots." But that's not the point of this. The point of this is, here we have the report. How many people now are going to be even more nervous than they are about flying?
From there, Think Progress accused them of lying, singling out O'Reilly here:
Bill O’Reilly calls the New York Times “quasi-socialistic” and has placed the newspaper on his enemies list. Last night, he devoted an entire segment of his show to attacking the Times for not covering the arrests made in an alleged JFK airport terrorist plot on the front page.
“In Sunday’s Times, editor Bill Keller put the JFK story on — ready — page 37, right above a story about kids playing at Fuddrucker’s restaurant,” O’Reilly said. He claimed the Times “isn’t real concerned about Muslim guys allegedly trying to set up another 9/11.”
One problem: the New York Times did cover the JFK terror plot on the front page of its Sunday edition. You wouldn’t know it from watching O’Reilly, who chose to show only the top fold of the front page during his broadcast. “Now I’m not making this up,” he told his viewers. “You see it. This is not the Colbert Report. This is The Factor and this is the fact.” But O’Reilly is lying.
The real problem is that O'Reilly isn't lying and neither was Rush. In the "evidence" provided by Think Progress, they point to a tiny, one paragraph teaser found in the right sidebar.
Not in a million years would that qualify as front page coverage!
In fact, two Think Progress commenters were quick to bust them:
Please don’t call me a troll or a Republican for this but, he is right - the article is not headlined on the front page. There’s a small reference to the story on the interior page (metro section).
I receive the print version of the Times. I remember thinking, that’s good - they’ve put this on page 37 instead of on the front page, because, if previous terror scares are any indication, within 48 hours this will have been downgraded from “the end of the world” to “cheesy”.
Think Progress can do better, and 99 percent of the time does.
Comment by eddy tompkins — June 5, 2007 @ 12:35 pm
I’m not a fan of O’Really or Faux, but from the picture given us of below the fold I cannot make out much of a headline or whether the story is “covered” on the front page.
Comment by leftcoast — June 5, 2007 @ 12:37 pm
From there, it gets worse: even the New York Times admits it buried the story! But it does have an excuse, though it seems weak. This is from a reader Q & A with National Editor Suzanne Daley:
The J.F.K. Airport Bomb Plot
Q. I live in California and was astounded yesterday to look at my print edition of The Times for the article on the J.F.K. bomb plot and to find it back on page A30!
What has happened with the news judgment of your colleagues? A terrorist plot that could have badly damaged the entire economy of the nation, including those of us who live in the Bay Area, and it's relegated to the level of bridge club reports. You might wish to suggest to your editors that your readers do not live in a vacuum, that we do have alternative sources for news and they only make The Times look foolish with such ineptitude. No wonder your circulation and advertising are falling; your editors are turning a once-honored newspaper into a dinosaur in the electronic age.
-- Richard Godfrey, San Francisco
Q. Could you offer some insights on how The Times decided to play the story about the alleged J.F.K. terror plot? It was noticeably different than the way the other leading national papers played it; your placement (Metro) and coverage have been more skeptical. I'm particularly curious about why it was not considered a national story, but rather, a local one. Thanks.
-- Barbara, Manhattan
A. Here's the basic thinking on the J.F.K. story: In the years since 9/11, there have been quite a few interrupted terrorist plots. It now seems possible to exercise some judgment about their gravity. Not all plots are the same. In this case, law enforcement officials said that J.F.K. was never in immediate danger. The plotters had yet to lay out plans. They had no financing. Nor did they have any explosives. It is with all that in mind, that the editors in charge this weekend did not put this story on the front page.
In truth, the decision was widely debated even within this newsroom. At the front page meeting this morning, we took an informal poll and a few editors thought the story should have been more prominently played. Some argued it should have been fronted, regardless of the lameness of the plot, simply because it was what everyone was talking about.
Will O'Reilly, Limbaugh and the other hosts who made this point get an apology from the smear websites? Don't hold your breath.
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