The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

19 May 2008

Over GE Criticism, Mainstream Media Gangs Up On O'Reilly


Renewed O'Reilly Media Focus Likely To Bolster His Position

For their ability to twist and contort reality, you've got to give our mainstream media friends credit. It's a skill they've had years to hone to perfection.

Take the ongoing battle between MSNBC and the FOX News Channel: a fight first picked by Keith Olbermann against Bill O'Reilly in the name of ratings has now been portrayed as an "assault" by the latter.

(Image: David A Lunde)

But the swarm of Internet attention given to today's front- page Washington Post splash on O'Reilly's crusade against MSNBC parent company General Electric is unlikely to damage the FOX News Channel host. Instead, this latest attempt to portray him as a bully could lead to little more than higher ratings.

Since his attention- generating interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton, O'Reilly's foes have seemed particularly focused on bringing down the top- rated cable talker. That's what makes the timing of this piece particularly strange.

O'Reilly's real stroke of genius was in shifting the battle away from the low- rated Olbermann and toward GE's international track record, particularly its apparent economic support of Iran's repressive regime. By going after GE's corporate suits, he's chosen a far more appealing target.

The problem with Howard Kurtz's WaPo piece is that we really aren't given a real indication as to why O'Reilly is on the wrong track with his GE/ Iran criticism. In fact, Kurtz's own information backs that of the O'Reilly Factor host.

Instead, the focus is on the left's new theory that Bill merely serves as a proxy for Rupert Murdoch:

Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News star, is mounting an extraordinary televised assault on the chief executive of General Electric, calling him a "pinhead" and a "despicable human being" who bears responsibility for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq.

On the surface, O'Reilly's charges revolve around GE's history of doing business with Iran. But the attacks grow out of an increasingly bitter feud between O'Reilly and the company's high-profile subsidiary, NBC, one that has triggered back-channel discussions involving News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, NBC chief executive Jeff Zucker and General Electric's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt.

Ailes called Zucker on his cellphone last summer, clearly agitated over a slam against him by MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. According to sources familiar with the conversation, Ailes warned that if Olbermann didn't stop such attacks against Fox, he would unleash O'Reilly against NBC and would use the New York Post as well.

Both Fox and the Post are owned by Murdoch, who complained about Olbermann's conduct in separate calls to Zucker and Immelt.

The high-level appeals failed, and O'Reilly has escalated his criticism of GE in recent weeks, declaring, "If my child were killed in Iraq, I would blame the likes of Jeffrey Immelt."

GE has long had a corporate presence in Iran, which U.S. officials say is providing weapons and training for Shiite militias in the Iraq conflict. Under growing criticism from the public and its own shareholders, GE announced in 2005 that it would accept no new business in Iran and would wind down existing contracts, which mostly involved sales of oil, gas and energy and health-care equipment. The remaining work, valued at less than $50 million, amounts to less than .01 percent of GE's income, and the company says the final four contracts will expire within weeks.

As for Murdoch's supposed direct involvement, the only real evidence of this is a telephone call he made to NBC regarding an O'Reilly stalker:

Murdoch's call to Zucker, which was polite in tone, involved a request that Olbermann not air video from a Daily Kos blogger who had made a scene at O'Reilly's Long Island home. That, Murdoch said, should be off limits.

Activist Mike Stark had confronted O'Reilly when he was retrieving his newspaper, planted derogatory signs on his street and distributed derogatory material to neighbors. Olbermann says the only time he ever talked to Stark was to interview him about a stunt in which he called O'Reilly's radio show and mentioned Olbermann's name.

Olbermann says that NBC Senior Vice President Phil Griffin called to ask him to exercise restraint but that he had already decided to criticize Stark for going to O'Reilly's home. He told viewers, "with great regret," that Stark's behavior was "not acceptable."

He and NBC are fair game for O'Reilly, Olbermann says, but "when you start accusing a corporation of murdering Americans, with the thinnest and most ridiculous arguments behind it," it is unfair to GE employees.

While O'Reilly is cheered by conservatives and Olbermann is a hero on the left, their dispute is more personal than ideological. Fox staffers say they don't share O'Reilly's obsession with Olbermann, noting that the "O'Reilly Factor" audience of 2.5 million viewers is 2 1/2 times the size of Olbermann's. "Countdown," however, has become increasingly competitive among younger viewers.

Hey, if Olbermann is such a "hero" to the left, then why don't they watch his show?

The other key allegation is that News Corporation's New York Post is also being used by FOX News Channel managment as a weapon in this battle, but again, the evidence comes up short.

However, some FOX critics are pointing to today's Post, where a critical Olbermann item appears in the Page Six section:

May 19, 2008 -- IS Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's top-rated anchor, on the verge of yet another professional meltdown? His feuding with "Hardball" host Chris Matthews is nothing new. But now we're told notoriously odd Olbermann is lashing out at the rest of his network's talking heads. During West Virginia primary coverage the other night, Olbermann began pounding the table when lead White House reporter David Gregory didn't wrap his segment quickly enough to satisfy him.

Olbermann recently encouraged management to oust the cable channel's lone conservative, Tucker Carlson, and it's also no secret among producers that Olbermann refuses to introduce Dan Abrams' show, which follows his own. Olbermann walked out of MSNBC years ago in a huff after also blowing up at ESPN, so TV insiders are curious if this recent behavior is a sign that history will repeat itself. MSNBC did not respond to our calls and e-mails seeking comment.

But does this mean criticism of MSNBC should be off-limits at the Post? Prohibiting discussion of topics based on corporate edicts would be just as alarming as solid evidence the paper is being used as a weapon against an enemy.

In the end, Murdoch conspiracy theorists are going to believe what they want and Olbermann's ratings will remain in the tank, despite the support his media friends provide nearly every day.

But what is new here is the prominence given to a story that in the past was confined to media- watching circles. For Bill O'Reilly, it's front- page flattery.

ALSO: New Neville Chamberlain fallout- MSNBC's David Shuster can't pronounce his name properly!

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

Your Honor System contributions keep this site humming along. Thanks again!

Technorati tags:



    December 7, 1943

    Fairfield, CT - General Electric today announces that it will close out all projects with the government of Japan within weeks.

    "It is unfair that we are painted with the broad brush of anti-patriotism by extremist elements of the right wing-controlled media, " said GE CEO Mooney Bags.

    "This business represents less than 1% of our revenues," Bags continued. "We at GE proudly contribute to the American war effort by supplying critical components for weaponry, planes, ships, and tanks."


    To quote Rush, "We are so screwed."
    How is our civilization supposed to survive when the Saudis pay for the services of GE and others (Loral, anybody???) who provide weapons for use against us? Our debt, and therefore our very land, is being bought without a shot fired by international interests.

    Yet we are all to blithely go about our business griping about some illusory recession.

    By Blogger Ed, at 19 May, 2008 16:57  

  • "Hey, if Olbermann is such a "hero" to the left, then why don't they watch his show?"

    Brian, that is the perfect question. And the left has no answer.

    By Blogger The Benson Report, at 19 May, 2008 18:00  


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19 May, 2008 18:30  

  • I must say this was very clever of O'riley to attack General Electric. I agree with him on this...but the issue is not Olberman and MSNBC being "liberal"; the issue is corporations becoming too powerful. Myself being ideologically socialist leaning; have pointed out for years on end the dangers of de-regulation and rollback of Anti-trust laws which many "conservatives" have championed for years. These ideas were propelled by the Reagan era of conservatism. Keep in mind many Anti-trust provisions were started during WW2, and remember Prescott Bush was one the first businessman persecuted under the "trading with the enemy"(I believe that is the name) act.... Look it up; this is historically accurate.

    Is it copasetic that G.E deals with Iran? Absolutely not, but this the price you pay when you champion "free market" laissez-faire ideologies, which of course O'riley has shilled for endlessly.

    It is clever that O'riley used this for the pundit wars , but does O'riley understand his own ideology is the root of the problem? I doubt it..

    As far as MSNBC being "liberal"; if that was the case; why did MSNBC fire Donahue after his anti-war tirades in 2001, when he was the #1 show on MSNBC? Olberman is good counter programming(against Fox); he does not reflect the views of the G.E. executive board; simple as that.

    G.E is the 10th largest contractor for the U.S military incidentally, and a main military contractor for Israel.

    very interesting....

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 19 May, 2008 19:44  

  • "Hey, if Olbermann is such a "hero" to the left, then why don't they watch his show?"

    not to defend anyone because I have my own mind and pundits mean nothing to me (unlike you wing-nuts who hang on every word from the all mighty pundit) Olberman's show is the highest rated on MSNBC and one of the only shows that has showen growth in the cable-news field.

    I only deal with facts, sorry Benson; you are wrong again.

    Why do you let pundits think for you? Are you incapable of forming your own opinion? I don't even watch Olberman, I read books.

    The mentalitgy of "conservatives" is astonishing... you fools think this is a little game "lib" vs "con"... this is your country and you fools are pissing it away

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 20 May, 2008 09:27  

  • Love watching the Right fail to handle "Info-tainment," when it doesn't favor them. Talking to you, Benson Report. Well, laughing at you at least..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20 May, 2008 23:23  

  • Oh yeah..don't forget, MSNBC isn't on many cable systems. Fox is on ALL. MSNBC is extended cable on my Comcast system, whereas Fox is on basic cable.

    Kinda makes it tougher for any MSNBC show to have as many viewers, doesn't it? But don't let the facts get in the way..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20 May, 2008 23:25  

  • MOP said "I read books"

    That’s great but it depends on which books try history books. Try reading facts for example about Social Security and Bush's “Privatization”

    You sure jumped on the band wagon against Bush’s plan because it was a Republican idea. You spouted the same lies as Air Head America. So don’t try and act all high and mighty. You try and come up with facts against this plan and not crap hyped by the left.

    By Blogger pf1, at 21 May, 2008 01:17  

  • "Love watching the Right fail to handle "Info-tainment," when it doesn't favor them. Talking to you, Benson Report. Well, laughing at you at least.."

    I'm glad you enjoyed it. I must say that it is enjoyable to see Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin double-team Olbermann. Especially after Olby tried to cover up his detestable comment that U.S. Troops were "Cold Blooded Killers", by blaming it on his editing skills.

    I decided that it was pointless to reply to a bundle of coarse yarn, a sponge, or other absorbent material, fastened at the end of a stick or handle for washing floors, dishes, etc.

    By Blogger The Benson Report, at 21 May, 2008 14:47  

  • Cable is global these days. How to avoid seeing the ugliest face of the US. society represented by Fox Channel?. Both O’Reilly and Greg Gutfeld -Red Eye clown show- comments and opinions are great mirrors of current american society. The desperate appealing to patriotism is remarkable. The part of the American who hates and fears everything and every body who do not follow their rules and codes. The smoking gun, the false Icon of freedom. Is so true that Fox and O’Reilly capture the essence of the ill American society. A part that will never admit that they are partially responsible for the anti-American sentiment across the world.

    hates criticism and portrait society “the good guys” (U.S. patriots) vs.

    Impossible not to

    to not choose between right and wrong. Remarkable to realize that the worse wrong face of US. is being displayed by Fox Channel including defense of the attack on Irak is being fueled by programs prepared for retarded people in the strongest democracy on earth called Red Eye,

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06 June, 2008 06:23  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Page Rank Checker

Powered by Blogger