Last night Bill O'Reilly claimed that a Media Matters video about Fox News' 2008 gas price coverage "lied" and called him a "hypocrite" because he "didn't hammer President Bush when gas prices rose during his tenure." But the video was not a critique of Fox's 2008 coverage -- in fact, we chose clips from 2008 where Fox's statements "mirrored the facts."
To be sure, O'Reilly is off-message at Fox on gas prices these days, frequently railing against speculators, oil companies, and the Obama administration, while his colleagues try to keep the focus on Obama.
But in 2008, O'Reilly stressed a basic truth that has not made its way on to The O'Reilly Factor or Fox News lately: that reducing oil consumption is the only way to reduce our vulnerability to gas price spikes. In fact, O'Reilly even called for government mandates requiring fuel efficient and alternative vehicles. This year O'Reilly has not once brought up the recent increases in fuel economy standards during his gas price coverage.
Of course any video clip is edited -- the question is whether it is "dishonestly edited," which O'Reilly did not demonstrate. Below is the full transcript (via Nexis) of O'Reilly's discussion of gas prices on April 21, 2008. We selected for our video what we thought were the most interesting and truth-telling portions of his remarks (bolded). The underlined portion is what O'Reilly presented as the "full clip" last night.
O'REILLY: The most important problem facing the USA right now is oil prices. And none of the candidates can do a thing about them. They say they can, but that's complete bull. The oil cartel is going to charge as much as it can. The Arabs, Chavez, and the others are going to gouge the world and we can't stop them. The American oil companies are not going to build more refineries and the candidates can't make them. Big oil sees the inevitable shift to alternative energy as going for the big dollars right now.
The Democratic party opposes most drilling. Nuclear energy that liberal countries like France and Sweden have and aggressive action to protect foreign oil supplies.
The Republican party pretty much lets big oil do whatever it wants and refuses to reign in corrupt speculators who drive up the price of oil. So the next time you hear politicians say he or she will bring down oil prices, understand it's complete BS. If Americans want lower gas prices, cut back. Sell those SUVs, ride a bike when you can. If everyone one of us bought 10% less gasoline prices would fall fast.
That's what the candidates should be saying. We need a strong leader who's honest, smart, courageous and willing to explain dubious associations. That's what we need. And that's the memo.