After playing a clip of John Edwards asserting that “Fox News ... has a clear and long history of bias against Democrats,” host Bill O'Reilly responded that “John Edwards has been on the Fox News Channel 33 times,” and that, in reviewing those interviews, "[n]ot once could I find anything insulting, demeaning, or disrespectful to the senator." In fact, beyond Edwards' treatment while a guest on Fox News, O'Reilly himself and numerous other Fox News personalities have repeatedly made “insulting, demeaning, or disrespectful” statements about Edwards and other Democrats.
During the August 7 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, after playing a clip of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards asserting that “Fox News ... has a clear and long history of bias against Democrats,” host Bill O'Reilly responded that “John Edwards has been on the Fox News Channel 33 times,” and that, in reviewing those interviews, "[n]ot once could I find anything insulting, demeaning, or disrespectful to the senator." O'Reilly then asked Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers, “So he's actually lying, is he not?” When Powers responded that Edwards was “making a broader claim against Fox,” O'Reilly repeated that “he was on 33 times and treated with complete respect.” Similarly, on the August 9 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, discussing how “some of the Democratic candidates have been attacking Fox News,” O'Reilly questioned why they “want to make enemies -- particularly a guy like John Edwards, who is treated very well here, 33 times he was on.” O'Reilly continued: “We pored over the transcripts. There was never one time that this guy was unfairly treated while he was on this network.” O'Reilly went on to assert that the Democrats' attacks on Fox News “might come back to bite them in the you-know-where.”
But beyond the question of how Edwards was “treated” during his various appearances on Fox News, O'Reilly himself and numerous other Fox News personalities have repeatedly made “insulting, demeaning, or disrespectful” statements about Edwards and other Democrats.
Additionally, during the August 9 program, O'Reilly referred to Fox News as “far and away the highest-rated cable news outfit,” and asserted, "[W]e're growing while the others are disintegrating." In fact, a recent comparison by the blog TVNewser of the three cable news channels' ratings in June 2006 and June 2007 found that CNN and MSNBC's audience grew at a greater rate over that period than that of Fox News. According to TVNewser's analysis, CNN's prime-time viewership increased (across all age groups) by 17 percent and its all-day audience by 10 percent. MSNBC's prime-time viewership increased by 38 percent and its all-day audience by 34 percent. Meanwhile, Fox News' prime-time viewership increased by 10 percent and its all-day audience by 8 percent.
Media Matters for America has documented numerous instances of O'Reilly and other Fox News hosts, correspondents, or guests making “insulting, demeaning, or disrespectful” statements about Edwards and other Democrats.
O'Reilly on Edwards
- On the June 8 edition of Fox News' Your World, in response to host Neil Cavuto's false claim that Edwards used the controversy surrounding celebrity heiress Paris Hilton's recent jail sentence to accentuate his “Two Americas” campaign theme, O'Reilly referred to him as “the biggest phony in the world.” O'Reilly later asserted: "[H]e doesn't really want to chase down the bad guys in Iraq, but he wants to put Paris Hilton in jail."
- On the June 4 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly asserted that “John Edwards looks dopey” for his statement during the June 3 Democratic presidential debate: “What this global war on terror bumper sticker -- a political slogan, that's all it is, all it's ever been -- was intended to do was for George Bush to use it to justify everything he does.” O'Reilly commented: “The good news here is that most Americans in both parties understand that Muslim extremists want to kill us and will if they get the chance.” In fact, just before making that statement, Edwards stressed the threat of terrorism and discussed his strategy for preventing it.
O'Reilly on other Democrats
- In an August 1 interview with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Chris Dodd (CT), which aired on his August 2 radio and cable television shows, O'Reilly called Dodd a “propagandist” and stated, “I don't have any respect for you,” after Dodd noted that O'Reilly previously “talk[ed] about Al Qaeda attacking San Francisco and blowing up San Francisco.”
- On the May 7 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly cited a flawed poll to assert that “35 percent of Democratic voters believe that President Bush stood by and allowed 3,000 Americans to die on the streets.” O'Reilly repeatedly referred to this as “madness,” and claimed, “Sane people do not make that kind of leap.”
- On the January 30 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly stated that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) “just look[ed] like a zombie” during part of President Bush's 2007 State of the Union address.
Fox News on Edwards
- On the August 3 edition of Fox News Radio's The John Gibson Show, the program's executive producer, known on air as “Angry Rich,” claimed that Edwards “whored his wife's cancer as a fundraising gimmick.” He also went on to call him “a fraud” and “a pansy.” Host John Gibson referred to Edwards as “the Breck Girl,” “Silky,” and “the biggest fraud running for president.” On the August 7 edition of the program, “Angry Rich” described the statement as “a poor choice of words,” although he did not apologize for the remark and went on to say of Edwards: “That doesn't mean he's not duplicitous, which he is.”
- On the May 24 broadcast of Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity asserted that Edwards -- whom he referred to as the "$400 haircut man" -- is “not really viewed as somebody that is up to the task of understanding the nature in the battle in the war that's being waged against us.” As evidence, Hannity pointed to a video of Edwards fixing his hair prior to a televised interview and the fact that Edwards recently spent $400 on a haircut.
- Hannity & Colmes hosted right-wing pundit Ann Coulter on March 5 to explain her reference to Edwards as a “faggot” during her speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. On that program, Coulter claimed that the word “isn't offensive to gays. It has nothing to do with gays. It's a schoolyard taunt, meaning wuss. And unless you're telling me that John Edwards is gay, it was not applied to a gay person.”
Fox News on other Democrats
- On the July 22 edition of Hannity's America, teasing a segment on “the mysterious death of [former deputy White House counsel] Vince Foster,” host Sean Hannity asked: “Did a close friend of Hillary Clinton commit suicide, or was it a massive coverup?” During the segment, Hannity asserted that on July 20, 1993: “Vince Foster got in his car and drove to Fort Marcy Park in Virginia. And he supposedly walked through the woods, and depending on which version of the story you believe, he took his own life.” He also claimed that "[i]n the minds of some," questions regarding the contents of Foster's files following his suicide “may have provided a motive for foul play.” In fact, Foster's death has been conclusively determined by several investigations to have been a suicide.
- On the July 2 edition of The Big Story, Kellyanne Conway -- the CEO and president of the polling company inc., who, according to the biography posted on her company's website, “has provided commentary on over 1,000 ... television shows” -- suggested that Clinton would take “revenge” against the more than 250,000 people who have donated to Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) presidential campaign. Conway said: "[T]hese are 250,000-plus people who are willing to publicly go against the Clintons. That's remarkable to me because, you know, Hillary Clinton ... puts a lot of energy into revenge."
- On the January 17 edition of The Big Story, host John Gibson addressed an InsightMag.com article which asserted that Sen. Clinton was responsible for spreading information that Obama “spent at least four years in a so-called Madrassa or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia.” After claiming that Clinton “has reportedly outed Obama's madrassa past,” Gibson told Republican strategist Terry Holt: “Now, we have heard about dirty politics before. Republicans aren't involved in this one.” Holt responded: “This was either a despicable act by an absolutely ruthless Clinton political machine -- we know that they are capable of doing this. But I also thought, you know, it wasn't directly linked to Hillary Clinton.” Holt then speculated that Obama himself could have been behind the story, saying that “if you took a page out of the Clinton book and you are really shrewd and you were Barack Obama, you might want to put this out yourself so that you could deal with it early in the political campaign and get it over with.”
- On the October 31, 2006, edition of Hannity & Colmes, Republican pollster Frank Luntz smeared House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), saying, “I always use the line for Nancy Pelosi, 'You get one shot at a facelift. If it doesn't work the first time, let it go.' ”
- On October 1, 2004, chief political correspondent Carl Cameron posted a fake news story on FoxNews.com which falsely attributed quotes to 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and Sen. John Kerry (MA) in an attempt to ridicule him over a manicure, which Cameron reported he received the day before. The quotes included statements from Kerry asserting that “Women should like me! I do manicures,” and referring to himself as a “metrosexual.” Later that day, Fox News issued a retraction and an apology, and the fake story was removed from the website.
From the August 7 edition of Fox News's The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Now for the top story tonight: attacking Fox News as a political strategy -- smart or dumb? Listen to this.
this is so hollow, I have to laugh. [Slurred Dodd imitation] You stand up to me every week. You're not that tough, are you?
POWERS: I know, I know, it's -- It is kind of -- that's kind of silly. You're not that important, Bill. Why would anyone care about you?
O'REILLY: Of course, I'm not that important. John Edwards has been on the Fox News Channel 33 times -- 33, all right? -- before he became Mr. Far Left Guy. He used to be Mr. Moderate Guy, but now he's Mr. Far Left Guy. Thirty-three times. Not once could I find anything insulting, demeaning, or disrespectful to the senator. So he's actually lying, is he not?
POWERS: Well, I think he's making a broader claim against Fox --
POWERS: I know.
O'REILLY: -- and treated with complete respect.
From the August 9 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: In the “Campaign 2008” segment tonight, as we reported earlier this week, some of the Democratic candidates have been attacking Fox News.
[begin video clip]
EDWARDS: Fox News, I think, has a clear and long history of bias against Democrats.
DODD: It means standing up, by the way, when things get tough, standing up to Bill O'Reilly, by the way, when he comes after Daily Kos.
CLINTON: Now, I was very proud of my campaign, standing up and really calling O'Reilly out.
[end video clip]
O'REILLY: Yeah. Now, the question is: Is all of that a wise thing to do? Here now, a wise man, Dick Morris, the author of the best-selling book Outrage, doing very well. OK, now --
MORRIS: If she wanted to call you out, she could show up on your show.
O'REILLY: Sure. She could do a whole bunch of stuff --
MORRIS: This chair is available.
O'REILLY: -- rather than pandering to those people. But we're going to remember all that. You know, I understand what they're doing, trying to get the far-left people to like them and vote for them in the primaries. I mean, it's obvious. But you know what's interesting? The only one who didn't do it -- Obama. Obama has not trashed Fox News.
MORRIS: Obama is kind of more of a class act. The big problem that Hillary has got right now is that she has to go after special interests, because she is awash in their campaign contributions. And she's getting flayed for that by Edwards and Obama. So she can't attack drug money, because she's taking it. She can't attack insurance money, because she's taking it, but she can attack you and Fox News.
O'REILLY: But where does that get her? I mean, this is by far and away the highest-rated cable news outfit. OK? And we're growing while the others are disintegrating.
Why do they want to make enemies -- particularly a guy like John Edwards, who is treated very well here? Thirty-three times he was on. We pored over the transcripts. There was never one time that this guy was unfairly treated while he was on this network.
Why do they want to do that? Don't they understand that that might not -- that might come back to bite them in the you-know-where?