On Fox O'Reilly And Hannity Go Silent On Armed Oregon Militia

On their Fox News programs, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity have entirely ignored the occupation of a federal building in Oregon by armed protesters, despite having spent months condemning the Black Lives Matter movement and protesters as dangerous and anti-American.

On the evening of January 2, an estimated 300 protesters -- many of them armed -- took to the streets of Burns, Oregon to protest the prosecution of ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven, who were convicted of federal arson charges. A group of the protesters eventually occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Headquarters. The armed protesters claim to be “patriots” fighting against the “tyranny” of the federal government and plan to occupy the refuge for “years.” The armed protesters, self-described “militia men,” said that they “would not rule out violence if police tried to remove them” from federal property.

Yet two of Fox News' prime time shows, The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity, did not report on the ongoing occupation from January 2 to January 6, according to a Media Matters study:

Hannity and O'Reilly's silence on the armed Oregon protest is striking given how aggressively both hosts have criticized protesters affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Bill O'Reilly has compared the protesters to the Ku Klux Klan, asserted that the protesters “basically hate their country,” blamed them for “the rise of fascism on American college campuses,” and branded them a “hate group.” Not to be outdone, Sean Hannity has also likened the movement to the Ku Klux Klan and labeled the cause as “overt racism.” The disparate coverage on The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity of the Oregon protesters and Black Lives Matter protesters highlight what some have called a "racial double standard" in the media's coverage of protests.

The primetime hosts' silence on the Oregon protest isn't an isolated event. In 2014, Hannity and O'Reilly both praised Cliven Bundy, the father of three of the men helping to lead the Oregon protest, during his own standoff with federal law enforcement at his family's ranch. The hosts both promoted and praised the rancher, who refused to pay fees for allowing his cattle to graze on public land, as a “hero.” According to a Media Matters study, Fox News devoted 4 hours and 40 minutes of prime-time programming to cheerleading for Bundy's cause.


Media Matters searched Nexis and Snapstream for discussion of the standoff between armed protesters and federal law enforcement officials at a wildlife refuge in Oregon. Searches of the Fox News Channel's prime time transcripts between January 2, 2016, the day the standoff began, through January 6, 2016 were conducted using the terms “Oregon,” “standoff,” “Bundy,” “militia,” “militiamen,” “armed protesters,”“Hammond,” and “Malheur National Wildlife Headquarters.”

Video by Leanne Naramore and Carlos Maza.