Bill O'Reilly attacked comments from former President Jimmy Carter about Fox News' race baiting and its role in promoting falsehoods about President Obama's citizenship and religion. But Carter was right: birtherism, race baiting attacks on Obama, and lies about his religion have all found a home on Fox News.
O'Reilly: Carter's “ridiculous” criticism of Fox is “beneath a former president”
O'Reilly: “Carter can simply not back up what he says.” On the September 21 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly aired snippets from an interview in which Carter offered criticism of Fox for having “attempted to twist around what [Obama's[ religious faith is and whether or not he's an American” and their tendency to “inject race” into their coverage of Obama. O'Reilly then criticized Carter for “not telling the truth” :
OREILLY: And while we're on the subject of presidents, Jimmy Carter is a Fox News hater. Did you know that? Speaking on CNN he said this about President Obama and FNC.
CARTER [video clip]: A lot of gullible folks in the United States actually believe what Fox puts forward as facts when most of it is just complete distortions. And they've also attempted to twist around what his religious faith is and whether or not he's an American and so forth. So I think that's a new version of cable news.  I would attribute most of the negative attitude not to the facts, but to the distorted facts that comes out of Fox.  There has been a deliberate effort -- again, referring to Fox Broadcasting -- to inject the race issue into it.
O'REILLY: I think Larry fell asleep during that interview, I'm not sure. So let's examine Mr. Carter's statements. We can find no Fox News employee who has said President Obama is a Muslim. We can find no Fox News employee who has said the president was not born in America. Now, years ago there was some misreporting on a madrassa story, but corrections were quickly issued. So it seems Mr. Carter is not telling the truth, and it is beneath a former president to accuse FNC of injecting race into the political process as Carter does. Carter can simply not back up what he says, in fact he's afraid to appear here on the Factor. Because he'd look foolish. His ridiculous statements are irresponsible and reflect poorly on him.
O'Reilly edited video to cover up Beck's race baiting
O'Reilly cropped video to hide Carter's statement that Fox “called Obama a racist” -- a clear reference to Beck. While O'Reilly claims that Carter “can simply not back up what he says” and says that “it is beneath a former president to accuse FNC of injecting race into the political process,” O'Reilly crops Carter's quote to cover up the fact that he said that Fox has “actually called Obama a racist on television.” From Carter's September 20 interview on CNN's Larry King Live (portion aired by O'Reilly in bold):
CARTER: I don't think the Tea Party people are racist, except maybe a tiny portion of them. But there has been a deliberate effort -- again, referring to Fox Broadcasting -- to inject the race issue into it. They have actually called Obama a racist on television. And when they say, like some of the leaders of the Republican Party have said, that he's epitomizing the tribal influence of his father from Kenya, you know, that obviously has political connotations. So I think -- I mean, racist connotations.
In 2009, Beck called Obama a “racist” with “a deep-seated hatred for white people.” On the July 28, 2009, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Glenn Beck said that Obama “has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture” and “is, I believe, a racist,” a statement he subsequently claimed to stand by, in spite of growing criticism. Beck's comments were condemned by a wide variety of media figures. A year later, Beck “amend[ed]” his statement and said he meant to attack Obama's theology.
Fox News and Fox News personalities promoted birther stories, falsehoods about Obama's faith
As O'Reilly noted, Fox & Friends had to “clarify” after pushing false smear Obama attended a “madrassa.” On the January 19, 2007, editions of Fox & Friends First and Fox & Friends, Kilmeade, along with Doocy and Carlson, spent several segments advancing a false report that then-Sen. Barack Obama was raised a Muslim and attended a madrassa, or Islamic school, as a child in Indonesia. At one point, Doocy asked: “When people find out this stuff, they're going to go, 'Why didn't anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised as -- spent the first decade of his life raised by his Muslim father as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?' ” Kilmeade responded, “Yeah, is that a problem?” He added: “Evidently, when he was a little kid, he went over to Indonesia and went to a madrassa. He -- in his two best-selling books, he doesn't really mention this in detail.”
On the January 22, 2007, edition of Fox & Friends First, Doocy said he had to “clarify” the show's reporting on the fabricated madrassa story,stating that “Mr. Obama's people called and they said that that is absolutely false. They said the idea that Barack Obama went to a radical Muslim school is completely ridiculous.”
Nearly three years later on O'Reilly's show, Coulter claimed Obama “attended madrassas.” On the December 28, 2009, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, conservative columnist Ann Coulter said, “Andrew Sullivan pointed out, you know, what are these radical Islamists going to do when they look and see the president of the great Satan. And you know, he has brown skin. And he attended madrassas. And he talks about how he's so moved by the call to prayer five times a day. He used to hear in Indonesia. If anyone can say we're going to look for radical Islamists, it ought to be President Obama.” Guest host Eric Bolling did not correct Coulter's falsehood that Obama “attended madrassas.”
Coulter: Obama went “to madrassas as a child.” On the December 30, 2009, edition of Glenn Beck, Coulter said: “And like I say, Obama can be doing more than Bush. He is specially situated that way, as having gone to madrassas as a child, not being a white male, which is, you know, the height of political incorrectness, but just the contrary, we're moving in exactly doing the -- making -- repeating the worst mistakes of the Bush administration.”
Thomas McInerney, Fox News' birther military analyst. In an affidavit reported on August 31 by birther site WorldNetDaily, Thomas McInerney, a retired lieutenant general who now serves as a Fox News military analyst, says that he believes there are “widespread and legitimate concerns that the President is constitutionally ineligible to hold office,” and expresses support for an Army officer who is currently awaiting a court-martial for refusing to obey orders from his commanding officers “until the president produces his original birth certificate.”
Hannity on birthers: "[A]ll they wanted to do was say, 'Where's the birth certificate?' That's all they were asking" On the August 12, 2009, edition of his radio show, Hannity said, “This huge birther thing is another huge distraction. To try and portray conservatives as a bunch of right-wing nutjob kooks when people all they wanted to do was say, 'where's the birth certificate?' That's all they were asking. 'Show us the birth certificate.' ”
Hannity promoted birther story. On the July 16, 2009, edition of Hannity, Sean Hannity recounted the story of Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook, who claimed President Obama had not proved that he is, in Hannity's words, “a U.S. citizen.” Hannity's story explained that Cook had his deployment orders revoked and that “Major Cook and his lawyer expressed joy at this outcome and they took it as an admission on the part of the military that the president is not in fact a legitimate citizen by birth.” Hannity did not make clear to his viewers that Cook's assertion was incorrect.
Fox Nation repeatedly promoted birther stories using picture of Obama in Somali clothes. From the July 14, 2009 edition of The Fox Nation:
From the July 20, 2009 edition of The Fox Nation:
Fox Nation promoted WorldNetDaily birther story. The July 16, 2009 edition The Fox Nation featured the following image, linked to a story from WorldNetDaily promoting the cause of a birther's challenge to President Obama.
E.D. Hill called Obama fist bump “a terrorist fist jab.” On the June 6, 2008 edition of America's Pulse, Fox anchor E.D. Hill teased a discussion of a fist bump between then-Senator Barack Obama and Michelle Obama as “A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? ... We'll show you some interesting body communication and find out what it really says.” Four days later Hill said, “I certainly didn't mean to associate the word 'terrorist' in any way to Senator Obama and his wife.”
Hume claimed Jerusalem Post story quoted Obama's half brother about “Muslim background.” On the June 18, 2008, edition of Special Report, Brit Hume stated that Malik Obama, Sen. Barack Obama's half-brother, “tells The Jerusalem Post that 'if elected his brother will be a good president for the Jewish people, despite his Muslim background.' ” In fact, Obama's half brother did not speak to The Jerusalem Post for the article cited by Hume (he spoke to Israel's Army Radio), and subsequent audio of the interview indicated that Malik Obama did not refer to Barack Obama as having a Muslim background. Hume later issued an on-air correction for the false claim that Malik Obama had said Barack Obama has such a background.
Fox News and its employees inject race-baiting into Obama coverage
Fox News and its personalities have a long history of aggressive race-baiting and racially charged commentary, particularly with regard to their coverage of Obama. For example:
Gingrich: Obama is engaged in “Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior.” In a September 2010 interview with National Review Online, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich asked “What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” and that “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”
Beck: “Anti-colonialism” allows you to “see Barack Obama and where he's going.” From the September 15 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
BECK: I couldn't figure out what the president was doing and I missed the fact because I hadn't really looked into him. It becomes almost an illusion of racism -- and it's not racism. It's anti-colonialism. It is -- it's liberation theology, which is also in a way anti-colonialism. It's Marxism in its roots. And when you understand these things, all of a sudden everything makes sense. ... His grandfather and his father -- when you understand what they were doing, you all of a sudden can see Barack Obama and where he's going.
Fox heavily promoted phony New Black Panther Party story. Fox News hosts and personalities -- including O'Reilly himself -- relentlessly promoted the unsubstantiated allegations against the Department Of Justice's handling of prosecutions against the New Black Panther Party. In addition to the network hosting members of the fringe group multiple times, on-air personalities like O'Reilly attacked Attorney General Holder for his handling of the case (and mangling the facts in the process), while Beck claimed the New Black Panthers were a part of President Obama's “army of thugs.”
Beck says Obama's agenda is driven by “reparations” and the desire to “settle old racial scores.” On July 23, 2009, Beck said: “Everything that is getting pushed through Congress, including this health care bill, are transforming America, and they are all driven by President Obama's thinking on one idea: reparations.” Beck went on to state: “These massive programs are Obama-brand reparations -- or in presidential speak -- leveling out the playing field.” Beck also said Obama's goal is “creating a new America, a new model, a model that will settle old racial scores through new social justice.”
Beck: Obama satisfying his “desire for racial justice” though “intimidation, vilification, bullying.” On July 27, 2009, Beck said: “We have demonstrated President Obama's desire for racial justice, but how is he setting out to achieve it? Exactly the way a community organizer would: through intimidation, vilification, bullying, a system, an underground shell game.” Beck continued: “Look how he has handled different things. [Henry Louis] Gates -- he calls the cops stupid and racist before he admits, he says, 'I don't know all of the facts.' But he jumps to the conclusion that the cops are racist.”
Hannity just can't “get over” his Rev. Wright obsession. Hannity mentioned Wright on at least 45 different episodes of his Fox News show between Obama's inauguration and July 31, 2009. Indeed, his repeated references to Rev. Jeremiah Wright have prompted his own guests to comment, “You always want to bring up Reverend Wright,” and “Sean, you need to get over it.”
Guest-hosting O'Reilly, Ingraham claims Obama “channeled his best Jeremiah Wright accent” in NAACP speech. Talking about a speech Obama gave to the NAACP, Ingraham said: “Last night, President Obama spoke to the NAACP and channeled his best Jeremiah Wright accent.” After airing a clip of Obama's remarks, Ingraham added: “Now, why does the first African-American feel the need to affect an accent that he clearly does not possess? Or is that the way people speak in Honolulu? It's a cheap attempt to pander to an audience that already supports him.”
Beck frequently claims Obama policies are “slavery” or will lead to slavery. Beck has repeatedly said that the stimulus bill “is slavery” ; and ranted that Obama is “addicting this country to heroin -- the heroin that is government slavery” and that “the government's irresponsible spending is turning us into slaves.”
O'Reilly repeatedly offered false defense of Fox News' coverage of purported health insurance jail-time
O'Reilly falsely claimed "[n]obody" on Fox pushed health care jail-time falsehood. On the April 13 edition of his show, O'Reilly responded to Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) suggestion that Fox News perpetuated the false claim that under the health care reform legislation, individuals can be sent to jail for not having health insurance by repeatedly insisting that “nobody” on Fox advanced that claim. In fact, Fox News relentlessly pushed that falsehood -- including on O'Reilly's own show.
Contradicting O'Reilly, Cavuto acknowledged Fox pushed health care jail-time falsehood. On the April 14 edition of his program, Neil Cavuto admitted that Fox News pushed the false claim that, under the health care reform legislation, individuals can be sent to jail for not having health insurance, saying: “I've researched this and a number of Fox personalities had made that comment.”
O'Reilly digs in, falsely claims Coburn didn't have “his facts in line.” On his April 14 program, O'Reilly again denied Coburn's statement that Fox News pushed the health insurance jail-time falsehood, stating that Coburn “didn't really have his facts in line.”
O'Reilly's new bogus spin: Nobody at Fox pushed jail-time falsehood about “final bill.” Following criticism from Media Matters, MSNBC's Ed Schultz, and Time magazine's Kate Pickert, O'Reilly claimed on his April 15 program that when “jail time” had been “on the table,” Fox News had reported on it, but no one on Fox News made the claim after that provision was supposedly removed. O'Reilly concluded: “Nobody at Fox News reported inaccurately about the Obamacare prison situation. Nobody.” In fact, the health care bill Fox News had been reporting on also did not have “jail time” as a penalty for not having health insurance. Moreover, five days before O'Reilly's statement, Fox Business' Eric Bolling made a false statement about “the Obamacare prison situation.”