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CBS News Disreputably Promotes Left-Wing Smear of Bill O'Reilly --9/27/2007


1. CBS News Disreputably Promotes Left-Wing Smear of Bill O'Reilly
The morning after CNN and MSNBC began salivating over a potential "Imus moment" pushed by a far-left group to suppress Bill O'Reilly over a supposedly racist remark, CBS and NBC on Wednesday advanced the liberal group's cause with multi-part segments on the topic. But while NBC's Today at least provided some balance and proper labeling, CBS's Early Show, with "In Hot Water" and "O'Race Factor" on screen, aired a story which failed to identify the ideology of Media Matters and followed with Julie Chen pressing the only guest to agree O'Reilly's comment was racist and that he must issue an apology. Amazingly, neither show bothered to mention that Juan Williams, the black journalist who was on O'Reilly's radio show when the FNC host made the remarks in question, defended O'Reilly: "It had nothing to do with racist ranting by anybody except these idiots at CNN." Harry Smith teased Wednesday's Early Show: "Bill O'Reilly in hot water over race remarks..." Chen hyped a "firestorm" over O'Reilly before reporter Bianca Solorzano innocuously described Media Matters as a "watchdog group." Solorzano asked an employee at the Harlem restaurant O'Reilly talked about: "Do you feel Bill O'Reilly's comments about his meal here are racist?" The woman affirmed: "Definitely."

2. MSNBC Graphic Defames O'Reilly: 'Anchor's Racist Comments'
On Wednesday, an MSNBC graphic flat-out accused Bill O'Reilly of being a racist. It read: "Anchor's Racist Comments." Within the graphic, there was no accompanying question mark to at least add the benefit of the doubt. During the 11am EDT hour of MSNBC News Live, anchor Contessa Brewer discussed a liberal group's attack over O'Reilly's comments about eating at a black restaurant. A second graphic, below the host, did offer some slight uncertainty. It asked: "Anchor's Racist Comments? Bill O'Reilly Comes Under Fire for Description of Black Restaurant." Brewer discussed the issue with Paul Waldman of Media Matters and Republican strategist Joe Watkins. At one point, Watkins noted that both he and the host had previously been attacked by the liberal organization. Brewer defensively replied, "And, by the way, I'm not a conservative." The host appeared to be sympathetic to the idea O'Reilly's comments, which originated on the September 19 edition of his radio show, had some sort of negative intention. She opened the segment by asserting the Fox News host is "now at the center of a heated debate about racist language."

3. On CNN, O'Reilly is 'Ahmadinejad,' Juan Williams a 'Happy Negro'
Even after the Juan Williams' "idiots at CNN" rebuke, CNN still pressed on about Bill O'Reilly's race remarks, and a guest on Wednesday's Newsroom took the language being used against O'Reilly and Williams to new lows. Syracuse University professor and blogger Boyce Watkins appeared on the CNN program, and compared O'Reilly to a murderous movie villain and to Iranian President Ahmadinejad: "If the villain in a movie comes up and says, 'I love you very much,' that usually means he wants to kill you. The fact is that Bill O'Reilly is a guy who has made a career demeaning, degrading, and devaluing every black institution he can get his hands on....You know, he's about like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, when it comes to making ridiculous assertions and waiting for people to respond." After his villain/Ahmadinejad comparison, Watkins blasted NPR host and Fox News contributor Juan Williams for coming to O'Reilly's defense. O'Reilly's race comments had come from an hour of his radio program that involved a segment with Williams. "Juan Williams sitting there, is sort of the 'Happy Negro' agreeing with Bill O'Reilly, doesn't impress me at all. A man cannot walk into your home and congratulate your mother for not being a prostitute and not expect you to be offended."

4. NPR Snubs Interview With the President, So It Airs on Fox News
Does National Public Radio have a nose for news? Or a nose that's offended by the scent of President Bush? NPR news boss Ellen Weiss snubbed an exclusive interview opportunity with President Bush. Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz reported Wednesday that the White House offered NPR's Juan Williams an interview on race relations, but NPR didn't want it on its airwaves. So on Monday it aired instead on the Fox News Channel. Williams told Kurtz he was "stunned" by NPR's decision: "It makes no sense to me. President Bush has never given an interview in which he focused on race....I was stunned by the decision to turn their backs on him and to turn their backs on me." Fox was even sharper. "NPR's lack of news judgment is astonishing, and their treatment of a respected journalist like Juan Williams is appalling," said Fox spokeswoman Irena Briganti.

5. Matthews 'Warming Up To' Hillary, Chris Wallace an 'Ignoramus'
On Wednesday's Countdown, just minutes before the beginning of the night's Democratic debate coverage on MSNBC, Chris Matthews remarked that he was "warming up to Hillary these days," while host Keith Olbermann responded that "I don't have anything to warm up from." Matthews also attacked Fox's "partisanship" and suggested that its anchor of Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace, is an "ignoramus." He charged: "When [Wallace is] the one that took down her husband a few months ago and he's talking about excessive partisanship....He's there representing Fox Television putting down partisanship. What? Of course she had to laugh. What else could she say, 'You're an ignoramus'?"


CBS News Disreputably Promotes Left-Wing
Smear of Bill O'Reilly

The morning after CNN and MSNBC began salivating over a potential "Imus moment" pushed by a far-left group to suppress Bill O'Reilly over a supposedly racist remark, CBS and NBC on Wednesday advanced the liberal group's cause with multi-part segments on the topic. But while NBC's Today at least provided some balance and proper labeling, CBS's Early Show, with "In Hot Water" and "O'Race Factor" on screen, aired a story which failed to identify the ideology of Media Matters and followed with Julie Chen pressing the only guest to agree O'Reilly's comment was racist and that he must issue an apology. Amazingly, neither show bothered to mention that Juan Williams, the black journalist who was on O'Reilly's radio show when the FNC host made the remarks in question, defended O'Reilly: "It had nothing to do with racist ranting by anybody except these idiots at CNN."

Harry Smith teased Wednesday's Early Show: "Bill O'Reilly in hot water over race remarks. The controversy ahead, early this Wednesday morning, September 26th, 2007." Chen hyped a "firestorm" over O'Reilly before reporter Bianca Solorzano innocuously described Media Matters as a "watchdog group." Solorzano asked an employee at the Harlem restaurant O'Reilly talked about: "Do you feel Bill O'Reilly's comments about his meal here are racist?" The woman affirmed: "Definitely. One of the worst stereotypes ever of our customers, of our people." Chen next interviewed Alex David of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. She pressed him: "You say ignorance, but do you think racist?" Chen also urged him to agree: "Does he need to apologize at this point, do you think?"

In contrast, Today co-host Matt Lauer properly tagged Media Matters and gave O'Reilly's point of view, teasing at the top of the show: "Bill O'Reilly is in the headlines again, this time for some comments he made about race in America. He says his comments were taken out of context and he's being targeted by a left-wing Web site. In fact he says he was complimenting African-Americans and speaking out against racism. We're gonna get into that debate." Co-host Meredith Vieira considered the possibility that O'Reilly is the victim and not the perpetrator, "Still ahead: Bill O'Reilly catching some flack for comments he made about a Harlem restaurant, but is he the victim of a smear campaign?"

In the subsequent segment, following a set-up piece, Lauer interviewed Paul Waldman of Media Matters as well as Republican strategist Joe Watkins who defended O'Reilly. Lauer even challenged Waldman with the larger context of O'Reilly's remarks: "I looked at it, Paul and I, and I thought Bill O'Reilly was saying that we should not be surprised. That, in other words, it's only for the small group of people who look at the entertainment of somebody like a 50 Cent or a Ludacris and thinks that represents all of African-Americans, that those people, need to get out and live life a little bit. You didn't see it that way?"

[This item was posted early Thursday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

For much more on Tuesday coverage, the context of O'Reilly's comments and more of what Juan Williams said Tuesday night on The O'Reilly Factor, see the September 26 CyberAlert rundown, "CNN Sees 'Imus Moment' for O'Reilly, Williams Calls CNN 'Idiots,'" online at: www.mediaresearch.org

For Wednesday segments on CNN and MSNBC, see items #2 and #3 below.

The key quote from O'Reilly featured by CBS and NBC, from O'Reilly's recollection on his radio show last week about dinner at Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem with Al Sharpton: "And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same. Even though it's run by blacks. There wasn't one person in Silvia's who was screaming 'M-Fer I want more iced tea.'"

In "SMEAR 101: Hoping to Create the Next Imus, Enemies Clobber O'Reilly," RadioEqualizer blogger Brian Maloney on Wednesday provided a media outlet by media outlet timeline of the spread of the impugning of O'Reilly. Maloney's posting includes links to audio of O'Reilly's remarks in full as well as examples of inaccurate attacks on O'Reilly by CNN and others. An excerpt from his conclusion:

Under scrutiny, none of the allegations against O'Reilly hold up. Where to begin?

First, placed in their proper context, his comments simply don't come across as inflammatory. O'Reilly's overall theme is that many whites have very little real experience with black people. As a result, their views of African- Americans are clouded by negative perceptions that come from mainstream media consumption.

Are all black people gangsta rappers or convicts? Of course not, but without a lot of personal interaction, many white people may not recognize that.

Does O'Reilly share some of that ignorance? Perhaps, especially when his words are improperly isolated.

Even if he does, so what? Obviously, this a common problem in our society. That should not seem newsworthy to CNN.

Another gaping hole in the Media Matters smear campaign is the fact that the comments in question were made during an interview with liberal African-American pundit Juan Williams. And if you listen to the audio, Williams agrees with O'Reilly on these very points!

In fact, Williams has actually come out swinging in order to defend O'Reilly....Williams makes it clear that their discussion has been turned on its head by O'Reilly's enemies....

Between O'Reilly and Imus, there's no comparison. While the latter was guilty of uttering some outrageous slurs, Bill O'Reilly was doing nothing more than attempting to carry on an intelligent discussion about race relations in America. CNN, CBS and the New York Times are guilty of perpetuating this Soros-funded smear campaign and should truly be ashamed of themselves.

END of Excerpt

For the blog posting in full: radioequalizer.blogspot.com

The MRC's Kyle Drennen provided this transcript of the September 26 Early Show focus:

JULIE CHEN: TV talk giant, Bill O'Reilly, is in his own controversy this morning, after comments he made after dinner with Al Sharpton at a famous restaurant in Harlem. Cable competitor CNN was first to stoke the fire, playing O'Reilly's controversial remarks in heavy rotation. And the firestorm continues. Here's CBS News Correspondent, Bianca Solorzano.

BILL O'REILLY ON HIS FNC SHOW: Media Matters, which acts in concert with the now notorious MoveOn, has labeled me anti-black, anti-Hispanic-
BIANCA SOLORZANO, WITH "O'RACE FACTOR" ON SCREEN: Fox News host Bill O'Reilly blasted back against the watchdog group Media Matters and its claims that his recent radio comments were racially charged. A few weeks ago, O'Reilly came here to Sylvias, one of Harlem's most famous soul food restaurants. His dinner guest, the Reverend Al Sharpton. But when O'Reilly talked about that meal on his radio show last week, he cooked up a lot more than Silvia's famous southern fried chicken and barbecue ribs.
BILL O'REILLY, ON HIS RADIO SHOW LAST WEEK: And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same. Even though it's run by blacks. There wasn't one person in Silvia's who was screaming "M-Fer I want more iced tea."
SOLORZANO: Sylvia's has been in the Treness Blacks-Woods family for 45 years. Do you feel Bill O'Reilly's comments about his meal here are racist?
TRENESS BLACKS-WOODS: Definitely. One of the worst stereotypes ever of our customers, of our people.
DON IMUS: I apologize.
SOLORZANO: Don Imus' radio comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team were racially charged, so strong he lost his job. But has that case made us overly sensitive. Is there a fine line between racism and ignorance? Senator Joe Biden said this about Delaware's growing Indian population.
JOE BIDEN, IN 2006 C-SPAN VIDEO: You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.
SOLORZANO: As far as Blacks-Woods sees it -- If O'Reilly walks in here tomorrow and asks to be served-
BLACKS-WOODS: Welcome to Sylvia's.
SOLORZANO: Bianca Solorzano, CBS News, New York.

JULIE CHEN: Alex David is with the National Black Chamber of Commerce, good morning, sir.
ALEX David: Good morning, thank you Julie.
CHEN: What do you make of Bill O'Reilly's comments.
DAVID: When I first heard the comments I didn't think they were malicious and overt, but I thought they were quite reprehensible. He's been a commentator for quite some time and it was sheer ignorance. He's simply uninformed that's the first thing I thought.
CHEN: You say ignorance, but do you think racist?
DAVID: I don't think racist because, again, his comments did -- they were couched in a compliment, which, everyone, I think, would love. However, if you really look into the comments that he mentioned, it was, obviously he's not informed about what's going on in the black community and black restaurants. It's not as if I've gone to any restaurant, perhaps you haven't either, and black folks are ordering using expletives to get things done in service.
CHEN: So do you think he needs to apologize for what he's done? Even though the intent, you don't believe, was malicious? What do you think his intent was?
DAVID: I think his intent was just having conversation with Dr. Sharpton, or Reverend Sharpton, and he was just kind of mentioning some of things, how he, how surprised he was. But it's almost as if I came to New York, or you had some friends that came to New York, and they were surprised to find tourists or, you know, residents of New York not toting guns and not robbing them. I think any New Yorker would find that quite offensive. That's how the African-American community feels about Bill O'Reilly's comments.
CHEN: He tried to explain what he was getting at, he tried to explain that he wasn't trying to be insulting. Does he need to apologize at this point, do you think?
DAVID: I believe he needs to do two things. First he needs to concede that these remarks were out of line and quite offensive. Not only to African-Americans but all the patrons who've gone there, but also a public apology is absolutely appropriate.
CHEN: We reached out to his producer, who asked us to please consider the entire context of the tape, does that make a difference?
DAVID: Well let's think about it. The context of the tape was, he was talking to an African-American about an African-American restaurant about African-American, what he thought was, normal behaviors of African-Americans. I think the entire context is racially-based.
CHEN: So you think he needs to apologize, bottom line.
DAVID: Absolutely.
CHEN: Alex David, thank you so much for joining us.
DAVID: Thank you so much Julie.
CHEN: You're welcome.

The MRC's Geoffrey Dickens relayed this transcript of the take on NBC's Today:

MATT LAUER, 7AM: Also ahead Bill O'Reilly is in the headlines again, this time for some comments he made about race in America. He says his comments were taken out of context and he's being targeted by a left-wing Web site. In fact he says he was complimenting African-Americans and speaking out against racism. We're gonna get into that debate.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, 7:21AM: Still ahead. Bill O'Reilly catching some flack for comments he made about a Harlem restaurant but is he the victim of a smear campaign?

MEREDITH VIEIRA, 7:31AM: Coming up in just a moment Fox News channel's Bill O'Reilly, Fox News channel's Bill O'Reilly. He is used to being in the hot seat. Now some people are taking him to task for saying, on his radio show, that he was surprised that a well-known restaurant was like any other New York City restaurant, even though it was run by black people. O'Reilly claims that those comments were taken out of context, that the whole thing is a hatchet job. We're gonna have much on that, straight ahead.

...

MATT LAUER: But we begin the half-hour with Bill O'Reilly. Did he make racist comments on his radio show or is he getting a bad rap? Here's NBC's John
BILL O'REILLY: Anyway, this is dishonest and dangerous.

[On screen headline: "Race And O'Reilly, Did Harlem Comments Cross The Line?"]

JOHN LARSON: He had been silent about it for days but Tuesday night, on the O'Reilly Factor, the host spoke out.
O'REILLY: Media Matters distorted the, the entire conversation and implied I was racist for condemning racism.
LARSON: At issue, whether O'Reilly's radio comments last week, about his visit to Sylvia's, a Harlem restaurant, were racist.
O'REILLY, ON HIS RADIO SHOW: And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily by black patronship. It was the same. It was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb, in the sense of people were sitting there and they were ordering and having fun.
LARSON: The debate sparked when his comments were reported by MediaMatters.org. O'Reilly went on.
O'REILLY: I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They're getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and the, and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture.
LARSON: Which was a bit odd, seeing as how Al Sharpton was O'Reilly's dinner guest that night at the Harlem restaurant.
AL SHARPTON: He and I have had dinner in Harlem before and I've never heard these comments, which is why I don't understand what this was all about. He didn't say anything offensive that night.
LARSON: O'Reilly says the controversy is a hatchet job. That if you listen to his entire commentary he was arguing against racism to his audience.
O'REILLY: It was the same, and that's really what this society's all about now here in the U.S.A. There's no difference. Had nothing to do with the color of anybody's skin.
LARSON: Finally at Sylvia's, where this began, patrons, last night, appreciated the barbecue gumbo and maybe some Sugar Hill Beer but not O'Reilly's comments.
WOMAN: It wasn't appropriate.
MAN: Does he expect anything different from black, black folk than white folk?
LARSON: "For Today, John Larson, NBC News, Los Angeles."

LAUER: Paul Waldman is with Media Matters for America, the liberal watchdog group that first drew attention to Mr. O'Reilly's comments and Joe Watkins is an MSNBC political analyst and Republican strategist. Guys, good morning to both of you.
[Joe Watkins]
[Paul Waldman]
LAUER: Joe let me start with you. When you first heard these comments, what was your reaction and has your reaction changed after time has impacted them a little bit?
[Watkins]
LAUER: So, so in your opinion is, is this a case of a couple of, maybe ham-fisted comments in the midst of an overall positive argument, have gotten him headlines, because the negative sells?
[Watkins]
LAUER: Alright, Paul let me go to you. As I said, it was your organization that put these things out there on the Web site. As you know, Bill O'Reilly has said that his comments were taken out of context. When you heard these comments, what set alarms off in your mind?
[Waldman]
LAUER: But Paul, let me ask you this. You, you've heard the entire radio broadcast. You've read the entire transcript. When you look at his comments, in their entirety, do you think he is making racist statements?
[Waldman]
LAUER: Go ahead, Joe.
[Watkins]
LAUER: You, you see I looked at it, Paul and I, and I thought Bill O'Reilly was saying that we should not be surprised. That, in other words, it's only for the small group of people who look at the entertainment of somebody like a 50 Cent or a Ludacris and thinks that represents all of African-Americans, that those people, need to get out and live life a little bit. You didn't see it that way?
[Waldman]
LAUER: But wait a second, are you criticizing now for his reaction to the controversy? Shouldn't we stick to the controversy, in the first place?"
[Waldman]
LAUER: Joe, I mean, when, when you look at this, I mean, have we gotten into a situation in this country where it's the gotcha mentality?
[Watkins]
LAUER: Where, where basically we don't look, we look at every little thing and we look for the negatives because the negatives make headlines. Even if we don't think that, in the bigger picture, Bill O'Reilly is, at all, a racist, we like these little negative comments just because they make headlines.
[Watkins]
LAUER: Paul I'm gonna give you the last word on that. Joe says you've done this to him.
[Waldman]
LAUER: I will say, real quickly, that I do think if Bill, if Bill O'Reilly were asked if he'd like a do-over in terms of the way he phrased a couple of those paragraphs and, and would he like to be a little bit more articulate on this, I think he probably would take a do-over. But again, the debate will remain, as far as what his, the intent of those comments was. Paul, thanks very much. Joe, thank you. Appreciate it.

MSNBC Graphic Defames O'Reilly: 'Anchor's
Racist Comments'

On Wednesday, an MSNBC graphic flat-out accused Bill O'Reilly of being a racist. It read: "Anchor's Racist Comments." Within the graphic, there was no accompanying question mark to at least add the benefit of the doubt. During the 11am EDT hour of MSNBC News Live, anchor Contessa Brewer discussed a liberal group's attack over O'Reilly's comments about eating at a black restaurant. A second graphic, below the host, did offer some slight uncertainty. It asked: "Anchor's Racist Comments? Bill O'Reilly Comes Under Fire for Description of Black Restaurant."

Brewer discussed the issue with Paul Waldman of Media Matters and Republican strategist Joe Watkins. At one point, Watkins noted that both he and the host had previously been attacked by the liberal organization. Brewer defensively replied, "And, by the way, I'm not a conservative." The host appeared to be sympathetic to the idea O'Reilly's comments, which originated on the September 19 edition of his radio show, had some sort of negative intention. She opened the segment by asserting the Fox News host is "now at the center of a heated debate about racist language."

[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Someone at the cable network must have realized the declarative nature of the MSNBC graphic. About 20 minutes later, Brewer introduced another segment on the subject. The guests and conversation was largely the same, but the graphic behind Brewer now included a question mark.

Tuesday's CyberAlert noted that both MSNBC and CNN were piling on O'Reilly and discussing the issue of whether his comments were racist. See: www.mrc.org

A transcript of the September 26 segment, which aired at 11:09am EDT:

[MSNBC graphic behind Contessa Brewer: "Anchor's Racist Comments"]

[MSNBC graphic at bottom of screen: "Anchor's Racist Comments? Bill O'Reilly Comes Under Fire For Description of Black Restaurant]

Contessa Brewer: "Well, in the battle over what's okay to say, conservative talk show host Bill O'Reilly now at the center of a heated debate about racist language. Here's what happened. O'Reilly told a story about eating lunch at Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem, in New York City on his radio show. He was making a point that there would be less racism in America if all white people could see what he saw at the restaurant."
Bill O'Reilly: "-Ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all."
Brewer: "Well, that raised some eyebrows. What really got some people's blood up was when he said this."
O'Reilly: "There wasn't one person in Slyvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.'"
Brewer: "After a liberal media watchdog group brought attention to O'Reilly's comments, O'Reilly hit back, saying his comments were against racism and claiming he's the target of a, quote, 'liberal smear campaign.' Paul Waldman is a senior fellow for Media Matters for America and Joe Watkins is a Republican strategist and MSNBC political analyst. I guess, Paul, let me talk with you. Why did you think this warranted extra criticism?"
Paul Waldman: "Well, let me explain what we do at Media Matters. You know, Bill O'Reilly says we're smearing him and that we're taking things out of context when he says something like this, we put it up on our website with the full audio since this was from his radio show of the entire segment, the transcript so people can judge for themselves. I think it's not too surprising that a lot of people were offended, and that's why it's getting so much attention."
Brewer: "Yeah-"
Joe Watkins, Republican strategist: "That's not the full story, Contessa. The full story is that when they monitor not everybody in the media, they monitor people in the media who come from the right. And in this case they didn't, they of course did include the full transcript of what he said, but the initial article and the initial statements that he made, that he made which were taken out of context were what they went with as a headline to try to make it appear as if Bill O'Reilly is a racist."
Brewer: "But are you saying to me, I mean, I get that Bill O'Reilly was trying to make a point here that if you walk a mile in other people's shoes maybe you'd have more understanding between people. But when he said he couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's, a black-run restaurants and other white-run restaurants, are you saying there's no reason there to feel, like, 'Why would that surprise you?'"
Watkins: "Well, initially I was offended when I read those remarks out of context. When I read them by themselves, I said, 'How is it that anybody in 2007 could suppose that any restaurant, whether it's white run or black run, would be successful if the people didn't do a good job of running it?' And so I thought to myself, 'How could Bill O'Reilly make a statement like that?' But then I read the whole article. I read the whole interview and listened to it. I listened to what he said, and what, the point he was trying to make was, to his white, predominantly white audience was, 'You know what? These are Americans, and Americans are the same without regard to color.' That's a very, very good and positive statement to make to America."
Brewer: "Paul, what do you make of that? Do you think that in terms of perhaps his inelegant speech that, really, his whole point should be taken as a positive?"
Waldman: "If you go to our Web site, MediaMatters.org, you can read and see and hear the entire thing. I think, we're not giving people enough credit to say that just because he was trying to make a larger point about how we're all the same underneath our skin, that that means there is nothing, there's no reason that anyone should be offended or have -- raise their eyebrows at that statement. But let's look at what Bill O'Reilly did. As soon as this came out, he attacked Media Matters. He called us names. He attacked CNN. He attacked NBC. Basically, he attacks anyone who wants to criticize him or even put up statements that he did."
Brewer: "And is that, is that fair? I mean, they are, like he said, you can go to Media Matters. You can see the whole statement. You can hear it for yourself. Is that fair?
Watkins: "It's fair, I suppose, for people to respond. You've been attacked on Media Matters. I've been attacked on Media Matters before."
Brewer: "And, by the way, I'm not a conservative. So, there you go."
Watkins: "There we go. There we go. But Media Matters is, is, is, is free to do what they do and they do a good job of letting the public know what they think people have said. But the reality is that it's not fair to try to smear somebody as a racist when they've made comments that I think bring us together."
Brewer: "Well, Joe, Paul, it's an interesting discussion. Thank you both for participating. I appreciate it."

On CNN, O'Reilly is 'Ahmadinejad,' Juan
Williams a 'Happy Negro'

Even after the Juan Williams' "idiots at CNN" rebuke (see item #1 above), CNN still pressed on about Bill O'Reilly's race remarks, and a guest on Wednesday's Newsroom took the language being used against O'Reilly and Williams to new lows. Syracuse University professor and blogger Boyce Watkins appeared on the CNN program, and compared O'Reilly to a murderous movie villain and to Iranian President Ahmadinejad: "If the villain in a movie comes up and says, 'I love you very much,' that usually means he wants to kill you. The fact is that Bill O'Reilly is a guy who has made a career demeaning, degrading, and devaluing every black institution he can get his hands on....You know, he's about like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, when it comes to making ridiculous assertions and waiting for people to respond."

After his villain/Ahmadinejad comparison, Watkins blasted NPR host and Fox News contributor Juan Williams for coming to O'Reilly's defense. O'Reilly's race comments had come from an hour of his radio program that involved a segment with Williams. "Juan Williams sitting there, is sort of the 'Happy Negro' agreeing with Bill O'Reilly, doesn't impress me at all. A man cannot walk into your home and congratulate your mother for not being a prostitute and not expect you to be offended."

Boyce Watkins appeared with fellow blogger La Shawn Barber during the 10am EDT hour of CNN's Newsroom on September 26. Prior to their segment, host Heidi Collins played a report by CNN correspondent Mary Snow, which recapped the whole O'Reilly "affair," including soundbites from CNN contributor Roland Martin (from an interview on American Morning in which Martin was critical of O'Reilly) and CNN host Rick Sanchez, who had talked to O'Reilly for a segment on his program.

[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Barber later took issue with the "Juan Williams is a Happy Negro" characterization by Watkins.

BARBER: You know, that the 'Happy Negro' comment about Juan Williams was totally uncalled for. That's the kind of ad hominem that we have to deal with-
WATKINS: (LAUGHS)
BARBER: And you know, these people are going to talk about O'Reilly and they're doing the same things. Put the man's comment in context. I'm not a Bill O'Reilly apologist. He does say outrageous things, but that's what he does. It's not that big a deal. It's really not that big a deal given the context...

Watkins also went over-the-top in portraying Bill O'Reilly's impact on race relations. Note how Heidi Collins does not challenge any of the previous statements Boyce Watkins made about O'Reilly:

COLLINS: Okay, so Boyce, so far, you've called him a villian and you've compared him to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Other people are comparing what he said to what Don Imus said about the Rutgers basketball team. Is that a fair comparison to you?
WATKINS: Well, I think it is. It is actually a fair comparison. It's only unfair to the extent that actually O'Reilly has done more damage than Imus. It's like comparing 9/11 to the Iraq War. More people have died in Iraq, but in 9/11, it was more traumatic, so people would consider that to be a more devastating event. Don Imus' clash sort of came all at once, where as O'Reilly's -- his pain has sort of been evolving through time, and I think he needs to be challenged and he needs to understand that people are going to come back at him if he makes these sort of offhand remarks about stereotypes in the black community. He may think he's complimenting us, but the fact is that it was an insult.

Earlier in the segment, Collins addressed the following questions to Barber. "La Shawn, what is this story about? Is this about race? Is this about the way things come across on television? Is this about a battle between CNN and Fox?" Barber's answer:

BARBER: I think this is a lot of media-generated nonsense. I, personally, as a black person, wasn't offended by what O'Reilly said. If you actually listen and read his comments -- listen to and read his comments and context, it becomes clear that he and Juan Williams were talking about the violent, profanity-laced element of the gangster rap culture. And Bill O'Reilly was trying to make the point that people -- white people who don't know black people or aren't exposed to black people, may get the impression that gangster rap culture represents black Americans. Well, we know that's not true. So, he may have expressed it awkwardly. I have to admit that it was kind of an awkward way he said it, but it wasn't offensive to me, given the context in which he spoke.

"Media-generated nonsense" -- that's a good description of this whole affair.

NPR Snubs Interview With the President,
So It Airs on Fox News

Does National Public Radio have a nose for news? Or a nose that's offended by the scent of President Bush? NPR news boss Ellen Weiss snubbed an exclusive interview opportunity with President Bush. Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz reported Wednesday that the White House offered NPR's Juan Williams an interview on race relations, but NPR didn't want it on its airwaves. So on Monday it aired instead on the Fox News Channel.

Williams told Kurtz he was "stunned" by NPR's decision: "It makes no sense to me. President Bush has never given an interview in which he focused on race....I was stunned by the decision to turn their backs on him and to turn their backs on me." Fox was even sharper. "NPR's lack of news judgment is astonishing, and their treatment of a respected journalist like Juan Williams is appalling," said Fox spokeswoman Irena Briganti.

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

An excerpt from Kurtz's September 26 story:

Ellen Weiss, NPR's vice president for news, said she "felt strongly" that "the White House shouldn't be selecting the person."She said NPR told Bush's press secretary, Dana Perino, that "we're grateful for the opportunity to talk to the president but we wanted to determine who did the interview." When the White House said the offer could not be transferred to one of NPR's program hosts, Weiss took a pass...

While it is not unusual for the White House to offer a presidential sitdown to a particular anchor or correspondent, Weiss noted that ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox have all had their anchors interview Bush and that NPR has been requesting such a session for seven years. When Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign last week offered an interview to NPR's health reporter, Weiss said, the network obtained permission to have it done instead by "All Things Considered" host Melissa Block.

END of Excerpt

For the article in full: www.washingtonpost.com

Hillary Clinton is also choosy in hostile media outlets: her only Fox News Channel interviews are with her liberal friend Greta van Susteren. (That doesn't include Fox News Sunday, which airs on FNC, but is a Fox show.) Fox wouldn't demand that Hillary has to be interviewed by Brit Hume or nobody.

It makes you wonder if NPR's liberal brass is appalled that Williams has a relationship with Fox News, including his defense of Bill O'Reilly in the current news cycle. "I had worked at NPR's direction to develop a relationship with the White House," he told Kurtz. "I have an expertise on race relations....I thought the listeners of NPR lost a tremendous opportunity to hear the president in a rare interview on a very important subject."

Or maybe Ellen Weiss liked the last White House better? After all, she attended state dinners at the Clinton White House with her leftist husband, Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. See: www.usa-morocco.org

Matthews 'Warming Up To' Hillary, Chris
Wallace an 'Ignoramus'

On Wednesday's Countdown, just minutes before the beginning of the night's Democratic debate coverage on MSNBC, Chris Matthews remarked that he was "warming up to Hillary these days," while host Keith Olbermann responded that "I don't have anything to warm up from." Matthews also attacked Fox's "partisanship" and suggested that its anchor of Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace, is an "ignoramus."

"When [Wallace is] the one that took down her husband a few months ago and he's talking about excessive partisanship....He's there representing Fox Television putting down partisanship. What? Of course she had to laugh. What else could she say, 'You're an ignoramus'?"

Olbermann had brought up Senator Clinton's tendency to deal with blunt questions with laughter: "There's some inside baseball to this, but is that a good strategy? Is that working for her? And do you expect that a lot tonight?"

Matthews responded: "Well, if Chris Wallace asked the question and he's talking about partisanship and he's from Fox Television, I think that might be laughable, when he's the one that took down her husband a few months ago and he's talking about excessive partnership....He's there representing Fox Television putting down partisanship. What? Of course she had to laugh. What else could she say, you're an ignoramus?"

[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The Hardball host was referring to Wallace's first question to Senator Hillary Clinton from the September 23 Fox News Sunday, which had evoked laughter from her. After showing a clip of Bill Clinton accusing the Fox anchor of doing "Fox's bidding" and of doing a "conservative hit job," Wallace had asked: "Senator, talk about conservative hit jobs, right-wing conspiracies. Why do you and the President have such a hyper-partisan view of politics?"

Matthews then brought up that he had "warmed up to" Senator Clinton: "But if you need a laugh track for a comment, for a joke, you got a problem. I thought Hillary was pretty funny there, which is great. I'm warming up to Hillary these days. Aren't you warming up to Hillary? I think she's doing well."

Olbermann seemed to suggest his opinion of Senator Clinton is high enough that he doesn't need to warm up to her: "I haven't, I don't have anything to warm up from."

Below are transcripts of the relevant portions of the Wednesday, September 26 Countdown on MSNBC, followed by a portion of the September 23 Fox News Sunday:

From the Wednesday, September 26 Countdown:

KEITH OLBERMANN: One thing that Chuck Todd pointed out this morning, as to watch tonight, how often Senator Clinton has developed this apparently defensive technique of laughing in response to a very critical question. There's some inside baseball to this, but is that a good strategy? Is that working for her? And do you expect that a lot tonight?
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, if Chris Wallace asked the question and he's talking about partisanship and he's from Fox Television, I think that might be laughable, when he's the one that took down her husband a few months ago and he's talking about excessive partnership. Excuse me, am I talking to Keith Olbermann? He's there representing Fox Television putting down partisanship. What? Of course she had to laugh. What else could she say, "you're an ignoramus"? She had to say something polite. Right? It seemed to me. That would be my opinion.
OLBERMANN: Well, yeah, if it works, it's great. If it doesn't work, you-
MATTHEWS: Well, the problem is nobody laughed because Chris wasn't going to help her by giving her a Mondale-style laugh to a Reagan joke....He wasn't gonna do it.
OLBERMANN, laughing: A Mondale-
MATTHEWS: But if you need a laugh track for a comment, for a joke, you got a problem. I thought Hillary was pretty funny there, which is great. I'm warming up to Hillary these days. Aren't you warming up to Hillary? I think she's doing well.
OLBERMANN: I haven't, I don't have anything to warm up from.

From the September 23 Fox News Sunday:

CHRIS WALLACE: Senator, in an interesting bit of karma, we are talking on the first anniversary of my interview with your husband, and I would like to show you a clip from that interview. Here it is.
BILL CLINTON, dated September 24, 2006: You did Fox's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me.
WALLACE: Senator, talk about conservative hit jobs, right-wing conspiracies. Why do you and the President have such a hyper-partisan view of politics?
HILLARY CLINTON, after laughing: Oh, Chris, if you had walked even a day in our shoes over the last 15 years, I'm sure you'd understand. But, you know, the real goal for our country right now is to get beyond partisanship. And I'm sure trying to do my part. Because we've got a lot of serious problems that we're trying to deal with.
This week I rolled out my American Health Choices Plan. I'm going to work very hard to travel around the country, talk about why we need to tackle quality, affordable health care for every American. We've got to deal with the economy and some of the problems that people are facing in the mortgage market, and the fact that a lot of people are not getting ahead.
You know, in the last six years, the average family income has dropped $1,000. That's not good news for our economy or for real hard-working people.
So what I'm focused on is coming forth with ideas that I believe are in the best interest of our country, and clearly around the world we've got to restore America's leadership. That starts with ending the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home, but there's a lot more to do. And I think it would be great if we had a debate on the substance, that we really talked about what each of us will bring to the White House, because I'm excited by what I hear as I travel around America.
I think people are ready to start acting like Americans again. They want to roll up their sleeves, they want to tackle these tough problems, and I believe we can. And I'm confident and optimistic that we can make progress together again starting January 20, 2009.

-- Brent Baker