On his Friday night show, Bill O'Reilly took his viewers to a magical place–one where the right-wing Koch brothers have no connection to the Tea Party movement, while Occupy Wall Street is a secret project directed and financed by the likes of Moveon.org, SEIU and George Soros.
At the top of his broadcast, O'Reilly wondered if we are now in "phase two of the campaign to undermine America"–this would apparently be the phase where activists protest against police brutality, with an assist from "the radical MoveOn organization, which is funding some of the occupiers."
As he explained his conspiracy theory:
The Occupy Wall Street Movement is not a spontaneous protest against economic inequality. It is a well-thought-out campaign to bring down the infrastructure of this country, to turn us into a Western European-type entitlement state.
That's what George Soros, MoveOn, the SEIU and many far-left journalists want. And they are using the protests to that end.
Moments later, O'Reilly was "interviewing" Fox News contributor Leslie Marshall, who mentioned the right-wing billionaire Koch brothers. That left O'Reilly visibly upset:
O'REILLY: OK, well, you can believe anything you want, you're an American, but you made a statement that the Koch brothers were tied into the Tea Party financially. Can you prove that?
MARSHALL: Well, the Koch Brothers (INAUDIBLE) such as Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
O'REILLY: Can you prove it. Wait. Wait, wait, wait, Leslie.
O'REILLY: Leslie, you're a Fox News contributor. You have a responsibility. Can you prove the Koch brothers are tied into the Tea Party financially? Can you?
MARSHALL: With a check in hand, no.
O'REILLY: OK. Thank you.
While it's certainly the responsibility of a guest to be able to document such facts, it's rather unlikely that O'Reilly would have accepted any such facts anyway.
Do the Koch brothers have anything to do with the Tea Party? Well, yes. The Americans for Prosperity Foundation was founded by Charles Koch, and has served to train Tea Party activists. As Jane Mayer reported in the New Yorker (8/30/10):
Americans for Prosperity has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement's inception. In the weeks before the first Tax Day protests, in April, 2009, Americans for Prosperity hosted a website offering supporters "Tea Party Talking Points." The Arizona branch urged people to send tea bags to Obama; the Missouri branch urged members to sign up for "Taxpayer Tea Party Registration" and provided directions to nine protests. The group continues to stoke the rebellion. The North Carolina branch recently launched a "Tea Party Finder" website, advertised as "a hub for all the Tea Parties in North Carolina."
The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to "educate," fund and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement.
Or as one source rather colorfully put it:
A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party: "The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It's like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud–and they're our candidates!"
And Dick Armey's FreedomWorks group, which has very publicly helped organize Tea Party activists, is the product of a merger between Empower America and Citizens for a Sound Economy–the latter heavily backed by the Koch brothers.
Don't tell that to Bill O'Reilly, though. He can only connect certain dots:
This isn't a spontaneous demonstration against crony capitalism. If it were, they would be in front of the White House. This is organized by the unions backed up by George Soros and the MoveOn people.
The links between those groups and OWS prompted the other guest, Caroline Heldman, to turn the tables on O'Reilly:
HELDMAN: Bill, do you have evidence to back up those links? Do you have evidence?
O'REILLY: Yes, absolutely, we have reporters down there all the time and the reporters ask people who they are, where they are going. The spontaneous people are back to their jobs; 85 percent of them, Dr. Heldman, have jobs. You can't stay off the job for a month. I can back what I say up.
Now THAT is evidence–Fox-style.