Never one to miss a chance to respond to criticism, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly led off his January 21 show with a reaction to former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw's comment (Mediabistro, 1/17/14) that cable news shows get much smaller audiences than network news broadcasts: "Bill O'Reilly would finish dead last if he were on the evening news," Brokaw noted.
Naturally, O'Reilly had to figure some of this was political–Brokaw sees the world "through a liberal prism," as he put it. But more to the point, O'Reilly wanted to make clear that his show does things those networks don't:
The network news broadcasts are pretty much the same on every channel. They don't provide much analysis or perspective, and all three networks lean left…. We provide a voice you would never hear on the network news.
So the Factor brings viewers some perspectives missing from the bland, liberal newscasts. Well, let's look at this very episode as an example.
Right after this commentary, O'Reilly had an interview with right-wing Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, who has been a fixture in elite media for several decades. Not exactly an unheard voice.
Next up was an interview with a Fox News favorite, military analyst Ralph Peters. The two talked about Olympics security, and they complained about Afghan president Hamid Karzai. "We have lost so many men and spent so much money over there trying to keep the Afghans free," as O'Reilly put it. Peters, a former member of USA Today's board of contributors, is likewise no stranger to mainstream media.
Then came an interview with Fox Business Channel's own John Stossel, the factually challenged corporate libertarian who was for years an ABC News host. He was on to share his insights on climate change: "Assuming man is doing this, there's nothing we can do about it." He added that "some good serious climatologists are concerned that man is going to make it worse with the greenhouse gas production. But even that's not certain." Stossel went on: "Yes, the globe is warming. Maybe man is playing a part. But is it a crisis? No."
Next up was a legal segment that took a look at the very important case of a search of pop star Justin Bieber's house, before returning to a story O'Reilly's been covering: "It's an absolute outrage. A convicted murderer wants a sex change operation inside prison." O'Reilly yelled that in an earlier time, the prisoner "would have been hung from a tree."
After that came a discussion of marijuana legalization with Fox liberal Alan Colmes, wherein O'Reilly asserted, against much evidence, that smoking pot leads to using hard drugs. Colmes tried to point out the dubiousness of this claim:
COLMES: Studies have shown that it is not a gateway drug.
O'REILLY: Oh, that's cherry-picking. It's just like global warming…. You can get one study, I can get another study.
(If O'Reilly can find an actual peer-reviewed study questioning human-caused global warming, he should alert the journal Science–which failed to find any in a December 2004 review of 928 papers.)
The show closed with this bizarre product placement:
Finally tonight, the Factor Tip of the Day. A few times in my life, I had been burned on vacation. I booked hotels. I thought they were good, turned out to be disastrous.
Here's a recent example. There's a beach in the Caribbean that I've been wanting to visit. It looks great in the pictures, but it's very expensive.
So, I went to a website called TripAdvisor.com. They had the beach and they had comments from people who had visited the beach.
And here's what I found out, the beautiful beach is infested with sand fleas. So, without TripAdvisor, I would have paid a ton of money to go hand-to-hand combat with the sand fleas.
As they say, I would not have been a happy camper even in the hotel. Factor Tip of the Day, before you book a trip, check out TripAdvisor.com.
So climate change denial, far-fetched anti-marijuana claims, an interview with a right-wing pundit who is a regular presence on TV, a discussion of Justin Bieber and a plug for a commercial website.
You know, the stuff the network news is afraid to touch.