In the battle between the cable networks the nastiest battle is between MSNBC and Fox News. CNN more often than not stays on the sidelines or, if an anchor takes a swipe, it’s on a different level than the “war” between the other two networks. But CNN’s Rick Sanchez recently decided to call Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly on another one of O’Reilly’s blanket attack assertions…this one about CNN. The result? Sanchez decimated O’Reilly’s statement with facts…and O’Reilly issues a rare correction (which will probably be countered with a new attack on Monday):
But if you see how Sanchez framed it, O’Reilly and Fox almost HAD to answer it.
Note that O’Reilly has announced that he’ll make a “”comparison” about how his network covered the story and how CNN did. Can you say it will be “fair and balanced?”
Can you predict the conclusion ahead of time — just by O’Reilly’s comments? In essence, his Monday piece will be to compensate and negate his correction — to cover the fact that he stated something as fact that was easy to shoot down, if anyone cared to take the time to check out what the actual facts were (as Sanchez did).
O’Reilly’s riffs — the anger, sarcasm, the blanket statement, the use of a broad-brush, ideological assertion (the implication that CNN didn’t cover the story for ideological reasons) — are all indicative of what I’ve called the “talk radio political culture” in the United States that greatly influences political campaigns, the news media, the new and old media and the way politics is discussed. Simply taking an issue and discussing it, even hotly debating it, will no longer do; the key tactic is to attack, characterize and attempt to discredit whoever it is who may see something differently. It’s not the issue; it’s going after someone who may have a different perspective on a host of issues. It used to be that all politics was local; today, all politics is personal.
O’Reilly fans will tune in Monday because they know that after his correction, he will air a segment that, more likely than not, will frame any differences between how the two networks handled the story into something suggesting that CNN is being run by a bunch of Democrats, liberals or people who really didn’t care about the story of the death of an American soldier as much as they care about the murder of an abortion-performing doctor. And it’ll likely have the same angry tone or undercurrent — omitting the fact that different news organizations can cover stories differently for perfectly non-insidious reasons.
And as for Sanchez being “surly?” Given O’Reilly’s insinuation that CNN had political motivations and/or was inept enough not to cover the story much, and given the actual facts the tape Sanchez shows, Sanchez was not out-of-line for answering — and confronting — O’Reilly with actual data.