BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, reaction [to Tea Party extremism]. Joining us from Little Rock, Fox News analyst Sarah Palin (left), who's doing a Republican fundraiser in Arkansas. So Governor, you gave the keynote a couple weeks ago in Nashville for the Tea Party Convention. Did you see extremism? Do you think it's a danger to the Tea Party? – Fox News, a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 16, 2010.
Dominant Social Theme: Palin is a great woman and she agrees with Fox.
Free-Market Analysis: It is all so scarily transparent now. First Glenn Beck, then Bill O'Reilly and now Sarah Palin. If you read the articles and analyze the rhetoric, you can see that the mini-meme of Tea Party extremism is being fully orchestrated by Murdoch's flagship media network and its pliable commentators and hosts. We wrote about the despicable Glenn Beck yesterday (and we were starting to think better of him until the Medina incident) and today we can see in this O'Reilly transcript just how mainstream media opinion-making actually works. Just like the political process, it is not a pretty picture.
You can see our Glenn Beck article here: The Truth About Political Correctness
Glenn Beck used his radio program to interview Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina in such a way as to try to make her out to be a very radical candidate. He virtually accused her of supporting 9/11 theories that accused the US government of orchestrating the event that killed 3,000 US citizens. Now, in fact, what Medina began to say was that there were certain unresolved questions. This is not an unreasonable assertion given that several members of the 9/11 Commission itself have written books saying that they were routinely lied to by the Bush administration and by the CIA, FBI, etc. Beck would have none of it. After the interview, he painted Medina as an extremist and political neophyte who wasn't ready to be governor.
The lingering accusation of the Beck program was that Medina and others like her, cast up by the inchoate but angry Tea Party movement in America, were actually a danger to civil society. Their raw and ill-thought-out views carried the odor of the rabble, with all its violence, intolerance and incompetence. If it were Beck himself who came up with this perspective, the news content would be of some note, given that Beck likes to pose as a free-market thinker. But when one examines the O'Reilly interview of Sarah Palin, the analysis begins to shift to a whole new level. Turns out the Medina interview may simply have been one piece of the puzzle. Here's some more from the "rush transcript" of O'Reilly's interview with Palin:
O'REILLY: OK, but I heard Tom Tancredo, former congressman from Colorado, you know, level some pretty tough charges on illegal immigration. And, you know, he's known for that. I didn't think it was racist, but I thought it went right up to the line. We sent our producer Jesse Watters down. He did see signs that were extremists. There's no doubt about that. In the article in The New York Times today, the "people who are getting their guns ready" and things like this.
O'REILLY: So you do know that this strain exists under that umbrella.
PALIN: Well, obviously though, you got to consider the source. This reporter, it's going to go out and find that extreme fringe…
O'REILLY: That's right.
PALIN: …within a movement like this. So we have to keep that in perspective, too. That is what I believe a lot of folks in the mainstream media want Americans to believe is that this is, for the most part, a fringe element of our society. It is not. And if these reporters, too, Bill, don't know the people that are a part of a Tea Party movement, they need to get a life. They need to get out maybe into a small town and get to know the local business owner, the local gas station owner, the local…
O'REILLY: Well, they went to Sand Point, Idaho, The Times did. And then they brought in all the Nazi stuff that had been up there. And they brought in all the militia stuff, Weaver and such that had been up there.
O'Reilly continues to press Palin about Tea Party extremism – that strain, he calls it – and then makes the comment that Tea Party participants "brought in all the Nazi stuff that had been up there." This is really incredible in our opinion. Does O'Reilly honestly believe that this national, populist movement is significantly influenced by neo-Nazis? Again and again he pounds Palin on the issue of Tea Party extremism.
O'REILLY: … Look, there's no doubt that The New York Times wants to brand the Tea Party as a bunch of extremist loons. There's no doubt they want to do that. But there is danger, do you agree with me, that there is danger if some Tea Party people play into that? If they do say we're getting our guns and we're going to overthrow and Obama is this and Obama is that and he isn't born here. I mean, there was a birther thing going on at the convention. You don't believe in the birther thing do you, Governor?
PALIN: No. And those wild conspiracy theories about our own government I think shouldn't have a part of the dialogue of the debate. What the debate needs to be about is the good ideas, the foundational principles that built this country into the most prosperous and healthiest and most voluntarily generous nation on earth. Safest place, too. We need to get back to those principles.
O'REILLY: But I'm unclear. I'm unclear. Do you think that the birther people should have a place at the Tea Party table? Do you think they should be a place there?
PALIN: There is always going to be an element of those who want to be a part of a movement, who have their own ideas of where the country should go or what's going on with the country.
O'REILLY: Then what do you do with those people? Do you accept them and embrace them?
PALIN: Well, one, you don't take away their First Amendment rights. And we say you cannot speak about those things or ask those questions that you want answers to. That's part of democracy at work is those…
O'REILLY: But do you see the danger that if that becomes the headline, then the mainstream American, who isn't really following it that closely says hey, you know…
PALIN: I see the danger of more of the same of the mainstream media wanting to paint Tea Partiers as radical wacko conspiracy theorists. And if we allow that to happen then, no, this grassroots movement of the people wanting their voice to be heard because there is such a disconnect between what's going on in Washington and the people that Washington is supposed to be serving.
O'REILLY: How does the Tea Party then expand its power base with no leadership, no central authority …
Perhaps you do not share our amazement, dear reader. But to us the above interview excerpts are absolutely incredible. When combined with the Beck attack on Medina, it is very obvious that Fox is orchestrating an attack on certain elements of the Tea Party movement even while the Republican party itself attempts to create an organizational liaison with the "less marginal" elements – whatever they are.
We have written plenty of times in the past about how Fox-owner and media mogul Rupert Murdoch is literally "writhing in public" trying to figure out how to make his media properties competitive with the laissez faire news reports on the Internet. The trouble is that Murdoch's news organizations are beholden to the power elite and cannot tell the truth while Internet reporting can – and does.
This is why modest (alternative media) publications like the Bell can grow at a clip of five to ten percent a month while the New York Times and other mainstream publications verge on bankruptcy. They have plenty of money, but since they cannot report what is evidently and obviously the truth, people don't want to read what they write, nor pay for the privilege. Increasingly, readers and viewers understand the manipulations and nobody likes to be "played."
In the past, our reflections about the failure of the mainstream press were somewhat hypothetical. But here in this Fox news orchestration you have an absolute example of mainstream reportorial dishonesty. Not only that, but if one looks on the Internet, Beck's attacks on Medina and the general thrust and tone of what Fox has attempted to do are all being analyzed by the alternative media. There are literally hundreds and perhaps thousands of articles about this. Beck's Fox viewership dropped in the next few days apparently, by 500,000. (And you can visit Alex Jones' news sites and read about yet more accusations of media orchestration apparently put into play by Texas governor Rick Perry.)
This is a catastrophe for Fox. And Beck didn't even interview Medina on his TV program for Fox. He interviewed her on his radio program. But Fox television has suffered the spillover. And we don't think that Beck will ever fully recover. At the level that Beck functions, he needs a certain level of approbation. If he does not reach "thinkers" then his programs lose legitimacy and eventually his mass audience suffers.
In our opinion Beck has just lost the thinkers he has spent years trying to attract. His whole media persona is built painstakingly around sophisticated socio-political analysis, and yet he has just blown up his credibility with those who appreciate such analysis. In doing so, he has likely done incalculable damage to his franchise. And, ironically, he has likely done it at the behest of Fox and even Murdoch himself who personally defended Beck a few months ago as we recall.
The reason we make that statement is because the above excerpts of the O'Reilly-Palin interview show clearly the same intent. This was not merely a Beck gambit. In fact, this was not an O'Reilly gambit either. He has very obviously brought Sarah Palin on to endorse the kinds of positions being taken by Beck – at the behest of the larger Fox organization. It smacks of an orchestrated campaign. Read the way he badgers her. He wants her to say something about Tea Party extremism – about its support of the Birther movement. He wants her to disavow all that. He expects her to.
And Sarah Palin doesn't! She is being paid millions and even as we write this, we bet she has received some stiff e-mails from Fox execs – or perhaps she has been scheduled for an "interview" with Murdoch himself. We predict that if Sarah Palin doesn't cooperate a bit more, she may find herself in for an uncomfortable run. We've read at one point in 2008 she actually called for a re-investigation of 9/11 – causing her presidential running mate John McCain to blow a gasket. And we figure her refusal to disavow the Birther movement is part of her rebellious charm, even if O'Reilly didn't appreciate it.
We've been hard on Palin here at the Bell in numerous articles because we think she is a naïve individual who is also a warmonger. She has been co-opted entirely, in other words, by the Republican establishment – which is now attempting to co-opt the Tea Party movement. Maybe we will have to rethink if she keeps showing such charming spunkiness. Yet the larger picture is clearer than ever.
Murdoch's Fox network stands increasingly exposed. In fact, it now seems to us that the entire co-option effort is blowing up in the faces of the powers-that-be. Murdoch has spent literally billions building up his Fox franchise into a credible news-making enterprise. He has worried publicly about how he can compete with truth-telling blogs and the like. He is a very smart man, and he was right to worry. In one terrible week he may have lost it all. Like the global warming meme itself, Murdoch and Fox will doubtless stagger on. But this was a critical moment. After all, Murdoch cares for nothing but news. It is news that shapes opinions, and commentary that shades larger belief structures. It ALL hinges on credibility. And credibility begins with the co-option of the intelligentsia. And in our opinion that has been lost, or at least has vastly eroded.