Ignoring Shawna Forde: Fox News fails to live up to Bill O'Reilly's own news-coverage standard
Remember how, a week or so ago, Bill O'Reilly was preoccupied with the idea that the news media had comparatively obsessed over the domestic-terrorism killing of Dr. George Tiller, while "ignoring" the killing of Private Long, a similar act of terrorism? He had numerous segments complaining that the matter proved there was a liberal media bias.
At one point, he complained that CNN had "ignored" the story -- a completely meritless charge. At another, he even claimed that the only place you could find any coverage of the case was on Fox.
Now, compare that to how Fox has handled yet another horrifying case of murderous extremism: the arrest of Shawna Forde and her Minuteman cohorts for the cold-blooded murder of a 9-year-old girl and her father.
Fox simply has ignored the story. There is a single Associated Press story on the Fox website. This AP piece, notably, contains not a single reference to Forde's long history with the Minuteman movement, her close ties to Jim Gilchrist, or the fact that she intended this Minutemen squad to use its ill-gotten gains to "start a revolution against the United States government."
Meanwhile, I've reviewed my Fox News recordings, meanwhile, and cannot find a single instance of the story being reported anywhere on the news channel. (I could be mistaken about this; the recordings are only partially complete, and it's possible something ran in the occasional gaps in my record. But not likely.)
Meanwhile, have O'Reilly, or Glenn Beck, or Sean Hannity -- all of them big fans of the Minutemen -- even mentioned the story a single time?
No. That's a big fat No.
Of course, you have to wonder if it's not because this case demolishes O'Reilly's take on the Minutemen:
"Talking Points applauds the Minutemen. They are in the great tradition of neighborhood watch groups."
Now, it's worth noting that the entire mainstream media have largely been missing in action on this story, perhaps for similar reasons. Nonetheless, Anderson Cooper has reported on it, as has Rick Sanchez. (However, Lou Dobbs has similarly been completely mum about it.)
Meanwhile, MSNBC has reported dutifully on the matter, though I have yet to have found any news-channel coverage.
But those stations didn't accuse anyone of under-covering any stories recently. And there's no question that this is a significant story because it exposes so deeply the twisted nature of the Minuteman movement beneath its "neighborhood watch" facade -- a facade erected with Bill O'Reilly's help.
Yet O'Reilly, it seems, can't even live up to the standards he demands his cable competitors meet.
The most recent AP story alone makes it clear why this is not just an "odd homicide" story:
Several groups focusing on stopping illegal immigration formed in the past half-dozen years, and many were drawn to southern Arizona, the busiest corridor in the nation for illegal border crossings.
"Some are using the movement to promote their own bigoted, racist ideology," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino. "But I want to be clear: That's not everyone in the movement, and it poses a real problem."
He said the movement's message attracts people with ulterior motives. Larger groups try to patrol their ranks for potentially troublesome people but have no power to stop exiles like Forde from starting splinter groups, and even from using the Minuteman name.
After the killings, some of the movement's leaders quickly distanced themselves from Forde and her Minutemen American Defense group, saying they warned for months that she was potentially dangerous.
"We knew that Shawna Forde was not just an unsavory character but pretty unbalanced as well," said Chris Simcox, the founder of one of the original border watch groups, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.
Not that Chris Simcox is in any position to be talking about anyone else being unsavory and unbalanced.
But of course, if you watch Bill O'Reilly, you'll never hear any of this. Fear not, though: the impulse to prattle on about "neighborhood watches" and other similarly benign terms for right-wing extremist organizations -- that certainly will remain a constant on The Factor.