You know how when someone says, "Now, I'm not trying to be a jerk, but ...", you can be certain that what will follow is them being a jerk. Same with Bill O'Reilly last night in his Talking Points Memo segment: He declares that he's "not gloating, just reporting" the fact that Fox News is knocking the socks off its cable competition in the ratings wars, but then of course proceeds to gloat by claiming that Fox's big draw is its "fair and balanced" approach:
So why is this happening? Well, a major reason is the health care debate. While the other network news broadcasts downplay the dissent and promote the government takeover of the health care industry, FOX News highlights the intense debate. When we cover the town hall meetings, we don't describe the protesters as loons. We don't denigrate people who disagree with President Obama. That's the big difference between FOX News and all the others.
Actually, Fox News does more than just "highlight" the intense debate: It outright foments it, particularly in spreading such bogus claims as the notion that health-care reform means "euthanasia" for senior citizens. That is, Fox has been deliberately injecting irrational fears into the debate and stirring up paranoia and anger.
Now, some liberals will say we intentionally glorify the protesters. That doesn't happen here. We've said there's no doubt some of the dissent is organized by people who dislike President Obama. That's a fact, and we've reported it.
That may be so at The Factor -- though in fact O'Reilly has openly pandered to the claim that universal health care will mean discarding the elderly, did so later in the same broadcast -- but it is certainly not true elsewhere at Fox.
Moreover, nowhere at Fox (or anywhere else, for that matter) has there been any reportage about the empowerment of right-wing radicals that's become part of the whole "tea party" scene.
"The Factor" also gives voice to both sides, something you will never get on NBC News. So, fair-minded Americans know our reporting is honest, while much of the other TV news media is simply in the tank for the president.
Now you'd think that liberal Americans would flock to hear their side propped up, but that's clearly not happening. For libs, conservatives and independents alike, there's really no choice. They have to watch us if they want to know what's going on. And they are in record numbers.
Actually, a more logical explanation is that liberals don't need to hear their side propped up the way conservatives do -- they know what's right and what's wrong in this debate. And there may indeed be more of them watching Fox News because they also know that this is the wellspring of the opposition -- the place where people are getting ginned up and angry enough to throw up anything that might stick as a roadblock to reform. It's important to know what's being thrown up next.
So yes, we do need to watch Fox to know what's going on -- but not the way O'Reilly thinks.