Bill O’Reilly Defends Press Freedom–While Musing About Jailing Bill Moyers

Fox host Bill O’Reilly warned viewers on December 3 about “a disturbing development at the FCC”: Commissioner Michael Copps has been criticizing the failure of the media to provide citizens with substantive political information and discussion.

O’Reilly zeroed inon thesecomments Copps made in a BBC interview (12/1/10):

I think American media has a bad case of substance abuse right now. We are not producing the body of news and information that democracy needs to conduct a civic dialogue. We are not producing as much news as we did five years, 10 years, 15 years ago. We have to reverse that trend or I think we are going to be pretty close to denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions.

As O’Reilly put it, “The key words from Copps are: ‘We have to reverse that trend.'” O’Reilly wondered if this was a government takeover plot: “Are you going to begin calling shots here on the Factor?” Of course,FCC rules govern broadcasting,not cable news–soO’Reilly will remain free to mislead his audience for as long as Rupert Murdoch allows.

ButO’Reillyallowed for oneexception:

Finally, this broadcast will fight any intrusion on the media by the federal government, unless, of course, they want to put Bill Moyers in jail.

Iknow, I know–he’s joking. But it says something about how O’Reilly’s brain works that he’d invent agovernment intrusion onfreedom of the press, and thenfind it amusing to crack about jailing a television journalist who isn’t even on TV anymore.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.