Bill O’Reilly believes you’d have to be crazy to think that Fox News is in bed with the Republican Party.
At a recent campaign stop in Binghamton, NY, former President Bill Clinton told an audience, “They and Fox News and their anonymous committees and their fabulous disinformation campaign have whipped those poor Republicans up into a white heat.”
“Honest to God, half of them need psychiatric care now. They’re just so — not because they’re crazy, but because nobody can be that angry that long and it be healthy for you.”
The reference to Fox News got O’Reilly’s attention Wednesday.
“Obviously some of us here at Fox News do need psychiatric help,” O’Reilly joked. “It was accurate.”
“What he’s trying to do is demonize Fox as carrying the water for Republicans,” O’Reilly continued. “That’s a theme Democrats have been using for months.”
Fox News’ Juliet Huddy joined O’Reilly to talk about Clinton’s comments.
“When you hear this now from the left, demonizing Fox News, it just kind of sounds like the Peanuts [cartoon] teacher,” she said. “Wah, wah, wah.”
“Yeah, yeah, nobody outside of your crazy left-wing loons believes it,” O’Reilly agreed.
But evidence shows that Fox News personalities do have associations with Republican candidates. In April, a Media Matters report found:
In recent years, at least twenty Fox News personalities have endorsed, raised money, or campaigned for Republican candidates or causes, or against Democratic candidates or causes, in more than 300 instances and in all 50 states. Republican parties and officials have routinely touted these personalities’ affiliations with Fox News to sell and promote their events.
The Associated Press reported that a Democratic group recently sued Fox News for allegedly illegally helping a Republican candidate.
The Democratic Governors Association has filed an elections complaint in Ohio alleging Fox News Network illegally helped the Republican governor nominee solicit funds during a television appearance.
In documents filed Thursday, the association says Fox allowed John Kasich to request contributions from viewers during an Aug. 18 broadcast and displayed the address of his campaign website.
The complaint alleges the free publicity is an improper in-kind contribution to Kasich’s campaign.
And more recently Media Matters asked if a Republican candidate for Senate in Delaware had received in-kind contributions from Fox News.
By hosting Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell in primetime twice in the last week, and by giving her a national platform to raise funds and to answer softball, campaign-friendly questions from avowed cheerleader Sean Hannity, has Fox News essentially made a contribution to her campaign? And based on current advertising rates, would that contribution be worth $1.2 million?
With Fox News abandoning any semblance of journalism this campaign season and openly sponsoring Republican candidates, the questions may not be as strange as you think.
And here’s why: As Media Matters’ Eric Burns noted last night on Countdown, when Republican candidates like O’Donnell appear on Fox News, they don’t show up to be part of an authentic interview, designed to informed news consumers. They’re there to take part in a GOP infomercial. And they’re there, with the help of Fox News, to advertise themselves.
But not everyone agrees that Fox News favors Republican candidates. In 2007, the right leaning Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University found that Fox News was the most fair of all the networks.
“Fox News Channel’s coverage was more balanced toward both parties than the broadcast networks were,” they wrote. “On FOX, evaluations of all Democratic candidates combined were split almost evenly – 51% positive vs. 49% negative, as were all evaluations of GOP candidates – 49% positive vs. 51% negative, producing a perfectly balanced 50-50 split for all candidates of both parties.”
This video is from Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, broadcast Oct. 13, 2010.