Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bill O’Reilly Likes His Women Muzzled

O' Reilly cuts off guests' audio and video feed again....his trademark

Robin Swanson
June 20, 2007

When I was invited to tape a segment on the O’Reilly Factor today, I knew that I would be walking onto a set-up program that would be biased against any reasonable Democratic point of view, but I’ve appeared on many FOX News (FNC) programs before, and felt comfortable responding on the topic of the day.

On previous FNC programs, such as "Hannity & Colmes," while there’s a clear conservative skew, panelists usually are allowed to make their points, even if they have to shout to be heard.

But despite the well-deserved perception of FNC as a conservative monolithic "news" outlet, they continue to do well in the ratings game, and their viewers run the gamut of the ideological spectrum. So Democrats from across the country, including myself, brave the landmine-riddled terrain that is FNC in order to attempt to deliver a Democratic viewpoint in otherwise hostile territory.

Normally, you’ve got about 15-20 seconds to make your point in segments that run from about 3-7 minutes long. Most of the time I’ve been able to deliver a few salient points, and other times I’ve been less successful.

But today was different.

In the midst of a debate where O’Reilly was trying to pit the Left of the Democratic Party against Senator Hillary Clinton, I dared to disagree with his premise. I had the audacity to suggest that the fissures about the war in Iraq were actually in the Republican Party, not in the Democratic Party.

O’Reilly was clearly perturbed that I didn’t allow him to bully me. So, mid-sentence, apparently taking his cue from the season finale of the Sopranos, he cut my audio and video feed. Fade to black.

For a news organization that laughingly calls itself "fair and balanced," this was a new low. O’Reilly claims that his program is a "No-spin zone," but apparently, it’s "No-speech zone" if you disagree with him.

O’Reilly’s censorship of guests who don’t perform on-cue like trained monkeys is truly Orwellian. If you disagree with him, you don’t exist -- he cuts your feed.

No debate, no argument, no fighting to get in the last word -- simply pushing a button, and sending guests’ satellite feed back into space.

Perhaps I should have expected this treatment from a network whose president, Roger Ailes, made jokes comparing Barack Obama to Osama Bin Laden, but with O’Reilly leading the charge, FNC has achieved the journalistic integrity of the National Enquirer. And at least that rag is entertaining.

And in the ultimate ironic twist, O’Reilly began tonight’s program with a whiny segment complaining that Democratic Presidential contenders have refused to appear on his program.

All I have to say is: Keep dreaming O’Reilly -- your on-air temper-tantrum today is proof positive that your "no-spin zone" is anything but.

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