On his program last night Fox News host Bill O'Reilly blasted his cable competitors for their "delight in showing Iraqi violence," a product of an editorial mindset at CNN and MSNBC that "want[s] Americans to think badly of President Bush."
"And that strategy has succeeded," he added.
O'Reilly's words came in response to remarks made by CNN president Jon Klein who accused FNC of dialing back Iraq coverage as violence in Iraq has increased.
"It illustrates the danger of cheerleading for one particular point or another because they were obviously cheerleaders for the war," He told the AP. "When the war went badly they had to dial back coverage because it didn't fit their preconceived story lines."
Klein was referring to a study by a leftish group called the Project for Excellence in Journalism which stated that MSNBC covered Iraq twice as much as FNC. CNN covered it almost twice as much according to the study.
O'Reilly did not dispute that Fox News covered Iraq less than its competitors, speaking for his own show, O'Reilly said he did so because the reports CNN and MSNBC tend to air add nothing to the story and help with terrorist PR:
Now we've done hundreds of Iraq reports on this program, as you know. But we don't do the carnage du jour. We don't highlight every terrorist attack because we learn nothing from that. And that's exactly what the terrorists want us to do. I mean, come on, does another bombing in Tikrit mean anything other than war is hell? No, it does not.
In my opinion, CNN, and especially MSNBC, delight in showing Iraqi violence because they want Americans to think badly of President Bush. And that strategy has succeeded.
So their Iraqi coverage is more political than informational, again in my opinion. Could be wrong about CNN. I'm not wrong about the committed left wing crew over at NBC.
O'Reilly's overall point is spot-on. The details are a little trickier, however. When you look at the coverage as MRC has for the entire duration of the war, you do see a strongly negative tone toward the war effort. Where that comes from in the more liberal networks (everyone except FNC) is a complicated story, a combination of anti-Republican suspicion, a general dislike of American casualties, and the old "if it bleeds it leads" mentality. Throw in a dash of Bush hatred and you get the persistently defeatist coverage mix.