The MRC's Brent Bozell will be on the Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor" tonight at 8pm Eastern to discuss the media's coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The show repeats at 11pm and 4am Eastern as well. Use this thread to post your comments.
UPDATE: A full transcript is available below the fold.
BILL O'REILLY: We try very hard to be fair here on "The Factor," but, of course, fair play is usually in the eye of the beholder. Joining us now from Washington is the president of the Media Research Center, a conservative group, Brent Bozell.
All in all, the last couple of weeks, has the coverage on the networks and the cable news operations been fair?
BRENT BOZELL: I think all in all, it has been to date. But you know that's not surprising. At the start of any ground engagement, the start of any war when you're focused on hard news coverage, the coverage does tend to be fair and balanced and objective. It's when you start moving beyond that, when reporters start getting restless, when they are tired of the old pictures and start analyzing it, that's when the trouble begins and I suspect in the next two or three days, you're going to see it start to emerge.
O'REILLY: Well, that's a good point. We're struggling now to find new angles to report the story fresh. You can't be repeating the same things over and over again. But I have heard -- I have to say I haven't seen it because I am so busy doing what I do--I have heard that CNN and NBC in particular have been much more accommodating to the Hezbollah point of view. Have you seen that?
BOZELL: Well, yeah. There was a report last week on CNN that was rather disgraceful. Nic Robertson went in at the invitation and at the behest and at the control of Hezbollah, reporting a propaganda piece from Hezbollah's perspective. And really didn't tell his viewers exactly what was going on. And then several days later, when questioned about that story by Howie Kurtz on the CNN "Reliable Sources"--give CNN credit for at least following up--he conceded that he really didn't know if he was reporting the truth. He wasn't allowed to go inside the buildings. He wasn't allowed to show anything.
So when he reports from a Hezbollah position that there are no military weapons to be shown here, that really doesn't mean anything.
O'REILLY: OK. I just want to be clear because Robertson is a pretty good correspondent. He's got access --
BOZELL: But Bill--
O'REILLY: But I want to set it up.--
BOZELL: But here's my point, Bill. No reporter ought to allow himself to be led by the nose by a terrorist organization.
O'REILLY: No, I understand that. That's how Dan Rather got in trouble with his prewar interview with Saddam Hussein.
BOZELL: That's how CNN got in trouble. That's how CNN got in trouble--
O'REILLY: He was in there and he was compromised. What happens is that you trade objectivity for access. If Hezbollah is going to let you in there, then you have to almost shade it toward their point of view because they won't ever let you in there again.
BOZELL: Precisely. That's what CNN did during the first Gulf War. CNN acknowledged that they did that afterwards to curry favor with Saddam Hussein. CNN really did damage to its reputation. It ought to learn that lesson and be very careful about the future.
O'REILLY: Now has Fox News been too pro-Israel?
BOZELL: I don't think so. Just his afternoon in preparation for the show, I was watching Fox and CNN, I might add. And I thought both networks were going back and forth and back and forth from both perspectives very, very well.
O'REILLY: All right. So because I do want to be fair here. Up front I'm an analyst, not a reporter. I say that when Hezbollah attacks without provocation and has 13,000 missiles, that I have got to take the side of the people attacked. But I don't obviously wouldn't want them to do anything untoward as well. Now--
BOZELL: The pictures that everyone is seeing, the vast majority of the pictures that everyone is seeing is of the dead and wounded in Lebanon. And those pictures are airing on Fox as well.
O'REILLY: OK. Last question for you. The New York Times is sitting this out, absolutely sitting it out editorial. And I believe it's because they don't want to alienate their liberal Jewish base here in New York City. Am I wrong?
BOZELL: Well, except I hope they do sit it up because when they do write things, you tend to smash your head against a wall like the piece the other day worrying about the asymmetry, wondering if Israel was being unfair in the war against Lebanon.
O'REILLY: But a lot of people are wondering now whether they should attack Beirut in civilian style. That's a legitimate question.
BOZELL: When you're in war, you try to win.
O'REILLY: OK.Yeah but there are even rules of engagement in a war. But I do believe that the New York Times is very worried about its circulation after the last, you know, expose about the terrorist funding. And they can't take another hit.BOZELL: If they were -- if there were American secrets at play, the New York Times would have it as front page stories.
O'REILLY: They can't lose their base, though. All right. Mr. Bozell, thanks very much for being here. We'll wrap things up in a moment.