O'Reilly Cites 'Stunning' MRC Study on Nets Ignoring Midterms; Carville Tries to Dismiss It

On his Fox News show Thursday night, host Bill O'Reilly cited the Media Research Center study on the network evening newscasts censoring coverage of the 2014 midterms: "Eight years ago, the nightly network newscasts went full out to cover the campaigns, which Democrats were favored to win....But this time around, the graph is far different. At this point in time, ABC News did 36 election reports eight years ago. So far this year, zero, nothing. CBS, 58 in year 2006. 14 this year. NBC, 65 eight years ago. 11 this year. Simply stunning."

O'Reilly turned to Democratic strategist James Carville for reaction, who promptly tried to defend the lack of coverage: "I think the more plausible explanation is, you know, President Obama hasn't been able to change politics and inspire people, and politics is not selling very well on network news....I think the network people are striving for ratings and to make money. I don't think that ideology is the first thing they think about."

O'Reilly pressed: "Is it possible that they sensed the Democratic victory eight years ago and threw a lot of resources into trying to make that happen, but this year they sense a Republican victory, therefore there is a black out. Is that possible?" Carville begrudgingly admitted: "Yeah, it's possible. I don't think it's the explanation, but yes, sure, anything's possible."

In a testament to how biased network news political coverage has become, fellow guest and Outnumbered co-host Andrea Tantaros was actually pleased by the media blackout: "I'm actually relieved the media isn't covering this. Because if the media would cover this the way that the media typically covers this, they would make Republicans out to be women-hating, anti-feminist....at least they're not doing what they typically do, and that's trash Republicans."

O'Reilly asked her the same question he put to Carville: "Is it possible that the network news chieftains sense a Republican landslide, sense the country is angry with the President and the Democratic Party, therefore do not want to mention it?" Tantaros agreed: "No question. They're saying, 'Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here, let's move on.'"

Carville continued to excuse the glaring disparity between the 2006 and 2014 election coverage: "You asked me if something is possible. Yeah, it's possible, there's a 5% chance. I think it's an 80% chance that if you look at morning TV, if you look across the board, they're just covering less and less politics because people are not that interested in it. They're turned off by it."

O'Reilly pushed back: "How do you explain the very high ratings of this program? For example, last night we had an enormous amount of viewership and we do cover politics on a daily basis. It doesn't seem to make sense."

Tantaros concluded: "They're very depressed with President Obama. A lot of these networks, as you know, Bill, they've carried the water for the President. They see the writing on the wall. They don't want to cover the story because it's not good news for them."

Here is a full transcript of the October 23 segment:

8:12 PM ET

BILL O'REILLY: Impact Segment tonight. A new study by the conservative Media Research Center on the upcoming election. Eight years ago, there was also a midterm election, President Bush and current President Obama both had similar job approval ratings at this point – bad. Eight years ago, the nightly network newscasts went full out to cover the campaigns, which Democrats were favored to win. And they did win, taking both the House and the Senate. But this time around, the graph is far different. At this point in time, ABC News did 36 election reports eight years ago. So far this year, zero, nothing. CBS, 58 in year 2006. 14 this year. NBC, 65 eight years ago. 11 this year. Simply stunning.

With us now, Andrea Tantaros, one of the co-hosts of Outnumbered, you see that at noon on FNC. From Boynton Beach, Florida, Democrat James Carville. So, Carville, what say you?

JAMES CARVILLE: You know, that's one explanation. I think the more plausible explanation is, you know, President Obama hasn't been able to change politics and inspire people, and politics is not selling very well on network news. But we'll see what the turnout is in 2014.

O'REILLY: So you're saying you think – you think the network news isn't covering the campaign because it doesn't get ratings? Is that what you're saying?

CARVILLE: Yeah, I think-

O'REILLY: But it did eight years ago?

CARVILLE: Well maybe it didn't get eight years ago. Maybe they looked back and said – I don't think that the – I think the network people are striving for ratings and to make money. I don't think that ideology is the first thing they think about.  

O'REILLY: Is it possible, Carville? Is it possible that they sensed the Democratic victory eight years ago and threw a lot of resources into trying to make that happen, but this year they sense a Republican victory, therefore there is a black out. Is that possible?

CARVILLE: Yeah, it's possible.

O'REILLY: Good! Okay. There you go.

CARVILLE: I don't think it's the explanation, but yes, sure, anything's possible.  

O'REILLY: It's possible. Yes.

ANDREA TANTAROS: Yes, you are right. But let's be fair a little bit. Flashing back to 2006, that was in the middle of that congressional page scandal with Mark Foley. And I was actually working for the NRCC chairman Thomas Reynolds, and they got their clocks cleaned, Bill. But it was very salacious and the media wanted to cover this breach in trust with congressional Republicans.

This time around, though, I'm actually relieved the media isn't covering this. Because if the media would cover this the way that the media typically covers this, they would make Republicans out to be women-hating, anti-feminist. I mean, I'm actually happy that the media for the first time is covering the straight news. I mean, we saw what they did with Todd Akin, they used him to brand the entire party. So this time around, they're actually covering stories that matter, to their credit. ISIS, Ebola. They're not covering the President's failure on it. But at least they're not doing what they typically do, and that's trash Republicans.

O'REILLY: But I find it very, very strange. Very strange. That there are some pretty good political stories out there. For example. President Obama not wanted by his own party to campaign. Wouldn't that be a pretty good story?

TANTAROS: It would be.

O'REILLY: Okay.

TANTAROS: But they want to talk about Renee Zellweger's face, that's the bigger story.

O'REILLY: See, you can be ambidextrous and do both. You can superimpose Renee Zellweger's face on President Obama's body. Alright? And do the story at the same time.

But I'm gonna ask you the same question I asked Carville. Is it possible that the network news chieftains sense a Republican landslide, sense the country is angry with the President and the Democratic Party, therefore do not want to mention it?

TANTAROS: No question. They're saying, "Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here, let's move on."

O'REILLY: Alright, good. So the three of us have common ground that it is possible. Alright, now, Carville, Carville, we have an election in twelve days that is going to be very, very important. I believe the turnout is going to be low. Alright? I don't think a lot of people are gonna come out to vote. Particularly people who are – who have voted for President Obama and then have changed their minds and are fed up.

CARVILLE: Right.

O'REILLY: If it is that, isn't the – aren't the networks hurting themselves? Because we assume they still have a little bit of emotion invested in President Obama. They want him to succeed with ObamaCare and the other things. Aren't they hurting themselves by blacking out the coverage?

CARVILLE: You and I have a different view. I think the networks first and foremost want to make money. You think they want to promote Democrats first and foremost.

O'REILLY: No, I think they want to do both.

CARVILLE: I don't – well, again, I don't think that's the way they think. You asked me if something is possible. Yeah, it's possible, there's a 5% chance. I think it's an 80% chance that if you look at morning TV, if you look across the board, they're just covering less and less politics because people are not that interested in it. They're turned off by it. And I think that's-

O'REILLY: Well, then why do you – how do you explain the record – how do you explain the very high ratings of this program? For example, last night we had an enormous amount of viewership and we do cover politics on a daily basis. It doesn't seem to make sense.

CARVILLE: But if you look at – if you look at across the board this show does get a very high rating, I know because I go around. But again, TV network news and morning shows and a lot of other shows have decided-

O'REILLY: No we're just doing the network news, the morning is a whole different thing.

CARVILLE: Bill, I think you – I think they're motivated by profit, not ideology.

O'REILLY: Alright, I think they can do both.

CARVILLE: I think those networks would do anything to get a rating point. That's my belief.

O'REILLY: Not anything, Carville, but they would do a lot of things.

CARVILLE: Okay, most anything legal. Yes, I think that's what motivates them.

O'REILLY: Last word.

TANTAROS: They're very depressed with President Obama. A lot of these networks, as you know, Bill, they've carried the water for the President. They see the writing on the wall. They don't want to cover the story because it's not good news for them. And a lot of the cable news channels that lean left, they know their viewers don't want to see the bad news either.

O'REILLY: But they're gone. Their viewers are gone.

TANTAROS: Because they're all depressed because their guy President Obama is likely gonna lose and it's all his fault. However, the straight news that we're covering – ISIS, Ebola – it's the implicit failures of the administration without even them having to put it on television. So, I'm actually okay with it.

O'REILLY: Alright, there they are everybody.

Campaigns & Elections 2014 Congressional Media Bias Debate Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News NBC NBC Nightly News Fox News Channel O'Reilly Factor Video MRC Study Bill O'Reilly Andrea Tantaros James Carville

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