Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wisconsin's State Tree Is What?! - UPDATED

Bill O'Reilly has been getting pretty hot under the collar at all the Wisconsin protesters chanting "Fox lies" while their so-called "reporters" are on the ground at the state capitol in Madison. So what does The O'Reilly Factor do? They lie.

Here's the intrepid BillO and his crack staff using stock footage of some random protest while speaking about the people in the streets in Wisconsin to promote the illusion that the protests are violent. Notice the short sleeve shirts and the palm trees in the background.

Now that's some fair and balanced reporting, huh? And here I thought the Wisconsin state tree was the Sugar Maple. Someone had better correct Wikipedia!

UPDATE (3/3/11, 12:15pm): Mediaite has defended O'Reilly as "not lying" regarding the above video.

The segment in question occurred during The O’Reilly Factor as Bill O’Reilly was discussing the anger in the union protests. At the top of the piece, he rolled footage of a number of the “union thug” videos that have become so popular on Right Wing news sites in the past few weeks. O’Reilly clearly identified the videos as collectively coming from “all over the country.” As many shows do, this B-roll footage was replayed again during the rest of the segment, including during an interview with Mike Tobin, Fox News’ reporter who’s been on the ground in Wisconsin.
Here’s where the problem occurred. Tobin was discussing Wisconsin (since that where he’s been) while the general footage played in the background. Taken out of context, these few seconds would seem deceptive. But, if you’d already seen the full segment, you’d recognize what the footage was (besides, this same clip has aired on other Fox News programs like Glenn Beck and been identified as coming from California). Further, the protest footage from Wisconsin is clearly labeled “Madison” as well as date and time stamped, while the “palm tree footage” is labeled “Union Protests.” Confusing? Not really, though if one were to simply see the 43-second clip on YouTube, one could reasonably raise their eyebrows. A reminder of the importance of context.
Had Fox News Channel, and in particular The O'Reilly Factor, been completely honest, instead of labeling the video "union protests" they would have specified the locality of each video. It's not so hard.

They deliberately misled the viewer by speaking to someone stationed in Madison, Wisconsin while showing video from Sacramento. How do I know it's Sacramento? Because a legit website, Think Progress, updated their site with that information.

By the way, that video of the shoving match was the only reported incident by Sacramento police, so the idea that protests have turned violent has no merit. And reporting about "anger" at protests isn't really news, is it? Anger at protests is a given, otherwise there probably wouldn't be a protest.

Was it a lie? Technically, no. But it was definitely sloppy journalism at a minimum and at worst, tried to paint a biased picture of what's actually happening across the country; far from the "fair and balanced" motto they purport. Therefore, I'll make the reassessment that the O'Reilly segment was purposely misleading.

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