Bill O’Reilly’s Wrong – Mocking Double-Standards Isn’t ‘Justifying Bad Behavior’

I watch The O’Reilly Factor on a pretty regular basis. Like many people, I enjoy its entertaining and often insightful presentation of news analysis. While I don’t always agree with the opinions of host, Bill O’Reilly, I think he’s honest and generally has a pretty good observational take on most news items.

That’s why I was so surprised last Friday, when I watched him swing and miss badly in his Talking Points Memo segment. His topic was, “Exaggerating and justifying bad behavior in politics”. O’Reilly confided in his audience that he becomes annoyed when political partisans defend the actions of someone in their party by diverting attention to similar offenses committed by someone from the opposition party. He considers the practice to be an example of “justifying bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior”, and likened it to the maturity level of a third-grader.

In a broad sense, I think there’s some validity to that argument. However, the examples O’Reilly provided to substantiate his point were completely off the mark.

First, he brought up the liberal media’s often-cited criticism of the Romney family’s nearly 30 year-old road-trip to Canada, in which the family dog was kept in a carrier above the roof of their car and became sick during the ride. Romney first shared the anecdote during the 2008 presidential campaign. Ever since then, it has remained fodder for critics who’ve used it to accuse the former Massachusetts governor of, you guessed it, animal abuse.

O’Reilly then criticized the retaliating, partisan pundits who have recently pointed out that President Obama stated in one of his books that he had eaten dog meat as a child when he lived in Indonesia. O’Reilly’s assertion was that the two stories had nothing to do with each other, so they shouldn’t be compared.

His second example was a recent Washington Post article that described a nearly fifty year-old incident in which Mitt Romney had physically bullied a classmate.  Like with the dueling dog stories, O’Reilly dismissed the tit for tat chiding of “other politicians doing even worse stuff.” I presume he was referring to another recently unearthed passage from Barack Obama’s book that depicts an incident where a young Obama pushed a female classmate.

Now, there’s no doubt that all four of these stories are petty and completely irrelevant to any sensible measure of evaluating a presidential candidate. To be honest, I feel a little silly even citing such non-issues. But, there is absolutely legitimacy in lumping together these partisan, give-and-take examples. No one is justifying bad behavior. That’s not what’s going on here. What’s being pointed out (mainly by conservatives) is the double-standard the mainstream media uses when covering a politician’s past. That double-standard links directly back to the politician’s party affiliation.

The right-leaning pundits who have recently dredged up the stories of Obama eating dog meat and pushing a childhood classmate haven’t done so because they believe those incidents constitute substantive criticisms. On the contrary… They’ve brought them up precisely because they are ridiculously meaningless.

You see, both of the Obama incidents were available to the public (via Obama’s books) before the two Romney incidents ever were. Yet, the media showed no interest in perusing them whatsoever. For that matter, they’ve shown little interest in Obama’s young-adult years at all, whether it be the grades he received in college, the radical people he surrounded himself with, or the fact that he was a self-professed, avid cocaine user.

Yet, when it comes to decades-old, personal tidbits about Mitt Romney that are trivial by any common-sense standard, the media turns them into major news stories.

The obvious conclusion, of course, is that the media has a propensity to make something out of nothing when it comes to a negative fact about a Republican. When it comes to a negative fact about Democrat, on the other hand, they tend to make nothing of it… even if it’s something.

There’s an almost endless list of examples of this propensity, but let’s stick with the Mitt Romney stuff for now…

The story with Mitt Romney’s family dog has received intense media interest, with the incident being treated by the news media as having genuine relevance to the evaluation of his moral character. New York Times columnist, Gale Collins has referenced the plight of Romney’s dog in more than 50 columns since 2007. ABC News and Time Magazine have published pieces on the incident citing the president of PETA who called Romney’s actions a “lesson in cruelty” that was wrong for his children to witness. Senior political analyst, Mark Halperin claimed that the incident was a “serious issue” for “a lot of voters.” The Boston Globe’s Neil Swidey called the story a “valuable window into how Romney operates.” When Diane Sawyer brought the incident up in her interview with the Romneys last month, numerous media outlets went to the owner of a website named “Dogs Against Romney” for comment. There have even been two super PACs formed to publicize the incident which the media hasn’t been shy about referencing.

Likewise, the Washington Post felt that Mitt Romney’s youthful antics from a near half century ago were so compelling that they warranted a 5000-word, front-page story on the bullying incident. And when Romney stated that he couldn’t remember the details of the incident, his claim was widely heckled by the national media. This is the same national media, of course, that had no problem believing that Barack Obama couldn’t recall any radical, racist sermons delivered by Reverend Jeremiah Wright whose church he was a member of, and had been for 20 years.

The dog and bullying quips against Obama, on the other hand, have largely been made in jest with tongues planted firmly in cheeks. They haven’t been alluded to in order to justify bad behavior. They’ve been referenced to draw attention to the media’s silly and selective outrage over meaningless personal accounts.

It’s totally appropriate and fair for conservatives to expose media bias this way. It’s also quite an effective way of using humor to point out partisan inconsistencies and omissions.

Context is important, and when the media fails to display the proper context, it’s up to media critics to do it for them.

 

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration, and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. His first novel, entitled "From a Dead Sleep", is now on sale! He lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
Author website: http://www.johndalybooks.com/
  • Kanaskat

    Nobody had to “dig up” anything about o-disappointment eating dog. It was in his book you knothead.

  • Berryraymond

    Bill really misses a lot.  He is not a big picture guy.  He some how thinks he will get praise from the left when he defends Obama.  His defense of the President usually misses the mark.  The left will always hate Bill and nothing he can ever say will change that.  He feels like if he is fair with them, they will be fair to him.  What’s that Hell freezing thing.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GC36UFUX3FP57OIQ74YHHQUL3M wally

    JOHN: I agree with you about Bill O’Reilly.  I like many of his talking points. No one is right all the time. Bill is especially poor at economic issues where I seriously disagree with him. He really should go back to econ 101 to improve himself.

  • http://twitter.com/Grrr_Romney Dogs Against Romney

    I disagree completely. The reason Romney’s treatment of Seamus was made much of in the media is because it DOES provide a valuable insight into Romney’s character. He abused the dog (according to 68% of Americans in a survey) and he did it when he was an adult. His high school bullying, likewise, provides insight into his character – only bolstered by his treatment of the dog decades after he left high school. It shows there may be a pattern. The reason the media didn’t make much of the “Obama ate dog” story is precisely BECAUSE it is nothing. He was 6 or 7 years old – it wasn’t a choice he made then, and he certainly doesn’t continue to advocate it now. Finally, forget the media: If you really want to know what the people really think, all one has to do is look at the number of people on the Dogs Against Romney Facebook page (53,000) compared to the Dogs Against Obama Facebook page (barely 150). “Nuff said.”

    • Kathie Ampela

      I’m an animal lover, my cat died last month at age 20. I will be adopting a dog soon but am still grieving for my old friend. I am not excusing what Romney did. He has always struck me as being a patrician elitist who would like to help the poor as long as they don’t stink up the car or get too close.  I can’t get warm and fuzzy over anyone who mistreats animals. But that said, one need only look at Obama’s long, long history of radical associations, i.e. Frank Marshall Davis, Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright, Rashid Khalidi, Tony Rezko, too many to list here, to see that a double standard exists in how Romney is being scrutinized by the press vs. Obama in 2008. No comparison whatsoever.

    • JohnDalyAuthor

      NONE of these stories meaningful.

      The Seamus uproar is a joke. Here in Colorado, I see dogs riding around in the backs of trucks on major highways all the time that have far less protection than good old Seamus did… and they aren’t being abused either.

      And I’m sorry, but someone being a jerk to a classmate 50 years ago is supposed to somehow be relevant information? It’s not.

      I couldn’t care less if either of these guys were jerks when they were students.  Obama could have given wedgies to half of his graduating class for all anyone should care.

      I’m much more worried about the jerk who’s currently spending our country into oblivion.

      And are you seriously touting your legitimacy by pointing to how many Facebook “likes” you’ve received? All it does is substantiate MY point.

      To the left, something like this is harped on endlessly and taken seriously as if it’s a real story. People on the right understand that it’s petty. They aren’t going to seek out some Facebook community to chide Obama for eating a dog. Liberals love this stuff, as exampled by the over 40 thousand fans who liked a Facebook page celebrating the guy in Iraq who through a shoe at President Bush, or 350 thousand fans of “Telling Dick Cheney to Shut Up”.

      It’s all so sad.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

        The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.  story is harped on endlessly. Does that bother you, I mean just a little bit? 

        • 1LonesomeDove1

          Where is it being harped on today?

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

            Ever watch Fox? Every day!

          • 1LonesomeDove1

            No.

        • JohnDalyAuthor

          Right, because being an adult, active member of a congregation led by a radical, hate-spewing, anti-American racist who he called a “spiritual adviser” and a deep influence – that’s just some mere, trivial tidbit, right?

          Totally the same thing, right?

          Please.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

            Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. has some issues, about how the blacks were and are treated in America. As a white person, you would not understand!

          • 1LonesomeDove1

            He has issues with America. He hates it.

          • DanB_Tiffin

            Wil the racist lives in a lilly white suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. His suburb has less than 1% of people who call themsevles black. Over in Cleveland, more than half of the population calls itself black.  Again, this is a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio where racist Wil and his racist neighbors manage, somehow, to keep all those black people out.

          • JohnDalyAuthor

            Not understand what? That Wright is an anti-American racist who regularly spewed hatred? That Obama considered him to be his spiritual mentor and an inspiration? That Obama regularly exposed his children to Wright’s hate-fueled rants.

            Sorry man, but my race doesn’t preclude me from recognizing the obvious.

            No one knows what it’s like to walk a mile in my shoes either, but I can guarantee that if I started spewing racist, America-hating rhetoric, you wouldn’t be there for me to try and rationalize it… under ANY conditions.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

            Let see,,, Romney and his thugs, holding down a gay person (And they knew
            he was gay) and cutting off his hair, is a crime! But, that is okay with you.
            What if that was your son, being assaulted? Obama going to church is an equivalent.

             

            Please!

          • 1LonesomeDove1

            Wil’s fairy-tales.

            LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • JohnDalyAuthor

            His thugs? Really?

            The incident was obviously bullying… bad bullying. The facts that it happened 50 years ago when he was a teenager, and that has no history of bullying since, makes it a non-issue.

            I guarantee you, Wil, that if Obama was accused of doing the same thing at the same age, you’d be calling it a non-issue… and I’d be agreeing with you.

            Obama ‘going to church’ isn’t the controversy. Going to Wright’s church (for 20 years) and citing the man as his spiritual mentor IS the controversy.

            You already know this. Stop pretending to be dumb.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

            If Obama was accused of doing the same thing, I would say he wasn’t fit to be president. And, you would be agreeing with me! BTW, your ‘dumb’ comment wasn’t necessary.

          • 1LonesomeDove1

            Well, we’ll never know what your O’Savior did when he was young and in school, cause you can’t find any record of it.

            Hmmmmmm, wonder why?

          • JohnDalyAuthor

            Wil, You refuse to even admit that Obama has ever lied. You’re a blind partisan.

            And now you expect me to believe that you’d condemn his presidency if he bullied someone, decades ago, when he was a teenager? Bull.

            I’ve called Romney out for his b.s. in multiple columns. You would never, ever do so when it comes to Obama.

            You view him the same way you viewed your first crush.

            And Wil, you ARE pretending to be dumb.

          • royalsfan67

             So cutting a hippy’s hair in the 60s when there was a real culture clash going on is reason to not vote for someone, but habitual cocaine use in high school and college, and a ten year old eating dog, and spending 20 years of your life sitting in a church filled with racism and anti-americanism is not a reason to change your vote. Oh wait Wil, those things I mentioned probably make you more likely to vote for Obama.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GC36UFUX3FP57OIQ74YHHQUL3M wally

            I agree. The latest book about Obama, The Amateur, is very interesting in that author Ed Klien has a tape recording of Reverend Wright stating that Obama has abandon his former morality by speaking any untruth to promote his agenda. Enough said.

          • Jeffreydan

              Even if Governor Romney had bullied anyone in the ’60′s, Obama has been bullying perceived enemies here since 2008 (websites designed to shut up critics, call out Romney’s donors, etc.)   Democrats aren’t fooling anyone, kiddo. They’ll vote for BO despite his being a ruthless, relentless, new breed uber-bully.

              Oh, they really knew he was gay? PROVE IT.

          • JohnDalyAuthor

            The mark of a liberal is to say, with complete confidence, things you’re merely guessing at.

          • royalsfan67

             The guy didn’t come out as gay until years later, nobody knew he was gay. None of the 4 liberals, including the campaign worker for Obama who supposedly witnessed the event said they knew the guy was gay. Were you there Wil? How do you suddenly know that they know he was gay? Have you ever exercised critical thinking in your life?

      • Kathie Ampela

        John, I see your point and not to dwell on it, but the dog story is not a joke. Putting a dog in a pickup truck which I see here in NY is one thing, tying it to the roof of a car in the heat is another. I don’t want to debate it because that was not the point of your article. This website is about politics and media bias, not animal welfare. (I personally would never treat my dog like that, I would put the dog in a dog kennel that I’d researched or hire a dog sitter if I was going on vacation, but I’m drifting off topic)

        Blowing a 45 year old high school incident out of proportion to slander a candidate you dislike compared with providing cover for a long history of radical associations to protect “your guy” is dangerous to our republic.

        • JohnDalyAuthor

          We’ll agree to disagree on the dog issue. As hard as I try, I can’t bring myself to get bent out shape over a dog carrier with its own windshield. I just don’t see a difference between that and the back of a pickup truck.

          • Kathie Ampela

            I’m not going to NOT vote for Romney because of the dog story but not every story should be seen through the prism of left/right politics, that’s all.  I’m not going to minimize the dog abuse story just because I want “my guy” (and I use the term loosely as I have a gun to my head and have no other choice) to win in November.  That’s as bad as what the MSM does and what the theme of your article is.

          • Kathie Ampela

            I don’t want to overstate the Romney dog abuse story either, because when compared with the radical history of Barack Obama it’s chilling how deep the media complicity ran in 2008: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=1511

      • http://twitter.com/Grrr_Romney Dogs Against Romney

        John, the Seamus story has be written about by almost every major media outlet in the world. It has been read and commented on by millions of people. Either it is a meaningful story or I’m the greatest social media marketer on Earth. You decide.

        • JohnDalyAuthor

          The world? Not sure I’d agree with that but I don’t dispute that it’s been hyped by the media a heck of a lot. Again, that’s the point I’m making.

          The media drives something ridiculous like this into the ground when it comes to a Republican. If it were a Democrat, it would have been a joke-story that lasted no more than two days max.

          There’s no direct correlation between the amount of media-attention a story receives and the relevance of the story itself.

          By your criteria, the adventures of Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan are meaningful.

          • http://twitter.com/Grrr_Romney Dogs Against Romney

            Maybe not the entire world, but off the top of my head I can list the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Australia and Canada. Try using the Google. 

          • John Daly

            Like I said, I don’t dispute that it got a lot of exposure. Lots of really silly stuff does.

          • Begbie

            Zing!  John, you win.

    • Tim Ned

      I wonder how many of those Dogs against Romney were for him before they heard this story?  I would guess 53,000 of them.

    • Big dog

      Get back on top of the car and shut up. ;)

  • Kathie Ampela

    I agree with you, John. It’s epic comedy (and I mean EPIC comedy) to compare the scrutiny Romney’s “bullying” incident from 1965 with the complete and utter lack of investigation into Barack Obama’s background in 2008. (and I mean COMPLETE and UTTER lack) Context is everything…the Right brought up the incident from Obama’s childhood to illustrate how ridiculous the Romney “bullying” thing was.  I can say a lot about Mitt Romney but he never struck me as a raging, bigoted bully. If there is significant evidence of a life long pattern of behavior, please show it to me. Again, I’m no Romney fan and I hate the dog on the car roof story, (my theory is if you mistreat an animal, how well will you treat a person) but where was the scrutiny of Obama’s past?

    Got a little upset with Bill last night during the “Reality Check” segment. He told the audience that Saturday Night Live is an equal opportunity mocker. He didn’t tell us that SNL killed a sketch last week that portrayed Obama in an unfavorable light and instead aired a skit that portrayed Fox and Friends hosts as clueless morons. Doesn’t sound like equal opportunity mocking to me.  The sketch this week showed a goofy but innocuous Joe Biden upset that he didn’t get credit for the gay marriage endorsement. Obama was treated with the utmost respect and of course there was a slam thrown in at George W. Bush. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/george-w-bush-consoles-joe-biden-snl-video-152046583.html The whole sketch, if you watch it, was tilted to smear the Right.

    It seems a little silly to bring things like this up but it matters. Injecting bias into the public consciousness comes from more than the news media and it has to be called out for what it is.

  • GlenFS

    John, You make a good point and support it well.  O’Reilly missed the point this time.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

    O’Reilly vs. Coburn: The Video Evidence (VIDEO)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/15/oreilly-vs-coburn-the-vid_n_539478.html

    Bill O’Reilly, I think he’s honest and generally has a pretty good observational take on most news items.  Really?

    • 1LonesomeDove1

      Obama Mocks & Attacks Jesus Christ And The Bible / Video / Obama Is Not A Christian (Video)

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi-V_ilJu0w&feature=related

    • John Daly

      Could you honestly not make it through the first paragraph without trolling up?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

        I’m trying John, I really am. But, when you say ”
        Bill O’Reilly, I think he’s honest”. I just cannot help myself.

        • Jeffreydan

            Said the fella who intends to vote for an incumbent whose dishonesty is unmatched.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

            Romney’s 
            dishonesty is unmatched, he lies  about everything!

          • Jeffreydan

              Son, your retort is about as impressive as the “I know you are but what am I?” bit.
             
              Next time bring an adult with you.  

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

            Jeffy, You just ain’t paying any attention. As for your adult insult, I just say FU!

          • 1LonesomeDove1

             He doesn’t know any but us.

          • JohnDalyAuthor

            Liberals tend not to mind being lied to, as long as it’s coming from someone on their side. I’ve never understood that.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

            Most all conservatives will vote for Romney, regardless of his lies. As for Obama, what lies has he told? 

          • 1LonesomeDove1

            Promised to bring the troops home, didn’t……promised to close GITMO, didn’t……promised to create 3,000,000 jobs, didn’t………..

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

            Promised
            to bring the troops home, didn’t……>>

             

            From
            Iraq, yes he did!

             

            promised
            to close GITMO, didn’t……>>

             

            Republican,
            would not let him!

             

            promised
            to create 3,000,000 jobs, didn’t…….>>

             

             

            He
            created 4,200,000!

          • 1LonesomeDove1

            Troops they’re still in Iraq. Two bases and roughly 4,000 troops.

            Republican, can not stop him from closing GITMO. They don’t have a majority in congress

            He did not create 4,200,000 jobs. Stores are still reducing number of employees (Sears).

            Unemployment rate was 7.3 when he promised.

            Unemployment rate is 8.1 now.

            4,200,000 does not RAISE unemployment.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

            Troops
            they’re still in Iraq. Two bases and roughly 4,000 troops.>>

            How many were there when Obama took office?
            Nitpicking!

            Republican,
            can not stop him from closing GITMO. They don’t have a majority in
            congress>>

            Ever
            hear about the filibuster? The republicans have stopped Obama’s in his
            tracks.

            He
            did not create 4,200,000 jobs. Stores are still reducing number of employees
            (Sears).>>

            When
            Obama came into office, we were losing 700,000 monthly.

            Unemployment
            rate was 7.3 when he promised.>>

            Bush!

            Unemployment
            rate is 8.1 now.>>

            And
            dropping

            4,200,000
            does not RAISE unemployment.>>

            It
            didn’t raise it.

          • 1LonesomeDove1

            Nitpicking???? Nope, broken promise. He promised to bring them home as soon as he was elected. 4 years later, and more deaths…….tropps still there.

            “Ever hear about the filibuster?”

            The only filibuster was where members of Obama’s own party — who at one point led Congress with a filibuster-proof majority — joined the GOP last spring to thwart a plan to purchase a federal prison in Illinois and transfer detainees to it.

            “When Obama came into office, we were losing 700,000 monthly.”

            Doesn’t change the fact that unemployment is still higher than when he took office, and continued to rise.. So obviously, we’re still losing them.

            “Unemployment rate was 7.3 when he promised.>>Bush!”

            Bush is not president.

            “Unemployment rate is 8.1 now.>> An dropping”

            No it isn’t.

            “It didn’t raise it.”

            Going from 7.3 to 8.1 is a raise. Unless we’re on YOUR planet

          • JohnDalyAuthor

            I really hope this ‘dumb’ routine is an act.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DGT5LFXDWHPKRWLSI2WPBXIGXE Wil

            John, Just relaying some facts to your flock. They ain’t gonna get them from you!

          • Jeffreydan

              Fact: Obama said no lobbyists would work in his White House. Lobbyists were hired after he took office.

              Fact: Obama said his stimulus would keep unemployment under 8%. It’s always been above that.

              Fact: Obama repeatedly told audiences the GOP was offering no input on Obamacare. They were actually offering ideas from early on, he was just shunning them. He eventually admitted they were right when they all sat face to face.

              Fact: he said illegals were barred outright from Ocare, abortions wouldn’t be covered, and costs would drop, etc. The language that Republicans contributed to prevent loopholing the first two was rejected, and costs have been going UP. (He didn’t qualify his statements, so don’t try your little blame game.)

              Other than that, he’s quite honest, though. Check that; he’s still a truth-allergic sociopath, and you’re a fact-allergic liberal.