Well, for FOXNews programming, if it's not good for ratings, it ain't good for nothing.
Bill O'Reilly's gone splotchy mad over a recent report from the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Focusing on the period from December 31, 2006, through March 31, 2007, the investigators concluded:
Overall, MSNBC and CNN were much more consumed with the war in Iraq than was Fox. MSNBC, for instance, devoted nearly a third of the time studied to the war (26% on the policy debate, 3% on events on the ground and 2% the homefront). Fox, by contrast, spent less than half that much time on the war—15% in all, (10% on the policy debate, 3% on events in Iraq and 1% on the homefront)…. On CNN, Iraq coverage totaled 25%, again mostly focused on policy debate (14%). Events on the ground received 7% of the coverage (coming in second overall) while the homefront trailed at 3%.So what was FOXNews focusing on? —Mostly, according to the PEJ statistics, Anna Nicole Smith.
O'Reilly doesn't dispute the PJE statistics, but he can't resist calling the group's spokesman, Mark Jurkowitz "a committed leftist." What O'Reilly does do, however, is question the motives of CNN and MSNBC for their continuing coverage of the Iraq War.
Now, the reason that CNN and MSNBC do so much Iraq reporting is because they want to embarrass the Bush administration. Both do, and all their reporting consists of is, "Here's another explosion. Bang! Here's more people dead. Bang!" All right, we know that. We don't have to report -- it's like Vietnam. Did you report every firefight? No. We know that. The reason that CNN and MSNBC put it on is because they want to give the impression that the war is a loser and Bush is an idiot.Okay, have you stopped laughing yet?
But O'Reilly couldn't leave it at that. In his righteous fury, he gives away the wide-open but shameful secret of all television programming.
The bottom line is this. We've reported time and again that the war in Iraq is indeed a mess. There's little news value in broadcasting daily bombings. By the way, Fox News continues to crush CNN and MSNBC in the ratings, as the folks know news when they see it.The truth is out: FOXNews viewers are just plain bored with the war. Oh, they're still g-d proud to be Americans…still supporting the troops—although in vague and unspecified ways… still jacked enough to question the patriotism of all comers… and still usefully fearful of imminent invasions—of Mexicans, not the other brown people. But they know what they want. They want their Anna Nicole Smith dead, their Paris Hilton handcuffed, their Britney Spears bald, and their Lindsay Lohan puking. And God bless Roger Ailes, that's just what he's giving them.
UPDATE Here's another take on O'Reilly's "Tikrit? Pfffft."