Analysis of Media Coverage of Democratic Convention

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 28, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Unresolved problem segment" tonight: TV ratings for the Democratic Convention have been very strong. Hillary Clinton really pulled in the viewers.

And "The Factor" has won its time slot very evening so far big. Wednesday night, for example, we beat MSNBC by well more than a million viewers. And that's thanks to you, and we appreciate it very much.

There's also a lot of trouble at NBC News. Reports all over the place have their commentators fighting on the air, and even Tom Brokaw is involved. We asked media observers Jane Hall in Washington and Monica Crowley in New York to analyze not only the NBC situation, but the overall TV news coverage of the DNC.

Click here to watch the segment.

All right, Jane, you know, these reports seem to be true. I haven't really seen a lot of this live, but I have seen it on tape. And it's all over the Internet. But there's a tremendous amount of acrimony on the air at NBC. Have you seen that as well?

JANE HALL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I did see. I saw some of it live, and then I looked on YouTube today and saw 52,000 hits of, you know, Joe Scarborough getting into it, you know, with a colleague and really going after each other.

I think this speaks to a tension between — that you've been talking about, and frankly, I was resistant to. I'm beginning to think you may be right. There's a tension between traditional NBC News, which is Tom Brokaw's, you know, meat and potatoes. And he's now back on. He's even been critical of some of the MSNBC analysts such as Chris Matthews on the air and real time. I think there's tension between doing opinion news on MSNBC. They've tried to fashion themselves as the anti-FOX or however FOX is perceived, and then you're trying to do straight news. It's a problem. And I think…

O'REILLY: It's a big problem. But the words that you just said were very, very astute, that you're beginning to think I was right. So…

HALL: I knew you'd like that.

O'REILLY: When I hear those words, Monica, you know — but look, here's the deal. This brand, NBC News, has been around since the beginning of television, all right, a very well-respected brand. It is not any longer. And now in the most important story that they have covered arguably since Hurricane Katrina, they are falling apart on the air.

MONICA CROWLEY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Well, as you mentioned, I spent two years at MSNBC in 2005, 2006. And during that time, they made an executive decision to take that network to the left, which of course left no place for me, which is why I'm back on FOX News.

But I will say that in that time period, they decided that they were going to try to take on FOX News on an ideological — as an ideological counterpoint. And so they stocked their entire primetime lineup and during the day as well with very left-wing voices.

What you saw during this convention, the meltdowns that you saw on the part of Joe Scarborough and some of the other anchors there, between themselves, on the air, off the air is because there's only so long that a network can go out and tell a lie about being objective, about doing straight reporting while they're on the air product is completely biased every second of the day. It's chock full of left-wing bias. But that's OK…

O'REILLY: But there was three reporters…

CROWLEY: …but you better admit it.

O'REILLY: ...are even doing that. Their straight reporters.

CROWLEY: Well…

O'REILLY: ...are even tilting the news.

CROWLEY: ...that's exactly.

O'REILLY: So you can argue about O'Reilly or Hannity or whatever opinion you want to form about us. We're commentators. But you can't argue about our hard news people at FOX News. They report straight.

But once you get into the fact, look, and I don't know whether this is true or not, but there is a report in the New York Post that one of their loony commentators wants to throw Tom Brokaw off of the air.

CROWLEY: Right.

O'REILLY: I mean, when you get to that point, you have got anarchy.

CROWLEY: This is why this network is in meltdown. This is why MSNBC is trailing in the ratings. And that's why you're seeing these on the air complete disintegration.

O'REILLY: Oh we destroyed them.

CROWLEY: Because you can't — I mean, I saw one of their executives this week come out and say MSNBC has no political ideology.

O'REILLY: Yes, well we know this.

CROWLEY: Now that's laugh out loud funny, but you can't go out there and lie about not having a political ideology, and then have this kind of stuff broadcast on the air…

O'REILLY: Well, this is interesting.

CROWLEY: …so everybody could see it.

O'REILLY: Now Jane, the best — I want to just alert people — the best reporting on this has been on politico.com, which is not an ideological Web site by any means. So if people want to know specifically what's going on at NBC News, they go to politico.com. And there it is.

Otherwise, Jane, has FOX News been unfair at all in the Democratic Convention? Our ratings are very good, particularly at 8:00 with you know, we're winning that time slot there. But have we been unfair? Anybody else been unfair? You see anything like that?

HALL: Well, you know, you're not going to like hearing this. I think you may have outdone the footage of the demonstrators outside, even though I know bravo to the guys for getting out there.

A bigger point I'd like to make is that on all of the networks, you know, they were — I think first of all, we've had way too much of the Clinton soap opera. I mean, it's an important story. I was one of the first people to say…

O'REILLY: Yes, but there was nothing else going on. Let me get back to the demonstrators.

HALL: Yes, but wait, no.

O'REILLY: Hold it, Jane. You know, look, the demonstrators are out there, OK? They're not going to be…

HALL: How representative are they, Bill?

O'REILLY: How representative are they? They're not representative.

HALL: I mean — right.

O'REILLY: But the point was made on this broadcast — I can't speak for any other — that these people are going to hurt Barack Obama because of his background with people like Wright and Ayers and these crazies, all right, when you see them come to Denver, even though these people — and we made this quite clear - don't like Barack Obama. They think he's too conservative.

HALL: Yes.

O'REILLY: They're going to hurt him. That is a legitimate political story, Jane.

HALL: Well, OK, but I mean, I'll tell you another bigger point. You know, so many people were complaining in the media about how there was no red meat, but so often, you know, you had Claire McCaskill, who gave a semi red meat speech. The networks kept turning away. I mean, far be it for me to say people shouldn't make money stating their opinion, but…

O'REILLY: Oh, Jane, that's what C-SPAN is for.

HALL: …turning away.

O'REILLY: If you want to see the danger, go to C-SPAN.

HALL: I knew you were going to say that.

O'REILLY: Yes, well, look, I'm in business to get eyeballs. People come to me for analysis.

HALL: Yes, but people were criticizing the Democrats for not giving speeches, which in fact nobody was...

O'REILLY: I didn't criticize them.

HALL: ...all three networks…

O'REILLY: I think they're all bloviators.

HALL: …you know, but…

O'REILLY: I think they're all BS'ers. You know, I took them apart tonight. And I'll go to St. Paul and I'll take them apart. It's easy.

HALL: OK.

O'REILLY: Now, have you seen anything crazy?

CROWLEY: Well, I will say I agree with Jane that there was a lot of coverage of the Hillary and Bill.

O'REILLY: There had to be. There was nothing else.

CROWLEY: Yes, I understand they had to cover that storyline, but I think it got a little distracting. And also, look, when the networks cover that high drama, and then they were covering how panicked the Democrats were because Obama's poll numbers weren't ticking up, those reports were out there to help Republicans. And they weren't out there to try to hurt the Democrats. Those reports were out there to try to light a fire under the Democrats, to try to help them get their acts together so that in the final couple of weeks.

O'REILLY: I don't know about anybody else, but I report the poll numbers just so the folks know the poll numbers. I'm not…

CROWLEY: But what I'm saying — but Bill, no, what I'm saying is that the other networks were covering these stories about how panicked…

O'REILLY: I don't know about that.

CROWLEY: ...the Democrats were in order to try to help the Democrats…

O'REILLY: Look, Monica…

CROWLEY: ...get their acts together.

O'REILLY: ...NBC News, absolutely. The others, they lean toward Obama. But I think they…

CROWLEY: True.

O'REILLY: ...try. I think. Maybe I'm wrong.

All right. Jane, Monica, always a pleasure.

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