Media double standard on high gas prices?

Bernie Goldberg compares the media coverage of high gas prices under Presidents Bush and President Obama


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 27, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly.

In the "Weekdays with Bernie" segment tonight, we have closely been analyzing the rising gas prices under President Obama. They are up 100 percent -- just about 100 percent -- since he took office.

Now, you may remember back in 2008 prices at the pump also surged under President Bush. So the Business and Media Institute decided to study how the media covered the situation back then as compared to now.

Joining us from Miami, the purveyor of, Mr. Goldberg.

So what did BMI find out?

BERNARD GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they found out two things, basically. One, they analyzed stories from four years ago when President Bush was president and from this month when President Obama is president regarding higher gas prices.

And they found that the three networks, the broadcast networks ran four times as many stories about gas prices rising when President Bush was president than now when President Obama was president. I'm shocked by that, by the way.

The second thing they found out is that the tone was different. Today, the stories are mostly unemotional. They're about how the gas prices affect the economy. But four years ago they were very personal about how people were having to make decisions between buying food and buying gasoline. So that's basically what they found out.

Let me make two points about what they found out. There is an easy rule of thumb that if you understand it, you understand just about everything you need to know about the mainstream media, and that is reporters get more excited about covering bad news if a Republican is in the White House. That happens to be true.

So when gas prices are spiking, there will be more stories, as this study shows, if a Republican, George Bush, is in the White House. When unemployment figures go up, the stories are darker and bleaker if a Republican is in the White House. The mainstream media has always treated homelessness as a bigger problem if a Republican is in the White House. They could deny their biases all day long, but what I just said is true.

Point No. 2, four years ago candidate Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a bunch of other Democrats bashed President Bush and Dick Cheney for the rising gas prices. They said it was because there were two oil men in the White House.

We're in the fourth year of the Obama presidency. No oil men in the White House. Gas prices are even higher. And President Obama is saying that the Republicans are politicizing the gas issue.

Now, he may be right. That's not what I'm concerned about. But he politicized the gas… gas issue four years ago, and it's up to journalists to hold politicians accountable for their kind… this kind of hypocrisy. But too many journalists today… not all of them but too many of them… are acting like stenographers, Bill, and not like reporters. They take down whatever the president says.

O'REILLY: Now, it has to be, though, blatant bias if you have organizations like the nightly newscasts on ABC, NBC, and CBS choosing to do four times as many stories about rising oil prices under Republican than under a Democrat, because basically by omission, you're protecting the president.

GOLDBERG: Exactly. That's the point.

O'REILLY: You're protecting him by omission.

GOLDBERG: That's the point. They have a lot invested in him, and that's precisely why they're doing it.

O'REILLY: That is bias. That is… you don't have to actually do anything to be biased. You can do nothing, sins of omission. OK?

GOLDBERG: That's right.

O'REILLY: We're just going to omit all the bad stuff that's happened. We're not even going to acknowledge it.

But here's… we've been pretty tough on President Obama on these rising oil prices, but if you go back four years and you look at me, I was tough on Bush, too.

Because I said you basically have a situation whereby the government can't control the oil industry, even though the government licenses it. You see, the oil companies’ work for the government which, in tune, they're supposed to work for us because they don't own the oil. We do. And they just extract it by contract.

And all the president is just looking around; "I don't know what to do. I can't do anything." And meantime the consumers get killed.

GOLDBERG: Yes. But I don't want to get into the validity of your argument. That's not something that interests me. And there are people on both sides of that argument.

O'REILLY: Right.

GOLDBERG: But we should play… but the other point you made is the important one to me. That we should play by the same set of rules.

O'REILLY: Same rules; same rules, right.

GOLDBERG: So if you're going to go after Bush, fair enough. Fair enough. Then do the same with President Obama.

O'REILLY: Then President Bush… I have to scold you. You said Bush. You have to say President Bush.

GOLDBERG: No, I shouldn't have. I usually do put the word "president" before.

O'REILLY: And let me make this point, because Jesse was a little… and he's a rookie. He's a little… but guys like you and me who have been around, wasn't that point valid that, even if you don't like the president, you call him a president or "Mister."

GOLDBERG: I make a conscious effort to do that. Let me say one thing about Jesse. I have offered him six figures, cash, six figures, if he would leave the country and never come back. And he...

O'REILLY: He ain't going to take it. He's becoming a star, Goldberg.

GOLDBERG: Exactly. He won't take me up on it.

O'REILLY: He's become a star. He's going to… before he's through, he's going to squash P. Diddy. All right? P. Diddy will regret those words.

Bernie Goldberg, everybody.

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