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re: fair and balanced, my ass!

March 8, 2011

OK, so I was challenged to watch the whole interview by a person who didn’t think that it was supposed to be Wisconsin they were at, since “if you listen to what they’re saying, the guys says ‘on the weekend, people are bused in from Wisconsin.'”

I watched the entire clip, and my opinion is still the same. To begin with, the context of the beginning monologue and subsequent interview is clearly the protests in Madison, Wisconsin. O’Reilly starts the segment by talking about the protests in Madison, which then segues into the interview with Mike Tobin, who himself is in Madison.

During the monlogue, they’re showing clips of angry protesters, with only the caption “union protests” on them; and during the interview, they’re showing the same clips interspliced with video coverage that’s actually from Madison. I also noticed that during the introduction, O’Reilly mentions that Tobin “has experienced pro-union anger first-hand,” which I think is used to further imply the connection between the people in clips and what’s actually taking place in Madison.

Now keeping in mind that the context of this entire segment is clearly the pro-union protests in Madison, as far as I can see, they makes absolutely no attempt to identify where this other footage with the palm trees in the background is from, or to differentiate it from the actual footage from Madison.

The effect is to make them appear current and directly related to what’s happening in Madison, but there’s no date, no location, and absolutely no context whatsoever. Of course, they don’t flat out say, “These video clips are all from protests in Madison,” but they’re presenting them in such a way that it’s implied. I think that’s dishonest and unprofessional for a new organization even though it’s not outright lying.

Sure, they’re vague about it all, talking about how the union organizers are busing people in from out of town, but it seems to me the implication here is clear—that what they’re talking about (i.e., the protests in Madison) and what’s being shown (i.e., angry protesters) is directly related.

If those were clips of people who were bused to Wisconsin from another state, or sympathy protesters in another state, they should have labelled it as such. But they didn’t, and I think it’s obvious why—to make the pro-union side look more extreme than they really are in order to match Tobin’s ‘personal experience.’

Now Tobin may or may not have experienced harassment, but we’re not shown any of that footage. Instead, all we see is what appears to be a bunch of unruly protesters in a completely different and unnamed city. That’s not fair and balanced, in my book; it’s biased and deceptive.

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