Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, was forced to defend his network’s coverage of Donald Trump last night at a time when they have lost many viewers to their rival cable news network, CNN.
O’Reilly’s main guest was Kelly Riddell, an editor at The Washington Times, who is critical of both the time Fox News gives to Trump, as well as the nature of questions they ask the real estate tycoon. The exchange between O’Reilly and Riddell was captured by The Right Scoop.
O’Reilly asked Riddell, “Are we driving Trump’s success?”
“Absolutely,” she answered. “You can’t turn on the TV at night without hearing something about Donald Trump. I mean, Ted Cruz had it right: he has almost two billion dollars in free earned media.”
She told O’Reilly how Jeb Bush spent $100 million in advertising, compared to the $2 billion in earned media Trump has received from media coverage.
O’Reilly cut her off and said that he “could not get Jeb Bush” to come on The O’Reilly Factor, at which Riddell stifled a laugh. She responded, “But that’s fine. But Fox News covers his rallies live all the time. I mean, how many other candidates’ rallies have you seen get covered live?”
The O’Reilly Factor host replied that his show does not do that, and that it has been difficult to get other candidates like Cruz and John Kasich to come on.
“So a lot of this whining was their own fault, because Trump was available,” O’Reilly said.
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“And,” O’Reilly continued, his voice rising, “he makes news. He makes news every time he opens his mouth. We’re in the news business!”
“Yes,” Riddell responded, “but you’re also in the editorial business, and you need to decide what is newsworthy, and I would say that ‘Donald Trump’s hands’ is not newsworthy, and that shouldn’t be covered at all.”
“That’s your opinion,” O’Reilly replied. “This operation decides what’s newsworthy, and it’s been on top for fifteen years, so I think that we know.”
“Exactly,” Riddell said. “It’s a ratings game. You’re right, Bill. You’re on top.”
After some inter-change with his other guest, Caitlyn Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics, O’Reilly then challenged Riddell, saying that since she’s in the news business, she should know that her company needs circulation for business.
“Yes,” she replied. “But I also have a public service to the rest of the candidates in the race. This [past] summer, there was not a single vote cast. There were seventeen candidates in the Republican race. This summer Donald Trump dominated three-fourths of the coverage.”
“That’s because he was making news,” O’Reilly cut in.
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Riddell tried to reply, but O’Reilly cut her off again, bellowing, “Most of the other candidates come on with prepared statements and talking points that they repeat over and over and over again! They’re not calling people names,” he said, citing Trump’s claim that John McCain was not a war hero because he was a prisoner of war.
“I don’t know if that is news,” Riddell said. “I think there’s a public service for running for the highest public office in the land, and we need to serve the public with tax plans, policy plans…”
O’Reilly shouted over her, “My job is not to serve the public. My job is to inform the public about the news.”
Bill O’Reilly then motioned for Huey-Burns to have the last word.
The on-air meltdown — and tacit admissions from O’Reilly about Fox News’ methods for covering the news — comes at a time when CNN just announced that they have been winning the key 29-54 age demographic for five of the last eight months.
As Inquisitr reported yesterday, this is the first time CNN has beaten Fox News in this demographic since November 2001, and it comes during the period in which some have criticized Fox News for its perceived pro-Trump coverage.
What do you think? Are Fox News hosts giving Donald Trump too much air time? And, what do Bill O’Reilly’s on-air statements say about his network?
[Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images]