Did Fox Mean to Deceive with ‘Palm Tree Lie’ – Or Were O’Reilly’s Producers Just Being Sloppy?

Fits Network's Pattern of Deceptive Editing, from Ron Paul at CPAC Last Month to ACORN and Shirley Sherrod Last Year
Palm trees in Wisconsin?
Palm trees in Wisconsin?

Have the protests in Wisconsin turned violent? On legitimate news outlets, the crowds appear to be quite peaceful. But coverage on Fox relentlessly promotes the idea that outside agitators and union thugs are fomenting unrest. Fox’s Mike Tobin even claimed to have been assaulted as he was reporting live from the scene — but video taken by bystanders appears to show he was lying.

On the Factor yesterday, as Bill O’Reilly and Tobin discussed the protests, the Factor’s producers ran B-roll of unruly protesters hurling epithets that appeared to prove there was trouble in the streets in Wisconsin. Big problem: The backdrop of the incident was not snowy, frigid Madison but a street lined with California palms.

Now the question is, did Fox intentionally deceive or were O’Reilly’s producers just being sloppy?

We report. You decide.

From Talking Point Memo:

Notice the B-roll footage in the background at the end of the clip, complete with the calming backdrop of palm trees and….wait there are palm trees in Madison, Wisconsin?

No there are not. But that’s because the footage comes from a solidarity protest in Sacramento, CA. It’s an altercation that sparked a brief cri de coeur online this Saturday, when conservatives thought they’d found the clip that could undermine the entire pro-union movement. It didn’t. And in fact, as the O’Reilly segment suggests, it was just about the only thing they could find.

Mediaite disagrees:

The segment in question occurred during The O’Reilly Factor as Bill O’Reilly was discussing the anger in the union protests. At the top of the piece, he rolled footage of a number of the “union thug” videos that have become so popular on Right Wing news sites in the past few weeks. O’Reilly clearly identified the videos as collectively coming from “all over the country.”…

Here’s where the problem occurred. Tobin was discussing Wisconsin (since that where he’s been) while the general footage played in the background. Taken out of context, these few seconds would seem deceptive. But, if you’d already seen the full segment, you’d recognize what the footage was…

The complete segment from O’Reilly is posted at the end of this article, so decide for yourself. But considering Fox’s past record of using deceptive video — a practice that is grounds for dismissal at legitimate networks — it’s hard to see why Fox should be given the benefit of a doubt.

Recent Incidents

Just last month, in its coverage of the right-wing CPAC convention, Fox was caught substituting footage of CPAC presidential straw poll winner Rep. Ron Paul being booed at the 2010 meeting for footage of his appearance this year, when in fact he was cheered and applauded.

Last fall, Fox was caught editing remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton so that she appeared to be criticizing Pres. Obama. Fox on-camera personality Megyn Kelly teased the footage saying, “Did Hillary Clinton just effectively declare her candidacy for president of the United States?”

In July 2010, Fox showed video deceptively edited by racist provocateur Andrew Breitbart that made it appear that Agriculture Dept. official Shirley Sherrod, a long-time civil rights activist, admitted in a speech that she had deliberately discriminated against a white farm family. In context, Sherrod actually said she considered it but changed her mind. Interviewed later, the white farmers had nothing but praise for the help they received from Sherrod.

In April 2010, Fox News was nailed for repeatedly running footage that that had been deceptively produced and edited by Breitbart protege James O’Keefe that purported to expose corruption among officials at ACORN, an advocacy group for the urban poor that had ties to the Democratic Party.

In February 2010, Fox’s Greta Van Susteren ran deceptive video intended to make Democrats look like hypocrites in the health-care reform debate because they opposed what Republicans were then calling the “nuclear option” — voting on the bill through “reconciliation,” a tactic often used by Republicans that requires a majority vote of 51 rather than a super-majority of 60. But Van Susteren showed video from 2005 of Democratic senators criticizing a Republican plan to end Democrats’ filibuster of judicial nominees, which was also referred to as the “nuclear option.”

In 2009, Fox’s Sean Hannity was forced to apologize after Jon Stewart and the Daily Show caught him showing footage of a large-ish crowd at at a September 2009 tea party gathering to bolster his inflated estimates of crowd size at another event two months later.

The network also created what was essentially a right-wing cottage industry out of deceptive video from an incident during the 2008 presidential election in which the New Black Panthers, a tiny group of militant activists in Philadelphia, appeared menacingly outside a predominantly African-American polling place. Fox and its allies claimed the men were there to intimidate voters, although no actual voters came forward to say they’d been frightened out of voting.

Here’s the Factor segment in question:

2 Comments

  • Pingback: Canada says no to Faux News « The Village Thinker

  • Montana
    March 7, 2011 - 5:00 pm | Permalink

    O’rielly, what a joke, didn’t he say “video comes in video comes out never a miscommunication”. Why is it that so many fools follow this liar? It looks like that the top republican candidates for president will be coming from “Fake News/ Fox News”, or should I say “Big Business”, how funny.

    I wonder if “Fake News” has a stable of likely republican supreme court justices (I am sure they will all attend the republican state of the union, unlike Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas, scum bags).

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