O'Reilly: Attacks on him mean 'there is no longer an honest press in America'
Bill O'Reilly launched an aggressive counterattack on Wednesday against everyone who has accused him of racism in his expression of surprise that a Harlem restaurant was no different from any other restaurant in New York.
"Media Matters and the corrupt press on the run!" announced O'Reilly, claiming that "Media Matters distorted a positive discussion on race and accused me of racism!"
O'Reilly listed a number of media outlets he felt had misreported the story, suggesting that CNN had picked it up because it's been "getting hammered in the ratings" and the New York Daily News because its circulation has fallen behind that of the New York Post, which shares ownership with Fox News.
O'Reilly also mentioned a few other accounts he considered "fair," including a Newsday story that described the restaurant owner as saying "she found O'Reilly's comments deeply offensive" and patrons of the restaurant as reacting with "a mixture of disdain and bemusement."
O'Reilly then accused Media Matters of fabricating the story and media outlets of picking it up "to try to diminish me and Fox News." This is a pattern of activity with which O'Reilly himself has often been associated. For example, Media Matters documented in 2005 how a a false and defamatory item on Cindy Sheehan had made its way from the Drudge Report to right-wing blogs and finally showed up -- even after being debunked -- on The O'Reilly Factor.
"The tragedy here is that there is no longer an honest press in America," concluded O'Reilly, suggesting again that attacks on him are seen as a sure-fire way to boost circulation. "With the exposure of MoveOn over the Petraeus incident and now the blatant dishonesty of Media Matters and their water-carriers, Americans should be very skeptical of the news media. No longer can it be trusted."
O'Reilly was then joined by Rev. Al Sharpton, who had accompanied him on the visit to the restaurant in Harlem. They briefly discussed the case of six black students charged with beating a white student in Jena, LA, with the two men agreeing that both black and white students were at fault and diverging only over the question of whether the black students should have been charged as adults.
However, when O'Relly asked Sharpton to defend him against "getting slimed by the far left," Sharpton appeared upset and refused to get involved, saying, "I've not heard the tape." He did acknowledge that, "You and I have gone to dinner before in Harlem and I've never heard you say anything offensive" but also told O'Reilly, "What I've read was disturbing and surprising."
Speaking on Fox earlier, Sharpton had been less discreet, saying that "clearly the stuff he said, on the surface, was very offensive."
The following video is from FOX's The O'Reilly Factor, broadcast on September 26, 2007.