In July, Robert Lichter, the president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs, released a study showing that ABC, NBC, and CBS had been tougher on Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) than Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) during June and July. At the time, ThinkProgress noted how Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly — who had previously praised Lichter’s work — criticized the study on his radio show, claiming that it “gives the bad guys in the media…protection.”
On Sunday, in a column on the “alleged bias” that readers routinely accuse the New York Times of injecting into their news coverage, Public Editor Clark Hoyt mentioned O’Reilly’s criticism of Lichter :
Lichter got a taste of what it feels like in July. He released a study concluding that Obama was faring worse than McCain on television news. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, who had previously praised Lichter’s work as proving that the media was liberal, was incensed and rejected the study. “A study like yours gives the bad guys in the media — and they are legion now — protection,” O’Reilly said.
On his show last night, O’Reilly lambasted Hoyt for mentioning the episode. O’Reilly took particular umbrage over the fact that Hoyt likely “got his information” from ThinkProgress, which O’Reilly called “a far left website.” O’Reilly claimed it “was blatantly dishonest” to use ThinkProgress as “a primary source” without telling his readers. Watch it:
O’Reilly claims that it’s “dishonest” and “corrupt” for Hoyt to use information from ThinkProgress, but this ignores the fact that ThinkProgress simply reported O’Reilly’s own words and provided the audio. O’Reilly also claimed that his objection to Lichter’s study was “based on the method used.” However, as Lichter noted in July, he used the same methods that he had used when he published results that O’Reilly praised:
LICHTER: Well, I think the answer to that is: You can take all my studies or none of my studies. If you use a study, then you admit that the study is valid, and so if you say Obama’s getting bad press, we can quote this study. The same study, the same technique showed he was getting very good press before. And we’re going to be doing this all the way up to the election.
O’Reilly is right about one thing though. Hoyt should cite ThinkProgress if he’s using our information – there’s nothing to be ashamed about in using this “far left website” as a source.