In 2006, after the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) released a study showing that Democrats got more favorable coverage than Republicans, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly hailed the organization’s president, Dr. Robert Lichter, as “a truth-teller.” On his Fox News show, O’Reilly praised Lichter’s findings as definitive proof “that the media leans left” because “the stats are the stats.” [Fox News, 10/31/06]
But now that the CMPA has released a new study — using the same methodology — that found that ABC, NBC, and CBS have been tougher on Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) than Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) recently, O’Reilly has changed his tune about the validity of Lichter’s research.
In an Monday interview with Lichter on his radio show, O’Reilly called the new study “misleading” and “an enormous mistake” by Lichter. Lichter replied by telling O’Reilly, “you can take all my studies or none of my studies”:
O’REILLY: A study like yours gives the bad guys in the media, and they are legion now, protection, you know, they can hide behind it. You see what I’m talking about?
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.
Despite O’Reilly’s claims that Lichter’s “technique” is no longer “valid,” there’s little doubt that he would tout his studies again if they found O’Reilly’s preferred narrative of “liberal bias” in the media.