In what must have been conceived as a self-parody, Bill O’Reilly and other notables from the Fox News circus lambasted Dan Rather for his accusation that the network receives talking points from the White House, and demanded an apology. On various Fox programs, O’Reilly and friends alternated between vehemently denying the claim and struggling with the meaning of balance. O’Reilly: “I basically say, look, we have people like [Kirsten Powers] on. We have Michelle [Malkin] on. This is balanced.”

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  • Dan Rather on Real Time with Bill Maher (from

    I think it’s fair to say, Bill, in fact I know it is, that FOX News operates in at least a somewhat different way than every other news organization that I know, that they have their “talking points,” in which somebody in the hierarchy, whether this is Roger Ailes who runs the place or not, we know that they get talking points from the White House. And they can say well, we don’t always take those talking points, but I think it’s pretty clear that they had wished the election had gone another way.

    Transcript from Media Matters:

    From the December 18 edition of Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor”:

    O’REILLY: Also, Dan Rather needs to put up or shut up.

    RATHER : I want to be specifically clear. Bill Reilly [sic] may never get White House talking points, and I believe him when he says that he didn’t get it.

    O’REILLY: We’ll have the latest on the Dan Rather-Fox News controversy.


    O’REILLY: All right. Now, right after that, we invited Mr. Rather on the Factor. He said he would come on in the future, but he was very busy. However, he did find time to go on CNN and say this.

    RATHER : First of all, Bill has invited me on the program, and I intend to be on the program. I stand by what I said on the Bill Maher program. Not only is it true, but it’s widely known to be true, and I do know it to be true.

    I want to be explicitly clear. Bill Reilly [sic] may never get White House talking points, and I believe him when he says that he didn’t get it. I also believe him when he said he checked with top management and top management said, “We never see pieces of paper, what have you.”

    O’REILLY: Now, Rather can’t have it both ways. If he says Fox News gets White House talking points, he’d better be able to back it up. And so far, he can’t, no matter how many interviews he does with CNN.

    Mr. Rather is welcome here to explain himself, but he should have done that already.

    Joining us now with their takes on this, Fox News analyst Kirsten Powers in New York and Michelle Malkin in Washington, D.C.

    Look, I know you’re not a fan of Rather. My estimation of Dan Rather, to be brutally honest, is declining rapidly, because all I want — this is simple. This is a simple deal. All I want from Dan Rather is some documentation of his accusation. He’s made it twice, HBO and now CNN.

    Too busy to come here, but he can go on CNN. Because he knows he’s not going to be challenged. But back it up, Dan, and he can’t.

    So now I’m starting to re-evaluate my quasi-defense of him in the National Guard thing, when I said he didn’t do it on purpose; it was just sloppy reporting.

    You, Michelle, you may have been right and I might have been wrong.


    O’REILLY: He never struck me as being a dishonest man, ever. All right? But now, this is so simple. You either put up, Dan, or you apologize to Fox News. Am I right?

    MALKIN: Absolutely. Of course. Welcome to the club, Bill, and I’m glad you’ve joined it. And it’s better late than never I suppose.

    O’REILLY: I’m still going to let him come on here, now.

    MALKIN: Well, look, he’s not going to produce any documentation. And if he does, you better be very careful, because it will probably be typed on the same typewriter as those fake memos were.

    And I agree with you. I think Dan Rather owes an abject apology to Fox News if he can’t back up those slanderous statements. And I think you and [Fox News president] Roger [Ailes] ought to take a big lump of coal and send it to him for Christmas if he doesn’t.

    O’REILLY: All right. Kirsten, how do you see this?

    POWERS: Well, I think that it was — I was a little bit confused following back and forth, because he makes the accusations, and then he says that it’s not happening, then it is happening. So it’s a little unclear.

    O’REILLY: It is. I mean, he can’t have it both ways.

    POWERS: And if it is happening, it is bad, or maybe it’s not bad. The whole thing is very confusing.

    O’REILLY: He is a little confused.

    POWERS: But also it’s pretty clear that he maybe was watching Outfoxed on Netflix or something, because this is —

    O’REILLY: But he knows — now look, here’s the — here’s the deal. I mean, Fox News is under fire from every left-wing loon in town. All right? Every nut in the world is trying to bring this network down on the left, far left. All right? We’re used to it.

    When a guy like Dan Rather, who has a following and has access to the media, makes an accusation that we’re all on the take — that’s what he’s basically saying, we’re on the take.

    POWERS: Right.

    O’REILLY: On the pad, all right? The White House tells us what to do and we do it. That’s a serious thing.

    POWERS: Yeah. And you’re right. He should — he should give you some documentation for it and tell you where he got that. And he said he would come on your show.

    And I think that, you know, I saw an interview with Rupert Murdoch [CEO of News Corp., which owns Fox News] not that long ago, at the anniversary, and he said Fox was founded in response, basically, to the liberal media. As opposed to — there are, you know, the conservative bent to it. Certain shows are more conservative.

    There’s nothing wrong with that. And in my experience in doing a lot of television is that other places lean very left. And I think that —

    O’REILLY: I basically say, look, we have people like you on. We have Michelle on. This is balanced.

    POWERS: Sure.

    O’REILLY: And you have me. You have Alan Colmes. You have Sean Hannity. You have Greta Van Susteren.

    From the December 19 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    DOOCY: Just one other thing, Bill, about your program last night. I was watching, and we’ve got about a minute left. What has Dan Rather been smoking?

    O’REILLY: You know, I just think that, and you guys might remember, I kinda stuck up for him in the National Guard memo scandal.

    DOOCY: Yep, yep.

    O’REILLY: I said he didn’t do it on purpose; it was sloppy reporting. But then he goes out and attacks Fox News and say we’re getting talking points from the White House, which is just not true.

    GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): After he was on our show, by the way.

    O’REILLY: Yeah, and then he goes on, after I call him on it, then he goes on CNN and says the same thing. And then says, “Well, I don’t think O’Reilly gets it, and I do believe him when he says the management doesn’t get it either.” Well, what are you talking about?

    DOOCY: Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense.

    O’REILLY: It doesn’t. So — and then he goes on CNN, of course. He said to us that he was too busy to come on our show. You know, I think Dan’s got a little confusion in his life.

    DOOCY: That’s a nice way to put it.

    KILMEADE: And he’s angry, and he still comes on here, so I think he’s gotta get a therapist.

    DOOCY: He comes on here, the number one channel, when he needs to sell something.

    KILMEADE: Right, right.

    O’REILLY: Look, I’m not going to ascribe any motivations to him. I think he made a mistake. He compounded the mistake on CNN, and we’re just awaiting his visit to the Factor.

    DOOCY: Yes indeed. Of course you can watch The O’Reilly Factor weeknights at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. Bill will be following the search efforts for the missing hikers, as they develop. Bill, really excellent stuff in Iraq. That was really nice of you to go all that way, take up your weekend to say thank you to all those men and women over there.

    O’REILLY: All right. Well, thank you, guys. Merry Christmas to everybody.

    DOOCY: Thank you very much. And speaking of “Merry Christmas,” Culture Warrior would make a perfect Christmas gift.

    CARLSON: It would.

    DOOCY: Fits right in that stocking.

    CARLSON: A lot of people are getting it in their stocking.


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