During a segment about the Wisconsin protests this week, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly spoke to correspondent Mike Tobin about possible intimidation tactics employed by pro-union forces. Fox simultaneously ran footage labelled "union protests" of an angry confrontation between two groups. (See video below.) The problem? It turns out that the footage, which clearly features palm trees in the background, was taken in Sacramento, not Wisconsin. On Tuesday, the short clip went viral, outraging liberals who accused the network of misleading viewers. Was this a deliberate deception?
Get real, Fox didn't lie: "Taken out of context, these few seconds would seem deceptive," says Jon Bershad at Mediaite. But earlier in the program, O’Reilly had clearly identified the featured videos as coming from "all over the country," not just Madison. Even though Tobin was discussing Wisconsin when the footage was played, such video integration is standard practice. None of this should be controversial; it's all just a "reminder of the importance of context."
"Did Fox News Lie?"
The network is distorting facts: In the "alternate reality concocted by Fox News," the Wisconsin "capitol has become the island in Lord of the Flies," says Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo — except "the savages in this case are union 'thugs.'" Despite what Fox wants its viewers to believe, the protest in Madison has in fact been "remarkably civil." Unable to find any actual examples of violence going on there, Fox has "bused in out-of-state footage, to make a case that can't be made by the facts."
"Fox buses in footage from Sacramento to make union protesters look violent"
This is par for the course: As Tobin hammered home his strident anti-unionism, says Jim Newell at Gawker, Fox ran with footage that didn't make sense, unless palm trees are a "northern university town's kitschy in-joke about how cold it is." Using such extraneous footage to hype up "the state of perma-violence in Madison" is "a bit misleading." Still, given their usual propensity for hysteria, "it's not the worst thing Fox News's producers have ever done."
"Fox News desperately trying to portray Madison as a war zone"