'Black Blog Ops'

J$P Instant Transcript! Bill O'Reilly talks to Hugh Hewitt about Blog payola. Updated!

From The O'Reilly Factor, January 14 2005:

BILL O'REILLY [FOX NEWS]: Unresolved Problems segment tonight, media being paid by special interests. Last week I spoke with conservative commentator Armstrong Williams who took money from the Department of Education, which was flat-out wrong. Now comes word from the Wall Street Journal that the Presidential campaign of Howard Dean paid two internet bloggers to say positive things about the governor. Again, flat-out wrong. Joining us now from Orange, California, is radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt, the author of the book Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation that Is Changing Your World. You know, I think this is just the beginning of this. This is like the 50s, when DJs were being paid to play records on the radio. You're going to see more and more of this kind of stuff, where political campaigns and people like that are buying quasi-journalists, bloggers, radio people, for good publicity. Do you disagree?

HUGH HEWITT [AUTHOR]: No, Bill. In fact, the idea of payola is very dangerous. Bloggers on the take are very bad for the business of blogging. Blogging of real journalists, and people like Power Line and like InstaPundit and myself, we don't like it when Daily Kos shows up on the take of the Howard Dean campaign. Now Daily Kos says, this is one of the bloggers from the left, says he disclosed it, but not to the satisfaction of anyone who watches him. I didn't know.

O'REILLY: Aw, this is bunk. This is bull. Nobody knew about this.

HEWITT: That's right.

O'REILLY: And this comes from a woman, Zephyr Teachout, who was the head of internet outreach for Dean's campaign. She's admitting she paid these two guys, all right, $3,000 a month, and they just threw nice stuff about Dean. Then you've got George Soros, he's paying a lot more than that to have these defamation websites that attack people all day long. Then you've got guys pumping Air America, that radio network. That's not profitable; that's running on money from some crazy left-wing nut. And, I mean, it's getting out of control, is it not?

HEWITT: Well, it can't be controlled because it's the first amendment. But we do have to be aware that there are people who are credible in the blogosphere, there are people who can be respected, who earn trust and deserve it, whether it's guys like at the RNC and the DNC that were accredited bloggers. Like Captain's Quarters, like Instapundit--people who belong there because they're good journalists and they're careful with their facts. But there are some bad actors out there. In the book I write about something called Black Blog Ops. These are people who operate websites and blogs for purposes which are to destroy, not to build up. But for every one of those there are 20 that are good. There's Roger L Simon, Bill; he's a fine, fine film director on the West Coast. Very persuasive in his writing. He's not on the take to anyone; I'm not on the take to anyone. Glenn Reynolds, the Professor at University of Tennessee, he's not on the take to anyone. It's a sorting out process.

O'REILLY: All right, so you're saying to me, I hope you're right, you're saying to me that there are far more honest voices on the internet than corrupt people. Is that what you're saying?

HEWITT: Of course. There's a World newspaper, which is a tabloid, and then there's Brit Hume. There's a lot of difference in between. There are bad bloggers, and there are very smart bloggers.

O'REILLY: All right, but here's the danger, and I've just been through this, OK? You've got websites, as you call them Black Ops websites, who will print defamation. All right, that's what they're in the business to do. They'll fabricate stuff, they'll make stuff up, they print it. Then they call up their contact at Any Newspaper USA, because they all have contacts in the straight media. Those people, usually in gossip columns, where they can run blind items, they don't have to source, then they print it. Then the Today Show, Good Morning America, all the cables, see it. They talk about it, talk radio sees it, they talk about it, all of a sudden it's true.

HEWITT: Sure, but Bill there are--

O'REILLY: So you've got a defamation pipeline right into Middle America.

HEWITT: But that happens in the mainstream media too. That happens at broadcast networks. Look what RatherGate did.


HEWITT: The Mapes thing was a hit on George W Bush. Look at Howell Raines and Jayson Blair. Look at the fact that the bloggers brought down Trent Lott, they exposed John Kerry on his Christmas Eve in Cambodia fantasy. There's a lot of good and bad; it's all just media, it's all just reporters.

O'REILLY: All of that's good, right. All of that is good, but I'm telling you there aren't any rules any more, and that's what frightens me.

HEWITT: No, but there's self-correction.

O'REILLY: Look, I operate under rules here, Hugh. If I say something defamatory, I get sued.


O'REILLY: If I say something irresponsible, NewsCorp pulls me off the air. It happened to Michael Savage over at MSNBC. Pulled him right off the air--


O'REILLY: --all right, after that crazy thing he said. Internet's not like that. No rules. Last word.

HEWITT: Oh well no, no no. The person who gets pulled off the air is the reader that you lose. If you lose your credibility as Blog discusses, you'll lose your audience. GM is blogging now.

O'REILLY: No, but you're not going to lose credibility if you smear people. People like to read smear stuff.

HEWITT: The Vice-Chairman of GM started blogging last week. If he says something wrong, he will lose credibility with his shareholders. All of business is going to start blogging, Bill, because it's the way to communicate. It's the way of the future. You can't throw away your credibility.

O'REILLY: OK, Hugh Hewitt, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

HEWITT: Thanks, Bill.

Update: Mistranscribed dollar figure referenced by O'Reilly corrected.
Update II: Thanks to all, for this:

posted: Fri - January 14, 2005 at 09:04 PM       j$p  send 

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Title: Loud Mouth
Excerpt: Welcome to Bill O'Reilly's world, where the worstest thing that happened ever ever ever on the face of the planet was when DJs in the 50s took money to play certain records on the radio. Yeah, I remember learning this...
Blog name: Victory Soap
January 14, 2005, 5:55:43 PM EST – Like

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Title: Hey! I'm part of a "defamation pipeline"! Who knew?
Excerpt: O'Reilly obligingly spent part of his show tonight perfectly demonstrating the point I made in my last post about media narcissism vs the blogosphere. The invaluable Johnny Dollar has posted a transcript of tonight's O'Reilly interview with Hugh Hew...
Blog name: EtherHouse
January 14, 2005, 6:20:45 PM EST – Like

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Title: O'Reilly/Hewitt Transcript
Excerpt: Black Blog Op/Johnny Dollar has the transcript of Hugh Hewitt's O'Reilly visit, incase you missed it. Hat Tip: Instapundit...
Blog name: The Political Teen
January 14, 2005, 6:27:47 PM EST – Like

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Title: The Lies Will Set You Free
Excerpt: I've been studiously avoiding the William Armstrong thing because media watching ain't my bag, baby.
Blog name: Dohiyi Mir
January 14, 2005, 6:59:28 PM EST – Like

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Title: Hewitt / O'Reilly Video
Excerpt: Hugh Hewitt's interview with Bill O'Reilly: video and transcript.
Thanks to Wes Roth for providing the video.
Blog name: Cheese and Crackers
January 14, 2005, 8:56:54 PM EST – Like

Dave Weigel
"Nobody knew about this."
Well, nobody except the people who read the disclaimer on Kos's website or read articles about Kos that mentioned the relationship.
So are O'Reilly/Hewitt liars? Or are they clueless? It's one or the other.
January 14, 2005, 10:16:41 PM EST – Like – Reply

Did you read the transcript?
HH "Now Daily Kos says, this is one of the bloggers from the left, says he disclosed it, but not to the satisfaction of anyone who watches him."
January 14, 2005, 10:27:05 PM EST – Like – Reply

You can define anything as being "not to your satisfaction". Kos's disclaimer was right there on the front page, left margin, top corner, set off from other text by whitespace. "Disclaimer: I have done some work for the Howard Dean campaign."
In this day and age, you shouldn't be going to single sources anyway. If every blogger in the world except one says that something is crap, are you going to go with the lone voice saying it's great?
January 14, 2005, 10:29:50 PM EST – Like – Reply

What was he supposed to do, tattoo his forhead? The disclaimer was prominently displayed on the left side of the page. Everyone who read his blog knew it. Hewitt either is an idiot or never read Kos's blog if he wasn't aware of it.
Moreover, Kos, discussed the fact that he worked for Dean several times when he posted. Everyone who actually read his blog knew it.
So his enemies, like High Hewitt, weren;t aware. That's evidence to me that Hewitt just doesn't read Kos, yet likes to talk about it as if he did.
He's either a liar or a moron, or both.
January 14, 2005, 10:43:36 PM EST – Like – Reply

Hewitt is wrong about one thing: some blogs won't lose readers as their credibility drops. Mr. "Screw 'em" can fart on his keyboard and his cadre of fellow moveon.org followers will say "go get 'em".
As evidenced by scrolling up.
"Technical support"......guffaw.
January 14, 2005, 10:54:02 PM EST – Like – Reply

Dave Weigel
Ricky - Google "David Weigel" and "Daily Kos." Then come back here and tell me I'm part of a "cadre of moveon.org followers."
Like Shakespeare said, "assumptions make an ass out of u and me."
January 14, 2005, 11:04:32 PM EST – Like – Reply

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Title: Underwater The Fish Don't Stink (But Their Emails Do)
Excerpt: Hey O'Reilly, have you ever heard that you're not supposed to bite the hand that feeds you? I started this post defending you against Franken-friends, but first I must chastise you. You sir, are ignorant of the very thing system that may save your ...
Blog name: aWpTiMuS.com
January 14, 2005, 11:30:24 PM EST – Like

Kirk House
That's $3000 each not $300,000, I'm watching O'Reilly right now with my wifi laptop.
January 14, 2005, 11:31:03 PM EST – Like – Reply

"Doing some work" for Howard Dean (which could be on a volunter basis) and getting paid three grand a month to write nice about him aren't quite the same thing. Course, you lefties don't let the facts get in the way of your dumbass position.
January 14, 2005, 11:32:12 PM EST – Like – Reply

Dave Weigel
Buster - The only person who's said Kos was paid to "write nice" about Dean was Teachout, who wrote in the piece that inspired this current debate: "To be very clear, they never committed to supporting Dean for the payment -- but it was very clearly, internally, our goal."
By contrast, Armstrong Williams recieved a contract - a legally binding document - which required him to regularly comment on NCLB and to interview Rod Paige for TV and radio spots, among other things.
Check your facts.
January 14, 2005, 11:42:34 PM EST – Like – Reply

johnny dollar
-- That's $3000 each not $300,000--
Yeah, I caught that too and it's fixed and noted.
January 14, 2005, 11:46:29 PM EST – Like – Reply

Hugh's bad haircut and Bill's taste in Middle Eastern food aren't to my satisfaction either, but those facts doesn't mean a goddamn thing. Jerome stopped blogging, and Kos had a disclaimer in as noticeable a position as possible on his site. That's the start and end of this. 
What you don't see these two schmucks talking about are connections between Thune and his on the take bloggers. I wonder why that is? Because these two are lying partisan hacks? Well, of course. Hewitt plugges DvT over and over on his radio and website. Did he know of the payoffs? Why doesn't someone ask him about that? And either way, it make him look like an idiot. And all they can do is gin up a phony controversy on a settled issue. Pathetic.
January 15, 2005, 12:02:04 AM EST – Like – Reply

Wow, journalists are taking revenge now for all the times bloggers showed them to be untrustworthy. And even forced 4 of their colleauges to resign from CBS. The Walstreet Journal was all about bloggers take money. O'Reilly was all about bloggers are untrustworthy. O'Reilly must've hated all the phone sex and vibrator remarks on the blogs. 
What I think is stupid is Republican bloggers jumping on Kos. The journalists are smearing bloggers in general, don't be a tool.
The New Democrat
January 15, 2005, 12:04:17 AM EST – Like – Reply

Kos said explicitly that his payment was not for his opinions. He said it was for his advice.
This turned out to be a flat out deception. He did not disclose the truth.
So what, though? There are hundreds of honest liberal blogs out there and I'm sure there are plenty of dishonest conservative ones.
Why not shy away and shunt he dishonest, no matter what side you're on?
Did Kos really say Dean paid him to put out favorable puff pieces on him? Of course not. That is total crap.
No need to waste the effort. Few people seriously think all liberals are like their worst elements..
January 15, 2005, 1:11:06 AM EST – Like – Reply

mAc Chaos
Seriously, people, get off the vibrator crap. It has nothing to do with the discussion.
Yeah, Kos had it up there, but it was miniscule and he barely mentioned it; not many people go check every minute detail on a web page, and do it on every single page they visit, at that.
Armstrong Williams said that he 'disclosed' his information a few times, but he didn't do it often so he got smacked upside the head for it.
The same standard should be applied here.
January 15, 2005, 3:05:19 AM EST – Like – Reply

I don't think KOS was fully forthcoming about what he was doing for Dean. Reading him I didn't expect that he was shilling for Dean, and maybe he wasn't, but finding out now that he took some money raises that question in my mind at least. Did he shade his opinions on some issues so as to not disappoint his benefactors? And why wasn't he completely up front about it? I think this does raise some ethical questions about blogging.
January 15, 2005, 3:20:59 AM EST – Like – Reply

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Title: Scenes from my driveway, continued x 50
Excerpt: Deadbeat neighbor: "Cold out here today, eh?" Me: "I AM A CITZEN JOURNALIST. I DEMAND PIE!" Deadbeat neighbor: Me: Deadbeat neighbor: Me: Deadbeat neighbor: "Okay. Well, I'm gonna go inside and watch the playoffs..." ...
Blog name: protein wisdom
January 15, 2005, 7:27:40 AM EST – Like

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Title: Bloggers On The Take
Excerpt: I've avoided this because it isn't as big a deal as the Armstrong Williams situation. Johnny Dollar's Place has the transcript of Hugh Hewitt's appearance on O'Reilly discussing the Zephyr Teachout, (head of internet outreach for Howard Dean's c...
Blog name: Secure Liberty
January 15, 2005, 9:02:56 AM EST – Like

John Enright
Ever so slyly,
Bill O'Reilly
Ranted that blogs were uncontrolled.
"That's the first amendment," he was told.
January 15, 2005, 9:06:39 AM EST – Like – Reply

Pat Curley
SamAm, Hugh criticized Lauck & Van Beek on his blog; not sure he mentioned them on his radio program.
Much as I admire him, I think Hugh's way off base on this issue. I don't like taking the side of the left, but intellectual honesty demands it this time. I don't see how Kos & Armstrong could have been more transparent.
BTW, my reading of the Teachout post is that she was getting back at Kos for personal grudges.
January 15, 2005, 9:11:03 AM EST – Like – Reply

Dave Weigel
Pat - Yeah, it's worth noting that the only proof of Kos/Armstrong perfidy is the opinion of a Dean staffer, whose relationship with them terminated over a year ago.
Would people give as much credence to a Bush staffer who had been fired in early 2004? Or would they assume "this person might have an ax to grind. Where's proof?"
January 15, 2005, 10:41:03 AM EST – Like – Reply

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Title: The lies are unfuckingbelievable
Excerpt: I simply cannot read the entirety of Bill O'Reilly's interview with Hugh Hewitt. Actually, it's not an interview, and it's not even journalism. It's a hit piece on Kos, Jerom
Blog name: Loaded Mouth
January 15, 2005, 12:53:50 PM EST – Like

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Title: Kosgate on Fox News
Excerpt: johnny dollar's place has provided a transcript of a discussion on Kosgate between Bill O'Reilly and Hugh Hewitt on the Fox News Channel.
HEWITT: Now Daily Kos says, this is one of the bloggers from the left, says he disclosed it, but not to the...
Blog name: The Blog Herald: more blog news more often
January 15, 2005, 6:58:40 PM EST – Like

johnny dollar
I'm just putting this out as a suggestion, but when Hewitt sez the disclosure was insufficient, and O'Reilly sez nobody knew about it...is it possible that what they are referring to is not the fact that Kos was being paid by the Dean campaign for technical services (as his disclaimer read), but rather that the Dean people were paying him so he would give them 'good press'? Even if it was known that he was on their payroll, was it generally known that the purpose of hiring him was actually to ensure that he would print articles favorable to Dean? Just asking.
January 15, 2005, 11:41:09 PM EST – Like – Reply

Mike Nargizian
Oreilly's only talking about 1 thing, and all he cares about H-I-M-S-E-L-F.... all about me, me, me, me...
And what he's really saying is that Drudge accused him of lying to him a few times and doesn't like O'reilly so he put up some numbers about how his radio show wasn't doing so great. This was wayyyy before O'reilly's recent sexual talk to an employee while he's married... A man of high moral character in his 50's...
Look, I like O'reilly because he can take on the NY Times, LA Times, NPR etc.. but in the end he's so full of himself and his quest to become an "independent" mainstream that he's just become another spinner with an even bigger ego than those he goes after.
He's far from a 'completely' honest broker of news, no spin if you will.
He's miles behind Hugh Hewitt, Instapundit, Powerline etc....
in that department not to mention their intelligence in writing as well. He's a junior chump to them, but a great PR man which is why he's on TV.
January 16, 2005, 11:47:41 AM EST – Like – Reply

johnny dollar
You're absolutely right about the Drudge business. When Drudge put up the radio numbers, which were, to say the least, unspectacular, Mr Bill went thru the roof. That set him off against the internet, and started the feud with Drudge that keeps the whole thing churning.
January 16, 2005, 12:19:13 PM EST – Like – Reply

What was not reported, and what Fox will not report, are the following.
First, Laura Gross, an assistant to Dean, wrote the following letter regarding the article in the WSJ
She said she thought she knew what was going on, and we talked "on background" so she could "just clear things up once and for all" -- that is, not for attribution. By the end of the conversation she had confirmed what she thought -- that there was no news, that this was what she called a "dead story" -- and said that she didn't think there would be any article at all, much less one that mentioned Dean. She said that if for some reason she needed a quote she'd call me back.
Next thing I know there appears in the WSJ an article so sloppy and so inaccurate that I spent the morning trying to track Jeanne down to find out what happened. She called me back at 10:30 a.m. -- and actually apologized for the article (written by two colleagues). She said that she wouldn't work with those reporters in the sa
January 16, 2005, 1:34:25 PM EST – Like – Reply

The chief editorial writer at the paper which disparaged two progressive blogs over accepting money from Howard Dean's campaign serves on President Bush's fellowship board with Armstrong Williams--and is being hired as chief speechwriter for the Bush Administration, RAW STORY has learned.
William McGurn, chief editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal serves with fallen columnist Armstrong Williams on the President's Commission on White House Fellowships.
McGurn's association with both Williams and the Bush administration--along with assertions that the Journal fabricated a quote in an article attacking liberal blogs MyDD and Daily Kos-have raised serious questions about the Journal's motivations. The paper was roundly criticized by other media outlets for their "overblown" coverage. The Washington Post and the Associated Press, after making calls, decided not to run an article, the bloggers said.
January 16, 2005, 5:43:27 PM EST – Like – Reply

johnny dollar
I was able to find the Raw Story article you referenced. I'm not sure that the connection between the author and Armstrong Williams is all that much, but it's good to know about it anyhow. Several items in that article stood out to me:
--"I think it's time you issue a formal retraction and apology," Moulitsas wrote."...If you do not retract and apologize, I would like your justification for standing by this story," he added.--
Retractions? Apologies? We've been after people to do those for a long time. Maybe you'll join with us in calling for one from Salon.com.
--Salon.com suggested the Wall Street Journal's influential Op-Ed pages were used to settle a personal score.--
Pot and Kettle.
--Reported Salon's Eric Boehlert--
Bwaahaha! What blog did he plunder for his "facts" this time?
January 16, 2005, 6:29:02 PM EST – Like – Reply

I think these cases beg for Blogger Ethics Standards
I’m holding a “convention” at my blog http://teacherjoeinla.blogspot.com/ to discuss the matter.
”Dave, Geremy, Duck, pontificator, everyone… you’re all invited to my virtual Independence Hall to develop a Blog Readers Bill of Rights
In the words of Bill O’R: “What Say You?”
January 16, 2005, 6:31:52 PM EST – Like – Reply

What day did Popdex rank your site as #1? 
I just went through their archive, and they show your site as #5 on 1/17/2005.
What does it take to get a #5 Popdex ranking? 13 links to your site...
I am so impressed... NOT! LOL
January 17, 2005, 2:11:01 PM EST – Like – Reply

johnny dollar
It was yesterday, 5:42 pm. I don't know what it takes to come in #1, but I know it didn't last long. I never heard of popdex until I saw that someone had come to this site from there. That's when I spotted the ranking and screen-grabbed it as I knew it wouldn't last!
January 17, 2005, 2:50:20 PM EST – Like – Reply

Where is your disclaimer Johnny?
Do you accept $ from the federal government or from Fox News to run this blog. Surely you don't support propaganda just for fun?
February 4, 2005, 2:37:27 PM EST – Like – Reply

johnny dollar
Wouldn't you like to know?
February 4, 2005, 2:42:56 PM EST – Like – Reply

[message deleted: sorry, but we do not give out home addresses here. The fact that someone wants to all but invite harrassment or worse on someone who has received death threats just for stating his opinion is very telling, and takes Fox hating to a new height. Oh, and it's off-topic too!--J$]

Edited By Siteowner
August 2, 2007, 1:59:45 PM EDT – Like – Reply