'It's Incredible, the Rage Directed Against Fox'

J$P Instant Transcript! The author of South Park Conservatives discusses media--mainstream and new--with Mr Bill O'Reilly.

From The O'Reilly Factor, April 18 2005:

BILL O'REILLY [FOX NEWS]: The media war between conservatives and liberals is as intense as ever. And today the liberal Los Angeles Times ran an op-ed piece that said the liberal radio network Air America is failing. Since the print media has been very generous to Air America that was unusual. The author of the op-ed is Brian Anderson, who also has written a new book called South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias. Wow. Mr Anderson joins us now. See I'm right in the middle of this war here, and it's vicious. First let's walk through the whole thing. What's a South Park conservative?

BRIAN ANDERSON, PHD [AUTHOR]: Right, well I use that phrase very loosely to refer to a new kind of anti-liberalism that we're seeing in the culture. We're seeing it in comedy on Comedy Central, particularly with this show South Park which just goes after the left viciously. It goes after the right too, but it's something very new to see a program that makes fun of liberals. And I see it a lot on college campuses. Both of these things I say are, in the book, are growing out a pretty big shift in our mass communications. Talk radio, cable news, and the blogosphere, all of which are allowing views that had long been excluded from public debate, to make their way right into the heart of that debate. Basically, right of center views.

O'REILLY: So a South Park conservative would be somebody who, what?

ANDERSON: Somebody who doesn't necessarily go along with the right right across the board, but who looks at today's left and its political correctness, its anti-Americanism, its elitism, and says, that's not me.

O'REILLY: All right, so a moderate conservative who is turned off by the Michael Moores and the bomb-throwers on the left?

ANDERSON: Yeah, exactly. It's much more of an attitude than a kind of coherent political philosophy.

O'REILLY: All right. But your thesis is challenged right off the bat by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the network news producers, who say there is no liberal bias, it's never existed. How do you answer that?

ANDERSON: Well I think it's just an absurd claim. My book has a pretty thick chapter on examples of liberal bias going back for years and years. A good one is, two researchers from the American Enterprise Institute just did a look a newspaper headlines in the mainstream media, and AP reports going back I think to the early 80s, on how they reported economic data. And any time there was a Republican President, the reports were much more negative, whatever the underlying economic data actually were. So the Republicans--

O'REILLY: And you can also even, like this Air America network, the New York Times has done ten stories on it, nine favorable.

ANDERSON: It's incredible.

O'REILLY: And The Radio Factor, which has nine times as many affiliates, no stories--which is fine with me. But there is no question that the major newspapers and the network news, CNN, tilts left. It just depends how far left.

ANDERSON: That's right.

O'REILLY: And you believe that now people have understood this because of Fox and the bloggers?

ANDERSON: I think Fox, the bloggers, and talk radio, which I don't think gets enough attention from the elites, but in fact it's an incredibly powerful medium. You have I think the numbers say about one in four Americans, at least one in five, get their news primarily from political talk radio now. And the right has flourished there. This is why liberals are complaining so much and why they launched Air America.

O'REILLY: Why is Air America not succeeding? They have 50 affiliates after a year, they are losing about 8 million dollars a year, according to Ad Age--

ANDERSON: No, they're doing much worse than the mainstream media is actually reporting. They've received more free publicity than any network, any project I've seen--

O'REILLY: Yeah, it's amazing how much free publicity. And we're giving them more right now. But why aren't they doing well?

ANDERSON: But look at the ratings, look at the latest batch of ratings, Arbitron ratings, in New York City. They're down to 24th in the ratings, and that means--

O'REILLY: They're last.

ANDERSON: --they're just about last. They may be last. They're doing worse than the all-Caribbean format that used to be--

O'REILLY: I heard a rumor that they're going to start to do the limbo while broadcasting, try to get that Caribbean audience back again.

ANDERSON: There's got to be a reason why--

O'REILLY: But there's got to be a reason that a Bill Bennett launches a conservative radio program and gets 150 affiliates right off the bat.

ANDERSON: 124 it is, but same period of time.

O'REILLY: All right, whatever it is. Right, and they have 50. What's the reason?

ANDERSON: Well, I lay out several reasons in my chapter of South Park Conservatives on talk radio. The biggest I think is the existence of media bias elsewhere, which liberals continue to deny. But a liberal, a left-leaning person can get up in the morning at look at the New York Times. He doesn't need Air America. But there are other reasons too, one of which I think is the kind of negativism and anti-Americanism and lack of humor that has characterized--

O'REILLY: But these people are supposed to be all funny.

ANDERSON: They're funny when they're doing standup comedy or writing for comedy shows. They--I've listened to a bit of Air America painfully I have to say in researching this book, and I--

O'REILLY: Yeah, I think it's really simple. I just don't think that Americans, no matter whether they're liberal, conservative, moderate, want to hear that their country is terrible 24 hours a day.

ANDERSON: Absolutely not.

O'REILLY: Which is what the message is.

ANDERSON: Over and over. Over and over.

O'REILLY: The country's lousy. All the people running it are bad. And how much of that can you take?

ANDERSON: It's a relentlessly pessimistic message and--

O'REILLY: Yeah it is, and I think that's the key, that's the key to it. Now, on the right you have a tremendous amount of negativism too. I mean if you listen to some of these far right guys, every liberal is to be scorned, you know?

ANDERSON: Yeah, sure, sure. I think if you look at who's really succeeding in talk radio--

O'REILLY: Are there South Park liberals? Are there liberals who--

ANDERSON: Oh sure, sure. I mean, there must be. You don't see them very evident in the media these days, but you know the show South Park itself goes after conservatives once in a while. But there's a kind of humorlessness to today's left--a inability to laugh both at themselves and at the world as a whole it seems.

O'REILLY: I think you're on to something, because Limbaugh puts on a funny show.


O'REILLY: Ann Coulter, as far right as she is, is funny.

ANDERSON: Yeah, she's an entertainer.

O'REILLY: She's trying to be; she' entertaining.

ANDERSON: Laura Ingraham is very funny on the air--

O'REILLY: Right. She uses a lot of sound and--I think you're on to something there. The entertainment value is just better on the right than it is on the left. One last question for you. Why do the liberals want to kill the Fox News Channel when this is the only television network that gives a traditional point of view? Why? I mean, you've got seven to one. Why not let the one just exist without trying to kill it?

ANDERSON: It's incredible really the rage directed against Fox, which says that it's having some kind of a cultural impact. I list a whole number of, from Al Gore calling it a fifth column, right down the line. I think the difference is that Fox arrived as a news organization. They just didn't comment on the news; they could also decide what was newsworthy. So for example the fact that Richard Clarke had contradicted himself from when he was a Bush official and when he released his Bush-bashing book, you just covered it across the board.

O'REILLY: Yeah, we covered that story heavily. Well they hate us, that's for sure. Very entertaining book, Mr Anderson: South Park Conservatives. And we appreciate you helping us out tonight.

ANDERSON: Thank you very much....

posted: Mon - April 18, 2005 at 11:00 PM       j$p  send