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Anderson Cooper and Bill O' Reilly

In selecting a pair of media journals to compare and contrast, I chose CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, and Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor. I sought out two broadcasts that I believed would represent opposite ends of the political spectrum in their partiality; the assumption being that Anderson Cooper would lean more liberally, and O’Reilly would espouse conservative views. Each program was one hour long, and they were aired on the same night.

I. Chronology of Events
CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360
The following are a list of topics covered in order, as well as the commercials that were shown in between segments.

-Kidnappings in Iraq; paramilitary forces kidnapped 60 people at a college in Baghdad
• Interview with 2 retired Army generals, both of whom recommend maintaining troops in Iraq
• Interview with correspondent from Iraq

-Story on relative ease insurgents in Iraq have in buying Iraqi police uniforms, and their usage in kidnappings and attacks

Commercial Break:
Pacific Life
LG
CNN
Saab
HOM Furniture

-Showdown: Iran
• UN inspectors find uranium traces
• President Ahmadinejad celebrates Iran’s achievement of a nuclear power
• Iran may become new superpower in the Middle East

Commercial Break:
Macy’s
Salvation Army
Intel
Jamaica travel
Radisson Hotels
Samsung
Paterno Wine

-Islamic Extremist Agenda
• Author Glenn Beck discusses his new book The Extremist Message
• Discussion of Iran and it’s aims, the Islamic teaching of children to hate Jews

Commercial Break:
Exxon Mobil
Lexmark
Mitsubishi
John Hancock Financial Services
Movie Commercial

-Iraq Veterans having trouble finding employment
-Rudy Giuliani and his possible run for President in 2008
• Does not fit with Republican Party, too far left to gain votes of Christian Conservatives
• Interview with Republican strategist and woman representing evangelical group(Family Research Council)
• Disagreement between the two over how far right the Republican Party should lean

Commercial Break:
British Airways
Sopranos DVD
Ditech
Mylanta
Verizon

-LAPD’s excessive use of force
• Video of police brutality

Commercial Break:
Vehix.Com
HBO
Roni Deutch Law Offices
Toyota City
Oppenheimer Funds

-FEMA trailers and homes destroyed by elements due to neglect by FEMA at the taxpayer’s expense
• $4 Million dollars worth of damage

-Case of Marine charged with killing innocent Iraqi civilian pleads not guilty
-U.S. parishioners decry gay priests, but support both genders as priests
-Zune, the Microsoft Ipod challenger released today
-Photo of homecoming U.S. soldier from Iraq with son

I. Chronology of Events
Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor
-Is America a noble nation?
• Polls showing most Americans believe it is, Democrats do not

-Debate over illegal immigration
• “secular progressivists? support it and want to provide them with benefits at our expense
• Anger of people in Texas over immigration
• Interview with professor of theology, debate over whether the Vatican cares more about immigrants than the security of Americans
• Interview with Pat Buchanan on same subject

Commercial Break:
Buick
Public Storage
Avodart prostrate medicine

-Interview with 10 year old boy suspended for hugging his teacher and his mother
• O’Reilly spends 5 minutes lecturing the boy, and suggesting to his mother some means of punishment

Commercial Break:
Best Buy
Eloan
Oral B
Chrysler
Oppenheimer Funds
BMW
LA Weight Loss

-Brittany Spears and issue of sex tape with former husband
• Is she being blackmailed
• Interview with Star magazine journalist on subject
• Question of whether Americans are at the same risk for being blackmailed

Commercial Break:
Swiffer
GlaxoSmithKline Avian Bird Flu commercial
Steve Irwin DVD

-Interview with author of book who believes terrorism threat somewhat over hyped
• Says terrorism in not as big of a threat as we believe
• O’Reilly berates the author and compares rise of terrorism to Hitler and Nazi Germany

Commercial Break:
Dodge
Aflac
Holiday Inn
Weekly Standard Newspaper

Airport Anarchy
• Interview with author of travel book and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
• Issue of the hassle of traveling through airports
• Why we have to take our shoes off, lost luggage, ban on liquids

Commercial Break:
FedEx
Lincoln
Menards
PetMeds
Minnesota Wild
Luther Chrysler

-Incident in Corpus Christi, TX, where a Pee Wee football coach assaulted a referee
• Interview with a psychiatrist
• Parents need to instill values in children

Commercial Break:
Gateway
Suzuki
Smart Balance Omega pills
DirectTV
Lending Tree

-O’Reilly reads viewer emails, rants against a Newsweek article that links him with Vice President Cheney, refers to the “mindset of mainstream media?

-question of whether we are losing our religion, O’Reilly states that “the worst atrocities in history have been committed by atheists?

II. Context
CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 did not satisfy my assumptions that it would fit the typical “liberal media? mold. CNN is owned by Time Warner, a meglo-corporation, which I thought might bear some negative subjectivity on the reporting, but it did not. Anderson Cooper 360 premiered in 2003, and offers a two hour long program, 5 days a week. The show sometimes broadcasts live from breaking events; most notably Hurricane Katrina and the Sago coal mine disaster in West Virginia. Anderson Cooper is an award-winning journalist who has covered events around the globe, and he joined CNN in 2001.
The reporting on the show did not exhibit bias, or leftist tendencies, and the reports focused on international events as well as domestic issues. Interestingly enough, Anderson Cooper was not even on the show for this presentation, but, I have seen his show enough times before to firmly assert that the show was in line with his viewpoints and style of reporting. The show did not cover a large selection of topics, but instead focused in-depth on several issues. It was evident that the show was covering topics that were pertinent to a wide selection of American society, and it was not simply trying to grab viewers with sensationalist stories.
The one issue I did take was with the approach to Islam and extremism, although it is not fair to fault only CNN, or Anderson Cooper, because this issue permeates almost all mainstream American media. The focus on Islamic extremists, who represent a small fraction of Muslims, and the perpetuation of an “us versus them? viewpoint only serves to exacerbate the current problem, and does nothing to educate Americans about the nature of the majority of Muslims. Aside from that issue, I found the program to be relatively well-balanced, and the reporting was well done and on the issues that matter.


Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor fit nicely into my pre-held hypothesis of conservative based, right wing journalism. Fox is owned by notorious billionaire Rupert Murdoch, an Australian-American right wing ultra-conservative. Fox News was launched in 1996, and The O’Reilly Factor along with it on the claim of “Fair and Balanced reporting?. Fox News rose to become the top-watched news channel on cable television, supplanting CNN. Bill O’Reilly has been repeatedly accused of partisanship on his show; Al Franken documented much of his right-wing rhetoric in his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. On an interesting side note, the increasingly popular show, The Colbert Report, a satirical news show on comedy central is based on the The O’Reilly Factor.
O’Reilly is a Republican Christian, and he makes no qualms about asserting that fact repeatedly on the show. O’Reilly panders to a narrow audience that represents a large portion of American society. The issues that he discusses on his show, such as values and religion, resonate with a large number of people. O’Reilly’s show neglected international issues such as kidnappings in Iraq and instead focused almost entirely on domestic news such as Brittany Spears. I found O’Reilly’s style distasteful and abrasive, and his professed prejudice goes against the principle of objective journalism. O’Reilly’s penchant for berating his guests and interrupting them only made more evident the agenda of his program.

III. Analyzing, Comparing, and Contrasting

It was interesting to compare the two programs in the context of this assignment. I enjoyed watching Anderson Cooper’s program, and felt that he presented well-researched and relevant journalism. O’Reilly’s program, on the other hand, was almost a chore to keep watching. His personal tirades and attacks on guests grew old quickly, and the fact that his hard-hitting journalism covered Brittany Spears, fighting football coaches, and naughty 10 year-old boys was repugnant in the context of the global problems that we face today. These are not the issues that Americans should devote their time to; indeed, my first blog posting was on the neglect by the media in covering the Iraq war, and their choice to instead report on superficial issues such as Hollywood engagements. It is especially discouraging when one takes into account the large audience that O’Reilly’s show has, tens of millions of Americans are subject to this trend.
One intriguing trend that I noticed while watching both programs was the target audience of the commercials in between segments. It appeared that the propensity of the commercials were to appeal to older, upper-middle class individuals, with such advertisers as BMW, Oppenheimer Funds, Lincoln, and Intel. The trend seems to reflect Putnam’s research that suggests older Americans are far more likely to watch the news than younger generations, but also holds some implied assumptions that only wealthy Americans tend to watch the news. In this vein both programs were similar, as well as in the frequency of commercials. Each program lasted one hour; Anderson Cooper’s program had five commercial breaks, and O’Reilly’s show had six.
The similarities between the two shows were rare and hard to place, while the disparities were abundant and obvious. Anderson Cooper’s show places emphasis on international reporting of issues, while O’Reilly’s show seems more focused on value-based issues within the domestic sphere. O’Reilly’s bias was evident and painful to endure, Cooper’s, while probably not nonexistent, was well-concealed if present.
I fully intend on watching Anderson Cooper 360 again in the future, for I appreciate the objective standpoint and coverage on issues that are relevant. It was educational to watch The O’Reilly Factor, I enjoy gaining different viewpoints on issues, but at the same time it reinforced my negative view of Fox News, and Bill O’Reilly.

Comments

1) O'Reilly is not a Republican, he repeatedly states that during his show. In fact, he has show his centrist leanings on many occasions: Support for civil unions, defending of Jimmy Carter as a person who is not anti-semitic, defense of John Kerry's statements about the military, some forms of affirmative action, his many criticisms of President Bush, and his numerous liberal and moderate guests on his show amongst others.

Also, please explain to me that only a small percentage of Muslim's are extremists? I have seen numerous terrorist attacks on television, have seen numerous anti-Israel and anti-American marches, but have never ever seen one organized Muslim march condemming these attacks and the tenets of radical Islam.

You insinuate that the Jihadists are rare, but they are not. Islam is the issue, Islam is the problem, and its not just a small percentage.