Opinion: A Wisconsin talking points commentary

Jody Michael

Jody Michael

Jody Michael is a sophomore broadcast journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

Union rallies continue to take place across America, inspired by plans to cut benefits and collective bargaining rights in states like Wisconsin and Ohio. Protesters also blasted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for running up huge debt by pushing through $140 million in new spending for special interest groups.

Consider this the liberal equivalent of a Tea Party rally — not exactly the same, but similar. At the very least, they are similar enough that our cable news stations should attempt to cover them the same way. Bill O’Reilly apparently disagrees.

“Insurrection in Wisconsin: That is the subject of this evening’s ‘Talking Points’ memo,” O’Reilly said to begin his Thursday show.

Whoa there, Bill! Insurrection? Five days of protests so far have resulted in neither deaths nor injuries. We have unfortunately seen people carrying signs with the occasional crosshairs or Hitler reference, just like Tea Party tends to have, but that does not amount to insurrection.

Plus, by beginning his show with the word “insurrection,” O’Reilly had immediately described the Wisconsin protests as more violent than any illustration he gave of the 2009 tax day Tea Party rallies — the ones which first gave the movement national attention.

“In the end, of course, the folks will decide how the federal government should be run,” O’Reilly said that night. “The next major election is just a year and a half away. But robust debate is one of America’s great features.”

So the Wisconsin protests are an “insurrection,” but Tea Parties are “robust debate.”

Either you favor peaceful protests, and our right to peacefully assemble, or you oppose them. You cannot pick and choose based upon the ideology of each one.

O’Reilly was not finished, though. The video clips on his program showed protesting Wisconsinites saying, “kill the bill” and other harsh comments.

“It is an assault on our family,” one man said. “This is an attack on all of us and we are here to say enough is enough,” said another. “Ultimately he is going to destroy the state,” said a woman.

Again, not unlike the Tea Party protests, but you wouldn’t know that if you only watch “The O’Reilly Factor.” The Tea Party protesters on his show had much gentler remarks.

“The taxes are way too high,” one female said. “This massive federal spending, who is going to pay for it?” asked another. That’s it!

Of course, the Tea Party protests that day unfortunately featured offensive comments just like the Wisconsin ones have. Remember the sign “The American Taxpayers Are The Jews For Obama’s Ovens”? What about “Obama’s Plan: White Slavery”?

I do not think it would be too difficult for our cable news programs to actually be fair and balanced when reporting on rallies like these. Because the “Factor,” the most-watched of those shows, is unable to do that, we have a problem.

Our news personalities need to stop revising the news like this. After all, robust debate is one of America’s great features — and that is the memo.