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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 02:15 PM ET, 02/28/2012

O’Reilly laments media’s alleged bias on gas prices

“The O’Reilly Factor” last night examined the alleged liberal bias in the media in the coverage of gas prices. In his discussion with analyst Bernard Goldberg, host Bill O’Reilly credited a study by the Business and Media Institute, a group that examines the “anti-free enterprise culture of the media.” The institute found that ABC, CBS and NBC covered spiraling gas prices four times more aggressively under President George W. Bush than under President Obama.

Said Goldberg:

There is an easy rule of thumb that if you understand it, you understand just about everything you need to know about the mainstream media, and that is reporters get more excited about covering bad news if a Republican is in the White House.

Said O’Reilly:

It has to be, though, blatant bias if you have organizations like the nightly newscasts on ABC, NBC and CBS choosing to do four times as many stories about rising oil prices under a Republican than under a Democrat. Because, basically by omission, you’re protecting the president. . . . So that is bias. . . . Sins of omission.

If only the study had included Fox News in its survey of gas-price coverage; that might have evened things out a bit. According to a Nexis transcript search, Fox has covered the Obama-era gas price surge about twice as aggressively as it covered the Bush-era gas price surge.

Using the same date parameters as the Business and Media Institute, a Nexis search for Fox News coverage of “gas prices” under Obama returns 40 results and 20 results under Bush.*

Perhaps in anticipation of such analysis, O’Reilly noted on the segment: “We’ve been pretty tough on President Obama on these rising oil prices, but if you go back four years and you look at me, I was tough on President Bush too.”

*Nexis doesn’t archive all of Fox News’s programming but does yield a reasonable apples-to-apples comparison of coverage emphases over time.

By  |  02:15 PM ET, 02/28/2012

Tags:  bill o'reilly, bernard goldberg, gas prices, president obama

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