The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Bill O'Reilly on Oscar movies: I never watch 'em!

February 24, 2011 | 12:30 pm

Billoreilly Bill O'Reilly has been doing "The O'Reilly Factor" from L.A. this week, even finding time to sit courtside at a Lakers game. But it seems pretty clear that he's managed to avoid getting even a touch of Oscar fever. If you watch Fox News, you know that the really big news on the network isn't the dramatic labor protests in Wisconsin but, well, the way the labor protesters don't seem to like Fox News. O'Reilly has been leading off most of his shows with footage of the protesters angrily shouting down Fox News reporters and milling around outside Fox headquarters in New York, complaining about the network's anti-labor coverage.  

That's a traditional coverage model at Fox News, which for years has seen itself as a plucky but embattled minority in the liberal-dominated mainstream media. Of course, that raises the question--why wouldn't Fox identify with the labor protesters, who also see themselves as a plucky but embattled minority in a world dominated by giant, anti-union corporate behemoths? But I digress.

Near the end of Tuesday night's show, O'Reilly brought on Fox Business News regular John Stossel to discuss the Oscars, which seemed to be a weird move since O'Reilly made it abundantly clear that he couldn't care less about the awards. He admitted that he hadn't watched any of the big picture nominees, stumbled over the names of the show's hosts ("Franco...James Franco?) and only seemed enthusiastic about the subject when he made a $1,000 bet with Stossel that this year's awards would be the lowest-rated show ever.

It wasn't exactly a learned discussion. At one point, O'Reilly growled: "You remember 'The English Patient.' Didn't that win best picture?" When Stossel shrugged, clearly not knowing the answer, O'Reilly said he didn't remember either, except for the fact that it was "a British movie."

They finally got to the real point of the discussion, which was to bash lefty Hollywood for not giving a nomination to the Davis Guggenheim documentary "Waiting for 'Superman.' " In keeping with Fox's "fair and balanced" motto, Stossel summarized the film as a picture about "children imprisoned by a government union monopoly." As O'Reilly put it: "Of course, it wasn't a liberal screed, so it didn't even get nominated, which is appalling, is it not?" With his host offering such a leading question, Stossel chimed in: "It is. It's sort of an anti-union movie and Hollywood doesn't like that.... It's another example of how Hollywood has this bias, pro-union and anti-business."

As I've noted before, all sorts of popular documentaries--including some made by the reliably left-wing Michael Moore--have been snubbed by Oscar voters. It's really a stretch to blast Hollywood's liberal politics this year when the movie that seems poised to win the biggest prize of all --"The King's Speech"-- has no less an authority than former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan praising the film's espousal of conservative values, saying "it's about someone being a grown-up, someone doing his job, someone assuming responsibility. It's about a time when someone was taking on the mantle of leadership, someone was sacrificing his comfort for his country."

Sadly, you wouldn't see that someone on Fox News, where everyone, starting with O'Reilly, is so busy casting themselves as the victims of liberal cultural hegemony that they never seem to have any time to exercise any old-fashioned "King's Speech"-style leadership.  

--Patrick Goldstein



Photo: Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly, center, watching the Lakers play the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times