MIKE PESCA: Much has been said about missing Utah teen Elizabeth Smart. Much has also been said about the press coverage being far out of proportion to the national importance of the story and far in excess of the hundreds of other children who go missing. Add to the list of media critics the fair and balanced voice of Fox's Bill O'Reilly who took CNN's Larry King to the woodshed for too much coverage of Elizabeth Smart.
BILL O'REILLY: I watched just a few minutes of that and became angry. Mr. King is exploiting this young girl's tragedy for ratings, and he's doing pretty well with it! If there's news to report, fine - that's our job. But sitting around for hours speculating is a perversion of the news process!
MIKE PESCA:Viewers could rest assured that unless there was an entirely fact-based update, The Factor would be both a no-spin-zone and a no-Smart-zone. O'Reilly made that pledge at 8:03 Eastern Time on Thursday. At 8:12 he said this:
BILL O'REILLY: In the Factor Followup Segment tonight authorities in Salt Lake City have charged 48 year old Richard Ricci with theft for breaking into the home of Elizabeth Smart -- a year ago.
MIKE PESCA:It would be all too easy to ask just how little credit does O'Reilly give his audience to think that he can enter into an anti-Smart-coverage rant one minute and 9 minutes later engage in the very same King-like ratings grovel. But let's be fair. What O'Reilly specifically said was that you could report the facts, just don't engage in rumor and speculation.
MAN: Cops figured I believe that they had him on, you know, basically locked up all this time so there was no real hurry. I heard as early as this week they were even going to wait further down the road to file these charges, but now I guess since they've got him they're going to file these charges and also it's, it's pretty tame stuff overall.
MIKE PESCA:"I believe," "I heard," "I guess" -- okay. If a guest speculates, that's one thing. But O'Reilly draws the line at engaging in it himself.
BILL O'REILLY: And counselor, I -- it looks to me like they think this guy did it and they're just squeezing him.
MIKE PESCA: True, it would be easy to mock O'Reilly's stance as self-serving, insulting; that King's the kettle and O'Reilly's a pot and the charge of icky blackness is wafting in the air -- but I refrain. In fact, I'll give Bill the last word and let the folks decide.
BILL O'REILLY: Again, I, I condemned speculation at the top of this program in the talking points, a memo. But we have you guys on because you, you can read the case.
MIKE PESCA: That's Bill O'Reilly. You can distinguish his coverage from Larry King's. He's the one without suspenders.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Coming up, 150 years of war reporting.
"Dmitri Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony (String Quartet) op. 110A, 3rd mvt., 4th mvt."
by Constantine Orbelian - pianist and conductor, Moscow Chamber Orchestra