Fox News Disputes Report That Limbaugh-O’Reilly Feud Bumped Biographer From Airwaves

Michael Calderone reported today for Yahoo! News that author Zev Chaffets claimed to have been deliberately kept off of Fox News airwaves because his recently published biography of Rush Limbaugh included criticism of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. But sources at Fox News dispute this claim, telling Mediaite that the author is only looking for publicity, and that no such booking was ever in fact made.

Calderone reports on media for Yahoo! News after recently leaving Politico, and just wrote in a post published late Monday:

Is Fox News keeping an author off the air because his recent book includes criticism of Bill O’Reilly?

That’s what Zev Chafets, author of “Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One,” thinks is happening. In the Rush-approved biography, Chafets asked the radio host what he thinks of O’Reilly.

“He’s Ted Baxter,” Limbaugh said, referring to the pompous newscaster played by Ted Knight in the ’70s on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

“Sorry, but somebody’s got to say it,” Limbaugh continued.

That line got picked up by publications like The Hill and splashed on the Drudge Report. And it’s because of that one comment, Chafets believes, that he then got bumped from a couple of Fox News shows.

Chafets told Yahoo! News that he was scheduled to appear on “Fox & Friends” on May 26 — the day after publication of his Limbaugh book — and the following Monday, May 31, on Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record.”

Some background: author Zev Chafets published his book Army of One last month, which thus far, despite its provocative subject, has made relatively little news.

According to Fox News there was some interest in the book by producer’s of On the Record, hosted by Greta Van Susteren, who requested the book to gauge interest, but never booked Chafets. Producers at Hannity also claimed to have received a number of calls from Chafets’ publicist, but never demonstrated any interest in actually booking the author; and Fox & Friends claimed to never have called to book Chafets, but again was aggressively pursued to have him on.

A Fox News insider referred to Chafets’ account of getting bumped from Fox News as result of an alleged feud as nothing more than “wishful thinking that reeks of desperation” and said, “We tend to have authors on whose books actually make news and have buzz – Zev’s book has neither.”

Skeptics may see this item as a publicity stunt designed to sell a book that is sill trying to move past its current ranking of 90th on Amazon’s bestsellers, and 1,288th on Barnes and Noble’s list.

It is hard to blame producers of these shows for not booking the author of a biography of the provocative Limbaugh, particularly when it’s been such a busy month of remarkable news stories that include the BP oil spill, Arizona’s controversial immigration law, the economy, and the primary season. It’s entirely plausible that this is nothing more than an instance of producers not being interested in a book that has so far achieved relatively little buzz.

In fact, Chafets and his publisher have apparently been shopping an item around claiming that FNC booked him to talk about his book and then canceled, suggesting that FNC – and some of its hosts – hold a grudge against Rush Limbaugh. This seems odd considering both Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Megyn Kelly were among the guests at Limbaugh’s wedding this weekend.

It seems somewhat surprising that Calderone appears to have relied solely on one source, the author, for what some may see as a publicity stunt. At least the author received another mention of his book, though probably not the sort that he will relish.

John Stossel Supports Government Intervention (In Extreme Case Of BP Oil Spill)!

This may be the most shocking thing John Stossel has ever said since he came to Fox News: he approves of government intervention in some capacity. Sure, he prefaced it with “we libertarians believe,” and the case in which he approved of government oversight (in the case of oil drilling, especially in light of the BP oil spill), but this was a perfect opportunity for Stossel to politely differ with what is considered common knowledge, and he didn’t quite do it.

“Government has a role in having oversight,” he conceded to Bill O’Reilly, who pushed him on whether he believed it was the government’s role to regulate oil companies, “but we have 300 pages of rules– we have oversight.” Oversight, O’Reilly noted, which obviously failed the people of the Gulf coast. The conclusion O’Reilly tried to lead Stossel to from that conclusion was that the rules were not sufficient. Stossel didn’t buy it; the rules, he argued, are irreparably flawed. “I don’t think government is competent enough to toughen the rules,” he answered, and added that didn’t believe it was possible to have rules that worked.

Video from tonight’s Factor below:

Senators Back Family In SCOTUS Case Over Military Funeral Protests

New developments in the case of the Westboro Baptist Church vs. the family of Marine Matthew Snyder. You will recall this story from earlier this year: Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, 20, was killed in a non-combat related vehicle accident in Iraq in 2006. During his funeral members from a Baptist church in Kansas staged a loud protest against the war in Iraq because they believe, among other things, that America’s military is evil because it defends a country that tolerates homosexuality. (What is the matter with Kansas?).

After an initial court ruling overturned Snyder’s father’s lawsuit against the church, and required him to pay the church’s legal fees (Bill O’Reilly famously offered to pick up the tab), the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

In the interim, Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have signed on to back the court case which will be heard sometime this fall, not to mention a whole slew of politicians. More from WaPo:

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) for once found common ground with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on the issue. Reid held a news conference with Snyder Friday to say 42 members of the Senate had signed on to an amicus brief to condemn the actions of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., and its founding pastor, Fred W. Phelps Sr.

“Respondents were and are free to convey their repugnant message in virtually any public manner they choose,” the senators said in a brief written by former Clinton administration counsel Walter E. Dellinger III. “But they were not free to hijack petitioners’ private funeral as a vehicle for expression of their own hate.”

Likewise, there has been a rush of state attorneys general to sign on to an efforts led by Kansas Attorney General Steve Six to argue that there is no protection for what they say was targeted and harassing speech aimed at Snyder. More than 40 states have laws restricting funeral protests, which are not at issue in the case.

Watch ABC’s coverage below.

Glenn Beck Surprisingly Silent About Weiner And Goldline On O’Reilly Factor

After Bill O’Reilly’s interview with Rep. Anthony Weiner Monday, we asked if it would be a preview to Weiner vs. Glenn Beck – mainly because that’s how O’Reilly made it sound.

But the first round came and went last night during Beck’s weekly appearance on The O’Reilly Factor – with surprisingly no mention of Weiner or Goldline.

O’Reilly set up Beck’s m.o. early: “The interesting thing about Beck, if you don’t watch the program, is he doesn’t come at it like a partisan, ‘the Republicans are better,’ he just comes at it like, ‘he’s a communist or socialist,’ or whatever name you have for him this week. And destroying the republic and all that.”

Then Beck talked about Pres. Obama’s financial policies, while saying he doesn’t “hate Obama” and wished the President would “stop playing the word games…and actually say what they mean. Very few times has he said it, but he reveals himself.”

So what about Goldline and Weiner? Because Rep. Weiner is still on the Fox airwaves, yesterday with David Asman on Fox Business Network (h/t MM). But the other side was noticeably silent. Sure, is very active, with four posts rebutting Weiner’s report from various angles – Beck’s past statements/relationship with Goldline and Goldline’s response are two. But while the site is fun and creative, it’s a far cry from responding to these claims on the top-rated cable news show.

For those who regularly watch The Factor, they were expecting a Beck response. And they got nothing. Instead, the pair of Fox News stars found one minute out of a less than six minute segment to plug their Bold Fresh Tour (still tickets available for Columbus, OH June 18!) and exchange playful jabs about Spandex.

We’ve detailed how Radio Glenn Beck (and Radio Glenn Beck’s new web playground, and TV Glenn Beck are different entities. But TV Guest Glenn Beck could have addressed the Weiner report even if TV Host Glenn Beck doesn’t want to. It would lend a lot more support to his side of the argument.

The segment:

» Follow Steve Krakauer on Twitter

Bill O’Reilly To Marc Lamont Hill: ‘You Kind Of Look Like A Cocaine Dealer’

On tonight’s O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly was talking about immigration reform with Marc Lamont Hill. While posing a hypothetical, O’Reilly said to his guest “Say you’re a cocaine dealer, and you kind of look like one a little bit,” to which Lamont Hill quipped “You know, you actually look like a cocaine user.” Cries of racial insensitivity ensue.

Gawker’s ever dependable Adrian Chen pounced on the charged faux pas:

Dang, O’Reilly, having black commentators is supposed to make you look less racist. Unless O’Reilly was talking about Hill’s spiffy pinstripe suit. Like, how could you afford such a nice suit unless you were selling drugs? That’s probably it.

Hmmm…that could be the case. More likely its an overstatement. But who wouldn’t love watching a smackdown between O’Reilly and Gawker ensue? (By the way, in that battle the smart money’s on Gawker.)

John Stossel Comes To Rand Paul’s Defense, Compares Lunch Counters To Women’s Gyms

No one in the mainstream media has been as vociferous a defender of Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul than self-proclaimed “Voice of All Libertarians,” Fox News’ John Stossel. Last night, Stossel did his regular feature on The O’Reilly Factor to debate Bill O’Reilly on Paul’s well-known views on the Civil Rights Act, and he drew a strange comparison: either you support the rights of private business owners to discriminate, or you’re against women’s health clubs.

O’Reilly tried to challenge Stossel on his own turf, suggesting that part of libertarianism is giving everyone the right to the pursuit of happiness, even in sandwich form. In other words, by denying someone the right to purchase something at a private institution– say, lunch counters– the owner is infringing on that person’s liberty, therefore the government should intervene. “I want the government to basically give– or try to give– everybody the same amount of freedom,” O’Reilly noted.

Stossel’s reply seemed to take it a step further than Paul was willing to go, but still fell within the confines of the main theoretical libertarian argument: “We want the individual free to behave as he sees fit, and government is a clumsy instrument, and if you invite government into all parts of life to make it fair, we libertarians think that’s an awful idea.”

O’Reilly responds by noting that segregation in private establishments is “not equality, and that’s where the federal government has to come in and try to handle it.” So Stossel switched gears and gave O’Reilly some very strict hypotheticals himself– either you support segregation everywhere, or you support it nowhere. This sounds fair, right? Except what Stossel means is that banning segregation at lunch counters also requires banning women’s only gyms and health clubs, because it’s either all or nothing when it comes to individual freedoms. Or something.

Video of the discussion below:

Bill O’Reilly & Col. Ralph Peters Ask: “Is The NYT Hurting The Nation?”

The moral value of journalism always gets a little tricky when it involves uncovering military secrets. When it involves Fox News calling out the New York Times, it mixes in a bit of cultural backlash, as well. Last night on the O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly had military analyst Col. Ralph Peters on the program to evaluate the damage that a recent NYT story uncovering new covert operations in the Middle East had done to America, and what the Times‘ motive could be for publishing it.

The story, making the front page of yesterday’s Times, alleges that the US military is set to expand secret military operations in the Middle East for intelligence and security purposes. They allege the order was signed by General George Petraeus. This article greatly disturbed Peters, who saw the revealing information as a help to the enemies the covert operations were intended to help. As he put it, “They tipped our secret operations, our black operations approach, to the Iranians, to the Syrians, to the terrorists. It made it much harder, much more dangerous for our agents, for our special operators,” he continued, to collect information.

Asked what good could come out of publishing that sort of information, Peters answered that the New York Times “doesn’t like the military very much,” that they “celebrated” the Abu-Ghraib prison scandal, and that there seemed to be some sort of nefarious intention in revealing the military orders.

It’s worth noting the Times has a long history of uncovering and publishing sensitive intelligence stories and rarely do so without alerting the government and relevant parties beforehand. As a result they also have a history of holding stories if there is a convincing argument to be made that publishing it would put lives in danger.

Related: NYT Holds Taliban Story At White House’s Request: ‘Not A Hard Call’

Video of the segment from last night’s Factor below: