There is a chance that before this presidential election year is over somebody is going to get hurt. Knowing that partisan hostility is boiling over in America, the Secret Service is tense because the candidates are exposed when they campaign in public. Hatred is definitely in the air and the media is partially to blame.
The enormous success of the Fox News Channel has created a bitterness unprecedented in the American press. CNN has been dethroned as the cable news leader, and NBC News, which runs two cable outlets, is far behind both Fox News and CNN in the ratings. Some estimates have Fox News making six times as much money as MSNBC. General Electric, which owns NBC, has seen its stock price remain stagnant for the past six years, a humbling fact for the corporate giant.
And then there is ideology. Traditionally, the so-called mainstream media has leaned left. Retired anchormen like Walter Cronkite and Tom Brokaw now openly discuss their liberal beliefs, and former CBS commentator Bill Moyers is a flat-out far-left zealot.
So it comes as no surprise that Fox News, which gives equal time to conservative thought, is despised by many in the liberal press. Not surprisingly, that hostility has now carried over into the political arena.
Last spring, the Democratic presidential candidates informed the public they would not participate in a debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus and Fox News. People like John Edwards and Gov. Bill Richardson, who had frequently appeared on FNC and were treated well, suddenly informed the nation that the network was unfair and unbalanced. This blatant falsehood was stunning.
The reason the Democratic candidates boycotted Fox News was that the far-left Internet crazies told them to do it. Websites like the Daily Kos and Media Matters, which spit out anti-conservative hatred every day, made it clear to the Democrats that anyone dealing with Fox would be punished. The creepy radical-left organization MoveOn, which raises serious money for liberal candidates, seconded the motion.
It is worth noting that the Republican presidential candidates have not played that game, appearing on ultra-liberal MSNBC and every other news network.
I saw the anti-Fox hatred firsthand when I traveled to New Hampshire last week. Fox News vehicles have been vandalized, FNC correspondents cursed, and all Fox News personnel are cautious. Although the far-left nuts are generally the problem, some supporters of Congressman Ron Paul are also out of control.
At a campaign rally for Barack Obama, one of his staffers attempted to block a Fox News camera from photographing the senator. This was a blatant assault on press freedom, and I had to remove the man from in front of the camera. You may have seen the pictures on TV.
In the subsequent coverage of the story, not one media outlet criticized the Obama staffer, not one. Had he interfered with a CBS News crew, I believe the story would have been reported quite differently.
Sen. Obama has been respectful to Fox News and the incident was not his fault. But the senator and all the Democratic candidates should understand the unhealthy climate some of their supporters have created, and they should do everything they can to discourage this kind of garbage.
And here's the kicker: A recent study by George Mason University about the campaign thus far named one network as having been the fairest to all the candidates: Fox News.
Veteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor" and author of the book "Who's Looking Out For You?" To find out more about Bill O'Reilly, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. This column originates on the Web site www.billoreilly.com.