In an alternative universe concocted by Fox News, Andrew Breitbart, and TCOT (top conservatives on twitter), the Madison capitol has become the island in Lord of the Flies, except the savages in this case are union “thugs.” The mob has taken over, thick with radicals, and Republicans are likely to be attacked as a matter of course.
In reality, the long protest in Madison has been remarkably civil. As a testament to that, conservative media outlets are having a hard time finding examples of on-scene violence in Wisconsin that really bring their alternative narrative home. They’ve even gone so far as to claim their own reporters are under assault when they are not. Indeed, just as they accuse unions of busing in protesters from out of state, they’ve bussed in out-of-state footage, to make a case that can’t be made by the facts.
Check out this clip from Monday night’s episode of the O’Reilly Factor, a lower-quality version of which has gone viral on social media sites.
Notice the B-roll footage in the background at the end of the clip, complete with the calming backdrop of palm trees and….wait there are palm trees in Madison, Wisconsin?
No there are not. But that’s because the footage comes from a solidarity protest in Sacramento, CA. It’s an altercation that sparked a brief cri de coeur online this Saturday, when conservatives thought they’d found the clip that could undermine the entire pro-union movement. It didn’t. And in fact, as the O’Reilly segment suggests, it was just about the only thing they could find.
Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Update: A Fox News spokesperson declined to comment, referring us instead to this Mediaite piece on the same subject.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.