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You, too, O'Reilly? Fox News Channel's self-proclaimed truth-teller also shrinks from the mushrooming Murdoch scandal

Mum's the word that most Brits use when talking about their moms.

Mum's also mostly been the word at Fox News Channel, whose two main prime-time personalities -- Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity -- so far have yet to even mention the far-flung phone-hacking scandal that's engulfed Great Britain and World News Corporation chieftain Rupert Murdoch. Along with his son, James, he's scheduled to testify before a Parliamentary committee on Tuesday. Murdoch owns Fox News Channel as well as an array of U.S. broadcast stations, including Dallas-based Fox4.

Murdoch's travails abroad are hardly inconsequential. His planned expansions of his media empire have been put on hold in the wake of the scandal. And Sunday brought both the resignation of the tarnished head of Scotland Yard and the arrest of Murdoch's right-hand woman, Rebekkah Brooks, former chief executive of his News International.

In fact, a high-level arrest or resignation seems to occur daily, even in the aftermath of Murdoch's decision to shut down his so-called "World's Greatest Newspaper," the sleazy tabloid News of the World, after 168 years of junk journalism. He's also belatedly said he's sorry via full-page apologies in other newspapers he owns. Those came only after he hired a damage-controlling PR firm.

Mudoch's only stateside interview so far has been with The Wall Street Journal, which he also owns. Only "minor mistakes" were made, he said in remarks published on July 14th. The newspaper then blasted Murdoch's critics in a Monday, July 18th editorial.

Let's be even-handed, though. The New York Times has gleefully pounced on Murdoch's travails with daily front page stories and usually a full page of coverage inside. All well and good, perhaps. But the newspaper's executive editor, Bill Keller, previously had put his reporters in an awkward position by declaring at a New York Press Club event: "I think if you're a regular viewer of Fox News, you're among the most cynical people on planet earth. I cannot think of a more cynical slogan than 'Fair and Balanced.' "

Keller, who will be stepping down in September to become a full-time columnist for The Times, is obviously still a key decider in how his newspaper is covering the scandal. Given his previous public remarks, he's very likely enjoying himself. As are the prime-time personalities on MSNBC and longtime Murdoch/Fox News Channel antagonist Keith Olbermann on his new network, Current TV. So in reality, none of their accounts are to be entirely trusted. That's sad to say, especially of The Times.

Still, Fox News Channel should be embarrassed at the way it's blown off what so far is the biggest media story of the century. Its little-watched daytime news programs have offered specs of coverage here and there. Although in one instance, longtime Fox and Friends toady Steve Doocy invited a PR guy named Bob Dilenschneider to join him in denouncing all the "piling on."

"You look at some sites, you would think that Martians had landed in New Jersey again," Doocy said. "We've got some serious problems in this country right now." Yeah. One of them is giving national exposure to clowns like him.

At the prime-time level, little if anything is expected of the brown-nosing Hannity, whose fawning interviews with prominent Republicans are his principal forte. Exhibit A: Hannity's wide-eyed genuflection in the presence of George W. Bush when he was busy pumping his book. Bush let Hannity interview him on his Crawford Ranch, and even took him for a free ride on the property. An awed Hannity ate it up, and there's no telling what else he might have eaten if asked. Were he presented with an opportunity to interview Murdoch, his first question would be something on the order of, "Sir, why do these liberals hate you so much?" And for Hannity, that would be hard-hitting.

O'Reilly, though, is supposed to have balls. And I've long preferred him to the even more vainglorious Olbermann. On The O'Reilly Factor, he at least regularly spars with people who disagree with him. Even if he's prone to chest-thumping and talking over them.

O'Reilly's been spayed, however, when it comes to talking about the Murdoch imbroglio. He's said a sum total of nothing about it. Imagine if this were The New York Times, NBC News, CNN, MSNBC or any other major media outlet involved in a phone-hacking scandal of this magnitude. O'Reilly's take would be something like this: "We always knew they were liberal, folks. Now we see that they're crooks as well." And he'd keep pounding away, night after night.

His low point came Thursday, in tandem with blustering Bernard Goldberg during their weekly discourse on media issues. What did they discuss? Allegations that the Obama administration sometimes prefers to bypass Fox News Channel as a conduit. Or as O'Reilly put it, "Now new documents have emerged that seem to prove the White House doesn't like FNC at all."

The "new documents" didn't amount to much of anything. That is, unless you're surprised that some members of the president's staff preferred to bypass Fox News Channel on occasion. Wouldn't you? Sometimes you just get tired of getting punched in the head, although President Obama has done several one-on-ones with none other than O'Reilly, including during February's Super Bowl XLV.

In reality, no major media outlet is less willing to cooperate in news stories about itself than Fox News Channel. It's been that way since Day One. Publicists for the network pick and choose their favorites. And even their favorites are subject to constant questions about how a story is going to be played, when it's going to appear, etc., etc. I speak from first-hand experience, and from conversations with various colleagues.

O'Reilly, with whom I've had generally good relations over the years, is very much a picker and chooser in dealing with the media. He stiffs interview requests from those he deems unfriendly to him. Which covers a wide spectrum these days. And his show has been known to relentlessly dog, and sometimes physically pursue, those who have been critical of him or decline to appear on The O'Reilly Factor. At his best he's certainly more capable of being genuinely "Fair and Balanced" than Hannity is. But at his worst -- which is too often -- he's a bully with a persecution complex.

Last Thursday, O'Reilly and Goldberg chose to twit the Obama administration on a relatively trivial matter rather than make even a nominal effort to address the elephant (dung) in the room.

"When you're in the big leagues, you act like it," Goldberg at one point said of the president. "You don't go to war with a cable news operation."

Particularly if it's your own. No one realistically expects a full-blown investigation of Murdoch from the people on the receiving ends of his paychecks. Others media outlets are perfectly willing and able to do that.

But it's hypocritical almost beyond belief for O'Reilly to entirely ignore the matter, even during his show's weekly segment with Goldberg on current media issues. Mr. "No Spin Zone" and the unctuous author of Bias opted for a cowardly way out. For all of his braggadocio, O'Reilly suddenly is no cock of the walk on an issue that might actually prove his manhood.

"No show tackles tough issues like The Factor," the show's website crows. That's B.S. -- coming from a parakeet.