A purely statistical Project on Excellence in Journalism study on Iraq war coverage on the cable channels seems to have gotten under Bill O’Reilly’s prickly skin.

The study documented that Fox News allots about half the airtime to Iraq war coverage that CNN and MSNBC routinely give it.

Bill O’Reilly, who sees liberal conspiracies in nearly everything, immediately concluded that his competition was covering the carnage in Iraq to make the war look like a mess, which he conceded it is, and more importantly, to make President Bush look bad. Ranting on The O’Reilly Factor, he lumped both channels together as part of the “anti-war media.”

Howard Kurtz brought this up on Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN. I questioned how O’Reilly could divine the motives of CNN and MSNBC from their news judgement. Another panelist, Emily Rooney, argued that O’Reilly himself didn’t really believe what he was saying and was only saying it to be provocative.

This provoked O’Reilly further and last night he refought World War II with Howard Kurtz on The O’Reilly Factor in an effort to prove that his show was being patriotic by downplaying the “carnage without context” in Iraq. Unfortunately, he was making this lame case on the same day that a horrific suicide bomb blast outside a mosque in Baghdad had killed scores and illustrated that , despite the Surge in American troops and the latest offensive, the insurgents can still cause mayhem in the Iraqi capital.

If that isn’t news, Bill, I don’t know what is.

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