Bill O'Reilly's fish tales

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    Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, host of the highest-rated show in cable news, is under fire for reasons that are drawing comparisons to Brian Williams’ recent troubles. In case you haven’t had the time or inclination to sort through all the back-and-forth, here’s a simple guide to this affair.

    * The basic charge — that O’Reilly exaggerated his record covering war — is true.

    It all started with this article by David Corn and Daniel Schulman published in Mother Jones on Thursday, in which they detailed how on many occasions over the years, O’Reilly has characterized himself as a veteran of war reporting. Among the quotes they cited are times when O’Reilly said things like “I’ve reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands,” and “having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands war, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash,” and “I was in a situation one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands…” That O’Reilly said these things is not in question. But in fact, O’Reilly was never in the Falklands, and he never reported from any “combat situation.”

    * O’Reilly’s defense of his original false statements is itself built on one falsehood and a bunch of claims that are questionable at best.

    O’Reilly insists that everything he has said is true, because when he was working for CBS News he reported on a violent protest in Buenos Aires around the time of the Falklands war, and that constitutes a “combat situation” in a “war zone.” That part of the claim is absurd on its face; if covering a protest over a thousand miles away from where a war is being fought constitutes being in a “combat zone,” then that would mean that any reporter who covered an anti-war protest in Washington during the Iraq War was doing combat reporting.

    Then there’s the matter of the protest itself. O’Reilly asserts that Argentine soldiers were “gunning people down in the streets” as evidence of how combat-esque the scene was; he wrote in one of his books that “many were killed.” But neither the story that CBS ran that evening nor any contemporaneous reporting mentions anyone being killed. The Post’s Erik Wemple has tried to substantiate O’Reilly’s claim, and been unable to do so. Former CBS reporters who were O’Reilly’s colleagues at the time have also disputed his description of the protest, which was certainly violent, but as far as we know, not actually deadly. But even if everything O’Reilly said about that protest was true, it wouldn’t mean that he had seen combat.

    * O’Reilly can’t admit that he was wrong.

    To the surprise of no one who is familiar with his modus operandi, O’Reilly has responded to the evidence against him with a stream of invective against anyone who contradicts him. He called David Corn a “guttersnipe liar,” and called CNN’s Brian Stelter, a media reporter whose sin was merely discussing this story, a “far-left zealot.” When a reporter from the New York Times called to get his comments on the story, he told her that if the article she wrote didn’t meet with his approval, he would retaliate against her. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” he said. “You can take it as a threat.”

    So why not just say, “I may have mischaracterized things a few times” and move on? To understand why that’s impossible, you have to understand O’Reilly’s persona and the function he serves for his viewers. The central theme of The O’Reilly Factor is that the true America, represented by the elderly whites who make up his audience (the median age of his viewers is 72) is in an unending war with the forces of liberalism, secularism, and any number of other isms. Bill O’Reilly is a four-star general in that war, and the only way to win is to fight.

    The allegedly liberal media are one of the key enemies in that war. You don’t negotiate with your enemies, you fight them. And so when O’Reilly is being criticized by the media, to admit that they might have a point would be to betray everything he stands for and that he has told his viewers night after night for the better part of two decades.

    Deane Johnson

    It’s an orchestrated campaign by the far left to try and silence O’Reilly. If he wasn’t so successful, they wouldn’t even bother with these foolish attempts.

    One of the reasons Vitalogy works so hard to hide his identity is that he doesn’t want people to know he’s really the troll living under the bridge.


    They can’t ever, ever admit being wrong.

    If they do, the whole pile of BS will unravel. Expect O’Reilly to take this all the way, until some other shiny things come up to let it fade away.

    Jon Stewart said it best: Nobody actually comes to this guy for the truth, so what’s the big deal?


    Just saw Deane’s post.

    Deane, he lies near constantly, and his success is all wrapped up in the effort to constantly redefine things as they happen.

    Vitalogy has no need to reveal anything. None of us do. And the fact that people are wondering so badly is great cause to deny them.

    Don’t like the ideas, great! Present more compelling and better ones then.

    We’ve been asking that here since 2003. Got any yet?


    I don’t live under a bridge. I live in a very nice and comfortable house in a great community.

    As for O’Reilly, what parts of the story aren’t true?

    So far it appears O’Reilly is the one on the defensive.

    Sadly it will just make his show more popular with the soon to be dead median 72 year old viewer.


    This is right on par with O’LIEly and I wouldn’t doubt that he has some more tails to tell. He’s in the right place for it being on FAUXNews.

    Look for the extreme Reich to stand by his side to the bitter end.

    Extreme Reich, never wrong about anything.


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