Tag Archives: Fox news

Integrity Check For Fox As Another Bill O’Reilly Fib Surfaces

Wags say Bill's next book will be titled "Killing Credibility"...

Wags say Bill’s next book will be titled “Killing Credibility”…

Now another Bill O’Reilly misrepresentation of the facts has come to light, mandating action by Fox News management if it doesn’t want to appear guilty of being even less concerned with the integrity of its product than the mainstream media is with theirs.  After all, Brian Williams is no longer on the air. So far, Fox is resisting. Its  operative rationalizations are:

1. Bill’s not an anchorman, like Brian Williams, but a pundit. My response: He poses as a truth-teller and calls himself a reporter and a journalist.

2. These are nit-picky, minor factual variations, not outright fabrications as in Williams’ case. My response: Yes, Williams’ were worse, and there were more of them. So what? O’Reilly should be held to the standard he articulated quite well while covering the Williams situation: if you can’t trust “an anchor or commentator,” he isn’t worth watching.

3. The whole controversy was the result of an ideological hit job by angry liberals who wanted to take down a conservative talking head in retribution for the most popular left-biased network anchor being hounded off the air by conservatives. My response: Yup. So what? Fox needs to be professional and insist on the integrity of its product, whatever the motive that drove O’Reilly’s exposure.

As Ethics Alarms discussed a few days ago, Mother Jones and its ideological assassin David Korn published a piece accusing O’Reilly of repeatedly telling his audience that he had been in a “combat zone” during the Falkland Islands war, and sometimes leaving the impression that he was on the battlefield in the Falklands. The truth appears to be that O’Reilly was in a scary riot that occurred after the war itself, in Argentina. Unlike Williams, then, O’Reilly accurately described the incident, but intentionally mischaracterized its nature. (A riot, even a riot prompted by a war, is not a “combat zone.”)

I wrote: “Are you surprised? I’m not. O’Reilly has a lot in common with Williams—an addiction to self-glorification,  a monstrous ego, and an unseemly desire for celebrity.” Thus I’m not surprised that a second example of Bill spinning his own exploits has surfaced. From The Daily Beast:

In 1977, O’Reilly was a 28-year-old TV reporter in Texas investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy. O’Reilly wrote in his 2012 book Killing Kennedy that he was knocking on the door of a CIA asset with ties to the Kennedys and the Oswalds when he heard the asset shoot himself to death. Pretty dramatic, but it’s entirely false, says Jefferson Morley, a former Washington Post editor and author of JFK assassination book Our Man in Mexico. O’Reilly is heard on phone calls obtained by Morley telling an investigator that he would fly to Florida from Texas the next day to cover the suicide.

It’s harder to argue this one away than the Falklands enhancement: it’s a Brian Williams-style fabrication, and it’s in print. (The Smithsonian has reportedly pulled O’Reilly’s best-seller from its book stores now, because it regards the whole book as suspect. Funny: I always regarded this amateur history exercise as presumptively unreliable.) He has also repeated this fictional version of the facts on the air.

There should be no debate. Fox News exists because of conservative conviction that the mainstream media news networks were biased and could not be trusted. Fox is obviously biased, but it can’t give an organizational pass to intentional fabrication and maintain any credibility at all, especially when the liar in question is, like Williams at NBC, the 800 lb. gorilla of the organization. If O’Reilly survives because he’s a ratings champ while NBC, though kicking and screaming, properly jettisons its own gorilla, then Fox is exposed as a journalistic fraud (which many people are convinced it is anyway.) Continue reading

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The Brian Williams Ethics Train Wreck Welcomes Bill O’Reilly and Fox News…And Maybe Mother Jones?

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“The O’Reilly Factor’s” Bill O’Reilly has been one of the Right’s attack dogs on the Brian Williams fiasco, not that anything he has argued is undeserved or incorrect. He has stated, clearly and without exception, that no lying anchors, reporters or commentator can be trusted by viewers, and thus should not be watched. Now the uber-leftist magazine Mother Jones has published an impressive report that seems to show that O’Reilly himself has repeatedly exaggerated his own combat reporting experience over the years, in his case, during the Falkland Islands conflict when he was a CBS reporter:

[F]or years, O’Reilly has recounted dramatic stories about his own war reporting that don’t withstand scrutiny—even claiming he acted heroically in a war zone that he apparently never set foot in.

O’Reilly has repeatedly told his audience that he was a war correspondent during the Falklands war and that he experienced combat during that 1982 conflict between England and Argentina. He has often invoked this experience to emphasize that he understands war as only someone who has witnessed it could. As he once put it, “I’ve been there. That’s really what separates me from most of these other bloviators. I bloviate, but I bloviate about stuff I’ve seen. They bloviate about stuff that they haven’t.”

 Fox News and O’Reilly did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
I’m convinced; I think O’Reilly’s failure to respond, and Fox’s as well, strongly suggest that O’Reilly’s guilty of at least one instance (Williams, we now know, has many)of the kind of exaggeration that brought him down, and that Fox, like NBC, has been unprofessionally incurious about their top-rated on-air personality’s puffery.

Observations:

1. If Mother Jones’ writers (David Corn and Daniel Schulman) are correct, and the research looks thorough, then O’Reilly is obligated by his own words to take himself off the air. If he does not, then he will have branded himself a fraud and a hypocrite.

2. To the Mother Jones writers’ credit, they don’t accuse Fox’s head bloviator of hypocrisy, because he isn’t, yet. Nothing he has  said regarding Williams and journalism  isn’t true. He has not been unfair to Williams. Based on what Bill has said, if Mother Jones has him dead to rights, then he must concede that viewers can no longer trust him either, and he has made it very clear what needs to happen. If O’Reilly doesn’t abide by his own stated principles, then he’s a hypocrite. We shall see.

3. If Corn and Schulman are right, then Fox News would have to handle O’Reilly much as NBC has dealt with Williams, but one hopes faster and less hesitantly.

4. Are you surprised? I’m not. O’Reilly has a lot in common with Williams—an addiction to self-glorification,  a monstrous ego, and an unseemly desire for celebrity. I’ve caught him fudging to artificially enhance his resume, as when he refers to himself as a Harvard alumnus. O’Reilly got a Masters degree in Public Administration at the Kennedy School of Government, so he’s technically correct, but I’m certain most of his viewers never heard of the Kennedy School, and think that he means the college. I have it on good authority that Harvard grads who feel the need to broadcast their connection to the school are widely regarded by other Harvard grads as pompous, insecure jerks. Bill’s undergrad degree is from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and he earned his journalism degree from Boston University, an excellent school.

5. This is good investigative journalism. It also wreaks of a deliberate “you took one of ours down, so we take one of yours”  hit job by Mother Jones. A fundraising pitch for the Democratic Party popped up while I was reading the piece: this was opposition research. Corn, who also broke the unethically taped Romney comments about the “47%”, would never expose Williams or any other reliably Obama-guarding network talking head, because  he, and Mother Jones, don’t care about lying journalists who advance The Cause. Of course, I doubt anyone on Fox would expose false statements by George Will or Charles Krauthammer. Is there no media outlet that just cares about promoting honest journalism and trustworthy broadcasters?

6. I expect the mainstream media to be much more aggressive and unsympathetic, with all the Williams “false memories’ rationalizations magically absent, if the Mother Jones story hold up. After all, it’s O’Reilly, Fox News, and conservatives. No mercy for those bastards.

7. I wonder if Joe Scarborough was behind this…

I was on Bill’s show (about Beyonce’s lip-synching at the Inauguration), and he was wonderful to me. I got positive feedback from the appearance, and he said they would look for opportunities to have me back.

Well, that’s the end of that gig…

Update: Bill’s response, to The Blaze, is here. He says it all a lie, stands by his previous statements, calls the story  a politically motivated hit piece (it is, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be accurate), and calls Corn a moron. That’ s Bill. I hope he can back it all up.

_______________________

Facts: Mother Jones

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

A Hung Ethics Jury On Fox’s Broadcast Of The Isis Burning Video

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The burning ethics issue of the moment is in the field of broadcast journalism, and Ethics Alarms is obligated to weigh in.

Who is right, the pundits are asking: Fox News, for defiantly posting on its website the 22-minute video from the Islamic State terror group that shows Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned to death, or all the other U.S. news organizations that have refused to do so?

Fox’s decision has been criticized by its own media ethics watchdog, Howard Kurtz, as excessive and unnecessary, and by anti-terrorism experts, who unanimously say that this plays into the ISIS strategy. Malcolm Nance of the Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideology said the Fox was “literally – literally – working for al-Qaida and Isis’s media arm. They might as well start sending them royalty checks.”

Here are the Ethics Alarms observations on the controversy. The short version: I doubt everyone’s motives here, and nobody on any side of the journalism ethics debate is consistent or trustworthy. Unlike me.

1. Here are the relevant tenets of the Code of Conduct of the Society of Professional Journalists. Continue reading

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And Now, How A RIGHT Wing “Watchdog” Views The World…

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In commenting on today’s early post about Mediaite inexplicably neglecting to mention that the “ethics watchdog”now accusing Rep. Louis Gohmert of skimming off his campaign funds is in fact part of the Media Matters left-wing hit squad, commenter Steve-O-in-NJ observed…

“As has been pointed out many, many times on this site both by yourself and others, most Americans have some shade of partisan goggles on that makes it harder to see ethical violations by those they are sympathetic to and easier to see them by those they are not. It doesn’t help that there are any number of partisan dyes (racism, sexism, patriotism) we can release to further cloud the waters we swim in with these goggles on. Eventually there’s so much dye in the water and the lenses become so tinted that everyone forgets what clear water actually looks like.”

Truer words were never uttered. To prove Steve’s point from the other side of the political spectrum, I present Newsbusters, which holds a higher level of esteem from me than CREW by being transparent about its skewed perspective: the site, part of arch conservative Brent Bozell’s empire, acknowledges that it exists to show liberal bias in the news media, and Lord knows, there is plenty to show. Unfortunately, Newsbusters is addicted to the same silly routine its counterpart Media Matters employs, the “X spent this much time on this story but only this much time on this story that exposes the rank incompetence and corruption of a politician/program/party we hate” bit. The complaint has legitimacy when the news media is deliberately burying an important development and hiding facts from the public, as the mainstream media has done with the IRS scandal and attempted to do with Jonathan Gruber’s revelations, or as Fox did with results of the Congressional investigation of Benghazi. More often, however, the real complaint is “Why don’t the biased news sources adopt our biases instead of their biases?”

Today brings a classic example on Newsbusters: Continue reading

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An Amazing Case Study On How Bias Makes Us Stupid

when-facepalmnot-enoughBias makes you stupid. It interferes with our objective judgment, makes us unreasonable and unfair, leads to poor decisions and the loss of the respect of others. Seldom will one see a more striking example than the current post on The Daily Kos, the unhinged far left website, by earnest, progressive, biased and struck-stupid commentator Mark E. Anderson.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is a potential Republican presidential contender who is hated by progressives with an unseemly passion for his successful vanquishing of public employee unions in a traditionally liberal state. He never graduated from college: he left the University of Marquette in his senior year to take advantage of a business opportunity, and never looked back. Good for him.

In a recent interview, addressing his lack of bachelors degree, Walker said,

“I’ve got a master’s degree in taking on the big government special interests, and I think that is worth more than anything else that anybody can point to.”

Continue reading

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Five Ethics Observations On The US’s Paris March Snub

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In case you didn’t catch it, more than 40 world leaders joined the start of a Paris march for unity against terrorism and for freedom of speech, linking arms in a demonstration of solidarity. Even Netanyahu and Abbas were there! The Paris march may have included more than 1.6 million marchers before it was done, reportedly the largest demonstration ever. More than three million have now marched across France in response to the deaths of 17 resulting from extremist attacks in Paris last week, beginning with the executions of the staff of the satirical newspaper, “Charlie Hebdo.”

You would expect, and I am sure that the world expected, that the United States of America, reputedly the leader of the free world and the nation that most symbolizes the human right of free speech, would have participated in the event with enthusiasm, conviction, and prominence. But no. President Barack Obama did not come to Paris to join with his fellow world leaders. He did not send Vice President Biden either. Though Attorney General Holder was in Paris, he was not directed to attend the march, and did not.  The United States was only represented by its ambassador, who is not a world leader, and whose job it is to attend routine functions large and small.

Initially the criticism of the obviously intentional snub was muted, with the toadying mainstream news media, as has been its standard operating procedure since 2008, acting and speaking as if there was nothing amiss. Fox News, also as usual, was the exception, but since that network is isolated and pigeon-holed as a reflexive Obama critic “no matter what he does,” this was initially ignored as more right-wing carping. Then, to his great credit, CNN’s Jake Tapper took to Twitter to say  that he was “a little disappointed personally” at the lack of a strong U.S. presence, and in a later statement, escalating to saying that he “was ashamed.” He then wrote in an opinion piece…

“I find it hard to believe that collectively President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Attorney General Eric Holder — who was actually in France that day for a conference on counterterrorism — just had no time in their schedules on Sunday. Holder had time to do the Sunday shows via satellite but not to show the world that he stood with the people of France?

There was higher-level Obama administration representation on this season’s episodes of “The Good Wife” on CBS.”

Good for Jake Tapper, one of the few relatively objective broadcast journalists who is worthy of public attention and trust. Continue reading

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CNN’s Selective Choice Of Targets For Selective Criticism For Selective News Coverage

Or, if you prefer, "CNN's journalism ethics show."

Or, if you prefer, “CNN’s journalism ethics show.”

On the host of CNN”s unreliable media ethics and criticism show, Reliable Sources, slammed Fox News:

STELTER: Boy, has Fox News spent a lot of time over the past two years focused on the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, and I mean a lot of time. […] But when a new Benghazi report came out on Friday, there was hardly a peep, and maybe that’s because the report, which was Republican led, it was by the    , debunks many of the myths that have run rampant on Fox News and in conservative media circles. […] So I have to wonder: will Fox will stop aggressively pushing its theories about Benghazi? Probably not. With its audience largely in the dark about the latest findings, the myths may, and perhaps will, live on.

Wheels within wheels, deceit within deceit, hypocrisy within hypocrisy. The criticism was correct and deserved, as Fox News’ own media critic (and the former unreliable host of Reliable Sources) noted as well. It also was notable for what it left out:

  • Despite being routinely ridiculed as a witch-hunting political mob, the Republicans on the Committee fought for the investigation. That it exonerated the Administration is pure moral luck: apparently CNN has forgotten Hillary’s famous shouted “what difference does it make?” The fact that there was, in the end, nothing sinister to cover up doesn’t excuse the administration for obfuscating, dragging its feet and sending Susan Rice out to lie on talk shows to avoid scrutiny, and it was that conduct that convinced many that something was rotten in Libya.
  • This result does not excuse CNN’s network for its complicity in assisting the White House’s efforts before the 2012 election to pretend there were no facts to clarify. CNN failed to cover this story sufficiently before the truth was known, and had Fox News and the Republicans not kept the inquiry alive, we would not have a definitive report for Fox to emulate the liberal- biased media by burying. Stelter’s snide comments are the height of hypocrisy.

Continue reading

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