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

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

  1. He’d probably be even worse than Williams. If indeed he never left Buenos Aires, then his “exaggeration” would have been an outright lie from the get go, not an exaggeration that slowly morphed into an outright lie.

    • Great…and Korn, who is the epitome of a Saul Alinsky journalist, is right. It’s kind of like O’Reilly’s Harvard bit, really, though much worse. The Falklands war wasn’t fought in Buenos Aires, and that’s no war zone. The incident happened, but not in a situation that gives O’Reilly war zone credentials. I was in a nasty riot at my college during the Vietnam war, but if I said I was in a Vietnam war zone, that would be a lie. It’s deceit…read O’Reilly’s quote, and any reasonable listener would assume he was in the Falklands, not a riot about the war.

  2. #5. Nope. O’Reilly isn’t going anywhere, though, he is probably just within the bounds of puffery rather than lying. As for his hurling insults, well, the left loves it when guys like George Galloway use their rhetorical skills to insult and belittle, so…

    • 1. I’m assuming “nope” is in answer to the ;ast sentence, and I agree.
      2. How is it just puffery to say you were in the Falklands war zone when you weren’t? That sounds like the defenses of Williams.
      3. Insults are not explanations. As I said, Korn’s motives are suspect, and I feel about him about the way Bill does. But O’Reilly should answer Korn’s questions.

  3. I did not know you had already appeared on O’Reilly’s show. (I could not find the video on YouTube, either.) Consistent with my ideology, I will probably always trust O’Reilly more than I ever trusted Brian Williams, which is to say, I never trusted Brian Williams at all, and now, I trust O’Reilly less than I trust Megyn Kelly. There. That is my attempt to be honest with myself and with everyone. Do I get to keep watching O’Reilly as long as he’s on the air?

    If O’Reilly was truly never in a “war zone” (but I believe he has been in one, at least once, in Central America, where Brian Williams would poop in his own pants from terror just at the thought of being there), well, he is now definitely in one he does not have the luxury of ducking in and out of and – to use his own terminology – he doesn’t have the luxury of spinning about his experience there.

    • I want to cut O’Reilly a little slack, because I like some of his positions on social issues, but he really does make me want to vomit at times. I can’t watch him anymore. I just wish there could be more conservative newsyish persons who could hold up to scrutiny Brit Hume comes to mind.
      I say newsyish, because I don’t think there are real news reporters anymore.

      • I agree completely with your last sentence at 2:22 pm. Brit Hume and Brett Baier impress me as more objective than most, even when revealing their bias or tilt. I have cut back my watching of O’Reilly 50% or more in the past year. I watch Megyn Kelly more often now. I gave up on Hannity; his show has gone downhill since Colmes left. Greta seems sharp and fair, but I keep missing her show. The other networks, it’s a rare day (or night) when I have any of them tuned in longer than 5 minutes at a time. REVOLTING.

  4. “Is there no media outlet that just cares about promoting honest journalism and trustworthy broadcasters?”

    I’m sure if you asked politely, someone would say that they cared, theoretically. But how would they recognize it?

    And thank you for adding bloviation to my vocabulary. It is a nice addendum to the Harding post in your Presidents’ Day review.

      • I wish O’Reilly would share his special vocabulary suggestions without a negative example usage. Seems he always says for example, “Do NOT be a snollygoster.” I want new vocabulary for positive applications.

      • Didn’t mean to be cryptic – sorry, I go in too far sideways sometimes. Yes, the bit about not being able to recognize honesty in broadcasting was a shot. And of course, Warren G. Harding’s neologism was just credit where it was due.

    • “Is there no media outlet that just cares about promoting honest journalism and trustworthy broadcasters?”

      As for the big three domestic, 24-hour television news channels:
      Fox News: It’s a Republican Party or otherwise conservative mouthpiece, despite a token Democratic presence.
      MSNBC: It’s a Democratic Party or otherwise liberal mouthpiece, despite a token Republican presence.
      CNN: It’s becoming more like E! Entertainment Television every day, and there is always “breaking news”, despite the fact that said “breaking news” rarely constitutes new information beyond what has previously been reported. Their approach is more akin to a broken record than breaking news, and “breaking news” has become an unintentionally ironic tag line for CNN. I’m harder on CNN because it doesn’t seem as hopelessly entrenched in partisanship as MSNBC and Fox, yet it fails in other ways. Journalists remain underutilized, while “faces” rule the roost.

      Perhaps I am mistaken, but I see a trend of importing more foreign English-language news programs and networks.

      • NBC itself is the mouthpiece of the Democratic party, with ABC and CBS also aspiring to the same mantle, in that order. The assessment of Fox is largely accurate, but we owe Fox a lot: without it, we would not be aware of how much all the news reporting was, is and has been slanted by the 90% Democrats who report it.

        MSNBC, however, is not even a news network, and nobody who watches it objectively would call it the twin of Fox on the Left. Fox does real news; its four anchors are pretty fair, objective and professional. Even Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC has been told to be a wacko: MSNBC is what Fox would be if they cloned Hannity, added Ann Coulter, and gave David Duke a show. No serious news network would hire the likes of Al Sharpton or Melissa Harris-Perry. Did you read the statements from MSNBC as it starts clearing out the dreck about how “going Left was a great strategy but it isn’t working any more, so now they need to [actually start trying to report the news fairly]? That’s all I need to hear about MSNBC. It was a market driven act. MSNBC is a monstrosity.

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