Last night Rachel Maddow reported on the downward spiral of Bill O’Reilly’s already shaky credibility. Since reports last month about his false statements placing him “in a war zone…in the Falklands,” the cascade of additional lies has accelerated exponentially. Just keeping up with the new revelations is difficult, so News Corpse provided this handy summary:
On her program Maddow ran through a partial list of the lies exposed so far, including the Falklands affair, the misrepresentations of his experiences in Northern Ireland and El Salvador, and his blatantly dishonest account of being present when a figure associated with the Kennedy assassination committed suicide. She spent a fair amount of time on the latter, with audio tapes of O’Reilly debunking himself. But a highlight of her report was the response she got after requesting a statement from Fox News:
“We asked them for comment of the substance of the allegations. What they sent us was a lot of information about how great Bill O’Reilly’s ratings are.”
That’s a fairly typical response from the Fox News PR department that seems to think that having a large number of easily duped viewers is evidence of truthful reporting. To the contrary, it’s the fact that there are so many gullible Fox watchers that makes lying to them so easy. What Fox defenders fail to understand is that volume does not equal quality. McDonald’s is the number restaurant in America, but few people would say that it has the best food.
Maddow’s commentary on O’Reilly was couched in a dialogue that addressed what happens “when cable news goes wobbly.” She related the O’Reilly situation to other incidents of the sort of error-prone reporting that occurs when being first is more important than being right. However, O’Reilly has had years to shape his storytelling and, if necessary, correct the record, but instead has repeated the falsehoods with every new opportunity. This makes it clear that his intent all along has been to deceive. And that’s a problem for both him and the network he represents. As Maddow said…
“The Fox News channel has a problem now. They have a problem with the face of their network, their flagship anchor, having all of this stuff trailing him around with no plausible explanation for what exactly he said and did and why they haven’t tried at least to fix it. The network has also not apologized or retracted any of Mr. O’Reilly’s overt threats to other reporters who have just covered this story about the real credibility they have got with him right now.”
Indeed, O’Reilly has the highest rated program on Fox News. He is the first person most people would think of if asked to name a Fox News personality. And he is a pathological liar. However, the rational observation that that would be problematic for Fox may not be entirely accurate. After all, Fox News has made its reputation by lying incessantly in support of their right-wing political agenda. They slander liberals and exalt conservatives. They ridicule progressive policies and push those that advance the interests of the conservative elite. So the question of whether or not O’Reilly hurts Fox needs further analysis.
There is no shortage of examples of Fox’s brazen dishonesty and disregard for journalistic ethics. Their mangling of the truth was baked into their pseudo-news recipe from the day they debuted. So why would it trouble them if their featured anchor is a proven prevaricator? In fact, O’Reilly is the perfect representative of the Fox brand. He’s the biggest liar on the network of lies. If the bulk of your programming is littered with partisan bullcrap, than Bill O’Reilly isn’t a problem at all. He’s your poster boy.
News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
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