On this week’s episode of Fox News MediaBuzz with Howard Kurtz, the host invited TV critic David Zurawik to continue the pummeling of Brian Williams, who NBC just announced would be taking a role on MSNBC rather than returning to the anchor desk on the Nightly News.
Brian Williams has only himself to blame for the predicament he finds himself in. It was wholly uncalled for when he invented an exciting but false narrative of his exploits in Iraq. NBC is justified in reassigning him, as would any network be after discovering that their anchor had embellished his resume with fabrications. The problem here is that Fox News spent an entire segment pontificating on the issue of credibility without paying the least bit of attention to their own disgraced anchor, Bill O’Reilly.
O’Reilly was discovered to have lied far more seriously and often than Williams. And after being caught with incontrovertible proof, O’Reilly continued to deny the charges and slander his critics. Unlike Williams, he showed absolutely no remorse or contrition. He accepted no responsibility and even hung his former colleagues out to dry, implying that they were lying. For a quick refresher, here is what News Corpse reported when O’Reilly’s lies were first revealed:
ONE: The parade of falsehoods began with O’Reilly’s claim to have been “on the ground in active war zones” during the Falkland Islands war with the United Kingdom. He wasn’t. And now there is video of him reporting from Buenos Aires, Argentina that contradicts the accounts he gave afterward.
TWO: O’Reilly also claimed to have been outside the Florida home of George de Mohrenschildt where he said that he heard the shotgun blast that marked his suicide. De Mohrenschildt was an associate of Lee Harvey Oswald and was scheduled to testify at a congressional hearing on the JFK assassination. However, a recording of a contemporaneous phone call shows that O’Reilly wasn’t even in Florida when de Mohrenschildt died.
THREE: On another occasion, O’Reilly told a story about how he “saw nuns get shot in the back of the head” in El Salvador. That also was not true and O’Reilly himself admitted it in a statement that said he had actually just seen some “images of violence” but did not witness the incidents himself. Oddly, while admitting that his original assertions were false, he neither apologized nor acknowledged any wrongdoing.
FOUR: This was a similar case where O’Reilly spoke of his visit to Northern Ireland. While there he claimed to have witnessed bombings, however, when challenged Fox News issued a statement similar to the one about El Salvador that said he had merely seen pictures.
FIVE: Then there was the time that O’Reilly was covering the riots in Los Angeles sparked by the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King. He claimed to have been the target of attacks by rioters, however, his associates covering the story deny that any of them were assaulted or injured. They do, however, contend that some tensions flared due to O’Reilly being an asshole.
These fabrications by the guy who pretends to be running a “No Spin Zone” are hardly the only times he has lied. There have been numerous other episodes including bragging about winning two Peabody Awards (he didn’t), and claiming to be a registered Independent (he was a Republican for several years at the time).
Some other incidents may not have been lies technically, just horribly wrong statements that he refused to correct. For instance, he once argued that there were no homeless veterans in America; as proof that his boycott of France was working he offered a report by the “Paris Business Review,” which does not exist; and he insisted, after doing extensive research, that no one on Fox ever said that people who didn’t pay ObamaCare penalties would be subject to prison. PolitiFact gave that one a “Pants on Fire.”
All of that was swept under the rug as Kurtz and Zurawik lit into Williams and suggested that he should not have been given a second chance at MSNBC. Zurawik was apoplectic as he insisted that Williams should have been “banished” and sanctimoniously declared that “the moral reasoning here is so tortured that you have to wonder why would NBC not just end its relationship with him.” He went on to preach about journalistic standards saying that “people who lie in the news business, if you give everybody a second chance, we’re going to have no standards.”
Of course, none of this moralizing is meant to refer to Fox’s own primetime dissembler, Bill O’Reilly. And for some reason Zurawik and Kurtz are not concerned about the morality or credibility of a network that not only doesn’t punish their liars, but lets them continue their multi-million dollar careers without so much as a sideways glance. The reason for that, of course, is that O’Reilly’s lies are not regarded as violating Fox’s standards. In fact, he is the perfect representative of the Fox News 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.
Available now at Amazon.