It’s hard for me to defend anything or anyone related to statements made on FOX ‘News.’ This right wing tool continually tells its viewers what they want to hear regardless of the truth. Bill O’Reilly is seldom accurate on his nightly tirades, but when he, or any other entertainment personality, is attacked for an erroneous statement which is harmless in the telling of a story, I must defend them. Unless he or she is reading directly from a teleprompter, misstatements easily occur.
Brian Williams, the highest rated news reporter on broadcast television, was thrown under the bus by NBC. Mr. Williams was in Iraq during the early stages of its invasion by the United States. His report in 2003 was accurate, but when he attempted to honor the men and women who protected him while he was there on his nightly news show, he made an incorrect statement. He later apologized, but NBC failed to stand by their asset. Because of its cowardice, I personally hope he chooses never to return to the network. I have also refused to watch the program since he was suspended.
Bill O’Reilly will not face suspension from FOX, they simply couldn’t afford to lose him, but the media is enjoying its opportunity to attack him for inaccurate statements.
David Corn appeared on FOX News between 2001 and 2008. He is now a contributor on MSNBC. He has accused O’Reilly for statements which were similar to those of Mr. Williams. Several claims by Mr. O’Reilly that he was in war zones are false, and he denies ever making such statements.
At the center of Corn’s accusation is a statement by O’Reilly that he was ‘on the ground in Argentina’ during the battle for the Falklands Island. He also stated that he had been in combat zones in El Salvador, Northern Ireland, and the Middle East.
The problem with all of this is that Mr. O’Reilly said that no one was on the Falklands, and that he never claimed to have been there.
When television personalities talk as much as Mr. O’Reilly, he is likely to misspeak on numerous occasions. Fact checking proves that Mr. O’Reilly has made inaccurate statements on many occasions, but is this latest criticism fair? Probably not.
Did Mr. Williams and Mr. O’Reilly report from combat zones? Certainly. Were they in highly stressful situations? Without a doubt. But here’s the difference between the two men.
Mr. Williams is a respected newsman. Mr. O’Reilly is a FOX News personality who is paid to create controversy.
O’Reilly’s latest rant concerns an attempt to repeat the Crusades of the eleventh century. He is advocating a ‘holy war.’ The FOX News personality is suggesting that there must be a war between Christians and Muslims.
I am in no way a fan of Mr. O’Reilly, but I do believe he is intelligent enough to know that not all followers of the religion of Islam are extremists. His efforts to raise the emotional level of his audience and increase ratings will likely be successful, but he is not being truthful.
He does not acknowledge the fact that a holy war has existed for decades, and it is directed at us. The campaign for ‘religious freedom’ is in truth an effort by the religious right to deny the rights of anyone who is not a Christian, or whose lifestyle is not within the confines of Christian doctrine.
While Mr. O’Reilly ranted about the need for ministers to lead a holy war, he failed to acknowledge the dangers all religions proffer. If he took the time to read the Quran, he would learn that women are held in higher esteem by Islamists than in the Christian, Jewish, or Mormon faiths. The religious right has been waging a ‘holy war’ against women and the LGBT community for decades. This religious cult owns the Republican Party, and is the cause for a large percentage of why our government is broken.
Mr. O’Reilly needs to be factual with everything he says. A misspoken statement is the least of his problems.
Commentary by James Turnage