Bill O'Reilly is a liar. That should come as news to no one. This guy has made himself famous, and likely millions, by simply catering to the lowest common denominator of American Idiocy.
O'Reilly - again - was caught in his lies and by my own hometown Houston Chronicle yesterday. The editorial follows:
The No Facts Zone
Read before you complain Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
James Howard Gibbons editor / opinion pages
The 19th century American writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said of a man, "The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons." Were he alive today, Emerson might be thinking of television host Bill O'Reilly.
On The O'Reilly Factor cable television program Tuesday night, the popular host included a segment that took the Houston Chronicle to task for an editorial that had run the same day. The editorial was entitled Cold comfort: Florida's sex offender law has emotional appeal, but it's not the best way to stop sexual predators from preying on children.
Hang on while I count our spoons:
At the start of the segment, O'Reilly stated that the Chronicle had "taken a lot of shots at me, so it must be left of center." O'Reilly's name has appeared only once in a Chronicle editorial, which concerned not O'Reilly, but Fox News' suit against Al Franken for his use of the phrase "fair and balanced." The suit was thrown out of court.
O'Reilly told his viewers that the Chronicle editorial said the Florida law was too harsh. He was mistaken. The editorial excerpts that O'Reilly projected on the screen said nothing about the harshness of the punishment. The editorial, citing extensive research on this subject, said hooking GPS monitors to sexual predators released from prison might prove less effective than closer supervision by parole officers and other low-tech strategies. The Chronicle did not call for lighter punishment; it called for the adoption of the most effective measures to protect our children.
O'Reilly said the editorial advocated "community service" for sexual predators. It did not.
O'Reilly accused his guest, Austin defense attorney Courtney Anderson, of misleading the audience when she defended the Chronicle editorial. O'Reilly then read what he said was a quote from the editorial. Unfortunately, not one word of what O'Reilly read appeared in the Chronicle editorial or anywhere else in the paper. He and his staff apparently confused someone else's commentary with the Chronicle's.
O'Reilly claims his show is free of spin. Spin is when someone casts the facts in such a light as to reinforce his argument and weaken his opponent's. What O'Reilly did was to disregard the facts altogether, even going so far as to attribute to the Chronicle words and views it did not print and does not espouse. That's not spin; it's misrepresentation that is unprofessional, unwarranted and injurious to the public debate about a serious and urgent issue: protecting children from predators.
The Chronicle's reader representative and letters editor received several complaints about the editorial from people who admitted they hadn't read it, or who attributed to it quotations that did not appear in the editorial.
Before Chronicle readers complain about an editorial, I hope they take the time to read the editorial carefully, rather than relying on someone else's careless characterization of its contents.
I tip my hat to the Chronicle for calling this actor out - he deserves no less.