With the advent and growth of the Internet, social media, and communication technology as a whole, it’s become almost impossible to be a public figure and a liar at the same time. If someone in the public spotlight says something that’s untrue, even if it was said a long time ago, chances are the truth is going to eventually come out.
The recent Brian Williams controversy is a prime example. Granted, 2003 isn’t that long ago, but it was still well before social media and the blogosphere really exploded into the massive form of information and communication that it is now. To be honest, I’m surprised it took this many years for the truth to finally come out.
But the truth finally did catch up to Williams and he was suspended from his duties at NBC News, as he should have been. Personally, I don’t ever see him returning to that anchor chair. When you’re someone who people are supposed to trust to deliver them information, it’s hard to recover from being caught in an embarrassing lie that you perpetuated for well over a decade. Once that trust is broken, there’s really no getting it back. And, sadly for Williams, this will be something that he’ll never be able to live down.
Well, a similar controversy is currently brewing involving Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. It’s somewhat ironic considering that while he was covering the Williams scandal, he suggested that it should be a catalyst for people to be more skeptical of the information they’re being told by individuals in the media.
Little did he know that he would become the first victim of that scrutiny, with Mother Jones breaking a story concerning the Fox News host and comments he made about his wartime reporting experience when he worked for CBS during the early 80’s. O’Reilly has made several bold claims about his experience during conflict in the Falklands between the United Kingdom and Argentina, including an account of saving his cameraman’s life while being chased by soldiers.
There’s just one problem – it seems American reporters weren’t allowed anywhere near the islands where the fighting was going on. In fact, according to most people who would have been around O’Reilly at that time, American reporters were 1,200 miles away in Buenos Aries.
O’Reilly has since lashed out in a tirade of personal attacks at the writer who broke the story, David Corn.
Well, on his show last night O’Reilly seemed to backtrack a little on his claims that he was in the fighting, stating that he never once claimed to be on the islands.
Except, as Corn pointed out, he has stated before that he was “in a war zone” and “in the Falklands”:
In a way, it’s impossible to win a debate with O’Reilly because he is not bound by reality. In response to the article, he told Fox News’ media reporter, Howard Kurtz, “Nobody was on the Falklands and I never said I was on the island, ever.” Yet our article included video of O’Reilly saying in 2013, “I was in a situation one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands, where my photographer got run down and then hit his head and was bleeding from the ear on the concrete. And the army was chasing us.” Note the words “war zone” and “in the Falklands.” (Source)
Corn is literally using O’Reilly’s exact words, and it’s really ticking him off. But I love how Corn said that you can’t win a debate with O’Reilly because he’s not bound by reality. When it comes to the vast majority of conservatives, that pretty much sums it up.
Naturally, O’Reilly is trying to paint this as nothing more than a petty attack by the left-wing media. That might be a valid complaint, except for the fact that all Corn is doing is using facts vs. O’Reilly’s own words – and they simply aren’t matching up.
Now, will any of this materialize into anything? Probably not. The entire story itself is extremely complex and the truth is conservative pundits aren’t held to the same standard as others in the media. Think about it. Brian Williams was suspended for some lie that really hurt nobody but himself; meanwhile the entire network of Fox News is being sued by the city of Paris because they supported and promoted blatant anti-Muslim propaganda against the city – and not a single person on the network was disciplined for it.
So while this whole thing has made for a few good stories, and I always enjoy when someone gets to stick it to O’Reilly, anyone who thinks he’s going to suffer the same fate as Williams is simply fooling themselves. As most of us are well aware, the conservative media holds itself to a much lower standard of integrity than most of the rest of the media.
Watch O’Reilly’s comments below via Fox News: