Accuracy in Media

Clicking through the radio dial on a drive through Virginia the other day, I had the occasion to listen to Bill O’Reilly posturing as a political independent who takes on the left and right. He said he had come under attack by a “right-wing” website because he wouldn’t interview Ed Klein, the author of The Truth About Hillary. I presume he’s referring to Accuracy in Media. We have done extensive reporting on the coverage of the Klein book and have found it strange that O’Reilly has joined with the liberal media in suppressing discussion of the serious charges in the book.  O’Reilly claims it constitutes a “personal attack” on Senator Clinton when the book is an examination of her character. We headlined our AIM Report on the matter, “Character Counts for Hillary Clinton.” It counts for O’Reilly, too.  If he wants to debate it, give me a call.

Ironically, as noted by NewsMax, O’Reilly has commented on his show about how the Times “is out to destroy” author Ed Klein. At that point, O’Reilly had counted eight negative articles about the Klein book. Yet he refuses to give Klein any air time to discuss his book or the attacks on him. O’Reilly has devoted many stories to the Natalee Holloway case in Aruba, raising all kinds of questions about possible suspects in the case, but he can’t bring himself to interview a respected journalist who has researched the truth about Senator Clinton. This doesn’t make much sense, unless you conclude that O’Reilly doesn’t want to engage in “personal attacks” because he is so vulnerable to them. The sexual harassment charges lodged by a former associate were a big embarrassment for him. He settled those charges with a big pay-out before they went to court.

It’s also strange that O’Reilly has been attacking the New Hampshire Union Leader, the most conservative newspaper in the state, for its stand on passing a new law protecting children from child molesters and killers. On his show O’Reilly said the newspaper had “opposed” the law and he called the newspaper “cowards” for “declining” to appear on his program. Union Leader editorial writer Drew Cline said O’Reilly “deliberately misrepresented” the newspaper’s position on the issue. He could not appear on that particular program because of a prior commitment.

As reported by the paper itself, Cline said that “I personally told his producer that we do not oppose the law and we did not oppose stiffer penalties for child sex offenders. I also said one reason we weren’t prepared to endorse the law as is, is that we might favor longer mandatory sentencing for child sex offenders. He had the information and didn’t give it to his viewers, so he could set up a straw man and knock it down. I guess that kind of bullying makes him feel good about himself, but it’s terrible journalism. It’s not journalism at all.”

This is important to remember: Contrary to what O’Reilly said, Cline said that the paper is questioning whether the law might be too lenient, not too harsh!

The paper ran an editorial entitled, “Oh, really, O’Reilly? Blustering Bill misstates our position.”

The paper said, “Our position on the Lunsford Act was perfectly clear. It is, simply, that the attorney general should study it before anyone decides that this specific law is the one New Hampshire should adopt. O’Reilly took that position and twisted it into something wholly unrecognizable, as a baboon would demolish a lump of Play-Doh.”

Eventually, New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid appeared on the O’Reilly show. But O’Reilly engaged in a temper tantrum, frequently interrupting McQuaid and not permitting him a chance to make his points. Finally, O’Reilly had to apologize for getting overheated.

McQuaid ended up calling O’Reilly a “tinhorn,” a term O’Reilly said he was unfamiliar with. It means a petty braggart who pretends to be rich and important. O’Reilly is rich and thinks he’s important.

In another embarrassment, the Fox News Channel has apologized for airing an interview with John Loftus, a commentator for Fox News, who described a grocery store owner in California named Iyad K. Hilal as a terrorist and gave his home address on the air. The Los Angeles Times reported that his family, including a wife and three children, were “plunged into an unsettling routine of drivers shouting profanities, stopping to photograph their house and?most recently?spray-painting a slogan on their property.”

A Fox spokesman said, “John Loftus has been reprimanded for his careless error, and we sincerely apologize to the family.”

Loftus said, “I’m terribly sorry about that. I had no idea. That was the best information we had at the time.”

O’Reilly should act just as quickly to correct his comments about the Union Leader. Then he should interview Ed Klein on the air.

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