Sunday, March 01, 2015
The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion
It’s been a bad couple of weeks for broadcast “journalists.” First there was the kerfuffle over NBC anchorman Brian Williams, who, it seems, might have embellished some of his adventures covering the Iraq war. Williams, speaking at a tribute to a retired soldier, recalled the time when, so he says, the helicopter he was on was forced down by enemy fire.
He was later forced to recant by soldiers who were there at the time who said Williams didn’t show up until a half-hour to an hour after the incident. Williams apologized and is now on a six-month suspension from NBC News.
Among the harshest critics of Williams was Fox News Host Bill O’Reilly, who said that the incident illustrated “a culture of deception in the liberal media” and that his viewers should question “if other news organizations are distorting the facts.”
By “other news organizations,” of course, O’Reilly means “other than Fox News.” If his viewers began caring about news organizations “distorting the facts,” O’Reilly would be out of a job.
The online liberal magazine Mother Jones delved into some of O’Reilly’s own claims of exploits he had while covering the 1982 Falklands War for CBS. O’Reilly, for example, has repeatedly claimed that he was “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.”
The story ends with O’Reilly dragging his photographer to safety. He disparaged journalist Bill Moyers by sneering, “I missed Moyers in the war zones of [the] Falkland conflict in Argentina, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland. I looked for Bill, but I didn’t see him.” And so on.
O’Reilly also talks about being caught in a “major riot” in Buenos Aires, where “many were killed” and O’Reilly himself had an automatic rifle pointed at him by an Argentine soldier.
Problem is, according to all accounts, no American journalists (and only a tiny handful of British ones) were allowed into the “war zone” in the Falklands, so it’s clear O’Reilly never reported from there. No one else can seem to remember the incident with the photographer.
As for the “major riot” with fatalities, CBS news’s own account (including footage apparently shot by O’Reilly and his team) shows an angry demonstration, but doesn’t show any violence beyond “a man throwing a punch against the car of a Canadian news crew,” according to the Mother Jones article (which actually includes the footage in question).
O’Reilly, confronted with these contradictions, immediately followed Williams’ example, issued a full apology, and went on a six-month hiatus from Fox News.
Ha ha! Just kidding. O’Reilly told Politico that the article was “garbage” and snarled that Corn was a “despicable guttersnipe.”
This was probably a mistake. As I once said to Winston Churchill as we crouched in a bunker during the London Blitz, “Never get into a public fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.” I’ll never forget his reply to me: “Who the bloody [expletive deleted] are you?” Then he threw a Scotch bottle at me. That Winston. What a kidder.
Where both O’Reilly and Williams went wrong is that they began to believe in their own celebrity. The stories they were covering were larger than life, so they felt as if they needed to be larger themselves. It’s a perilous trap, as Master Yoda explained to me right before the attack on the second Death Star: “Forget not my words: the story you are not.”
The difference, however, is summed up in a conversation I had with Arianna Huffington when we were having a drink at the 2012 Democratic Convention. “To be a right-winger,” I told her over apple-tinis, “is to live life without consequences. Accountability is for liberals. If you’re on the right, you can lie, you can make stuff up, and if you get caught at it, all you have to do is claim that you’re the victim of a political vendetta by liberal media and stand your ground. Voila! You’re a right-wing hero.”
I’ll never forget her response: “Security! Over here!”
I think she’s kind of into me. Chicks dig it when I speak French like that. But hey, let’s keep that last part between us. No need to tell the wife. She’s still all stressed out from doing reshoots for the new “Avengers” movie.
THE GOBSHITES SPEAK: I knew this one would get a reaction from the usual gang of idiots, and as always, I'm right. Most of it is in the standard vein of "O'REILLY'S NOT A LIAR, YOU'RE A LIAR BLAGH BLAGH BLAGH! As always, the charge is led by the spasmodically foaming "Francis", who used to post as "Mark," so I've taken to calling him "Mark/Francis":
There's nothing quite so amusing as being called a "coward" by someone who's already admitted in print he's so afraid of me that he doesn't dare post under his own name. Come out from under the rock, "Mark/Francis". I'm pretty sure I know who you are now anyway.
Then of course, there's the weekly" "why are you writing about this" response by the people who can't wait every week to tell me how much they're bored by the column they read every week:
Any time, FarmBoy. Let me know if you ever have anything useful to add.