Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

O'Reilly admits to no research and relying on the work of columnist, wrongly calls SLC Mayor Anderson a liar

Reported by Chrish - March 24, 2007 -

On The O'Reilly Factor tonight 3/23/07, host Bill O'Reilly confessed to not doing journalistic research of his own to follow up a segment from 3/20/07 with Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders contacted him about perceived untruths by Anderson and O'Reilly had her on tonight to accuse the mayor, who was not present in the studio or via satellite to defend himself. O'Reilly's charges of cherry-picking information not only didn't apply to Anderson's comments, but perfectly described what he and Saunders were doing to discredit the mayor.

Let's start at the beginning. On Tuesday March 20, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson appeared on the Factor. Apparently he was chosen to appear because he is calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney and O'Reilly was tasked with discrediting and ridiculing him, labeling him a kook and an irresponsible person. You can watch the whole unedited segment at Deborah's post (recommended). Here follows the clip taken from that segment, also unedited, with the statements pertinent to tonight's smears:

Tonight in his "follow-up segment", O'Reilly complained that one of his hardest jobs is to keep his guests from misleading you, the viewer. He failed miserably tonight. He had guest Debra Saunders, whom he identified as a columnist from the San Francisco Chronicle. Knowing his disdain for all things San Francisco, I wondered at his choice; it turns out, according to Sourcewatch, that she is a syndicated columnist appearing in mostly conservative publications, with a resume ripe with Republican contacts. She apparently was "angered" by Anderson's statement, saying her recollection of the NIE documents was different, so she took it upon herself to take another look.

O'Reilly said he should have done what she did, but he didn't. He assured us it wasn't out of laziness, but rather because, he's "so crazed here," what with all those child molestations he has to detail and all those bikini-shedding sluts he has to psychoanalyze. (OK, I added that last part after the quotes.) He said he "knew" Anderson wasn't telling the truth, but he should have done what she did; she's much smarter than he is.

Saunders recollection, which she confirmed, is that the NIE report of October 2002 said that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical WMDs, no doubt. It also said that most (her emphasis) intelligence agencies thought that SH was working on a nuclear program; while there was one group who was skeptical, most believed he was working towards nukes.

O'Reilly agreed that's what the NIE said, but "Mr. Anderson, if he were (sic) here, would say 'no, no, no, I didn't lie' and he would find a way to justify his remarks - am I wrong?" Saunders began to talk about how people just want to blame Bush for everything, but O'Reilly redirected the topic to Anderson's state of mind. O'Reilly says that Anderson didn't go home thinking he lied, ha ha ha, but if what Saunders said is true - and it's there in black and white! - and what Anderson says isn't true, how does he rationalize that?

Saunders said that's the irony: the Bush-haters always say Bush is selective in his use of the facts, but they're the ones who are! (her emphasis again) So, she continued, here you have this NIE that says they're certain Hussein has bio- and chem-weapons, and most believe he is working on a nuclear program, but they only see what they want to see - which is that there were intelligence experts who had doubts.

(While you're watching the video below you'll see Code Pink people at this point. This is a Factor screw-up; they belong to the next segment.)

O'Reilly agreed with the nodding columnist that it's a selective thing. But, he said, Anderson would never come on and apologize and say look, I didn't tell you the whole story-

"and that's the crux of the matter. Once you get that that ...the other side will do and say anything to make their point, then nothing is trustworthy."

Yes, well, that's the whole raison d'etre of FOX, is it not? To discredit and cause mistrust of the rest of the media so that most people are either so confused or overwhelmed they tune out, and to create the recent paradigm that the truth is not fact-based.

As to the veracity of this segment, it's a crock. Mayor Anderson could "justify" what he said because it is precisely true: the intelligence agency under the State Department, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) disagreed with the Saunders-referenced key judgments:

State/INR Alternative View of Iraq's Nuclear Program

The Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR) believes that Saddam continues to want nuclear weapons and that available evidence indicates that Baghdad is pursuing at least a limited effort to maintain and acquire nuclear weapons-related capabilities. The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons. Iraq may be doing so, but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment. Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program, INR is unwilling to speculate that such an effort began soon after the departure of UN inspectors or to project a timeline for the completion of activities it does not now see happening. As a result, INR is unable to predict when Iraq could acquire a nuclear device or weapon.

In INR's view Iraq's efforts to acquire aluminum tubes is central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, but INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors. INR accepts the judgment of technical experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose. INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets. The very large quantities being sought, the way the tubes were tested by the Iraqis, and the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts are among the factors, in addition to the DOE assessment, that lead INR to conclude that the tubes are not intended for use in Iraq's nuclear weapon program.

Additional reading here and here.

So O'Reilly, who admits he didn't do his homework, is agreeing with Saunders because she shores up his point of view by giving him her selective reading of the NIE report. There is now, in 2007, no doubt that the Bush administration ignored the dissent and doubts that would have made more rational people pause. There was reasonable doubt about the danger faced from Hussein, and O'Reilly and Saunders want to dismiss that selectively to justify their initial and continuing support of the war and Bush.

But O'Reilly will never say "Look, I was wrong and didn't tell you the whole story."

"and that's the crux of the matter. Once you get that that ...the other side will do and say anything to make their point, then nothing is trustworthy."

This is at least the third time (that I'm aware of) Mayor Anderson has been attacked since his appearance on O'Reilly's show when he hasn't been there to defend himself. Fair and balanced? Or set up and knock down? We report, you decide.