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PolitiFact Debunks O'Reilly's $16 Muffin Story

Reported by Ellen - October 8, 2011 -

If you've been watching Bill O'Reilly lately, you may have heard about the $16 muffins the federal government reportedly purchased at a conference. O'Reilly crowed about having broken the story during his repartee with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show not long ago. There's only problem... it's mostly not true. Or, as PolitiFact ruled, mostly false. (H/T Alex)

It's true that the Inspector General found a bill for $16 muffins and cited it as an example of wasteful spending. But had O'Reilly really looked into it, he would have found that while the bill was marked for a muffin, it also included a meeting space, beverages and possibly fruit. PolitiFact published a statement from the Inspector General:

"The $16 muffin was based on documentation obtained during the audit showing that the Department was invoiced by the Capital Hilton Hotel $4,200 including gratuity and service charge for 250 muffins. Although we made repeated attempts over several months to reach the Capital Hilton during the course of the audit to discuss its billing, it was not responsive to our numerous requests. Since our report was issued, the Capital Hilton has stated that other food and beverage items, such as coffee, tea, and fruit, were included in the charged amount, but did not provide any supporting documentation. Even if the $4,200 fee included additional food and beverage items, the OIG believes, as stated in our report, that many individual food and beverage items listed on conference invoices and paid by the Department were very costly."

In other words, the federal government may have paid too much for its meeting space and refreshments but there were no $16 muffins. PolitiFact acknowledged that the IG's report did reference a $16 muffin but the Turth-O-Meter's "mostly false" ruling included this reasoning:

While a $16 breakfast is no bargain, it’s not as bad as $16 for a solitary baked good.

Also, O’Reilly made his remarks to Jon Stewart on Sept. 28, after Hilton issued its first statement on Sept. 23 saying the invoices may not have been complete. So the report was under question when O’Reilly debated Stewart. (We contacted O’Reilly for comment, but we didn’t hear back.)

Because the federal government didn't pay $16 for a muffin even if it paid too much for breakfast, we rate O’Reilly’s statement Mostly False.

You can read PolitiFact's entire post here.

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