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Bill O’Reilly Can’t Admit He Was Wrong About The $16 Muffins

Reported by Ellen - November 4, 2011 -

If you’re an O’Reilly Factor watcher – or even if you just caught Bill O’Reilly on The Daily Show recently – you know that he has been touting his “expose” of the $16 muffins purchased by the federal government at a conference. The only problem? The story has been debunked and retracted. But instead of acknowledging that he made a mistake – even if he had bragged to Jon Stewart about having “broke(n) the story” – O’Reilly got together with Factor ambusher (and Fox Nation editor) Jesse Watters in a ridiculous effort to prove himself right.

After looking into the accusation, PolitiFact ruled O’Reilly’s claim “mostly false” because the $16 included breakfast, tip and possibly the hotel meeting space to go with it. But O’Reilly seemed to have been saved from a “pants on fire” ruling because he got his information from an Inspector General report that cited the $16 muffin as an instance of overspending, based on an invoice from the hotel.

But yesterday, after the hotel in question explained that the invoice marked “muffin” included more than muffins and the IG retracted its claim, Media Matters reported that no Fox News or Fox Business show included in Nexis' data base had issued a correction. Media Matters also noted that O'Reilly had been “particularly aggressive” in his coverage of the muffin story, having covered it on seven different broadcasts - and yet had not made any correction. Coincidentally, it was that same night that O’Reilly got Watters to do a piece that suggests O’Reilly was right.

The fact that FoxNews.com called the video Jesse Watters Searches for $16 Muffin suggests that not even Fox was willing to stand behind the accusation.

But O’Reilly began the segment by nonetheless reporting that taxpayers had “picked up the tab for $16 muffins.” O’Reilly followed up that falsehood with, “Well, the left didn’t like that report and sought to discredit it by saying there was also juice, coffee and fruit included with the $16 muffin. The DOJ latched on to that and retracted the muffin scandal.”

He continued, “But we are not convinced, so we sent Factor Producer Jesse Watters out to find the real story.”

But instead of interviewing anyone at the IG office, anyone at the hotel in question or at similar hotels hosting conferences, Watters went to a fast food counter where he ordered juice, coffee, tea, fruit and a muffin for $6.00. Not exactly comparable to renting a conference space at a hotel. Watters and O'Reilly also forgot to note that the hotel costs included tips and probably refills.

“Would you ever pay $16 for a muffin?” Watters asked with snarky disingenuousness to unsuspecting people on the street.

Without bothering to show any excerpts from the report, Watters later sneered to O'Reilly that there were “more egregious examples” such as a “$5 Swedish meatball, a $7 beef Wellington hors d’oeuvre, and a $10 serving of ice cream. So this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

So after getting the muffin story wrong – and not acknowledging that – we’re supposed to just believe these claims at face value, without any context or serious reporting.

“The bottom line is they just don’t care what they spend,” O’Reilly said.
Actually, the bottom line looks more like O’Reilly doesn’t care about the facts.

As for Watters, maybe he ought to spend more time making sure Fox Nation readers are not hoping to murder people and less time shopping.

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