CNN aired some enhanced audio proving that Bill O’Reilly was not at the door of a man involved in the JFK assassination investigation just as he committed suicide, as O’Reilly has previously claimed.
On Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter did a terrific job of exploring the avalanche of new allegations of O’Reilly fabrications that have rained down in the last week, along with Fox’s combative reactions and attacks on journalists as a mode of response. Professor Jay Rosen also nailed how Fox's niche marketing of “resentment news” means that the network's fidelity is more to divisiveness than to truth and facts.
Meanwhile, as if to prove the point, on Fox's MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz ignored all the new allegations and most of the old one. You may recall that last week, Kurtz spent more than 16 minutes interviewing an angry O’Reilly about the first set of questions surrounding his claims about covering the Falklands war in Argentina. Since then, a number of credible people, mostly other reporters who worked with him, have come forward to accuse O’Reilly of embellishing his experiences covering the civil war in El Salvador, the Los Angeles riots and his claim to be on the doorstep of a JFK assassination-investigation figure at the moment he killed himself.
MediaBuzz guest Marisa Guthrie, of The Hollywood Reporter, studiously avoided the merits of any of the accusations and focused instead on suggesting that O’Reilly should not be punished like arguing the differences between O’Reilly and NBC’s Brian Williams.
GUTHRIE: There’s been a real temptation, obviously, to compare this to the Brian Williams situation. There’s a, I think, a much different threshold for a news anchor and an opinion host. And where there’s some question about the facts, or the interpretation of the facts, in Bill O’Reilly’s case, you know, Brian Williams and the network have come out and said, you know, he was wrong, what he did was wrong. They’ve suspended him for six months without pay and launched an investigation. So, I think, there’s a different bar there.
Rather than discuss why there is that different bar and whether it should be different, Guthrie began speaking in sound bites that could have been written by a Fox publicist:
GUTHRIE: Bill has furiously debated his critics, invited them all on his show. And I think, you know, he’s doing what he does best. He’s doing battle. He’s being, he’s lobbing grenades and being the rhetorical pugilist, and so his audience loves to see that.”
Kurtz’s “OK” in response sounded like even he thought she had fallen short in her commentary.
“Fox News said in a statement that Bill O’Reilly has already addressed several claims leveled against him," Kurtz said, before reading Fox's counter-attack that called the claims "an orchestrated campaign by far left advocates Mother Jones and Media Matters" and that responding to the "unproven accusation du jour" would be "an exercise in futility.” Then Kurtz noted that O’Reilly’s ratings last week were up. “What do you make of that?” he asked Guthrie.
That gave her an opportunity for more praise:
GUTHRIE: Bill is at his best when he has an enemy to battle against, to fight. And I think that he’s, you know, legitimately rebutting these accusations and his audience, I think they’re on his side and they want to see him do that. And it’s actually really good TV, and you know, look, if he feels that he’s been maligned, he’s got an enormous megaphone, a big platform where he can go …and legitimately rebut all those charges. t
The thing is, as we wrote about O’Reilly’s answer to the Argentina allegations and CNN noted about the rest, O’Reilly did not legitimately rebut the allegations.
Clearly, Fox News doesn’t care. But what’s Guthrie’s excuse?
Watch the segments below, from yesterday's Reliable Sources, via CNN, and MediaBuzz, via Media Matters.
As for Kurtz, I’m flabbergasted that anyone considers this guy to be a media analyst. He has no guts. He let BOR off too easy during BOR’s call-in interview. The emperor of loud-mouthed commentary has no clothes (i.e. actual, fact-based rebuttal to the charges made against him) and Kurtz just reads the same old PR statements from FOX and touts BOR’s ratings. Ratings and money is all it’s about for the FOX “news” pundits – truth and facts be damned. Btw, Mother Jones is getting a lot more website views too but Kurtz didn’t mention that, did he?
Got it, Guthrie?