Bryan Fischer Award Nominee: Bill O’Reilly

The Bryan Fischer Award is given to those who show a staggering lack of self-awareness, accusing their enemies of exhibiting their own worst traits. The winner this time is Bill O’Reilly, who is as oblivious to his own faults and contradictions as it is humanly possible to be. Here he is criticizing Brian Williams for making up the story about a helicopter crash:

Bill O’Reilly tonight weighed in tonight after NBC News’ Brian Williams recanted a story about being in a helicopter that was forced down by RPG fire.

Williams has told the story multiple times, including on “The Late Show With David Letterman.”

“You go on ‘Letterman’ and you wanna please, you wanna be interesting, you wanna be fascinating, you wanna be cool […] he wants to be cool,” O’Reilly said. “That was the narrative that he invented for himself to be cool.”

To be fair, he may be absolutely right about that. Brian Williams may have invented the story out of whole cloth to make himself look good. While we’re on that subject though, Bill, how about that lie you told repeatedly about Inside Edition winning multiple Peabody Awards for excellence in journalism? In an interview in 2000, he made this claim several times:

ARTHEL NEVILLE (former Fox News anchor): You hosted Inside Edition —

O’REILLY: Correct.

NEVILLE: — which is considered a tabloid show.

O’REILLY: By whom?

NEVILLE: By many people.

O’REILLY: Oh, does that mean —

NEVILLE: And even you —

O’REILLY: — we throw the Peabody Awards back?

NEVILLE: Even you — even you would admit to that. Come on, now.

O’REILLY: No, I wouldn’t.

NEVILLE: Come on, now.

O’REILLY: I would not.

NEVILLE: And despite your fight to be a hard-hitting journalist, some people would say you sold out.

O’REILLY: Well, they’re crazy.

NEVILLE: You sold it.

O’REILLY: We won Peabody Awards.

NEVILLE: You got a lot of money, and you sold out.

O’REILLY: We won Peabody Awards.

A year later, on his Fox News show, he swore that he had never said any such thing:

O’REILLY: I’ll give you an example. Guy says about me, couple of weeks ago, “O’Reilly said he won a Peabody Award.” Never said it. You can’t find a transcript where I said it. You — there is no one on earth you could bring in that would say I said it. Robert Reno in Newsday, a columnist, writes it in his column, calls me a liar, all right? And it’s totally fabricated. That’s attack journalism. It’s dishonest, it’s disgusting, and it hurts reputations.

When shown the transcripts and video of him saying exactly that, he then said that he got confused between the Peabody Award and the Polk Award — which Inside Edition did win once…a year before O’Reilly became the host of the show. Gee Bill, did you make all that up to make yourself look cool too?

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  • colnago80

    Apparently, ole Brian also exaggerated a story about Kaytusha rockets flying under a heliocopter he was riding in during the Israel/Lebanon war in 2006.

  • jufulu

    And don’t forget the four wars he fought w/ his pen.

  • d.c.wilson

    Hell, Bill invented the War on Christmas. Can Brian Williams say he made up an entire war just to make himself look good? No, I don’t think so.

  • theschwa

    @3, Ironically enough, Brian Williams took those RPG hits during the war on Christmas. He was on a mission to fire Santa Claus statues at a nativity display on church lawn.

  • Alverant

    Except Billo the Clown isn’t a newscaster, he just offers his opinion during prime time on a network that claims to be about news.*

    * Of course it’s a fig leaf excuse, but it’s one I’ve heard conservatives use.

  • caseloweraz

    And let us not forget Billo’s early claim that he was brought up in a poor household in Levittown, NY. Al Franken demolished that one in Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them.

  • cptdoom

    Even more disgustingly, O’Reilly was a leading propagandist against Dr. George Tiller, the physician assassinated in his church because he provided a medical service people didn’t like. O’Reilly maliciously and willfully misled his audience regarding the reasons women went to Dr. Tiller for late-term abortions, even calling him “Tiller the Baby Killer,” although of course he denied it later.

  • wreck

    O’Reilly lying? Say it ain’t so. He was probably on a falafel high and misremembered.

  • Michael Heath

    I find this sort of theater very frustrating. A mainstream journalist is found to be lying, his career is at least jeopardy if not in ruins.

    Conservative Christians on the other hand lie all the time. It’s rare to find them not lying. On Fox News you can typically count the first lie in seconds, not minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, or decades – but seconds.

    Even mainstream journalists will go after other main-stream journalists for lying while idiotically failing to consider that lie and liar within the context of all lies told by the media, the sources of all those lies, and the harm done by all those lies.

    So yeah, let’s ostracize Brian Williams for lying. I’m all for that. But at the same time let’s do the same to all the other journalists who’ve lied far more often, especially those whose lies brought suffering to at least millions.

    As always, conservative Christians still struggle to appreciate the moral to story regarding the speck in another’s eye vs. the board in their own. And even we non-believers allow them to get away with it.

  • tacitus

    Yeah, the main headline (in scary red letters) on Alex Jones’s Infowars last night claimed that a tactical nuke had just gone off in the Ukraine (in reality, a chemical factory exploded).

    Lots of comments on the article pointed out how dumb the “report” was (they actually posted a photo of a sunrise believing it was a picture of the mushroom cloud taken from a NASA satellite!), and the about only rebuttals offered were along the lines of “Well, Brian Williams sucks!”

  • llewelly

    When it comes to pushing falsehoods, Bill is clearlly a professional rightfully criticizing an amatuer.

  • abb3w


    One defense of O’Reilly (elaborated here) is at the pronoun “We”; essentially, that the wording is such that O’Reilly may indeed never claimed to have personally won a Peabody, but rather that the program he was part of had won one.

    Contrariwise, that appears at best a technically correct defense of O’Reilly asserting that he never said he had won a Peabody Award. Nohow, it is true that he claimed “We won Peabody Awards”; and while I’ve not read through the complete list myself, a quick Google of the Peabody Awards website indicates that Inside Edition never got one… a detail that the defense above neglects to address.

  • lorn

    Fact is that memory is plastic and every time you remember an event it becomes subject to change. Following the versions Brian Williams offered it was all very clear at first. He was in a string of helicopters. A helicopter ahead of his was hit with an RPG round. Several helicopters in the string were fired upon by AKs.

    As the story advanced outside of what Williams said the term ‘fired upon’ was associated with the more serious RPG attack, which could have caused the helicopter to explode and fall out of the sky, while the small arms fire was gradually dropped even though, had it hit a helicopter in the right place, it could also cause any of them to stop flying. As it was the RPG didn’t cause the helicopter to explode and fall out of the sky. It had missed the more vital components. The pilot was forced to make a landing in hostile territory.

    As for the small arms fire, the reports I’ve hear varied from at least one claim, not by Williams, that helicopter was hit in a non-vital area with no casualties, to a report that whereas many Iraqis were firing none hit any of the helicopters. Luck, lack of skill shooting at helicopters, and altitude work hand-in-hand.

    As the story was retold it remained clear that Williams could legitimately say his helicopter was fired upon, or, alternately that they were fired upon by small arms. Iraqis were shooting at the entire string with small arms. He could not say the helicopter he was in was struck by an RPG. When ‘fired upon’ became synonymous with ‘hit by an RPG’ without any differentiation or specificity the whole thing was set up to be misstated and, in time, misremembered.

    I really doubt Brian Wilson consciously made the decision to change the story of what happened a well over decade ago. That it is so damn easy to watch the story get misstated, mostly by people other than Williams, and served back to Williams makes it clear to me that this is another case of memory plasticity.

    As I pointed out in the case of the Ferguson shooting witnesses are the lowest form of evidence. Human being are not recording devices.

  • ehmm

    Google “paris business review”.

    In order to rebut a point that countered his argument (and presumably deflated his ego) O’really cites a B.S. statistic from a made up source. He has never acknowledeged or apologized for this to my knowledge.

  • felidae

    Here’s an even better one–from Bill’s radio show:

    I’ll tell you what. I’ve been in combat. I’ve seen it, I’ve been close to it… and if my unit is in danger, and I’ve got a captured guy, and the guy knows where the enemy is, and I’m looking him in the eye, the guy better tell me. That’s all I’m gonna tell you. The guy better tell me. If it’s life or death, he’s going first.

    Roger from Portland

    You just said you’ve been in combat, but you’ve never been in the military, have you?

    Bill O’Reilly

    No, I have not.

    Roger from Portland

    Then why do you say you’ve been in combat?

    Bill O’Reilly

    Why do I say that, Roger? Because I was in the middle of a couple of firefights in South and Central America.

    Roger from Portland

    But you were a media guy.

    Bill O’Reilly

    Yeah. A media guy with a pen, not a gun. And people were shooting at me, Roger.

    The Radio Factor (Fox News Talk), 18 January 2005

  • dan4

    It’s revealing that O’Reilly didn’t respond to Reno’s column with what he ACTUALLY said about the winning of Peabody Awards (clearly giving his audience the impression that he never said anything at all about the subject, not that Reno didn’t precisely quote O’Reilly’s original statement accurately). I think he knows that “We won Peabody Awards!” is, if not outright a lie, misleading as hell.