Another Day, Another O’Reilly Lie

Since Thursday was a day ending in Y, yet another story broke showing that O’Reilly exaggerated his own heroics and courage in the face of danger that didn’t actually take place. This time it’s a story he did for Inside Edition about the LA riots in 1992.

Former colleagues of Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News host whose tales of past reporting exploits are facing renewed scrutiny, have disputed his account of surviving a bombardment of bricks and rocks while covering the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.

Six people who covered the riots with O’Reilly in California for Inside Edition told the Guardian they did not recall an incident in which, as O’Reilly has claimed, “concrete was raining down on us” and “we were attacked by protesters”.

Several members of the team suggested that O’Reilly may instead be overstating a fracas involving one disgruntled Los Angeles resident, who smashed one of their cameras with a piece of rubble.

Two of the team said the man was angered specifically by O’Reilly behaving disrespectfully after arriving at the smoking remains of his neighbourhood in a limousine, whose driver at one point began polishing the vehicle. O’Reilly is said to have shouted at the man and asked him: “Don’t you know who I am?”

That certainly sounds like O’Reilly, doesn’t it?

O’Reilly has on several occasions referred to a perilous situation he said that he endured while covering the riots in Los Angeles for Inside Edition, the syndicated news magazine show that he fronted between 1989 and 1995.

“They were throwing bricks and stones at us,” O’Reilly told an online interviewer in 2006. “Concrete was raining down on us. The cops saved our butts that time.” Earlier this week, he told the broadcaster Hugh Hewitt: “We were attacked, we were attacked by protesters, where bricks were thrown at us.”

Inside Edition colleagues from the time who were in Los Angeles with O’Reilly — reporters Bonnie Strauss, Tony Cox and Rick Kirkham, and crew members Theresa McKeown, Bob McCall and Neil Antin — told the Guardian that they did not recall such an incident.

Kirkham, the show’s lead reporter on the riots, was adamant that it did not take place. “It didn’t happen,” he said. “If it did, how come none of the rest of us remember it?”

Tonya Freeman, the head of the show’s library at the time, said: “I honestly don’t recall watching or hearing about that. I believe I probably would have remembered something like that.”

So it’s another situation where O’Reilly claims that something very dramatic happened that makes him look like the brave hero of the situation while everyone else who was there says he’s full of shit. Fox News, however, doesn’t care:

A spokeswoman for Fox News declined to respond to detailed questions about O’Reilly’s recollections of the Los Angeles riots. She said in a statement that claims casting doubt on his statements were “nothing more than an orchestrated campaign by far left advocates”.

“Bill O’Reilly has already addressed several claims levelled against him,” the spokeswoman said. “Responding to the unproven accusation du jour has become an exercise in futility. Fox News maintains its staunch support of O’Reilly, who is no stranger to calculated onslaughts.”

A completely empty and meaningless response. It does not address the evidence that shows O’Reilly has been lying, evidence that is indisputable. Jeff Morley has audio of O’Reilly saying he was in Dallas from the very night he later claimed to be in Florida, again to put himself at the center of story inaccurately. But Fox News is playing the “we’re under attack by our enemies” card rather than actually addressing the facts. Can’t say that I blame them, though. Facts have never been their strong suit.

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  • StevoR

    Fox news living up to its usual alternate spelling (faux) again.

  • John Pieret

    Faux News is in the propaganda business. You can’t expect them to ditch one of their chief propagandists.

  • Michael Heath

    Fox News correctly notes that Bill O’Reilly is part of the tribe they help lead while O’Reilly’s critics are not. Therefore the critics accusations are to be avoided regardless of the truth or O’Reilly’s misdeeds. That or they’ll exploit the criticism to reinforce Fox and their viewers’ allegiance to the conservative Christian tribe.

    Fox News is depending on their fellow tribal members not realizing the implication of this reaction for the population that they represent. That their current behavior is an easily predictable attribute of conservative Christian loyal given that to be a conservative Christian is to lie.

    That doesn’t mean Mr. O’Reilly might not suffer career-wise since dishonesty is not openly claimed by conservative Christians. As we all realize, conservative Christians are prone to arguing they “know the Truth” [sic]. Sometimes the movement will sacrifice one of it’s own in order to maintain lies about their negative attributes while being the exact opposite. E.g., Sen. Trent Lott being fired for a benignly racist comment when harmful racism remains a rewarded attribute of conservative Christians – and required of nearly all its politicians.

    So there may still be interesting implications to come for Mr. O’Reilly – including him self-imploding since his ego is so fragile. But what we can assert with supreme confidence is that this event will in no way cause conservative Christians to become honest and confront reality. Those are attributes that taken on, would cause the person to no longer be a conservative Christian (read American authoritarian) as Bob Altemeyer observed in his studies.

  • colnago80

    According to an article in today’s Washington Post, O’Reilly’s ratings have improved since the revelations. I suspect that, even if there are more such revelations, O’Reilly will weather the storm and come out ahead.

  • thebookofdave

    Fox News is playing the “we’re under attack by our enemies” card rather than actually addressing the facts.

    That’s only to be expected when the facts counterattack.

  • John Pieret


    O’Reilly’s ratings have improved since the revelations.

    While I have no reason to think so, one can imagine that the increase in ratings is due to rational people tuning in in hopes of seeing a China-Syndrome-like meltdown of BillyO on air.

  • wildbill

    O’Reilly has to love this whole thing. People are applying the same standard to him that is applied to real journalists and real news organizations. In a back-handed way it is giving him and fox the appearance of credibility they don’t have (but crave). So now Fox and O’Reilly can say, “see we do serious journalism, otherwise why would they be after us?”

    Call it what it is: fiction on an entertainment channel (Murdoch even has “Fox News” grouped in his entertainment division, And then ignore him and fox in any discussion of journalism.

  • Scott Hanley

    We should make an honest man out of Bill — let’s throw rocks at him.

  • lorn

    John Pieret @2 is correct. Fox is propaganda outlet. Essentially, Pravda for the American right.

    The distortions are, true for all propaganda sources, a feature, not a flaw. If they told the truth and placed it in the proper context their reason for existence would be lost.

    Fox is a safe outlet for wingnuts to have on in the background because it doesn’t report anything in a way that would contradict the conventional wisdom inside the right-wing bubble. More than one home I’ve visited has Fox News on essentially 24/7 with people falling asleep and waking to the drone. Scary.

    Mouthing right-wing talking points, hammered in by 24/7 exposure to Fox, is the American conservative version of Muslims loudly proclaiming Allahu Akbar.

  • StevoR

    @8. Scott Hanley : “We should make an honest man out of Bill — let’s throw rocks at him.”

    Let’s not.

    How would that make him honest as opposed to just injured or dead?