THE BLOG
02/24/2015 08:17 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Fox Should be 'Fair and Balanced' and Suspend Bill O'Reilly for Lying About a 'War Zone'

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Before his recent controversy, Bill O'Reilly cited a phony statistic in a publication that doesn't exist. Threatening Globe and Mail columnist Heather Mallick with a boycott against Canada, O'Reilly claimed that "they've lost billions of dollars in France according to The Paris Business Review." Mallick was absolutely correct to respond, "I think that's nonsense."

In reality, there is no Paris Business Review. It doesn't exist. O'Reilly cited false information from an imaginary source.

There's a reason Pundit Fact by the The Tampa Bay Times states that only 12% of Bill O'Reilly's recent outlandish statements are "True." On the other hand, 18% of these claims are "Mostly False" and 29% are "False." For example, O'Reilly made the following statement that turned out to have no basis in reality:

"We researched to find out if anybody on Fox News had ever said you're going to jail if you don't buy health insurance. Nobody's ever said it."

Apparently, Fox research is lacking integrity. Glenn Beck talked about a "fun little stint in jail" and others on Fox made similar statements.

Then, in a particularly egregious assault on history, O'Reilly reversed roles in the massacre at Malmedy in WWII during a debate with General Wesley Clark. Ironically, this atrocity is one of the best known examples of war crimes committed against American soldiers, yet O'Reilly claimed Americans had slaughtered Germans. The truth is that Nazi SS soldiers massacred 84 American GI's at Malmedy in Belgium.

Keith Olbermann publicized the gaffe and it speaks volumes that Fox News viewers didn't make more of the incident. For a network that sells patriotism and apple pie, one would think that the slaughter of American GI's would be off limits as a means to legitimize O'Reilly's conservative talking points. Fox News even doctored the original transcript of the debate and then corrected the transcript to reflect O'Reilly's incorrect statements.

Now that we've established his record for twisting reality (there are far more instances than the ones mentioned here), let's discuss the revelations of his war record. If all of America has descended upon Brian Williams for lying, it's only fair and balanced that Bill O'Reilly pay the consequences for his actions. After all, the Fox patriot used his credibility to push for a hawkish stance on everything from the Iraq War to America's war on terrorism. While Brian Williams was an anchorman, O'Reilly used his platform to advocate a course of action that almost always defended war, torture, and being tough on the "bad guys."

He should be held accountable for any issues with his credibility since that's what his persona is based upon; a tough guy who has been through life-altering events.

According to POLITICO's Dylan Byars, Bill O'Reilly might not be Brian Williams, but he did lie about being in a "war zone" and a "combat situation":

He wasn't actually in a "war zone" or "combat situation," as he has often said, but instead at a violent protest. No one appears to have been killed during the riot, despite his claim that "many people died." He was certainly not on the Falkland Islands...

He has said that he was "in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands," which can reasonably be defended as short-hand for "in the Falklands War"

Instead, the debate has shifted to whether or not O'Reilly was actually in "a war zone" or a "combat situation," as he has repeatedly claimed. Well, no, he wasn't. He was present at a violent protest -- or "a riot," or "a demonstration" -- that took place immediately after the conclusion of the war. This is a major embellishment, defensible only under the most forgiving parameters of what constitutes wartime activity.

Another way to describe a "major embellishment" is a lie by omission or just simply, a lie.

A violent protest is not a "war zone." A violent protest is not a "combat situation." A violent protest is a violent protest.

America has vilified Brian Williams for lying and NBC suspended him for six months. Bill O'Reilly was not in a war zone and wasn't in a combat situation. Can anyone explain how O'Reilly is better, or more deserving of leniency than Brian Williams?

As a result, like the Williams saga, veterans have been angered by O'Reilly's embellishment. According to Media Matters, a group of 400,000 veterans named VotVets.org has recently called for Fox to address their television personality in an appropriate manner:

"NBC acted completely appropriately in taking Brian Williams off the air and looking into claims he's made over the years. Fox News has to do the same thing," Jon Soltz, chairman of VoteVets.org, a 400,000-member organization that advocates for vets and military families, said in a statement. "The issue, for me, isn't that Fox has been caught off guard, and didn't realize O'Reilly was telling possibly false tales. That I can accept. It's what do they do about it now? That will tell us a lot about how seriously they take their news organization."

Therefore, veterans have noticed O'Reilly's fabrication of events. Like the Brian Williams story, people who actually fought in war zones and combat situations are affected by the false statements of Bill O'Reilly.

So how will Fox News react?

They've been doubling down in defending O'Reilly, but that's because Fox News sells more than just patriotism and an extremely conservative view of the world. They sell confidence, and enough confidence in American can circumvent the repercussions of lying. There's a reason some people still view Dick Cheney to be a credible presence in American politics.

Fellow CBS News correspondent Eric Engberg who was with O'Reilly in Argentina said their environment "was not a war zone or even close." In fact, Engberg claimed, "It was an 'expense account zone.'"

According to The Guardian, more people have also disputed O'Reilly's claims:

Six other CBS journalists also challenge O'Reilly's claims, CNN reported on Sunday, adding further pressure on the 65-year-old host of the O'Reilly Factor.

So, if you belive the No Spin Zone host, six people are wrong, and an unruly protest is a war zone. Furthermore, Bill O'Reilly experienced a "combat situation" where people died, but cameraman Manny Alvarez who was also in Argentina with him states that, "If somebody got hurt, we all would have known." Echoing Engberg, Alvarez, and others, NBC correspondent George Lewis wrote that it was the "Cushiest war I ever covered."

The truth, of course, is that Fox won't suspend anyone unless public pressure demands they act in a responsible manner. Therefore, like the boycott O'Reilly advocated against France and Canada after the Iraq War, it's time viewers pressure a "fair and balanced" network to act fair and balanced.

If Brian Williams was suspended for six months because of a lie, how long should Bill O'Reilly be suspended?

At some point, he'll no longer be able to hide behind the fact he's an entertainer. He's used his fabricated experiences in war to further his career and it's time he gets the Brian Williams treatment. Say what you want about Williams, but at least he hasn't pushed for wars, advocated torture, bullied people, pandered to prejudice, and divided the country into pinheads and patriots. Williams made a mistake, but Bill O'Reilly has made a career out of similar mistakes. It's only fair and balanced that O'Reilly get suspended for his lies pertaining to war and combat experience.