By journalism ethics, Fox should distance itself from its truth-challenged employee. But that’s not likely to happen because for Fox and its fans, credibility is established by different means. Having common enemies matters more than factual detail. That’s why Fox has left a canyon-wide gap between its standards and those of NBC.
NBC took its tarnished anchor off the air; Fox let O’Reilly use his show to go on the attack. NBC executives began an investigation of Williams; Fox News CEO Roger Ailespublicly backed his marquee talent. Williams apologized; O’Reilly threatened journalistswriting about him.
NBC tried to make itself better. Fox went to war.
That shouldn’t be a surprise. Fox News was not created to be neutral but rather to feed a hunger among conservatives for a network they could relate to. For decades, the so-called mainstream news media left them with the impression that the press, liberals and the Democratic Party shared the same enemies: them.
And we can count his reported experiences during the 1992 L.A. riots among his growing list of tall-tales. Not that it seems to matter much. Roger Aisles is only riled when a Democrat tells a whopper while his
cash cow boy is granted immunity against the same criticism.
O’Reilly’s role on Fox is quite like the parent who lords over his child with a cigarette in one hand, a beer in the other while shrieking DO AS I SAY NOT AS I DO! And Fox followers are all too willing to play the obedient child.
Here is Media Matters take on this USA TODAY editorial.
============ UPDATE ============
RAW STORY has a detailed account of O’Reilly’s coverage of the L.A. riots in 1992 as witnessed by his colleagues and crew. It’s a good read and I hope you take the time to go to Raw Story and give it your full attention. I’m only posting a snippet of it here because there’s a particular quote I think you will find… shall we say… interesting :)
“There were people putting out fires nearby,” said McKeown. “And Bill showed up in his fancy car.” McKeown said at one point, the driver of O’Reilly’s personal car risked causing further offence by exiting the vehicle with a bottle of Windex and polishing the roof.
“The guy was watching us and getting more and more angry,” said McKeown. “Bill was being Bill — complaining ‘people are in my eye line’ – and kind of being very insensitive to the situation.” Kirkham said: “It was just so out of line. He starts barking commands about ‘this isn’t good enough for me’, ‘this isn’t gonna work’, ‘who’s in charge here?’”
The man shouted abuse at O’Reilly and the team, crew members said, and O’Reilly ordered him to shut up. He asked “don’t you know who I am?’,” according to two members of the team
“The guy lost it,” said McKeown. Enraged, he is said to have leapt on to the team’s flatbed trailer and kicked over a light, before throwing the piece of rubble, which smashed the camera and an autocue screen. Antin said he restrained the man. But O’Reilly then continued taunting him while a producer stood between them. “Come on, you wanna take me? I’ll take you on,” O’Reilly is said to have shouted at him.
McCall said the producer, who is about a foot shorter than O’Reilly, “didn’t have much trouble holding Bill back.” McCall said: “It was a lot more show than anything else on Bill’s part”.
“don’t you know who I am?” seems to be the battlecry of the fake-at-heart. Now, where have we heard this before?