Coulter's questionable corrections (10/23)

By Bryan Keefer

Ann Coulter, whose error-filled work has recently come in for increasing scrutiny, is firing back at her critics in a new syndicated column. And, while she admits to correcting a few of the numerous errors in her book Slander, some of those corrections are no better than her original mistakes. (Read the whole column).

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10/23/2003 08:27:20 AM EST |

O'Reilly continues dissembling (10/22)

By Brendan Nyhan

Bill O'Reilly, the host of "The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News and a syndicated radio show, has come under increasing attack in recent months from ideological opponents and a generally hostile press, particularly after having been caught making several deceptive statements. In a new syndicated column, he has lashed back, misrepresenting coverage he attributes to "liberal media bias."

In the column, O'Reilly alleges that he is now described as a "gasbag," "bully," "liar" or "blowhard" in "hard news stories":

For decades, they [liberals] controlled the agenda on TV news. That's over. So, they're counterattacking. My name is no longer Bill O'Reilly. It's "gasbag," "bully," "liar" and "blowhard." Those descriptions are not confined to opinion pieces but are used in hard news stories as well. There's good news, though. Never again will some news organizations be able to claim fairness or nonpartisanship. They've been exposed for all to see.

If true, the use of these crude attacks would be astonishing proof of liberal bias. But the truth is that O'Reilly is being tricky about who is really calling him these names.

A search of the Nexis news database for "Bill O'Reilly" and each of the names O'Reilly claims he is being called over the past year reveals that hard news reporters have not applied such labels to O'Reilly without attribution. In writing about the controversy that surrounds O'Reilly, reporters have quoted statements from critics who use the terms or attributed them to critics who have expressed such a view.

In hard news stories over the past year, the words "bully," "liar" and "blowhard" have always been attributed to Al Franken, who attacks O'Reilly in his new book Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them), or other O'Reilly critics. (The terms have also appeared in various opinion, feature and review columns expressing the opinion of various authors.)

As for "gasbag," the term appeared in a Newsweek "Newsmaker" column introducing an interview with rapper Ludacris. The column also featured gossip about musician Courtney Love allegedly breaking windows at her former boyfriend's house - hardly a "hard news" story. (Again, the term was used in opinion and feature columns.)

One wonders what O'Reilly expects -- the job of journalists is to report the news. Given his history of attacks on guests on his show, his critics and others, O'Reilly clearly has no problem with invective. If those attacks are newsworthy, he should expect to be quoted or cited by reporters -- and the same applies to his critics. The press may treat O'Reilly harshly sometimes, but reporting his opponents' criticisms is in itself no proof of bias.

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Related links:
-O'Reilly repeatedly misquotes Glick (Brendan Nyhan, 10/16/03)

10/22/2003 06:17:04 PM EST |