Bill O’Reilly Lies

I love that scene in Sense and Sensibility (yeah, besides being a girly-man who loves opera, I can’t get enough of Jane Austen adaptations) when Alan Rickman’s Colonel Brandon is finally divulging his history, and he tells Emma Thompson’s Elinor Dashwood, “No doubt — no doubt — you have already been told…” The emphasis on the second “no doubt,” and the knowing look he gives Elinor, are great.

Anyway, no doubt you have already heard about the ongoing feud between Bill O’Reilly and Al Franken (among others) over O’Reilly’s habit of lying and bullying, and then lying and bullying some more in an effort to silence those who are pointing out his lying and bullying.

Another in the seemingly endless series of examples of that was provided a few days ago, in a column O’Reilly wrote for the New York Daily News: I’m feeling the sting of media’s lefty bias. It’s a long rant about Franken (well, he doesn’t mention Franken by name, but that’s who he’s talking about) and all the sympathetic coverage Franken’s been getting from those left-wing media outlets. In his typical way, O’Reilly works himself up to a righteous fit by the end of the piece, which concludes thusly:

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. Excuse me for a moment – something just went whizzing by my head.

Hard news stories referred to him as a “gasbag”? Wow. Except that, of course, it isn’t true. See the following debunking from Spinsanity’s Brenden Nyhan: O’Reilly continues dissembling. Those terms were used in opinion pieces, or, in the case of straight news stories, were directly attributed to people like Franken.

(Update: Alerted by commenter John Q., I actually followed up on that “gasbag” reference in Newsweek, and it’s true: the magazine did refer to him as such in introducing an interview with rapper Ludacris in a feature for the “Newsmakers” section — Newsweek’s equivalent of People magazine, sort of. Still not a hard news story, as O’Reilly claimed, but not an opinion piece, either. The Spinsanity piece makes this clear; I didn’t. Oops.)

So I go back and look at what O’Reilly wrote in his piece, and glory be, he didn’t really lie, at least if you’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and employ the kind of hypertechnically strict linguistic parsing that seems to be as necessary a tool for modern life as, say, lungs. What he said was that those descriptions were “used” in hard news stories. Well, saying, “Al Franken repeatedly characterized O’Reilly as a ‘lying gasbag bullly’ in his remarks” would be “using” those terms, wouldn’t it?

Yes. No. Maybe.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter. When someone says something that is hypertechnically true, from a certain point of view, but does so in a way that meets the reasonable-person standard for having been intentionally crafted to create a false impression, that’s a lie. It just is.

Yeah, I know O’Reilly got beaten up by his dad as a kid, and had his big defining moment in life at 17, when he realized that he was now bigger and stronger than his dad, and didn’t need to be physically afraid of him anymore. And yeah, I realize that the psychological damage from such a childhood could well contribute to someone’s becoming a bully who sincerely believes, on some level, that he is being righteous and just in lashing out at critics and telling them to “shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Just shut up.”

It’s possible to feel sorry for Bill O’Reilly. It’s even possible to believe that in the heat of the moment, when he’s worked himself up to it, he really believes the stuff he says that isn’t quite true, such that one could charitably describe him as merely being very, very confused, at least at those moments, rather than wilfully dishonest.

It’s possible to describe him that way. But I’m not going to. I’ve got better things to do with my time. So I’m just going to use the simpler approach, and call him a liar. Because he is, you know. He really is.

30 Responses to “Bill O’Reilly Lies”

  1. Christopher Howe Says:

    Hey, I have gotta give ya five for employing “the kind of hypertechnically strict linguistic parsing that seems to be as necessary a tool for modern life as, say, lungs.” It’s a riot to read this site.

  2. John Q. Says:


    I have a lot of respect for your blog (linking to the Vietnam/Iraq chart in my brand new blog, actually), but I think you’re spinning a bit here. I consider “Newsweek” hard news source, and while it was in an entertainment piece, one of the writers did refer to O’Reilly as a “gasbag”. Whether that’s enough to justify his assertion is up to the reader, but I think it should at least be mentioned. That being said, it is mentioned in the Spinsanity link, so not a huge deal.

    O’Reilly can be a bully and I don’t feel he’s always fair. I just wanted to put all the facts on the table, as I see them.

  3. Robert Lyon Says:

    I think O’Reilly is an interesting character and am amused by his antics occasionally, however, one thing I’ve been interested in would be his response to something he said back in March before Bush invaded Iraq. Molly Ivins has the quote archived in a column she did back in July or so, asking Mr. O’Reilly to comment. He said something like if, if we go in (to Iraq) and take out Saddam, and we don’t find any WMD’s, he would apologize to the American people and never trust the Bush administration again. So do you think he can step up and be a man of his word, or do you think he will “spin” his way out or around this quote? I think he will just forget it and hope it goes away.

  4. Tom Says:

    If our political discourse has fallen to such a low standard that people like Bill O’Reilly and Al Franken are considered serious commentators, God help the world. No wonder the debate over the war has been reduced to hollow sloganeering, name-calling and playground logic from both sides. Doesn’t anybody have anything important to say anymore? We are at war – people are dying – and we fill our ears, and minds with nonsense, half baked up by radio DJs, entertainment presenters and stand up comedians. The right wing has become so dogmatic about the course of this war they don’t even bother to explain themselves while the left wing counters with sophomoric hokum that bears no analysis. Doesn’t ANYBODY have ANYTHING IMPORTANT to say anymore?

  5. John Callender Says:

    John Q.:

    You’re right. I was wrong. Posted item updated to include mention of same. Thanks.

    And thanks for the link from your site, too. I look forward to reading it.

  6. John Q. Says:

    John– Hey, from one John to another ;), thanks for updating. I greatly appreciate it. And double thanks for the link.

    Tom– Extremists and pure partisans on the both sides will always exist. I think, however, the American people are more sophisticated. After all, people swing vote all the time. :).

  7. mrk Says:

    Actually – from what I’ve seen of Mister Shrill O’Really, he is an excellent example of the damage dome by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). This is a real condition caused by pregnant mothers consuming distilled spirits while their child is in utero. A brief search w/ your favorite search engine for the term “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome” will provide massive amounts of information and all the sorry details which read like a list of O’Reillys bizarre behaviors and unconscious tics –– Anti-social tenedencies, poor impulse control, temper tantrums, lack of logical thinking skills, etc. You will also find out that a significantly LARGE % of prison inmates in custody today are also victims of this syndrome. O’Reilly is in essence a “brain damaged” anti-social buffoon. He is congenitally incapable of thinking his way through complex issues and more to the point he is also congenitally incapable of recognizing his own deficiencies. i.e. he is too stupid to even know he “is” stupid!

  8. lala Says:

    Actually, Al Franken is almost universally respected among Democrats, and is in a different league completely than O’Reilly. I know he uses cheap jokes and humor to get his point across, but he knows his stuff, and although he does have an “agenda” to push, he gets his facts straight, and I don’t think he lowers the level of discourse at all. He calls names, but is often hilarious, and makes fun of himself too.

  9. awful truth Says:

    Ok folks, this website and websites like it are

    the very reason the internet has gone from a tool

    of resource and learning, to a disgusting system

    used for primarily pushing porn on kids and lies on adults. The fact is more americans watch FOX

    NEWS than any other cable news channel, period.

    That says something. It says folks are tired of

    of this ideologic “liberal” nonsense. Whom ever

    is running this site I feel sorry for you. Your

    only making yourself look stupid when you try to attack journalists who call it like it is. And ARE fair and balanced.

  10. awful truth Says:

    Ok folks, this website and websites like it are

    the very reason the internet has gone from a tool

    of resource and learning, to a disgusting system

    used for primarily pushing porn on kids and lies on adults. The fact is more americans watch FOX

    NEWS than any other cable news channel, period.

    That says something. It says folks are tired of

    of this ideologic “liberal” nonsense. Whom ever

    is running this site I feel sorry for you. Your

    only making yourself look stupid when you try to attack journalists who call it like it is. And ARE fair and balanced.

  11. awful truth Says:

    Ok folks, this website and websites like it are

    the very reason the internet has gone from a tool

    of resource and learning, to a disgusting system

    used for primarily pushing porn on kids and lies on adults. The fact is more americans watch FOX

    NEWS than any other cable news channel, period.

    That says something. It says folks are tired of

    of this ideologic “liberal” nonsense. Whom ever

    is running this site I feel sorry for you. Your

    only making yourself look stupid when you try to attack journalists who call it like it is. And ARE fair and balanced.

  12. carolina Says:

    honestly, did you have to post that three times? I think you made yourself look silly. and you’re calling Bill O’Reilly a journalist!? he’s a political commentator. he pushes his own agenda, and throws a hissy fit when people don’t agree with him. I grew out of that when I was seven. much like Rush Limbaugh, people up in Washington who know what they’re talking about/doing don’t have a lick of respect for O’Reilly. he tells the most ridiculous lies, and “misunderestimates” the intelligence of his audience and for sentient life in general. In layman’s terms? The guy is a douchebag. bring on Joe Scarborough.

  13. iris Says:

    actually joe is just as interrupting, misleading and stupid as bill–if you can stomach watching either of these clowns.

  14. tim Says:

    People such as O’reilly, Coulter, and Hannity are

    entertaining bullies, period. You state that more

    americans watch FOX news than any other news

    channel, which is true. But also take into account

    that more americans watch Fear Factor and Pro wrestling than ANY cable news program. O’ reilly

    and Coulter are liers. Nexius it, you’ll find proof. But I still enjoy watching them. There an endangered species, and we must continue to buy there baby bibs that say ” the spit stops here”,

    (o’reilly actually sells this item on his web-site). Or there books that state we should execute

    john walker lynn, to send these liberals a message

    (check out Coulters comical book TREASON).

  15. crista Says:

    I don’t think Bill O’Reilly has fetal alcohol syndrome. He doesn’t have the facial characteristics — around the eyes and upper lip. Also, no matter how despicable he may be, he evidently has been competent enough to get a good education and to attain a career at the top of his profession. Most fetal alcohol victims couldn’t do that.

    I do, however, think he has the look characteristic of an alcoholic – wizened, either pasty or red face, hooded eyes, sort of a bloated look to him. Also, his rage, arrogance, obvious insecurity, denial of reality, and at times fear close to panic when confronted. I have also thought at times he’s suffered memory lapses, or “blackouts” right on the air.

  16. Al Franken Says:


  17. Eric Says:

    Now this is something I don’t understand about the left. Why do they always insist on bashing instead of actually dealing with facts? When somebody like Franken says something untrue they all say “he’s a comedian and it’s funny”. But that’s left wing twist.

    Now I’m no conservative… I’ve been an independent long before anybody was calling it that. I just hate to see a party like the Democrats who have excellent ideas completely delagitimize themselves by saying “O’Reilly has fetal alcohol syndrome”. Why would anybody ever take somebody serious who is obviously so biased?

    I think both the Left and the Right have great Ideas. To only go one way is to severely limit you. However there are extremes… Al Franken is crazy Left and Rush is crazy Right.

    Now I definitely don’t agree with everything that Bill says but of all the people I watch I get the feel that he honestly tries to “THINK” and do what is best for the people that listen to him. I don’t get that same feel for either Rush or Franken. Bill has a temper; to say otherwise would be to just plain lie. But to call him a “liar” well frankly where the heck is the proof.

    One more thing… since when is it funny to call names. I don’t think that proves anything as a matter of fact I think it makes one look foolish and proves you don’t have anything worth saying. I hate to here Franken say something just nasty towards Bill or somebody else he doesn’t agree with and then when he’s called on it you have the left saying “Oh he’s a comedian and it’s funny”. I mean; come on.

  18. Jake Says:

    Aha! Very well put Eric. I have read some of your comments saying something similar to “Bill O’Reilly called some a name! What an idiot!” I read down the paragraph and see that you have then proceeded to call him names. Contradicting, I’d say.

    “Liar! Liar! Liar! Liar!” That’s what you all say. Now I won’t respect your opinion until provide some proof. Oh yeah, look over you spelling and grammar. It just makes you look stupid when you don’t know the difference between here and hear, too, to and two.

  19. Mr. Poopypants Says:

    Jake: “Oh yeah, look over you spelling and grammar.”

    Mr. Poopypants: Snicker.

  20. Matt Says:

    Since when did being liberal become being anti-American? Why can’t we just be good people?

  21. Derek Says:

    It is sad when a country that lives under a monetary-based two party system fall under the spell of terminology. “Those Right wingers are all bastards!” The truth is that anyone who considers him/herself Left, Right or whatever terminology you want to bring has most likely no basis for their opinions on most of the subjects because it is impossible that two parties can incorporate the entire ideology of America. Fox news unbiased? That seems to contradict a corporate-owned news station. Perhaps Americans need to get out of the house and read some books and they might be enlightened enough to sift through the piles of bullshit fed to them daily.

  22. Mike Says:

    It’s amazing actually. I don’t know when the dumbing down effect happened. There is obvious spin in almost everything that is written from left or right. Main difference is, lefties when confronted with a fact that challenges an assumption or refutes a ‘fact’ will almost always issue a correction or notice (as is seen in this blog in reference to a ‘hard’ news item refering to Billy as a gasbag). Lefties usually work tirelessly to research for facts and present both sides even if there is a slant to the left in the presentation. Righties generally produce facts from either the stratosphere (where oxygen is a rather scarce commodity) or from their ass (see stratosphere) and make no attempt to issue a correction or admit to error when presented with clear facts stating the opposite of their view. (ie. Billy saying a boycott against Rush Limbo was wrong and that boycotts were inherintly ‘unamerican’, though it served his purpose to call for a boycott of Pepsi for Ludicris and a boycott against the country of Canada for harboring US army war dodgers. Do you think he will ever revisit this anomoly again?)

    I think righties are so insecure and so scared of their propogated ideology not being accepted by others that they have to meditate for hours every day chanting the mantra ‘We are RIGHT, they are wrong’, or some other convoluted version of it such as ‘fair and balanced”we report, you decide’, hoping that if they hear it enough times, they may actually believe it themselves. It’s not the rest of the world they are trying to influence, they’re trying to come to terms with their own distortions, sort of a selfhelp hypnotism therapy.

    Any organization that has memos coming from the top brass dictating how a journalist will report on world events cannot bullshit with a straight face that they are in any way fair or balanced. I can only assume in a general sense that in the last few years, iq levels have dropped or trailer park populations have exploded in America. (not meant as a broad generalization). But those 80% of Faux viewers who believes one of three distortions of the Iraq war and 47% whom believe all three in spite of the facts on the ground, easily referenced on the internet, lead me to believe that America is serously suffering its worst brain drain in its history.

    On a side note, I had an interesting war of words on another Blog site with a fine right wing US reservist fellow, and we actually managed to have quite a good debate, until he told me that there is still a possibility the US might find WMD in Iraq and that Iraqis should pay the US through it’s oil for “services rendered”. Take that for what you will, i ended the conversation there because at some point, you have to realize, you can scream all you want at a head of cabbage… in the end its still a vegatable.

  23. Bill Says:

    When “news” becomes scripted like “reality TV”, which we all know is “real”, based on the name, it’s time for Americans to WAKE UP!! Of course O’Reilly’s “news” is scripted! He wants ratings (see money/Rupert Murdoch)! The fact that he sings a psycho, right wing song is inconsequential. He’s an actor, pure and simple!
    It’s sad that so many Americans make a choice between “truth” or fiction, as they are just different forms of the same excrement.
    We(Republicans and Democrats alike) know that the Jerry Springer Show is complete B.S. Would we vote, based on “facts” elicited from his show? Hell no! Are Springer and O’Reilly any different? I don’t think so! They are entertainers, pure and simple! Any audience that belives this “journalism” is truth, should be spanked and sterilized, so they can’t breed more like-minded idiots!


  24. andrew Says:

    so many comments, wanting proof of Bill’s lies, look in any book store or many web sites, see hundreds of lies listed, followed by evidence based factual information. Please look.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Oreilly be the shit dog, ya know dog, oreilly be bustin caps in mad azz.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    FUCK Bill That BITCH ASS.
    Ludacris RULES!

  27. Freedom Smith Says:

    DIVIDE and CONQUER…I know this three word antiquated saying makes no sense and is so extremely obscure to the common human that most of you cannot follow this rational, but doesn’t it seem a bit contrived and suspect that 98% of the population is content to argue amongst themselves while the megabillionaire 2% runs amok? Do you honestly think they care if you consider yourself Republican or Democrat, left or right wing, for Bill O’Reilly or Al Franken? To be completely honest, I do enjoy Michael Moore and Mr. Franken much more than O’Lielly and Ann Coulter and Stupid Bowtie Guy, but only because one side actually has a sense of decency and humor while the other side is little more than a cage of parrots. And Jon Stewart, bless his heart, continues to be the most worthwhile newscaster and he even calls his outlet “fake news”. But “heads” or “tails” are merely flipsides of the same coin. The whole world is divided in such a way. Politics, religion, race, sexual orientation: reduce people to boxes, to the lowest common denominator and let them duke it out. All the while the powermongers will rape the world below the radar with neither side being none the wiser. And program the masses to react to “conspiracy theorists” with vehement malice and contempt. People who take sides and argue at the drop of a talking point are no better than a salivating dog in a Pavlov lab. So choose your side and bend on over…either way you’ll take it in the rectum, quite unsuspectingly.

  28. Blixxxx Says:

    While Al Franken is over in Iraq, at the Front, entertaining
    our hardpressed troops, the hero’s of the Faux News Network,
    hide in their offices in New York. Prople like O’Lielly and
    handjob Hannity, sit and pontificate, on how well the war is
    going in Iraq, but forget it if you think these overweight pigs
    would be caught anyplace near Baghdad. All talk,and no backbone.
    Cowards. Can you imagine Annthrax Cancermouth Coulter going to
    Iraq and running her fowl toilet mouth? Hell will freeze before
    we see these Reichwinger going to Iraq and do their show on
    location. Pussys the lot of them.

  29. cyprian Says:

    When is this front page article going to be updated? It’s 3 years old!

  30. jbc Says:

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about. It’s not a front page article. It’s an archived article from, as you say, 3 years ago.

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