February 15, 2006

Don’t Let Facts Get In the Way of a Good Story

Posted by Chris Zammarelli
Tuesday December 13th 2005, 1:55 pm
Filed under: Right Watch, Media Watch, TV, Religion, Radio

Romenesko has posted a letter sent by Plano, TX school district officials to parents about the following claim by Bill O’Reilly:

“In Plano, Texas, a school told students they couldn’t wear red and green because they are Christmas colors.”

This is not even remotely true, Superintendent Doug Otto assured concerned parents. The letter goes on to say this:

“Dr. Otto said that our attorney requested of Mr. O’Reilly that, in the future, he ask his fact checkers to do a more thorough job of confirming the facts before he airs them.”

This reminds me of a piece Matt Taibbi wrote for Rolling Stone during the 2004 election entitled Bush Like Me:

“But here’s the twist. They [Republicans and fundamentalist Christians] are not looking for facts with which to defeat opponents. They are looking for facts that ensure them an ever-expanding roster of opponents. They can be correct facts, incorrect facts, irrelevant facts, it doesn’t matter. The point is not to win the argument, the point is to make sure the argument never stops. Permanent war isn’t a policy imposed from above; it’s an emotional imperative that rises from the bottom. In a way, it actually helps if the fact is dubious or untrue (like the Swift-boat business), because that guarantees an argument. You’re arguing the particulars, where you’re right, while they’re arguing the underlying generalities, where they are.”

ADDENDUM: Crooks and Liars reports that O’Reilly made the same claim about Saginaw, MI on his radio show.

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3 Comments so far

Before Bill O’Reilly told his radio audience last Friday:

“In Saginaw, Michigan, the township opposes red and green clothing on anyone. [Laughing] In Saginaw Township, they basically said, anybody, we don’t want you to wear red or green. I would dress up head to toe in red to green if I were in Saginaw, Michigan.”

Did he ask himself if it’s true?

Who is feeding him this garbage he’s putting out on the public airwaves of radio?

Comment by Eric Jaffa 12.13.05 @ 4:15 pm

There is no such thing as an “incorrect fact”. There is rumor, inuendo, myth, second-hand information, hysteria, opinion, imagination, fiction, and - in O’Reilly’s case - fabrication.

What the moralists look for are not facts but excuses. Excuses don’t have to be the truthful… they just have to be given.

Comment by David 2 12.14.05 @ 6:47 am

O’Reilly is consistantly give Saturday Night Live so much material. If you happen to catch one of thier skits on him, you get a little scared… its so close to the BS he says and how he really acts and thinks.

Comment by Mitch 12.14.05 @ 10:03 am

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