It is a sort of poetic justice to see the very king of spin to finally come face-to-face with the prevarications of his own making: lies recorded and published under his own name and also available in the archival footage of his own show.
This downward spiral and public unraveling of Bill O’Reilly started with a well researched article (called a leftist hit job by O’Reilly) by Mother Jones that suggested that like Brian Williams, Bill O’Reilly had also “bloviated” and obfuscated about his own credentials over the years. One could have easily brushed these allegations aside, had the subject of this incisive critique had not built a whole career on his holier-than-thou, in-your-face attitude as the sole holder and expresser of truth in the American news media.
Here are some of the things O’Reilly thinks are being impugned to him by the “guttersnipes” of the far left:
- That he implied on numerous occasions in his published work that he had been in the war zone during the Falklands war.
- That he had seen “nuns being shot.”
Note, that all of these are the claims that he himself made: there is a public record of all these things, IN HIS OWN words.
But now the master of straight and narrow journalism, wants US to read beyond the words and to see what he meant rather than what he said. But that habit, the habit of reading beyond the words, is the one that Mr. O’Reilly and his ilk has always derided, for it goes so much against their idea of straight talk. So, here is what he has suggested in his public defense of his own words.
Mr. O’Reilly claimed that he had never claimed to have been in the war zone but got caught up in a protest in Buenos Aires and that his cameraman was injured and that he saw soldiers shooting at the crowd. Now we are supposed to extrapolate from this from the following published stamens in his own book:
You know that I am not easily shocked. I’ve reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands. ( No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America)
So, let us look at it again. His claim is that he has “reported from war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands” in a book that names itself No Spin Zone! From this one gem of a sentence, we are now to construe, according to Mr. O’Reilly, that when he said “war zone,” he meant a protest 1200 miles away from the said war zone. His involvement in El Salvador also now has been reduced to the fact, through his own admission, that he had seen pictures of nuns being shot. But this still, somehow, gives Mr. O’Reilly the war credits enough to claim that he, somehow, understands the world better than other arm-chair reporters.
So, as a literary critic who is also a veteran of a war (not through pictures, mind you) the problem obviously seems to be O’Reilly himself and not the “guttersnipes” who are trying to do a”hit Job” on his so-called flawless record. He has made false claims about his past; these claims are now being challenged, and no amount of stomping his feet and bellowing on his own TV show can deny the fact that he was NOT in a war zone and that he DID NOT see nuns being shot, two claims that he has made in his own “straight Talking” style both on his show as well as in his own writing.
At the heart of this whole issue is something more important than Mr. O’Reilly and his critics: Integrity of US media. As someone who claims to have the most watched show in the cable news, Mr. O’Reilly cannot claim to be the boss and an underdog at the same time. And if he has built his whole brand on his practice of “straight talking” and “telling-it-as-it–is” then his own personal narrative should also be as it happened. So, when he claims that he saw nuns being shot, it should be what it means on the surface: He should not expect us to hear “I saw nuns being shot in the head” and then add, without a hint, “in pictures” to it! No, if he meant us to hear “I saw nuns being shot in the head in pictures” then that is what he should have said and written.
Maybe, his prevarications and lies are not so important in the larger scheme of things, but since O’Reilly’s entire public persona is built as that of a straight-shooting no-nonsense conservative truth-sayer, these little chinks in his armor are extremely significant. The reason he needed to represent himself as a battle hardened reporter was not just to build his own credentials but to also posit, frequently, that so-called leftist reporters are elitist “bloviators” with no real experience in the field. And, now when confronted with his own “bloviated” experience of atrocities and wars, Mr. O’Reilly has come face to face with the fictions of his own making, with reality!
Reality, however, does not exist in the “No Spin Zone,” for a subjectivity such as Mr. O’Reilly’s can only be sustained through gross exclusions of truth and its replacement with delusional self-serving narratives! In other words, as I see it and call it, O’Reilly is like a giant id-driven infant in throws of an uncontrollable death drive facing, probably for the first time, some shocking impediments of the reality principle. And you know what happens to kids when the reality principle impedes their id driven desires: they cry, stomp their feet, and throw a tantrum!