Bill O'Reilly promised in March that he would "apologize for being an idiot" if the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. But after the historic ruling upholding the law, O'Reilly called into his Fox News show, which was being guest-hosted by Laura Ingraham, and didn't mention his previous pledge to apologize or his prediction that it would be overturned.
Instead of addressing his promise, O'Reilly chose to push a number of debunked falsehoods about the health care law.
On the March 26 broadcast of his show, O'Reilly hosted Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, who said the legislation "doesn't actually require people to buy health insurance" but "imposes a penalty" on those who don't. She described this as "a tax power," and indeed, the Supreme Court would later rule that the mandate is "authorized by Congress's power to levy taxes."
O'Reilly concluded the segment by saying, "Miss Fredrickson, you're going to lose, and your arguments are specious. ... And if I'm wrong, I will come on, and I will play your clip, and I will apologize for being an idiot."
On the June 28 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly repeated these falsehoods about health care reform:
- The law "will allow the federal government to take over the health care system." The law does no such thing. PolitiFact rated this claim its "Lie of the Year" in 2010, writing: " 'Government takeover' conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But the law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market." Fox News figures have used the "government takeover" lie over and over again.
- "This is what they do in Canada" and "Great Britain." In fact, President Obama and congressional Democrats explicitly rejected a Canadian or British-style health care system during passage of the health care law. Canada has a universal health insurance system that's paid for by taxes, though doctors and hospitals remain private; Great Britain has a fully socialized health care system in which most doctors are employed by the government.
- Care "is going to be rationed." Fox News figures have repeatedly fearmongered over "rationing," while ignoring the reality private insurance companies already ration care. Meanwhile, the health care law specifically forbids the Independent Payment Advisory Board created by the legislation from making "any recommendations to ration health care."