Attacking Media Matters, O'Reilly falsely claimed he said "Coleman's victory was certified by the state ... which is absolutely true" -- but it's not

››› ››› BRIAN FREDERICK & LILY YAN

Attacking Media Matters on his radio show for noting that his previous claim that Sen. Norm Coleman "was certified the winner" in the Minnesota Senate race was false, Bill O'Reilly repeated the falsehood, claiming: "[W]hat I said was, Coleman's victory was certified by the state because it was. He had 215 more votes, which is absolutely true." In fact, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board did not "certif[y]" a "victory" for Coleman or Al Franken, having authorized an automatic recount of ballots for that race; Minnesota election law states that "no certificate of election shall be prepared or delivered until after the recount is completed."

On the November 20 broadcast of The Radio Factor, host Bill O'Reilly attacked Media Matters for America for highlighting comments he made during the November 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, when he falsely claimed Sen. Norm Coleman (R) "was certified the winner" in his Minnesota Senate race against Democratic challenger Al Franken. On November 20, O'Reilly claimed: "[W]e said the other day that, in Minnesota, that the election commission had certified the election and that -- what's his name -- Coleman, the senator, had won by 215 votes." Calling Media Matters "the most dishonest website in the country," he further stated: "So, what I said was, Coleman's victory was certified by the state because it was. He had 215 more votes, which is absolutely true. Absolutely true. OK? Rock solid; in stone. That's what they did." In fact, as Media Matters noted when O'Reilly made the false claim earlier, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board did not certify "Coleman's victory"; nor did it certify "the election." Rather, the board signed a statement on November 18 declaring that "[e]xcept for the offices of U.S. senator, state senator District 16, state representative Districts 12b and 16a, the candidates who received the highest number of votes cast for each office voted on in more than one county is hereby declared 'elected.' " Moreover, contrary to O'Reilly's claim that he said "the election commission had certified the election," Minnesota election law states that "[i]f a recount is undertaken by a canvassing board" in elections including those for U.S. senator, "no certificate of election shall be prepared or delivered until after the recount is completed."

Minnesota law states in relevant part:

204C.40 CERTIFICATES OF ELECTION.

Subdivision 1.Preparation; method of delivery.

The county auditor shall prepare an election certificate for every county candidate declared elected by the county canvassing board, and the secretary of state shall prepare a certificate for every state and federal candidate declared elected by either a county canvassing board or the State Canvassing Board. Except as otherwise provided in this section, the secretary of state or county auditor, as appropriate, shall deliver an election certificate on demand to the elected candidate. In an election for United States representative, the secretary of state shall deliver the original election certificate to the chief clerk of the United States House of Representatives. In an election for United States senator, the governor shall prepare an original certificate of election, countersigned by the secretary of state, and deliver it to the secretary of the United States Senate. In an election for state representative or state senator, the secretary of state shall deliver the original election certificate to the chief clerk of the house or the secretary of the senate. The chief clerk of the house or the secretary of the senate shall give a copy of the certificate to the representative-elect or senator-elect. Upon taking the oath of office, the representative or senator shall receive the original certificate of election. If a recount is undertaken by a canvassing board pursuant to section 204C.35, no certificate of election shall be prepared or delivered until after the recount is completed. In case of a contest, the court may invalidate and revoke the certificate as provided in chapter 209.

Subd. 2.Time of issuance; certain offices.

No certificate of election shall be issued until seven days after the canvassing board has declared the result of the election. In case of a contest, an election certificate shall not be issued until a court of proper jurisdiction has finally determined the contest. This subdivision shall not apply to candidates elected to the office of state senator or representative.

In addition to several news outlets also reporting that the state canvassing board did not certify a winner in the Minnesota Senate race, The Associated Press reported on November 19 that "[t]he recount will be done in more than 100 sites across the state over the next 2 1/2 weeks. A month from now, the canvassing board will reconvene to rule on disputed ballots and certify the election."

From the November 20 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: We have a mandate here where we just simply want to give you the truth and the facts straight up. I mean, that's why we've been successful.

We said the other day -- this is interesting, and you guys might learn a lesson from this -- we said the other day that, in Minnesota, that the election commission had certified the election and that -- what's his name -- Coleman, the senator, had won by 215 votes. All right?

WIEHL: Right.

O'REILLY: That's what we reported.

WIEHL: Right.

O'REILLY: Well, Media Matters, the most dishonest website in the country, because they purport to be watchdogs, but of course they only watch conservative people or people they don't like, or traditional people -- they don't watch the left -- they say, "Oh, O'Reilly lied because he said that the state of Minnesota certified Coleman's victory."

OK. So, what I said was, Coleman's victory was certified by the state because it was. He had 215 more votes --

WIEHL: Sure. So that's a win.

O'REILLY: -- which is absolutely true.

WIEHL: Right.

O'REILLY: Absolutely true. OK? Rock solid; in stone. That's what they did. But these despicable -- that's all I'm going to say. Just despicable. I could say a lot of other things, but I won't.

These people take that, all right, put it on their website that O'Reilly lied by saying they certified a victory. They didn't use, in the state of Minnesota, a victory, 'cause there's a recount. All right?

But, if you certify an election, where one guy has 215 more votes --

WIEHL: Right.

O'REILLY: -- that's a win for Coleman, as it stands now.

WIEHL: It could change.

O'REILLY: And we said, there's going to be a recount. But when you listen to me, I'm going to tell you the truth and give you the facts. Those are going to be twisted and distorted by dishonest people like NBC News.

Posted In
Elections, Voting Rights & Issues, Government
Network/Outlet
Westwood One
Person
Bill O'Reilly, Lis Wiehl
Show/Publication
The Radio Factor
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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