Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is calling for his viewers to boycott Mexico, though his four-year boycott of France during the Iraq War was a failure despite his false and conflicting claims to the contrary.
On the June 18 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly declared that Mexico "is not our friend" and that Americans "should stop going there" because the country is allegedly allowing human trafficking into the United States and because the Mexican president is "giving us the middle finger" over the case of a U.S. Marine jailed in Mexico for allegedly inadvertently crossing the border. O'Reilly urged viewers to boycott the country, telling them, "Let's stop rewarding Mexico until they stop hurting us."
O'Reilly previously threatened a boycott of Mexico in 2006 over its promise to sue the United States if evidence emerged that the National Guard had directly helped to detain Mexican citizens trying to illegally enter the United States. But O'Reilly's longest-lasting boycott was against France for opposing the Iraq War; he began his boycott in March 2003 and lifted it in May 2007 after the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as French president.
During the boycott period, O'Reilly made numerous claims about its purported success that proved to be either conflicting or completely wrong:
- On the April 27, 2004, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed that the Paris Business Review had documented the success of O'Reilly's boycott against France for not sufficiently supporting the United States in its fight against terrorism and in Iraq. O'Reilly said, "They've lost billions of dollars in France according to the Paris Business Review." A Media Matters search at the time found no evidence of the existence of a publication called the Paris Business Review.
- On the July 14, 2004, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly stated: "French exports to the USA have fallen by more than a billion dollars from 2001 to 2003." But that decline was unrelated to O'Reilly's purported boycott, which he called for in March 2003. The decline in those years actually occurred between 2001 and 2002. It was a decline of $2.2 billion; French exports in 2003 actually increased $979 million from the previous year. In fact, French exports to the U.S. increased every year during the duration of O'Reilly's boycott.
- O'Reilly also made numerous conflicting claims about the effects of his boycott on the French economy. For instance, on the October 24, 2005, broadcast of his radio show, O'Reilly declared that his boycott effort has "hurt the French economy, not to a tremendous extent, but to an annoying extent. To the extent that they sent the French ambassador to New York to try to talk me out of it." Previously, O'Reilly had variously claimed that the boycott effort had caused France to lose "billions of dollars," "more than a billion dollars," and "$138 million."