In confirming that he would no longer host his nationally syndicated radio show, The Radio Factor, Bill O'Reilly reportedly said, “I knew my show couldn't be ideological. ... So I was doing a show that was fact-based.” However, far from being “fact-based,” The Radio Factor frequently featured “fact-free” claims and falsehoods by O'Reilly.
According to a December 4 New York Daily News article, in confirming that he would no longer host his nationally syndicated radio show, The Radio Factor, Bill O'Reilly said, “I knew my show couldn't be ideological. ... So I was doing a show that was fact-based.” However, far from being “fact-based,” The Radio Factor, like The O'Reilly Factor, frequently featured “fact-free” claims and falsehoods by O'Reilly, as Media Matters for America's extensive collection of Radio Factor items demonstrates:
- On the November 18 broadcast of The Radio Factor, while discussing the campaign for Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage in California, O'Reilly falsely asserted that if states allow same-sex couples to marry they would be required, “under equal protection,” to allow polygamous marriages. In fact, the California Supreme Court explicitly stated that its May 15 decision that California's ban on same-sex marriage violated the state's constitution did not extend to polygamous marriages.
- On the October 21 broadcast of The Radio Factor, after a caller noted that Sen. John McCain "accepted money" from G. Gordon Liddy, and that Liddy “held a fundraiser for him in 1998,” O'Reilly declared: “McCain has nothing to do with G. Gordon Liddy -- nothing.” O'Reilly continued: “I mean, if you want to make a comparison between Bill Ayers, who has consistently over the years interacted face-to-face with John McCain -- with [President-elect] Barack Obama, I should say -- if you want to make a comparison to Liddy sendin' the guy some money and holdin' a fundraiser 20 years ago, I mean, come on. It's ridiculous.” However, in addition to the fundraiser the caller referenced, which Liddy reportedly held for McCain 10 years ago -- not 20 years ago as O'Reilly claimed -- McCain repeatedly appeared on Liddy's radio show during the presidential campaign and last appeared on the show during a May broadcast.
- On the October 8 broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that Obama did not cast a vote on a Senate amendment denouncing both an ad by MoveOn.org that targeted Gen. David Petraeus and “Swift Boat” attacks on Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). Contrary to O'Reilly's claim, Obama did cast a vote in favor of an amendment sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) that denounced the MoveOn.org ad and character attacks on Kerry, former Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), and other veterans.
- During the August 26 Radio Factor, O'Reilly falsely suggested that no state would prohibit abortions in cases of rape and incest if such a prohibition were constitutional. In fact, at least two states, South Dakota and Louisiana, have passed laws to take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned that prohibit abortions even in cases of rape and incest.
- During the July 24 Radio Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that “nobody died” because of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. In fact, at least one detainee reportedly died at Abu Ghraib during an interrogation by CIA personnel.
- During the March 22, 2007, Radio Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that co-host Lis Wiehl “did not do [her] homework,” after Wiehl asserted -- correctly -- that the Bush administration had offered to allow White House staffers to appear before the congressional committees investigating the controversial firings of U.S. attorneys only if no transcript of the interviews were produced. O'Reilly further asserted to Wiehl, “There is a transcript to the senators who, if they lie, can charge them with crimes. You know it, and you misled my audience, who comes here for the truth.” In fact, as Wiehl noted, a March 20, 2007, letter from White House counsel Fred Fielding to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees laid out the conditions under which White House staffers could appear, including that "[s]uch interviews would be private and conducted without the need for an oath, a transcript, subsequent testimony."
Revisiting a common tactic, O'Reilly instructed his staff to turn off Wiehl's microphone: “Cut her mike. Cut her mike. She's not allowed to speak for three minutes.” He went on to ask: “What can we do to her? What can we do to her?” While Wiehl's voice could be heard in the background, her microphone appeared to be turned off.
- On the February 20, 2007, Radio Factor, O'Reilly agreed with attorney Wendy Murphy's false claim that The Boston Globe “didn't cover” the Massachusetts case of Patrick Doyle, who was given a one-year jail sentence for failing to stop the repeated rape of a 9-year-old girl. In fact, the Globe did report on Doyle's case and the reaction to his sentence.
- During the December 19, 2006, Radio Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that “Best Buy orders its employees not to say 'Merry Christmas.' ” O'Reilly said that he got this information from “Best Buy employees,” falsely claiming that he “had one on the radio today.” In fact, a Best Buy spokesperson denied that the company forbids employees to say “Merry Christmas” to customers. A caller on the December 19, 2006, broadcast of O'Reilly's radio show, who claimed that employees at Best Buy “are not allowed to say Merry Christmas” and “could get fired” for doing so, identified herself as a Best Buy customer, not an employee.
- On the October 11, 2006, Radio Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that it “is never the case” that a “mother's life is in danger” during pregnancy because “you can always have a C-section and do those kinds of things.” In fact, several potential pregnancy complications can threaten the life of a pregnant woman, including an ectopic pregnancy, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is “the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths in the first trimester,” and preeclampsia, which “affect[s] up to one in seven pregnant women,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
- On the August 21, 2006, broadcast of Radio Factor, O'Reilly stated that “I don't really believe” the results of a Time magazine poll -- which found that 53 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) -- because the poll is “not scientific, in my opinion.” O'Reilly did not explain his reasons for doubting the scientific merit of the Time survey, which was conducted by polling firm Schulman, Ronca & Bucuvalas Inc. (SRBI) from a random sample of adults nationwide, although he previously touted an unscientific Internet poll to claim that “50 percent” of University of Oregon students “want to condemn” a student newspaper that published controversial cartoon images of Jesus.
- During the July 20, 2006, Radio Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that The New York Times editorial board “is not going to say a word” about the then-conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, alleging that the Times editorial board had not criticized Israel's actions because "[m]any American Jews are liberal," and “the Times cannot afford to alienate its liberal base.” In fact, at the time of O'Reilly's comments, the Times editorial page had already authored three different editorials on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict.
- On the July 19, 2006, edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, O'Reilly falsely claimed that, because of criticism The New York Times had received for publishing a “terror finance story,” the newspaper “announced ... it was cutting 25 percent of its work force.” In fact, a July 18, 2006, Times article reported that the Times planned to cut 250 jobs by April 2008, but did not report the cutbacks as a percentage of the work force. Based on figures provided in a July 19, 2006, Times article, the announced reductions amounted to just more than 2 percent of the work force.
- Explaining his decision not to call for a boycott of the Times for publishing information about a secret Bush administration program designed to monitor international financial transactions, during the June 26, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that he has “only called for one boycott and that is France.” Similarly, on the June 27,2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly said, “I've called for one boycott in my 10 years on the air, and that's been France.” But just one week earlier, O'Reilly called for boycotts of a number of other organizations of which he has been critical, including the Times.
- On the June 13, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly alleged that he had “not seen any evidence” of “electric shock” being used on detainees during interrogation proceedings. O'Reilly made the claim while suggesting that he has seen no evidence of U.S. interrogators engaging in torture, which he appeared to define as limited to tactics like "[p]eople getting their eyes cut out, fingers cut off" and using “electric shock.” But the Pentagon has acknowledged that electric shock has been used in the interrogation of detainees.
- During the May 8, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly treated listeners to an assortment of misinformation concerning the Iraq war and terrorism. O'Reilly falsely claimed former CIA analyst Mary McCarthy was “accused of ... leaking” the existence of the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless domestic spying program; falsely suggested there was no domestic component to the NSA program; baselessly alleged that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) “want[s] us to lose in Iraq” and “want[s] there to be chaos in Afghanistan”; and deceptively edited an exchange between retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld while accusing the media of being “derelict” for failing to note that McGovern belongs to a group that opposes Bush's policies.
- While baselessly claiming during the May 3, 2006, Radio Factor that Mexican President Vicente Fox has “got his troops on the northern border helping the drug traffickers bring the loads across,” O'Reilly also falsely claimed that Jalisco is “on the border.” In fact, Jalisco is a state in central Mexico, and it is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean.
- During the May 3, 2006, Radio Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that public-school teachers in New York City “are instructed not to say a word” about students “going, 'F-you, you mother-F'er,' in school.” In fact, according to the New York City schools' discipline code, "[u]sing profane, obscene, vulgar, lewd or abusive language or gestures" is a “Level 2 infraction” that is considered “disorderly disruptive behavior” and is punishable by a range of disciplinary actions.
- During the April 27, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly dramatically overstated the amount of nightly viewers of his television program, saying, “I already got the 6 million people watching me every night.” In fact, according to Nielsen Media Research, Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor averaged 2,274,000 viewers a night in the first quarter of 2006.
- During the April 24, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that both the “state and federal” government are “making more money now that the gasoline prices are higher because their tax goes up.” In fact, for the federal government and more than three-fourths of the states, gasoline taxes remain constant regardless of gas prices because they are measured in cents per gallon, not as a percentage of total gasoline sales or wholesale prices.
- Accusing the “left-wing print media” of not having “any solution at all” to the problem of illegal immigration, during the March 29, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly distorted editorials on immigration reform proposals in five major newspapers: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Boston Globe, The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, and the Los Angeles Times.
- During the March 27, 2006, Radio Factor, O'Reilly falsely accused New York Times columnist Paul Krugman of “writing about illegal immigrants” but refusing to “put the word 'illegal' in there.” In fact, the portion of Krugman's column that O'Reilly read referred to all immigrants, not only those in the United States illegally. Later in his column, Krugman referred specifically to “illegal immigrants,” “illegal immigration,” and “an illegal immigrant.”
- On the January 18, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that Democrats took campaign contributions from former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. When a caller noted his false claim, O'Reilly responded: “So you are a Kool-Aid drinker who is blinded by whatever neurosis you have, because that's just insane.” As Media Matters has documented, only Republicans received direct contributions from Abramoff.
- On the January 11, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly claimed that a Wisconsin elementary school which “sang a whole different lyric to 'Silent Night' ” constituted a “vivid” example of the "war on Christmas." In fact, the new lyrics were merely part of a 1988 Christmas play called The Little Tree's Christmas Gift.
- During his January 9, 2006, Radio Factor broadcast, O'Reilly falsely claimed that country music trio the Dixie Chicks “have not recovered to this day” from a controversy surrounding remarks critical of President Bush during one of the group's concerts. In fact, in the months following the controversy, the band embarked on the top-grossing country tour of the year and continued to enjoy strong commercial success.
- On the January 3, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly mischaracterized a wager he proposed to Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter during Alter's December 21, 2005, appearance on the show. O'Reilly claimed that Alter “wouldn't take the bet” that President Bush “has the legal authority” to wiretap U.S. citizens. In fact, in December, O'Reilly did not offer to wager whether Bush's domestic wiretap program was legal or illegal, but whether Bush would ultimately be convicted of a crime.
Media Matters has also documented numerous outrageous comments O'Reilly has made while hosting The Radio Factor, including the following:
- Discussing the U.S. financial situation on the September 25 broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly said of Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT): “I swear to God, if they were in this room right now, I would hit them. Dodd and Frank -- the House Finance and Senate Finance. They knew. Don't point a finger at anybody, I'll break that finger off.”
- During the February 19 Radio Factor, while discussing comments made by Michelle Obama, O'Reilly stated: “I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels -- that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever -- then that's legit. We'll track it down.”
- During the September 19, 2007, Radio Factor, O'Reilly discussed a dinner he had with Rev. Al Sharpton at the Harlem restaurant Sylvia's. O'Reilly reported that he “couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship.” O'Reilly added: “There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' ” When discussing the controversy surrounding his comments during the September 27, 2007, Radio Factor, O'Reilly asserted, "[I]f I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed ... I would -- but I can't."
- On the February 28, 2007, Radio Factor, O'Reilly told co-host Lis Wiehl that “women were treated better than men” at ABC News and CBS News because "[t]hey had a little cabal; and they intimidated the men in the organization and said, 'If you look at me cross-eyed, I'm gonna bring you up to Human Resources and destroy your life.' "
- During the August 2, 2006, Radio Factor, O'Reilly discussed several factors that he claimed contributed to the rape and murder of “moronic” 18-year-old Jennifer Moore, including that she was drunk and wandering the streets of New York City alone late at night. O'Reilly added: “She was 5-foot-2, 105 pounds, wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff. Now, again, there you go. So every predator in the world is gonna pick that up at 2 in the morning.”