On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly repeatedly claimed that "Media Matters has personally attacked me 109 times," but he did not offer a single example of Media Matters' alleged personal attacks. In fact, Media Matters has posted more than 125 items documenting statements by O'Reilly during the period in question, including full transcripts of his comments with corresponding audio or video.
On the September 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly told National Public Radio senior correspondent and Fox News contributor Juan Williams: “I've been attacked 109 times in one year by Media Matters.” On the September 26 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly repeated the charge, twice claiming that "Media Matters has personally attacked me 109 times" and later adding that Media Matters for America “slimed me 109 times in a year.” On-screen text indicated that the 109 “attack[s]” were during the period “Sept 2006-2007.” But O'Reilly did not offer a single example of Media Matters' alleged personal attacks. In fact, Media Matters has posted more than 125 items documenting statements by O'Reilly during the period in question, including full transcripts of his comments with corresponding audio or video.
While O'Reilly offered no examples in support of his accusation, below are examples of O'Reilly's numerous falsehoods that Media Matters documented between September 25, 2006, and September 25, 2007:
- While discussing rap music on the September 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, O'Reilly told a listener: “I'm going to go after anybody who rewards bad behavior. ... I didn't call for any boycott. I never do that, except for France, and that's lifted." But as Media Matters documented, O'Reilly has, in fact, called for boycotts on several occasions, including a boycott of PepsiCo for offering rapper Chris “Ludacris” Bridges an endorsement deal.
- On the May 10 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed Factor producer Ron Mitchell “just destroyed” an Indiana University study that found O'Reilly engages in name-calling in his “Talking Points Memo” segments once every 6.8 seconds. O'Reilly was referring to Mitchell's op-ed that appeared on the Los Angeles Times website and BillOReilly.com, but Mitchell's op-ed contained a significant falsehood. Mitchell claimed that “the researchers admit they had to make several changes to their 'coding instrument' because the first attempts generated 'unacceptably low scores.' That's code for: they tried and tried until the results fit the preconceived notion of name-calling on the Factor.” But as Media Matters documented, the “low scores” in question were not scores of O'Reilly's name-calling but, rather, intercoder reliability scores of Krippendorff's alpha, a computation used to assess the internal consistency of a content analysis instrument.
- As Media Matters documented, on the April 23 O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly unveiled a chart that purported to expose a “complicated political operation” in which philanthropist and progressive financier George “Soros and a few other wealthy radicals who help him are funneling money into the political process” by funding Media Matters, which “feeds its propaganda to some mainstream media people.” However, Soros has never given money to Media Matters, either directly or indirectly, as Media Matters also documented.
- On the February 14 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly and Fox News contributor Dennis Miller recycled the myth propagated by O'Reilly that, in the words of Miller, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) “did not attend one” of the “memorial services for the 9-11 people.” O'Reilly responded that Miller's claim “is correct.” In fact, as Media Matters has noted, Clinton attended several funerals and memorials, including one for 79 restaurant employees who died in the September 11, 2001, attacks.
- On the January 31 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly said: “You know that the [actress Jane] Fondas and [actor Sean] Penns are going to say, 'Listen, I'm as American as you are, [right-wing pundit] Michelle Malkin. I just see things differently.' And I'm willing to give them the benefit of that doubt. I don't want to say that they're anti-American." However, just minutes earlier during the “Talking Points Memo” segment, on-screen text had referred to Penn as “anti-American actor Sean Penn.”
- On the November 29, 2006, edition of his radio show, O'Reilly continued to hype the so-called “war” on Christmas by claiming that retailers Best Buy and Crate & Barrel are “still ordering their people not to say, 'Merry Christmas' ” and that the stores “will fire” employees who do. In fact, as Media Matters documented, representatives of both stores denied having policies that forbid employees to say “Merry Christmas” to customers.
- On the November 28, 2006, edition of his radio show, O'Reilly falsely claimed that “on the night” Saddam Hussein's “statue fell” in Baghdad at the beginning of the war in Iraq, he publicly criticized the Bush administration for not having a postwar reconstruction plan for Iraq. In fact, on the April 9, 2003, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, on the night U.S. Marines assisted in tearing down a statue of Saddam in central Baghdad, O'Reilly made no mention of looting or the difficulty of reconstructing Iraq, though he did ask Fox News military analyst and retired Col. David Hunt: “So, basically, the armor, the infantry are going to be used for security now, they're going to be used to stabilize Baghdad, the other cities, and the Special Ops will hunt down fanatics?”
- On the October 11, 2006, edition of his radio show, O'Reilly falsely claimed that it “is never the case” that a “mother's life is in danger” during the course of a pregnancy. In fact, there are several potential pregnancy complications that can threaten the life of a pregnant woman. For instance, an ectopic pregnancy, which the Mayo Clinic estimates occurs in "[a]bout one in every 40 to 100 pregnancies," is a condition in which the zygote, a fertilized egg, attaches itself outside of the uterus and “may destroy important maternal structures” with the potential to cause “life-threatening blood loss.”
- On the September 27, 2006, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace questioned Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about the Bush administration's failure to respond to the October 2000 terrorist attack on the USS Cole. In fact, Wallace has never asked Rumsfeld or any Bush administration official why he did not respond to the attack on the Cole, as Media Matters has noted. O'Reilly also claimed that Fox News' “guest list” is “50-50” liberals vs. conservatives and further asserted that "[o]n this program it's more left than right. It's more left than right on this program." Yet as Media Matters has repeatedly documented, conservative guests dominate Fox News programs, including O'Reilly's and Wallace's.
In addition, while O'Reilly claimed that Media Matters had “personally attacked” him, O'Reilly has himself repeatedly attacked Media Matters and has a long history of personally attacking those with whom he disagrees. For example:
- On December 14, 2004, O'Reilly referred to Media Matters as "despicable weasels."
- On the September 20, 2005, edition of his radio program, O'Reilly said of Media Matters: “They're like the Rosemary's Baby people. ... That's what these creepy, left-wing nuts are like. They're little gnomes."
- On the January 18 edition of his radio program, O'Reilly called Media Matters “a far-left swamp pit. A disgusting website that just attacks people with whom they disagree and takes things out of context all day long.”
- During an April 13 appearance on RTÉ One's The Late Late Show, a talk show based in Dublin, Ireland, O'Reilly referred to Media Matters as “an assassination website” and a “far-left propaganda thing.”
- On the July 18 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly attacked the Democracy Alliance, an organization of donors formed to support progressive groups, and the recipients of funding from Alliance donors, such as Media Matters for America, as a “left-wing Mafia” dedicated to “nefarious purposes.”
- During the September 5 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, O'Reilly attacked Media Matters and MoveOn.org, calling the two organizations “the most vicious element in our society today” and referring to their staff as “assassins.”
From the September 25 of Fox News' O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: I mean, but anybody listening to it -- and we have it on BillOReilly.com, so the whole world can listen to it -- would, I think, have appreciated the discussion for being an exposition of why people are afraid of not only blacks, but everybody they don't know. That was the theme.
But here's the danger, Juan. I've been attacked 109 times in one year by Media Matters. They attack conservative and traditional commentators. They never attack liberals. OK?
This -- what can we do? It's freedom of speech. They can do whatever they want.
But CNN knew this was distorted, knew what they were doing was wrong, because we told them -- and put it on anyway. So, now what you have is CNN has joined NBC News in parroting far left propaganda in an attempt to destroy me and the Fox News Channel and to deceive their viewers. I think -- I've never seen anything like this in the media, ever.
From the September 26 edition of Fox News' O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Now over the past 12 months, Media Matters has personally attacked me 109 times. And I am not alone. Every non-liberal politician and commentator in this country has been smeared by these people. Yet, there's no scrutiny of Media Matters in the mainstream media. They're watchdogs. Figure it out.
O'REILLY: “Impact” segment, tonight. The far-left Internet sites are in the business to smear any and all commentators who do not toe the liberal line. In the past year, Media Matters has personally attacked me 109 times. Glenn Beck has been smeared 92 times. Rush Limbaugh, 87 times. And Sean Hannity, 75 times. Not one liberal radio commentator has been smeared by Media Matters.
Joining us now from Los Angeles, radio talk-show star Tammy Bruce, who's also been attacked by that smear factory.
O'REILLY: All right. Now, Media Matters -- you're basically going to be on their target list coming. They've slimed me 109 times in a year. Every other commentator on the radio who's not a liberal gets slimed. And now CNN is in bed with these people. How do you see it?
MILLER: Well, first off, Bill, I have to say, you're my friend and I always wonder about issues like this. Why do you care? I mean -
O'REILLY: Corruption in the press. Corruption in the press.
MILLER: Yes, but you realize, Bill, that you've won.
O'REILLY: Yes, I know.
MILLER: The only way they define themselves is through the backdraft. You give them oxygen.