Six weeks after Media Matters for America first exposed Bill O'Reilly for fabricating statistics as evidence of the impact of his call for a boycott of French goods; two weeks after New York Daily News movie critic Jack Mathews used MMFA material in a June 28 column to expose this and other false statements made by O'Reilly; and one week after O'Reilly responded to Mathews's column with a new statistic to support a modified -- though equally false -- version of his original claim, O'Reilly offered a third false claim and a new phony statistic in another attempt to document the success of his boycott.
From the July 14 edition of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: [H]ere's the update on the boycott. ... French exports to the USA have fallen by more than a billion dollars from 2001 to 2003. That's according to the U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Division.
As Media Matters for America has documented not once but twice in the past, the Census figures prove that O'Reilly's alleged boycott has had no measurable effect on French exports to the United States. Though O'Reilly is correct that Census figures show French exports were about $1.2 billion less in 2003 than in 2001, the decline in that period is unrelated to O'Reilly's supposed boycott. While there was a $2.2 billion decrease between 2001 and 2002 -- probably due to the economic downturn -- O'Reilly did not call for the boycott until March 2003. French exports were actually $979 million greater in 2003 than in 2002.
This recent assertion marks the third distinct false claim that O'Reilly has made in his attempts to prove that his boycott is making a significant impact on trade between the United States and France. Most recently, in his July 6 letter to the editors of the New York Daily News, O'Reilly wrote, “According to U.S. government figures, in the months following the boycott call, France did $138 million less business with the U.S.A. than it did the previous year.” When Media Matters for America debunked this claim, we noted that -- while it was certainly a lie -- it represented a significant retreat from his original April 27 assertion that, as a result of the boycott, France had “lost billions of dollars according to 'The Paris Business Review.'” While using Census trade data to refute that claim, Media Matters for America questioned the existence of any publication called “The Paris Business Review” or something similar. O'Reilly has still declined to address that issue.