FOX News host Bill O'Reilly, whom Media Matters for America named "Misinformer of the Year" for his 75-plus documented lies, distortions, and mischaracterizations in 2004, attacked retired PBS host and Peabody Award winner Bill Moyers for the December 17 episode of PBS's NOW, which criticized what Moyers called O'Reilly's and FOX News' “partisan agenda.” On the January 5 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly called Moyers “totalitarian,” claimed Moyers “finds it morally offensive to hear points of view with which he disagrees,” and suggested that “he ought to give back his Peabody.”
Joining O'Reilly to discuss Moyers and the December 17 episode was Bob Kohn, a columnist for the right-wing website WorldNetDaily.com and the author of Journalistic Fraud: How The New York Times Distorts the News and Why It Can No Longer Be Trusted (WND Books, 2003) Media Matters has previously noted that in a May 1 column, Kohn fabricated evidence that Senator John Kerry was having an affair with a New York Times reporter. Kohn claimed that Moyers is critical of FOX News because “he's jealous” and “really despises the competition,” suggesting that “if he believed in the First Amendment, he'd like what's going on” at FOX News. O'Reilly called NOW “a big piece of propaganda,” proposed that Moyers “should be embracing this outfit [FOX News] here because it's another voice so the folks can listen and make up their own mind, but he doesn't want that,” and added: “That's what I find about guys like Moyers. They're really totalitarian people.”
NOW did not oppose “competition,” but rather reported that right-wing media consolidation has created “a multibillion dollar communications empire” that squelches debate. Moyers interviewed former employees of conservative media corporations (including Sinclair Broadcast Group) who claimed they were fired or reassigned for their unwillingness to conform to their employer's political agenda. Moyers concluded the segment with a call for journalism to embrace “commitment to facts, to public consideration, and to independence.”
O'Reilly insisted that Moyers used “a bunch of propaganda from the Soros-funded website Media Matters to make his case.” But as Media Matters has previously noted, to date we have received no money from financier and philanthropist George Soros or from any of his organizations.
O'Reilly also suggested that Moyers was unwilling to appear on his show to defend himself, stating: “As always, Bill Moyers has an open invitation to appear on The Factor.” But O'Reilly has repeatedly ignored Media Matters CEO and president David Brock's offers to appear on The O'Reilly Factor.