Washington Post 's Kurtz missed facts in O'Reilly contretemps


Writing about the controversy over Georgetown law professor David D. Cole's recent appearance as a guest on Bill O'Reilly's FOX News Channel show, The O'Reilly Factor, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz failed to correct a lie told by O'Reilly that is documented in the June 23 Media Matters for America report "O'Reilly denied comparing Franken to Goebbels -- but he did; CAP urged: E-mail O'Reilly 'to correct the record'."

Kurtz's June 30 Washington Post article, titled " O'Reilly's 'No-Spin' Control Prompts Guest to Cry Foul," centered on claims by Cole that O'Reilly misled viewers by paraphrasing -- rather than directly quoting -- 9-11 Commission chair Thomas H. Kean on contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda. According to Kurtz, Cole said that when he called O'Reilly on the matter during a taped interview, O'Reilly "exploded" off-camera and called him an "SOB."

O'Reilly told Kurtz that Cole's contention -- that O'Reilly re-taped part of his show, replacing an actual clip of Kean himself with a paraphrase "because it didn't fit my thesis" -- was "totally absurd." According to Kurtz, O'Reilly attributed the controversy to "a pretty well-organized campaign on the left to monitor his [O'Reilly's] television and radio shows."

Kurtz then recounted yet another recent flap involving Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta's June 22 O'Reilly Factor appearance, during which O'Reilly challenged Podesta: "[G]ive me one example of where I smeared someone." Podesta correctly stated that O'Reilly had compared Al Franken to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. O'Reilly denied it, claiming that he had compared author/documentarian Michael Moore (not Franken) to Goebbels; in fact, O'Reilly compared both Franken and Moore to Goebbels.

In his Post article, Kurtz allowed O'Reilly's false denial to stand, though it is clear from the transcript of the June 10 broadcast of O'Reilly's nationally syndicated radio program, The Radio Factor, the relevant portion of which MMFA posted on this website, that O'Reilly did compare Franken to Goebbels. By neglecting to note this fact, Kurtz left the erroneous implication that Podesta, rather than O'Reilly, misstated the facts.

Kurtz wrote of the June 22 O'Reilly-Podesta face-off:

Podesta complained that "you compare Bill Moyers to Mao Zedong. You say that's a joke. You compare Al Franken to Joseph Goebbels, you know, the Nazi propagandist."

"That was Michael Moore, by the way," said O'Reilly, adding that such comments were often satirical. "I said that Michael Moore is a propagandist and so is Joseph Goebbels. And then I explained what propaganda is.

Here is the relevant part of the transcript from the June 10 edition of The Radio Factor, which shows that Podesta was telling the truth about what O'Reilly said and that O'Reilly's denial -- uncontradicted by Kurtz -- was false:

O'REILLY: Joseph Goebbels was the Minister of Propaganda for the Nazi regime and whose very famous quote was, "If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth." All right? "If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth."

And that's what Stuart Smalley [O'Reilly regularly refers to Franken as Stuart Smalley, a character Franken created on Saturday Night Live], and Michael Moore and all of these guys do. They just run around.

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