Lying politicians and fake reporters – a perfect match

As is often the case, when a single thread of a boastful egomaniac’s credibility gets pulled, the whole fabric starts to get unraveled pretty quickly as people start looking more closely at all their statements. This is happening with lightning speed with Fox News bloviator Bill O’Reilly.

David Corn and Daniel Schulman started the ball rolling by showing how his tales of derring-do as a reporter in various hot spots around the world did not match up with what the facts were or with other people’s recollections. Without defending his statements with evidence, O’Reilly went on the attack, refusing to answer pointed questions of fact put to him by Corn who also fact-checked O’Reilly’s blustering response on TV.

Other articles have pointed to other discrepancies about his time in Central and South America, about his experience with the JFK assassination, the murder of nuns in El Salvador, and even his encounter with star baseball pitcher Tom Seaver.

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show tries to give some perspective on what we should be really outraged about. The fact that O’Reilly’s version of history cannot be trusted is because it is the Fox News model to distort everything to fit their agenda, and he plays that role perfectly. People don’t watch the show for accurate news but to have their prejudices reinforced. Stewart says that while O’Reilly and his ilk should be shown up, perhaps we should save most of our outrage for more consequential lies like the ones that got us into the war in Iraq or the lies that Israeli prime minister made to the UN in order to drag the US into a war with Iran and that contradicted what his own intelligence services were saying. (TDS also produced a Vine that shows 50 Fox News lies in 6 seconds.)

(This clip aired on February 24, 2015. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Nightly Show outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)


  1. moarscienceplz says

    So an Israeli politician lied to the goyim? Inconceivable! Why, they are God’s Chosen People! They wouldn’t do something like that! Just ask Jerry Coyne. He has said on his blog multiple times that people who dare to criticize Israel’s actions are probably anti-Semites. Why, oh why are the poor Jews so mistreated? Oh, the tragedy!

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    moarscienceplz @ # 1 -- Do you insinuate that Bill O’Reilly is a Jewish politician, or have you perchance plopped your words in the wrong place?

  3. lorn says

    Humans lie. Retelling a historic event it can take a conscious effort to keep the context and proportions even near to correct. The fish gets bigger, the danger a little closer, the situation just a bit more emotionally gripping than an objective observer might have seen.

    Some of this is natural. When relating a story we try to indicate how it felt emotionally at the time.

    Humans are story tellers. We grew up as a species gathered around a fire telling tales, and we all intuitively know that an emotionally engaging story is going to go over better than a factually true, but dull one, will. We are disclosing information, sometimes valuable information, but we are also charged with filling the long cold nights with stories that entertain and build a common culture.

    Of course the final word is from the video. Not all lies and exaggerations are equally important. An exaggerated story breezing over a campfire is far less problematic than a lie that puts people into graves.

  4. Nick Gotts says


    Netanyahu was not lying to “the goyim”. He was lying to the world, Jews and non-Jews alike.

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