To think that there are human beings in the world who actually believe everything they see and hear on the cable news networks is quite funny. It might even be hysterical if it weren’t for the fact millions of people trust these high-priced talking heads to bring them the truth of the world with unfiltered objectivity. We’ll pause for a beat to give our readership time to laugh their a** off, affix it firmly to their bodies, then laugh their a** off again.
When MSNBC correspondent Brian Williams was dragged out on to the carpet in February, liberal America gasped in horror at the realization of one their favorite liberal-friendly news correspondents lied to them about being in mortal danger from enemy fire in Iraq a decade ago. The right-wing had a field day as headlines across the blogosphere labeled him everything from a “liberal con man” to a “blatant liar”.
One weird thing about being human is the manner in which some of us take pleasure in the misfortunes of others, and those liberals who bowed their heads in shame picked that back up with delight as news began circulating that Fox News resident conservative apologist Bill O’Reilly got dimed out for doing the exact same thing, lying about coming under duress in the Falkland Island during the brief, one-sided war between the former British Empire and Argentina in 1982.
Of the two claims, it is worth noting that O’Reilly’s claim of coming under fire in conflicts in El Salvador and in the Falkland Islands War do seem to be just as egregious as Williams’.
“I've reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands”, a line from O’Reilly’s book The No Spin Zone: Confrontations With the Powerful and Famous in America. O’Reilly, who often mentions being in peril while covering hot zones, said this on the his show mere weeks ago.
"Okay. See, my experience in El Salvador, in the Falklands War was let them calm down. Because ... when all hell breaks loose, you know, you're not thinking clearly. You're reacting” during an interview with Mark Kurkis of Time magazine regarding reporting in active war zones.
"I was in a situation one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands, where my photographer got run down and then hit his head and was bleeding from the ear on the concrete."
At the end of the day, O’Reilly did have a miniscule amount of space through which to squirm because he never said he was “on” the Falkland Islands, but that he was “in” the conflict. However, seeing as though the only land battles associated with the conflict took place on the islands, the remainder being naval and aerial battles between the Argentine and British navies and air forces, we cram to understand how he could have been in the Falkland Islands conflict unless he was on a British or Argentine naval vessel of war. So, unlike Brian Williams’ situation, there’s absolutely no way to be certain whether O’Reilly lied about his Falkland Islands War reporting because he left himself some wiggle room. However, in my humble experience, the only entities that need such a small amount of room to separate truth from a lie in a figurative sense are lawyers, from a literal standpoint, rats and other rodents.
Both Bill and Brian embellished on their war zone experiences. It is important to know that War Correspondents are held in high regard by the American public. Even before the great Walter Kronkite reported from the European Theater for the United Press during World War II, journalists of merit have relished the opportunity to report from an active war zone.
But, O’Reilly and Williams also have something else in common. It now seems that they’ve lied on Black people, something that an untold legion of reporters have done over the years. However, rarely has there been a better opportunity to shine light on this practice than the present, a time when reporters a liberal and a conservative reporter are accused of doing the exact same thing.
For those who lived in Los Angeles County at the time, 1992 was not a good year. In case you forgot, the L.A. Riots ensued after police officers who were seen on video mercilessly beating a helpless Rodney King were acquitted of their crimes, and the hood wasn’t feeling that. The hood wasn’t feeling that at all. And so, as is often the case when the disenfranchised and voiceless become fed up, a riot ensued. As was true during the Civil Rights insurrections of the 1960s through to the Ferguson Riots of 2014, news outlets flocked to the geographic area that encompasses South Central Los Angeles to videotape Black people in the throes of rage and broadcast their footage for Middle America’s consumption and judgment.
Bill O’Reilly, then working for Inside Edition, reported that “concrete was raining down on us” and “we were attacked by protestors” while covering the riot.
However, The Guardian UK is reporting that six people from O’Reilly’s news team said that they don’t recall being attacked by protestors at any point. Two of them said Bill had gotten into a beef with a L.A. resident for being disrespectful and callous. That individual reportedly smashed a camera with a piece of rubble from his own smoldering home.
“They were throwing bricks and stones at us,” O’Reilly told an online interviewer in 2006. “Concrete was raining down on us. The cops saved our butts that time.”
Inside Edition’s leading reporter from the L.A. Riots Rick Kirkman says it’s all a big, fat, undulating lie.
“It didn’t happen,” said Kirkman. “If it did, how come none of the rest of us remember it?”
This isn’t the first time that Bill O’Reilly has been accused of exaggerating and flat out lying on his show, and Fox News has steadfastly remained by his side. However, MSNBC’s Brian Williams has been suspended for six months without pay by the network for his sins.
Now, with his credibility in shambles, comes news that Williams lied about multiple aspects of his coverage in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina situation. During an interview with Tom Brokaw last year, Williams said he witnessed armed gangs take over the posh Ritz-Carlton. He also said he contracted dysentery there, refused an IV and had no medicine. Additionally, Williams said he saw a dead body floating pass the hotel in the French Quarter, witnessed a suicide at the Superdome and multiple rapes at the Ritz-Carlton by the previously mentioned armed gangs. But former Ritz-Carlton manager Myra DeGersdorff, who was there during Katrina and the immediate aftermath, told the Washington Post that she was shocked by what she had heard from Williams.
“Maybe he misremembered,” she told The Post. “I’m not going to judge him, because it was such an unpleasant week and there were times to be concerned. And when there is that kind of concern, you can misremember. And maybe he was out there, and it wasn’t impossible he could have encountered a body, but I don’t think it was in the French Quarter. The French Quarter only got inches of flooding.”
She also said that, at the drop of a hat, there were six or seven New Orleans Police officers on hand due to the fact that she was housing them in the hotel at the time. Ms. DeGersdorff also said there were no “armed gangs” near the hotel. Only groups of two or three individuals attempting to loot high-end stores in the area. However, the few times in which there were attempts to break the hotel perimeter said attempts were immediately rebuffed.
Though Williams has been reprimanded, it wasn’t for his Katrina lies. Meanwhile, Bill O’Reilly, who is constantly on record saying disparaging, sensationalized and downright racist things about people of African descent, isn’t likely to face any disciplinary action. Perhaps the only difference between these two truth-benders current situations are MSNBC’s belief in some semblance of journalistic integrity while Fox News feigns ignorance to the very idea of it.
Neither Williams nor O’Reilly ever specifically stated that they saw Black people roving the streets of New Orleans and Los Angeles, however with such well-worn media code words as “armed gangs”, “protestors” and “rape”, coupled with the areas demographics, he might as well have called them savages and spear chuckers. To many in the American viewing public, that’s what those former terms are synonymous with.
To the media, tales of scary Black people menacing law-abiding Whites is the lowest hanging fruit possible, and they grasp at it greedily, hungrily and without shame. And if CNN correspondent Don Lemon’s coverage of the Ferguson Riots is any indicator, reporters will continue to sound the alarm harkening the arrival of the savage Black hordes whenever they get the chance, and The Shadow League will be there to call them out for it.