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Wednesday, July 26, 2006
NewsBusters Defends O'Reilly Over False Claim
Topic: NewsBusters

A July 26 NewsBusters post by Brad Wilmouth (repeated in a July 26CyberAlert) railed against Keith Olbermann for viciously smearing" Bill O'Reilly over his false claim that Americans massacred German troops in World War II at Malmedy -- in fact, Americans were the ones massacred by Nazis. Wilmouth claimed that "O'Reilly later corrected his mis-statement."

But did O'Reilly really issue a correction? Here's what O'Reilly said on the May 31 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, a day after he made the false claim in a debate with Wesley Clark: "In the heat of the debate with General Clark, my statement wasn't clear enough. ... After Malmedy, some German captives were executed by American troops." Claiming he "wasn't clear enough" is hardly a correction, much less an apology -- something one might think would be in order after falsely accusing Americans of committing a war atrocity. Would this "correction" be acceptable to Wilmouth and the MRC if it came out of the mouth of, say, Chris Matthews? We doubt it.

Wilmouth then defends O'Reilly, claiming that he "had no motive to intentionally fabricate a claim specifically about Malmedy." But while Wilmouth further claims that Olbermann "chose to attribute the worst possible motives to the FNC host's statement," motivation is not an issue here; it's a matter of properly correcting a false claim. And even if ascribing motives was an issue, how is Olbermann any different from the MRC? Wilmouth and his co-workers ascribe nefarious motives -- i.e., "liberal bias" -- to its political enemies on a regular basis. That comes from the top; Brent Bozell insists that the New York Times is motivated by a "left-wing agenda" (or is it a "far left-wing agenda"?). And Wilmouth's bretheren at regularly assume that Democrats act only for purely political reasons, an assumption it refuses to make about Republicans.

In other words, Wilmouth is criticizing Olbermann for doing the exact same thing his employer does.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:29 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 1:26 PM EDT

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