Rieder: Why the Bill O’Reilly Flap Matters

In this Oct. 28, 2013 file photo, political commentator Bill O'Reilly attends the National Geographic Channel's "Killing Kennedy" world premiere screening reception at The Newseum, in Washington. CBS News on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, released video from four stories it aired about the Falklands War in 1982, all part of a dispute involving Fox News Channel host O'Reilly and his subsequent statements about covering the war. None of the stories mention O'Reilly, then a young CBS reporter, or makes any specific reference to a CBS crew member being hurt. (Paul Morigi/Invision/AP)
In this Oct. 28, 2013 file photo, political commentator Bill O'Reilly attends the National Geographic Channel's "Killing Kennedy" world premiere screening reception at The Newseum, in Washington. CBS News on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, released video from four stories it aired about the Falklands War in 1982, all part of a dispute involving Fox News Channel host O'Reilly and his subsequent statements about covering the war. None of the stories mention O'Reilly, then a young CBS reporter, or makes any specific reference to a CBS crew member being hurt. (Paul Morigi/Invision/AP)
In this Oct. 28, 2013 file photo, political commentator Bill O’Reilly attends the National Geographic Channel’s “Killing Kennedy” world premiere screening reception at The Newseum, in Washington. (Paul Morigi/Invision/AP)

 

(USA Today) – So is this flap over whether Bill O’Reilly set foot in a “war zone” in an obscure conflict many years ago that hardly anyone remembers worth all this attention?

There is a school of thought that would answer the question with an emphatic “no.”

According to this point of view, O’Reilly is a talk show host with a clearly defined point of view, not a true journalist. He shouldn’t be held to the same standards as someone like embattled NBC anchor Brian Williams, whose embellished claims about his own “war zone” experiences netted him a six-month suspension without pay. Besides. does Fox News, where O’Reilly works his magic, have any credibility anyway?

Then there’s the argument that the flap simply plays into the hands of O’Reilly and Fox. Their very successful brands rest in part on the notion that that they are the counterweight to that dreaded liberal media, which simply can’t be trusted. Their base is unlikely to be troubled by the controversy and may even be fired up by it.

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