Real Time host Bill Maher fumed on Friday over the different media responses to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly’s reporting and NBC News anchor Brian Williams’ Iraq stories.
“Let me read to you Bill O’Reilly’s words and you tell me if he is not just a blatant, bald-assed liar,” Maher said, before listing the various claims regarding his reporting in Argentina and El Salvador, among others.
“These are out-and-out lies,” Maher said of O’Reilly’s statements. “Now, I understand why Fox News backs him — because they’re not really a news service. They’re like, ‘You expect the truth? That’s not what we do here.’ But why isn’t the mainstream media going after him with the same ferocity, the supposedly ‘liberal media,’ as they did to Brian Williams?”
“I suspect it’s because they know what you just said,” former presidential consultant David Axelrod answered. “Which is, Fox News isn’t a real news organization. And Bill O’Reilly isn’t a real journalist.”
“Bill O’Reilly being full of sh*t about something is not a news story,” journalist Matt Taibbi added. “It just isn’t.”
O’Reilly has been quiet lately regarding the latest questions surrounding his reporting — specifically his claim to have been on the doorstep when a friend of Lee Harvey Oswald’s killed himself. But Maher argued that the Factor host was getting away with lying much like he escaped punishment in 2004 following accusations of sexual harassment.
“He did the same thing. Just intimidated people, bullied them,” Maher said. “If a liberal reporter said they were in a war zone, what would the Fox News crowd be saying? They’d be saying, ‘This is an insult to troops that are really in the war zone, this bad American.’”
The difference between O’Reilly and Williams, Heritage Foundation senior contributor Genevieve Wood said, was that Williams quickly apologized for his actions, while O’Reilly has insisted he has done nothing wrong.
“They had to either accept that and go with it,” Wood argued. “Fox is gonna defend him as long as he’s saying, ‘I did what I said I did, and nobody else is really to challenge it.’”