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O'Reilly or Anchorwoman: Which Is the Greater Threat to Journalism's Future?



There's lots of reasons why, as a media critic, I can't stand Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly.Oreilly

He often willfully misrepresents facts to make his point. He wraps himself in the trappings of a news anchor to bolster his own credibility -- this Pew Center opinion poll shows he's the second most-admired journalist in a country which has increasing trouble naming any news anchors. But he claims he's not a journalist when people criticize his methods. And he's one of the biggest bullies in modern media -- equalled, perhaps, only by Rush Limbaugh.

My latest evidence, O'Reilly's laughable segment last night criticizing Judge Manuel Lopez, who made the unfortunate decision to grant bail to Michael Allen Phillips, a 24-year-old with a history of arrests who eventually shot and killed a sheriff's deputy.

There is a good discussion to be had on how this case fell through the cracks. How many other lawbreakers with Phillips' record are handled by the court everyday? Are judge's giving full consideration to circumstances? And is it fair for people like Phillips' girlfriend to complain about his violence when they failed to help police prosecute him earlier?

Manuellopez But O'Reilly isn't interested in facts. So he had a producer show up on the judge's driveway to ask provocative questions, followed by an in-studio interview with State Sen. Ronda Storms -- a legislator with little firsthand knowledge of the court system or the issues involved. Read the transcript here.

During the talkback segment, O'Reilly confused the case with another one he had been pumping on air, saying incorrectly that Phillips was released on $150 bail (his bail, according to our stories, was $30,000 -- O'Reilly corrected his mistake later in the show). He had no idea what the legal boundaries were in the case. And he didn't mention that police issued trespass warnings to his crew for going on the judge's property without permission.

Bothered as I am by Fox's insulting Anchorwoman reality TV show, I'm far more alarmed by the way cable news' highest-rated personality constantly obscures discussion on important issues instead of illuminating them.

Everybody knows a bikini model isn't a journalist. But people keep making that mistake with O'Reilly, and there may be a higher price to pay for that.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:40pm]


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