A link on BillOReilly.com, the website of Fox News and conservative radio talk-show host Bill O'Reilly, was titled "Those weren't veterans John Edwards, they were sex offenders," and linked to an Associated Press article about Florida's efforts "to dissolve a community of sex offenders living under a bridge." Media Matters for America has documented the back-and-forth between O'Reilly and former Sen. John Edwards over homelessness and homeless veterans.
Bill O'Reilly took inconsistent positions during the January 17 edition of The O'Reilly Factor on the role of the government in addressing the problem of homelessness among veterans, highlighted by John Edwards. O'Reilly said, "Certainly there are homeless veterans, but it's not because of the economy. It's mostly because of addiction and mental illness, something politicians can do little about." But when National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse president Joseph Califano later told O'Reilly that "the real tragedy here is most of those veterans have had combat experience that are suffering from drug and alcohol problems and mental health problems. And we are not taking care of them," O'Reilly replied: "And that is something that should be addressed."
The AP reported on the public dispute between John Edwards and Bill O'Reilly over the statistic Edwards has cited for the number of homeless military veterans. But the AP did not note that the statistic is supported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann criticized Fox News' Bill O'Reilly for ridiculing Sen. John Edwards' assertion that "200,000 men and women who wore uniforms and served this country patriotically as veterans will go to sleep under bridges and on grates." Referring to O'Reilly's pledge to radio host Ed Schultz that "if you know where there's a veteran sleeping under a bridge, you call me immediately, and we will make sure that man does not do it, is not there" after Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America executive director Paul Rieckhoff noted it would cost $15,000 to keep a homeless veteran off the streets for a year, Olbermann said: "OK, Billy, put your money where your mouth is. House every homeless vet tonight, just tonight. That'll be about $6,435,000."
Bill O'Reilly again baselessly challenged John Edwards' claim that "200,000 men and women who wore our uniform proudly and served this country courageously as veterans will go to sleep under bridges and on grates," telling radio host Ed Schultz, "[W]e're still looking for all the veterans sleeping under the bridges, Ed. So if you find anybody, let us know. ... They may be out there, but there are not many of them out there." Schultz replied: "Well, they're out there, Bill, don't kid yourself." According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, they are, in the approximate numbers Edwards asserted.
On Countdown, Keith Olbermann named Bill O'Reilly the "winner" of his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment for saying that John Edwards "has no clue" regarding Edwards' statement that "tonight, 200,000 men and women who wore our uniform proudly and served this country courageously as veterans will go to sleep under bridges and on grates."
On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly stated: "As for John Edwards, good grief, this guy has no clue." He then aired a clip of Edwards saying: "And tonight, 200,000 men and women who wore our uniform proudly and served this country courageously as veterans will go to sleep under bridges and on grates. We're better than this." O'Reilly commented: "The only thing sleeping under a bridge is that guy's brain. Ten million illegal alien workers are sending billions of dollars back home, and Edwards is running around saying nobody has any money. Hard to believe." While it is unclear what O'Reilly found "hard to believe," Edwards' claim about the number of homeless veterans is supported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Referring to Rep. John Murtha's recent statements on President Bush's troop increase strategy in Iraq, Sean Hannity asserted that "Democrats are going to have an even harder time trying to win the White House on a blame-Bush and the Republicans platform now that their loudest critic has gone to the other side." However, Murtha's comments did not indicate that he "has gone to the other side." Rather, Murtha said: "I think the surge is working, I think -- but that's only one element. ... But the thing that has to happen, the Iraqis have to do this themselves." In a November 30 statement, Murtha also reiterated his support for withdrawing troops from Iraq.
A day after accusing CNN and MSNBC of ignoring the Medal of Honor ceremony for Lt. Michael Murphy during prime time, Bill O'Reilly once again blasted the two networks for their lack of coverage of the event, asserting, "It's just another example of anti-military media matters in the USA." However, although CNN and MSNBC did not report on the story during the 8-11 p.m. ET prime-time period, on the day the family received the honor, MSNBC reported on Murphy at least five times throughout the day, broadcasting the award ceremony live; and CNN covered the story on at least seven distinct occasions.
Multiple reports by the Associated Press have failed to accurately lay out the context of Rush Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" remark or his inconsistent explanations for the comment. Indeed, the AP has not only consistently omitted his contradictions on whether he was referring to one or more soldiers, the fact that he edited the audio clip and transcript of his original comments, and that Limbaugh did not mention Jesse MacBeth on his September 26 radio show until one minute and 50 seconds after his remark, but also failed to note in its most recent report the caller's comment to which Limbaugh was responding.
On Fox & Friends, Mike Huckabee criticized senators for denouncing Rush Limbaugh regarding his recent "phony soldiers" comments, saying that "it is not the business of government to infringe upon the free speech of anybody, including a talk show host." But host Gretchen Carlson did not point out that Huckabee supported -- and attacked Sen. Hillary Clinton for opposing -- a Senate amendment that condemned the "General Betray Us" MoveOn.org ad.
Tom DeLay claimed that "[a] few days back," Rush Limbaugh "and a caller were discussing Global War on Terror critics who have either exaggerated or entirely invented their military and combat service in order to bolster their credibility" when Limbaugh referred to "phony soldiers." In fact, during his September 26 broadcast, Limbaugh did not restrict his comments. DeLay also falsely claimed that Media Matters was "George Soros-funded."