Without acknowledging error, O'Reilly modified false Abramoff claim; attacked "organized terror" from "far-left websites"

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Bill O'Reilly modified his previous false claim that lobbyist Jack Abramoff donated money to both Republicans and Democrats, saying: "His personal donations were to Republicans." However, O'Reilly made no admission of his previous error, and went on to attack "far-left websites" for "put[ting] out a fatwa" against him and Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell, further claiming the websites engage in "organized terror."

On the January 23 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly modified a false claim he made three days before that former lobbyist Jack Abramoff donated money to both Democrats and Republicans, saying: "His personal donations were to Republicans." In modifying his claim, however, O'Reilly made no admission of his previous error, nor did he apologize for having berated a caller to his nationally syndicated radio show for correctly noting that Democrats received no money directly from Abramoff. O'Reilly went on to attack the "far-left websites" for "put[ting] out a fatwa" against him and Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell and and to claim that the websites engage in "organized terror."

O'Reilly was addressing the controversy surrounding Howell's January 15 Post column, in which she twice falsely claimed Democrats had received contributions from Abramoff. As Media Matters for America noted at the time, no Democrats received any contributions directly from Abramoff. On January 19, the Post's editors disabled the comment feature on the newspaper's post.blog weblog, claiming that readers responded to Howell's column with "personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech." Howell acknowledged her error in a January 22 Post column. The Post later announced that it had reposted "all comments that meet washingtonpost.com's standards for community interaction."

From the January 23 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: "Personal Story" segment tonight: We've been telling you for years that the far left in America is very organized, very vicious, and will stop at nothing to intimidate people with whom it disagrees. Enter Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell. She suggested in a column that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to both political parties. Well, that is true in the sense that Abramoff directed contributions to both parties. His personal donations were to Republicans. Well, apparently, some far-left websites didn't like Miss Howell's reporting, so they attacked her personally. And editors of The Washington Post had to shut down the comment section of their website. Nice. Joining us now from Washington: Juan Williams, a Fox News analyst and former Washington Post correspondent.

We couldn't track down Deborah Howell. You know, if she wants to come on, I'd like to talk to her. But here's what she said, quote: "It is profoundly distressing that political discord [sic: discourse] has sunk to a level where abusive name-calling and the crudest of sexual language are the norm, where facts have no place in an argument. This unbounded, unreasoning rage is not going to help this newspaper, this country or democracy." Now, as you know, Juan, because I deal with this every day, these smear websites, this is what they do on a daily basis. They put out a fatwa against O'Reilly or anybody else they don't like, in this case Deborah Howell at The Washington Post, usually sympathetic to the left. All right? And then their overexuberant readers go in and, you know, do this kind of personal attack. And there's nothing we can do to stop it, but I think the exposure of it is worthy.

O'Reilly's claim that Abramoff "directed" money to Democrats and Republicans is a departure from comments he made on the January 20 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, in which he attacked a caller as "fallacious" and "a Kool-Aid drinker" for correctly noting that Democrats received no money directly from Abramoff, and presented "the facts on Abramoff," falsely claiming: "So, there the plurality shifts to the Republicans, but, big money by Abramoff to both sides."

On the January 23 O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly went on to further attack "far-left" "smear sites," claiming they engage in "organized terror":

O'REILLY: But there's an intimidation factor here, and that's what they're after. Don't say anything against us, don't say anything against the left or the right, or we'll come after you and we'll smear you, and we don't care what we say. And that's what's going on.

WILLIAMS: I couldn't agree more. That's exactly what's going on. My only point to you is it's happening on both sides, that when you hear --

O'REILLY: The left is much worse.

WILLIAMS: Well, I -- look --

O'REILLY: We've done an analysis of the websites.

[...]

O'REILLY: It's organized terror. That's what's going on. And you say it happens on the right. Not nearly to the extent that it's happening on the left.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The O'Reilly Factor
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, Abramoff Scandal
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