O'Reilly falsely claims that Sherrod story marks "first time" he's had to retract a story

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that his apology to Shirley Sherrod was the "first time in 13 years" he had to apologize or retract a story. In fact, Media Matters has documented several instances in which O'Reilly has apologized for or corrected a story that he got wrong.

O'Reilly on Sherrod story: "First time in 13 years" he's had to apologize or retract a story

O'Reilly falsely claimed that the Sherrod story was "the first time in 13 years we've had to retract a story," and the "first time" he's "apologized." On The Tonight Show, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly told host Jay Leno that apologizing to Sherrod was "the first time in 13 years we've had to retract a story," and that it was the first time he apologized:

LENO: Do you find there's less fact-checking? I remember, it wasn't that long ago, I --

O'REILLY: No, no.

LENO: -- the swimmer, Michael Phelps.

O'REILLY: Yeah.

LENO: He -- I see this article, "Michael Phelps, $20,000 tax cheat," and they show his picture on the news. And I go, "I haven't heard anything about this." So we start writing --

O'REILLY: It's not so much fact-checking, it's just too much gossip.

LENO: Well, here's the thing. So we start writing jokes, and I go, you know, it doesn't sound right. And, three days later -- oh, wrong, some guy named Michael Phelps. It was the wrong guy. But it was on the Internet, it came up with a story --

O'REILLY: Right, right.

LENO: This happens all the time.

O'REILLY: It does, but it doesn't happen to me. This is the first time in 13 years -- it's true.

LENO: Is that the first time you've --

O'REILLY: Thirteen -- the first time in 13 years we've had to retract a story, and the problem was that it was all my fault. I couldn't blame anybody.

LENO: Right.

O'REILLY: I mean, I'm the writer of the show. I write the stuff. So I just didn't check it. I should have checked it. I will in the future.

LENO: Is that the first time you've apologized?

O'REILLY: Yeah, except for just being me.

LENO: Right, right.

In fact, O'Reilly has apologized or corrected a story on several occasions

O'Reilly apologized for falsely claiming "only Anderson Cooper on CNN covered the murder of Private Long." On the June 6, 2009, broadcast of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly apologized for falsely claiming that "only Anderson Cooper on CNN covered the murder of" Army Recruiter Pvt. William Long. As Media Matters noted, three days earlier O'Reilly had accused the network of ignoring the story outside of Cooper's show, when in fact, at least six other CNN shows covered the story at least 15 times prior to O'Reilly's claim. O'Reilly said of his claim:

O'REILLY: We have a correction -- a rare correction on The Factor. Earlier this week, I said that only Anderson Cooper on CNN covered the murder of Private Long in Arkansas. Well, today, a snide and surly guy on CNN pointed out that the story was covered more extensively by that network, and that is true. I was wrong. My apologies to CNN. I was talking about primetime, but I did not say that. So, I was wrong. As they say in third grade, "My bad."

O'Reilly apologized for running with Murtha misquote. On the June 29, 2006, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly apologized for "pick[ing] up" a quote from a South Florida Sun-Sentinel article which incorrectly reported that Rep. John Murtha had claimed the "American presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran." On June 26, 2006, O'Reilly cited the Sun-Sentinel report to allege that Murtha's "kind of extreme thinking, based on little evidence, by the way, is putting all Americans in danger." After the Sun-Sentinel published its correction, O'Reilly stated on June 29 that "[t]he newspaper has apologized, and since we picked up the paper's quote, we should apologize, as well," adding: "I should have checked it out myself and called Murtha's office. Next time, we will do that."

O'Reilly apologized for using "lynching party" while discussing Michelle Obama. As Media Matters documented, during the February 19, 2008, edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, O'Reilly discussed Michelle Obama's assertion that "[f]or the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country" and said of those upset with her remarks: "I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels -- that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever -- then that's legit. We'll track it down." On the February 21, 2008, broadcast of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly apologized for his use of the phrase "lynching party," saying, "I'm sorry if my statement offended anybody. That, of course, was not the intention. Context is everything."

O'Reilly routinely makes false claims on his television show

Media Matters has documented hundreds of examples of O'Reilly making false claims on his television and radio shows. Some recent examples include:

O'Reilly falsely claimed New Black Panthers were "standing in front of a polling place and saying they want to kill white babies." O'Reilly attacked the mainstream media for failing to cover the New Black Panthers case, which he described as "guys with batons standing in front of a polling place and saying they want to kill white babies." In fact, the hate speech to which he referred is from video produced prior to Election Day.

O'Reilly falsely claimed Houston, San Francisco are "sanctuary cities" that are breaking the law. On the July 19 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly falsely claimed that San Francisco and Houston are "sanctuary cities" that are violating federal law. In fact, O'Reilly has misconstrued the law's requirements, and the Bush administration's Justice Department concluded that Houston and San Francisco are not violating the applicable laws that do exist.

O'Reilly declared it was "fiction" that the stimulus created jobs. On July 13, O'Reilly declared it was "fiction" that the stimulus created jobs. In fact, as Media Matters has noted, the stimulus has been estimated by both the White House and independent analysts to have increased employment by about 2 million jobs relative to a baseline estimate of what jobs levels would have been without the stimulus.

O'Reilly falsely claims ICE official Hurtt "refused to enforce federal immigration law." On June 25, O'Reilly claimed that Obama "has appointed a sanctuary city supporter as a liaison" between the federal government and the states on the issue of illegal immigration. O'Reilly falsely claimed that Harold Hurtt "refused to enforce federal immigration law" while he served as Houston police chief. In fact, Houston is not a "sanctuary city" and was not one when Hurtt was police chief. Indeed, Houston cooperated with ICE when Hurtt was serving as police chief.

O'Reilly falsely claimed law was violated in Romanoff matter. On June 3, O'Reilly repeated the false claim that 18 U.S.C. § 600 was violated in the Andrew Romanoff controversy. In fact, legal and ethical experts have repudiated the claim that a crime was committed.

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Bill O'Reilly
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