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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/4/15

TOY SOLDIER: The Fabulous Fabulism of Bill O'Reilly

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"Em-Bill-ishment: It seems Bill O'Reilly has been taking shots at the truth for quite some time.

Just to be clear: Richard Engel, of NBC News, is a war correspondent. Usually, when you see Engel on television, he's not draped in a $3,000.00 suit. More likely, he's wearing a helmet and flak jacket. The war stories he reports are not delivered from within the shimmering confines of a latte-laden million-dollar television studio. Instead, it's bound to be from a leaky battlefield bunker, or from deep within some forbidden insurgent enclave. Often bullets are flying. Sometimes bombs are exploding. And usually, people are getting killed. Considering the places from which Engel has reported since 2003 when he began covering the Iraq war, it seems amazing that he's still alive. The point is, to anyone looking to fan-boy a tough, fearless war correspondent with tons of experience reporting from actual theatres of war, Engel's your guy.

Bill O'Reilly, on the other hand, is a pundit so drunk off the utter surrealness of the self-aggrandizing bullshit he peddles to a couple of million off-duty ditto-heads each weeknight, that to him, his very presence at the scene of a riot, elevates the importance of that event to "war zone" status. Of course for someone like O'Reilly, it's a functional fantasy. Fact is, he couldn't cut it covering wars in the places Engel's been. O'Reilly's had too privileged a life. He'd crack within hours. In fact, the premise of Bill O'Reilly as a "war correspondent" in an actual war -- even one as brief and as relatively tepid as the Falklands conflict -- seems the perfect description of a fool's errand. It would be like a network sending Barney Fife to handle its coverage.

Certainly in hindsight, it seems entirely logical that O'Reilly's inability to cut it as a correspondent for CBS News -- an authentic, evidence-based news organization -- would set him on the path that eventually led him to an outfit as loosey-goosey with facts as Fox News. In general, the idea of any Fox News-associated "journalist " working as a "war correspondent" really does conjure images of high hilarity. And it's been proven by history. Many may remember Geraldo Rivera's (dangerously) comedic, short-lived excursion into Iraq during the early stages of Desert Storm. The incident involved a live-shot viewed on Fox by millions during which Geraldo literally drew a map in the sand to illustrate planned U.S. military activity. Presumably, among the millions who viewed Geraldo's amateurish breach of military security included Iraqi military leaders. The stunt outraged the Pentagon which demanded that Fox ship Geraldo back to the studio where he belongs. Fox's response at the time was something along the lines of, '"we will review your request and make the appropriate decision.' The Pentagon's response was to basically tell Fox to go right ahead with its "review" but just make sure Geraldo's ass is on a plane out of Iraq in the morning.

But back to O'Reilly. There seems to be a growing notion that all the coverage of the accusations against Bill -- which at one point were emerging at a clip similar to the rate of accusations being made against another Bill "Cosby -- will have no impact on O'Reilly's career; that it won't be destroyed like Cosby's or perhaps Brian Williams'. It's a notion I support. But not based on what seems the prevailing narrative, which states that over the years, O'Reilly has masterfully played the "conservative victim card" by cultivating the image of an individual who's a primary target of a take-down effort by the "liberal media" and "far-left ideologues." That may well be part of the reason. But I think the primary reason he will skate has more to do with the O'Reilly brand. Not as a poster boy for conservative victims of liberal or progressive hatred, but as a Pinocchio-esque victimizer of truthfulness about facts, most specifically, any such facts which are related to how he wishes to be perceived.

But despite his efforts otherwise, the perception is obvious. It takes less than half a brain to figure out that beneath his forceful chest-beating, Bill O'Reilly is a full-blown and completely transparent bullshit artist. And of course, to a bullshit artist, it's never about the accuracy of facts, but about how facts are parsed. The fact is, to a bullshit artist, the embellishment of a fact does not diminish its accuracy -- it enhances it. Therefore, for any bullshit artist, rule number one is that facts are made to be embellished.

If you encounter a bullshit artist selling used cars, expect to buy a lemon. And if the bullshitter is a conservative, wannabe war correspondent who is highly skilled at shooting the bull, expect coverage of routine civil disobedience to be described coming from a "war zone." Furthermore, expect it to be described in a way that provides the wiggle room necessary for a denial should the "far-left ideologues" start raising questions about truthfulness and accuracy.

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Anthony Barnes, of Boston, Massachusetts, is a left-handed leftist. "When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the (more...)

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