We’re seeing a fascinating pair of case studies on the importance (or not) of truth, context and conflict in journalism.
It’s pretty clear that Bill O’Reilly lied as certainly as Brian Williams did about the danger they faced in covering wars. Williams apologized as quickly as he was caught in his lie and soon took himself off the air, then was suspended by NBC News. O’Reilly has responded with bluster and name-calling, and Fox News issued a statement Sunday that it was in “full support” of O’Reilly.
At the end of this post, I’ll address the documentation of the accusations against O’Reilly (and the weakness of his response, which actually underscores the case against him). But first, I want to address the issues I see in the contrast between the two situations of TV stars caught in lies.
Let’s start with the similarities:
- Each man was caught lying about his experience covering war, particularly the personal danger he faced.
- Neither man was caught the first time he lied, so he just kept repeating the lie.
- Because they are TV stars, we have actual video of what they said.
But here are some differences: (more…)