Not all that slowly they turn: On Monday night, Bill O’Reilly was saying he just couldn’t do it.
Despite the high ratings the topic produces, he wasn’t going to spend his time speculating about the Malaysian airplane mystery.
“As far as I'm concerned, I can't do it. I just can't,” he told Bernie Goldberg, after noting the high degree of speculation involved in ongoing cable coverage of the missing airplane.
“I told a bunch of people,” O’Reilly said. “I said, I can only do stories grounded in reality. I cannot do, ‘Well, maybe this happened,’ you know, ten days after the fact. I can't.
“And that's just the way it's going to be,” O’Reilly said on Monday night.
For the record, that’s exactly the way it was—until the very next night!
Last night, Mr. O did two full segments about the mystery in Malaysia. In the first segment, he and Charles Krauthammer complained about all the speculation. In the next segment, Mr. O and an expert guest speculated to beat the band.
We’re not saying that was wrong. People, we’re just saying!
In our view, Rachel Maddow took a slightly more comical approach to this moral problem.
Last night, Maddow bumped the airplane mystery up into her opening segment. As she opened her show, we thought she did a very good job inventing principled reasons for her new level of interest:
MADDOW (3/18/14): Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.Please. At this point, Rachel played extended tape from last evening’s Nightly News. In it, Williams and Costello were presenting the same kind of information which has appeared night after night on cable—in most cases, only to get retracted the very next day.
We have breaking news on the story of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Although there’s been a lot of heated speculation about the fate of that plane and what might have happened to it, there has been very little news since the plane was lost, in the technical sense of the word “news,” meaning new information about what actually happened.
But tonight, on Nightly News, NBC’s Brian Williams and Tom Costello reported some actual new information which may not tell where the plane eventually ended up, but it does give us more information than we had before, potentially crucial information about what happened in the cockpit, the sequence of events in the cockpit before the plane vanished.
This is new information tonight just reported by NBC News. Watch.
After playing the tape of Williams, Maddow returned, determined to convince us about what we hadn’t just seen:
MADDOW: Again, that is the breaking news tonight from NBC’s Tom Costello and NBC News managing editor Brian Williams.And not only that, but blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, etc. Maddow produced a bewildering report, plus an imponderable interview with an expert guest.
This is not speculation on where the plane might have ended up or what in history might be allegorical to the disappearance of this plane. This is concrete new information that NBC News has learned about what actually did happen to this plane before it was lost.
Again, the key new development here is that when the plane turned west, when that plane flew west, when it flew so dramatically off its initial course, when it took that left turn instead of heading on its initial course toward Beijing—number one, that turn was executed by the flight management system, which essentially means it was done through automated systems. It was programmed to make that turn.
That much information we actually knew last night. What’s new now is the timing...
To watch the whole segment, click this.
Maddow bumped the story up, just as Mr. O had done. In fairness, the cable stars were eager to tell you about their principled motives.