It’s time for Glenn Kessler to fact-check O’Reilly!


O’Reilly keeps pouring it on: Last night, Bill O’Reilly just kept pouring it on. With the apparent help of Jon Stewart!

On a typical evening, roughly 5 million people watch one of O’Reilly’s three broadcasts on Fox. (His program airs at 8 PM, 11 PM and 4 AM Eastern.)

Last night, in O’Reilly’s opening monologue, those five million people saw Jon Stewart used to advance a bogus claim about the IRS. O’Reilly just kept pouring it on, helped along by edited tape of Stewart!

Here’s how this gong-show came down:

On Monday evening’s Daily Show, Stewart opened with a segment about the IRS. In the course of the segment, he played some tape of O’Reilly from last Thursday’s O’Reilly Factor.

During the excerpt which Stewart aired, O’Reilly made a bogus factual claim two separate times. Stewart let the misstatement go, although he mocked O’Reilly on another basis.

Last night, O’Reilly played a tightly edited version of the tape from Stewart’s program. Here’s what O’Reilly’s viewers saw at the start of last night’s show:
O’REILLY (6/4/13): Many honest liberal people, liberal people clearly see the danger of having a powerful government agency treating Americans unfairly based upon political beliefs. That's what fascist and communist governments do.

My pal Jon Stewart said this last night:

(Begin videotape from Monday’s Daily Show)
STEWART: Oh no. Poor babies, the IRS, facing scrutiny! People getting all up in their business!

O'REILLY (earlier videotape): There is disturbing information. This man, former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, visited the White House, ready? 157 times! What the heck was Mr. Shulman doing at the White House with that kind of frequency?

STEWART: Whoa, whoa, clear the ladies from the room. IRS, your tomfoolery almost made Bill O'Reilly say “H-E-double toothpick.”

O'REILLY (earlier videotape): You must explain under oath what you were doing at the White House on 157 separate occasions.

STEWART: Yes that is a lot, Shulman. Especially since having the president tell you to use the power of the IRS to destroy his political enemies on the right should really only take about one meeting, two tops.
(End videotape from the Daily Show)

O'REILLY: You know, as a satire guy, Stewart can say that. As a fact guy, I can't.

What I can say is that the White House still has not told the nation what the hell—there you go, Stewart—Douglas Shulman was doing in the White House all those times.
In that way, O’Reilly got to restate the claim that Shulman visited the White House 157 times, with Stewart seeming to lend support to this factual statement. In the process, O’Reilly even got to described himself as “a fact guy!”

Did Shulman visit the White House 157 times? Did he visit the White House with anything like that frequency?

Almost surely, he did not, as became clear last Friday morning. But O’Reilly has persisted with this unfounded claim, disinforming millions of voters in the process.

This creates an obvious question: When is the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler going to fact-check O’Reilly? Second question: When will Politifact tackle this prime assignment?

Based on past history, never! In January, we noted that these famous fact-checking sites have almost never fact-checked Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh. In an especially clownish manifestation, this was Hannity’s record at Politifact, dating back more than three years:
Record of Hannity’s statements at Politifact
January 25, 2013: False
November 30, 2011: Half true
September 15, 2011: True
November 11, 2009: True
November 11, 2009: True
September 25, 2009: Half true
September 23, 2009: Mostly true
George Washington couldn’t tell a lie. At Politifact, Hannity had been issuing a steady stream of true statements!

Simple story: Our major fact-checkers give free rein to big, high-profile conservative talkers. Will Glenn Kessler fact-check O’Reilly?

Tonight, Rachel Maddow should get up on her hind legs. Addressing Brother Kessler by name, she should request a response.

For the record, it wasn’t just that tape: O’Reilly also mentioned the 157 visits in two separate interviews last night.

O'Reilly just keeps pouring it on. When will our fact-checkers fact-check?


  1. Did Shulman visit the White House 157 times? Did he visit the White House with anything like that frequency?

    Almost surely, he did not

    I agree with Bob's conclusion, but was struck by the phrase "almost surely". Almost surely means We don't know. There's a great deal that we don't know.

    We don't know how many times Shulman visited the White House. We don't know the exact purpose of each visit. We don't know when Shulman first became aware of the abuse. We don't know whether senior IRS personnel or high White House personnel were involved in the targeting of conservative groups or, if so, which ones were involved. We don't know how the instruction to targets conservatives was promulgated and enforced. We don't know how the Inspector General's report detailing IRS abuse was kept secret until after the 2012 election.

    While O'Reilly is probably wrong to focus on Shulman's WH visits, I think O'Reilly is right to keep pounding on the theme that the public ought to know more about the IRS's abuse of its power.

    1. No, unless Shulman visited the WH 157 times, there is no scandal.

    2. Quaker in a BasementJune 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM

      O'Reilly is citing a bogus number to insinuate that the White House engaged in criminal behavior. He could ask the other questions on your list, but the cattle just don't find them as tasty.

    3. "There's a great deal that we don't know."

      You should have stopped right there because the rest is pure Newsmax, but you just can't help yourself.

  2. First time commenter. First time seeing this blog. I'm not into Politainment, e.g., O'Reilly, Maddow, etc., however, I was channel surfing and came across a rant by Rachel Maddow where she clearly overstated the case and overplayed her hand. At worst, she misled her viewers. The Atlantic piece says that the total number of times Shulman visited is *inscrutable*, as it is *common* for visitors to come but not be logged in as visiting that day. So, in the spirit of fairness, I guess, you should do a similar post on Maddow. 2¢

  3. "This creates an obvious question: When is the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler going to fact-check O’Reilly?"

    Kessler continues to fact-check politicians-- not cable TV hosts. TDH doesn't know or doesn't care.

    1. Quaker in a BasementJune 5, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      Kessler continues to fact-check politicians-- not cable TV hosts.

      Bob cites five separate, specific instances in which you are wrong. Don't know or don't care?

    2. Quaker in a BasementJune 5, 2013 at 3:42 PM

      Five? Pardon me, I should have said seven.

    3. Umm, those Hannity cites are from Politifact, not Kessler. I think the point stands.

  4. At some point Bob seemed to forget that Bill spent a great deal of time demanding that Janet Reno arrest Al Gore. He is one lying, unscrupulous blowhard and his rational moments simply demonstrate what a fake he is.
    Again, for degenerate personalities like David in Ca, the important thing is to be on the OFFENSIVE, that's why they buy the product. Give them their special prosacutor and inevitable humiliation and the ill will they so richly deserve.

  5. Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely think this website needs much more attention.
    I'll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the info!

    Also visit my web page; read what he said