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Bill O'Reilly: the dishonesty factor

March 8, 2010

I don’t like Bill O’Reilly. Yeah, yeah, I know he’s got the flagship program on the Fox News Channel, the only news channel on television that takes a swing at objectivity, but that doesn’t excuse his dishonesty.

Basically, he’s no different than Katie Couric... which I know is an ugly thing to say, but I'm saying it anyway. His ideology is different, but he’s exactly the same in the way that every “position” he takes hews to his ideology rather than to the facts. Call me crazy, but I wish people involved with news and commentary would stop taking “positions” and stop defending “positions” and just stick to the damn facts.

Is that too much to ask?

Case in point: last week O’Reilly wrote a column defending his position that Barack Obama is not a socialist. What a silly thing. Obama is so clearly a socialist it’s borderline irrational to say otherwise. His whole life he’s been a socialist, probably even a communist, and in the privacy of his own home I’m guessing he’s proud as punch about it. It's documented fact that he belonged to the socialist New Party before he ran for office as a Democrat. There is no way to defend the argument that he’s not a socialist without resorting to dishonesty or absurdity, and O’Reilly does both in his column:
“As defined in the American Heritage Dictionary, socialism is a social organization in which the means of distributing and producing goods is owned collectively. Last time I looked, my production of material was owned by my corporation; the government was not involved. Yes, the federal, state, and local governments can tax me at will, and they do. But that’s a constitutional mandate and part of our capitalistic system. So until Obama begins seizing condos, I cannot put the ‘S’ word on his resume.”
There are multiple levels of dishonesty here, and you can’t give O’Reilly the benefit of the doubt by saying he’s stupid. He has the number one cable news show on television and he used to be a schoolteacher, so he can’t be stupid. He must be consciously dishonest.

Number one, he starts out defending the argument that Obama is not a socialist, but uses the dictionary definition of the word socialism. Why? The word “socialist” is in the same dictionary, just a couple words down, and that’s the subject under discussion, right? Well, turns out the definition of socialist, in that very same American Heritage Dictionary, is “An advocate of socialism.”

Oops, that definition doesn't support O'Reilly's position, does it? There's not a word about everything already being owned by the government. Not a word about condos being seized. Just a simple statement: if you advocate socialism, you’re a socialist.

Did Obama advocate that General Motors and Chrysler be owned by the government? Does Obama advocate that the federal government should sell health insurance and control the healthcare business? Does Obama advocate other policies that increase federal government’s control over private property?

No wonder he didn't use the definition of socialist.

But even the word socialism doesn’t really mean what O'Reilly is trying to make it mean. The American Heritage people don’t say everything is already owned collectively. That would be communism, wouldn’t it? In fact, in its very next sentence, which O'Reilly didn’t quote because it’s inconvenient, American Heritage makes a distinction between socialism, where not everything has been commandeered by the collective, and communism, where private property has been eliminated. Here’s the full American Heritage definition:
“1. Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy. 2. The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which collective ownership of the economy under the dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet been successfully achieved.”
Okay, that’s pretty clear, right? Socialism is the intermediate stage, where Bill O’Reilly’s corporation can still own his means of production and he can still own a condo. There’s no way he doesn’t know that. He has paid researchers working for him, and you know they made him aware of what this dictionary and other dictionaries say, but he chose to ignore them. He was simply lying – twisting the definition of socialism to defend an untenable position.

Other dictionaries don’t leave room for this kind of misinterpretation to occur, which is probably why he chose the American Heritage definition. Random House, when defining socialism, makes it clear in its primary definition that not everything is owned by the collective:
“1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production… in the community as a whole.”
Same thing with Webster’s (the huge microwave-sized Webster’s Third New International Dictionary):
“1. any of various theories or social and political movements advocating or aiming at collective or governmental ownership…”
O’Reilly’s argument that Obama isn’t a socialist if people still own condos is looking pretty stupid, isn’t it?

Even the American Heritage people know what socialism means, in spite of their poorly worded primary definition. Here’s what they say in the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition:
“An economic system in which the production and distribution of goods are controlled substantially by the government rather than by private enterprise…”
In other words, like automobile manufacturing in the United States since Obama became president, and like Obama wants to make the healthcare and banking industries. In fact, the federal government will have substantial control of all business and all individual activity if Obama manages to pass Cap ‘n’ Trade legislation.

Call me crazy, but that sure sounds like a socialist.

The first half of the paragraph from O’Reilly's column, quoted above, was pure dishonesty – his attempt to twist the meaning of “socialist” by playing games with the dictionary definition of “socialism.” The second half is merely absurd. Taxes have nothing whatsoever do to with the issue, and whether or not Obama is “seizing condos” has more to do with what he is able to do legally than with his heart’s desire.

Funny thing is, President Obama actually has seized condos. A bunch of them. And houses and apartment buildings and all kinds of other real estate. When the federal government orders banks to stop foreclosures on delinquent mortgages, they in effect are seizing those properties from their rightful owners, the banks who have not been getting paid and have a right to compensation through foreclosure.

You would think Bill O’Reilly would know about that… gee, maybe he is stupid.

This isn’t the only issue where O’Reilly is dishonest. He does the same kind of crap when it comes to Global Warming. Like Katy Couric and other talking heads who think being liberal is beneficial to their careers, O’Reilly has decided to stake out a middle-ground political territory to distinguish himself. He calls himself a “traditionalist” (although I think “populist” is more accurate). He’s “for the folks” as he likes to say. In order to make this role believable he has to convince people that he’s not just another Fox News Channel conservative. So he has to have some issues where he contradicts the mainstream conservative viewpoints: O’Reilly decided two of those issues would be Global Warming and labeling Obama a socialist.

This is nothing more than a cynical attempt to maximize the number of viewers.

The trouble with news people staking out positions for the benefit of their career is that we can no longer trust them to give us the facts. When it comes to Global Warming and calling Obama a socialist, the facts be damned, Bill O’Reilly has his positions… and obviously he’ll lie like a rug to defend them.

That, in turn, makes you wonder if you can trust him on other issues.


From Reno, Nevada, USA


Followup:

May 14, 2010

Mr. O'Reilly is still feeling the heat on his Obama-is-not-a-socialist stance. I know that because he's still trying to justify his position. His latest defense of an indefensible position is dated May 8, and you can read it here.

"Just when we thought the socialism accusations against the Obama administration were subsiding, the president himself reignited the debate," says O'Reilly, with his typical dishonesty. Here's a news flash for you, Bill, the accusations will never subside, because Obama is a flat-out socialist, no ifs ands or buts.

Maybe the fallout aimed at O'Reilly eased off. Maybe that's what subsided.

Even worse than his usual spin-filled connivery, though, is that this time O'Reilly waxes dishonest with Scripture. That really pisses me off.

"But the question of making 'enough money' is an interesting one, especially if, like me, you are a follower of Jesus. According to Scripture, he had little use for unrestrained capitalism, as demonstrated by his thrashing of the merchants inside the Temple."

WHAT!? That's not the moral of the parable, Bill! And you know it because your parents gave you a Catholic education! Jesus wasn't upset because merchants were making a profit - he was upset because merchants were making a profit in God's house.

Which has nothing to do with socialism.

"Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" is what Jesus shouted, not "Stop making money because Obama thinks you already have enough!"

Hey, Bill, when your reach the point in a debate where your best argument is to twist scripture so you can claim that Jesus is on your side, it's time to concede.

Obama is a friggin' socialist. You know it, I know it, and...


Followup:

May 31, 2010

I missed this one. Apparently O'Reilly's fellow Fox News Channel opinionist, Sean Hannity, agrees with me, and you can read a column here, by Terry Jeffrey, explaining why Hannity is correct in labeling Obama a socialist.

This wouldn't be a big deal, because most intelligent people realize what Obama is at this point, but the humorous part is that Hannity says Obama "meets the dictionary definition" of a socialist.

Yeah, that's what I said. Now somebody explain it to O'Reilly.


August 6, 2010 - This is an old [column], but I read it again and I agree with you. O'Reilly annoys me and I rarely watch him. What a know it all and I don't agree with his opinions. It would be nice if he didn't talk over everyone that has something to say. He is in love with himself. - Lea D., Illinois

March 9, 2010 - I love Bill, he just tells it like it is. - Beverly, Virginia

March 8, 2010 - I understand the premise of your reasoning, but have to disagree. Thank GOD for Bill O'Reilly and the good that he does! What would we do without Bill O'Reilly to give us an alternative view from the likes of Katie Couric and her ultra-liberal colleagues that call themselves journalists. Couric and her ilk like Olbermann are nothing but liberal propagandists. I NEVER miss O'Reilly, ever. There are so many liberals and independents that are trying to ruin O'Reilly, and I'm tired of hearing people bash him... and for what? For being a Patriot? Thank God for O'Reilly and FOX. - Todd, Michigan

March 8, 2010 - Dear Mr. O'Reilly, I read your duologue's on this topic (Obama a socialists?) which I believe started on February 22 and continued in parts thereafter - you seem to focus on just one aspect of socialism in your definitions that you utilize to avoid calling Pres. Obama a socialist - that is just one aspect of socialism. My old dictionary - Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (1973 edition) has 4 definitions for Socialism - the 1st one you appear to be overlooking - "any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods." Look at what has happened to the automobile takeovers and the planned takeover of the health care industry - is there any other term other than "socialism" that describes that? Aren't there socialist regimes in history or the present that permitted private home ownership? Just because one does not advocate government ownership of your home does not mean that a person does not meet the definition of a socialist. You need to broaden your apparent definition of socialism or socialist. You don't need to be politically correct. Have a great day. Sincerely, - Ted, Reno
J.P. replies: This is a letter that Ted, a neighbor of mine, sent to Bill O'Reilly and copied to me.

March 8, 2010 - I hope you know that was a rhetorical question. I don't have any doubt that president Obama is a socialist (or worse). The fact that Bill O'Reilly would try to claim otherwise is just plain dumb. I heard about socio-capitalism from a liberal caller on the Rush Limbaugh show a couple of months ago. - Samantha, Michigan
J.P. replies: Did Rush have a blast with that? No matter where you got it, I bet the word originally came from some leftwing whackjob college professor. And I'll bet Rush's caller felt really really intellectual using it in a sentence.

March 8, 2010 - Having been born in Germany... and raised by a German National Mother who lived through the horrors of Hitler she and I can state as fact that the similarities between Obama and Hitler are uncanny to say the least! Funny how both of them consider/ed themselves future rulers of the world. - LiAnne, Connecticut

March 8, 2010 - I happen to revile O'Reilly, for many of the reasons this guy cites. Clearly FOX has been co-opted, no doubt by the Saudis who continue to increase their shares in NewsCorp. If you saw the obsequious interview Cavuto did with Prince Alaweed (the biggest Saudi shareholder) you'd agree. But I hate O'Reilly for other reasons too.... his contempt for women who he continues to call by their last names (not to mention the sexual harassment lawsuit from a fellow worker for which he paid millions to make it go away) and his (and Beck's) gratuitous derision and name-calling of people like me who question Obama's legitimacy as POTUS because he still has not produced an authentic birth certificate. On and on....the guy's a mega-phony. - Joan, AOL

March 8, 2010 - Is Obama a socialist? I don't think the left would even disagree with that anymore. They may call it something else, socio-capitalism, which is the new word they have made-up to replace socialism. Essentially it's all the same. - Samantha, Michigan
J.P. replies: Obama is certainly a socialist, and almost certainly a communist, as I contended in an October 2008 column titled "Obama is a communist." "Socio-capitalism" sounds like something invented on a college campus – is that where you learned it? My problem with that typical idiotic college juxtaposition of socialism and capitalism is that they are not opposites, and capitalism is not the political structure which forms the basis of this nation. This is a nation founded on the principles of individual freedom and individual property rights, and that is what your professors should be comparing to socialism and communism... but of course they don't want to do that because socialism and communism would fare badly in that comparison.



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