Bill O’Reilly visited The Late Show with David Letterman last night where he argued that “folks decided” he was not guilty of any of the many fabrications he has been accused of – because his ratings went up. But have they stayed up?
Letterman asked O’Reilly if there’s a similarity between his situation and Brian Williams (currently on suspension from NBC News because he was caught exaggerating his Iraq war experiences).
“Only if I did something that wasn’t true,” O’Reilly said. “What I said was accurate.”
He continued, “We had a controversy, and we put forth what my side was, and they put forth what their side was, and folks decided. And it worked out OK for me. I got even more viewers …20% up.”
“Twenty percent up, when people thought you were making stuff up?” Letterman questioned.
“But they didn’t think that because I hit it immediately hard,” O’Reilly claimed, “and I said, ‘Look, this is the facts, this is what happened.’”
In reality, O’Reilly has not settled the controversy. He responded to some degree (without answering many of the questions) to allegations about his coverage of the Falklands war. His response to having claimed to see nuns murdered during the civil war in El Salavador was especially flimsy and he was even criticized by the orders of the victims. His claims about a JFK assassination figure seem conclusively disproven, and O’Reilly refused to respond to the contentions of six of his former news colleagues that an attack by protesters during the Los Angeles riots was vastly overstated.
As for the 20% up figure, I suspect that was short-lived. Later, when discussing the “trust” factor, O’Reilly suggested there had been no permanent upswing in his ratings. Noting that he’s in his 19th season and “15 years at number one,” O’Reilly added, “Our ratings now are as high as they’ve ever been.”
Watch it above, from last night’s Late Show with David Letterman.
Crossposted at News Hounds.
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