Book Review - The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Bill O’Reilly, by Peter Hart

No one can trust what Bill O’Reilly says. Some television viewers who have seen him consider him to have been more believable at his previous job with another sensationalist program, Inside Edition – one of the very first tabloid 'news' programs. Anyone who has either listened to O’Reilly or heard him promoting himself or his books on the radio doesn’t have to wait long before they find themselves questioning the things he says. Ironically, he touts his show as a 'no-spin zone,' which he then qualifies by saying that his opinion, even if shown to be based in imagination rather than fact, doesn’t count as spin as it is only opinion, not an attempt to present facts.

Peter Hart’s new book, The Oh Really? Factor, tabulates literally hundreds of things O’Reilly has said on his program or other venues that have a tenuous relationship with reality. This book follows closely on the heels of such hilarious and pointed works as Al Franken’s Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them and Michael Moore’s Dude, Where’s My Country? The former provoked an attention-grabbing lawsuit from the Fox News Corporation for using the channel’s misleading slogan 'fair and balanced.' Franken’s book shot to the top of the best seller list after the suit was announced.

Hart’s book should prove to be even more informative as it puts massive amounts of quoted materials and with rational alternative perspectives or fact-based analysis. Readers of The Oh Really? Factor quickly discover O’Reilly to be a man, tortured by an inferiority complex, who refuses to adequately research material for the stories he televises, ignores or shuts down alternative views, belittles efforts to analyze events using facts or logic and, when caught in a lie, simply refuses to acknowledge a mistake.

Bill O’Reilly’s bio on his website claims that he received a degree in journalism from elite Boston University. I’m afraid he’ll just have to produce a transcript, because I don’t believe it. If proven to be true, Boston University should be embarrassed, though really they aren’t responsible for the actions of the people they graduate. If this were the case, Harvard and Yale might reconsider the degrees they awarded on the current resident of the White House.

The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly Peter Hart and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting New York, Seven Stories Press, 2003.

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