ACTION ALERT: O’Reilly: “We Do Not Speculate Here”
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism
June 10, 2005
Cable news networks are devoting significant time to covering Natalee Holloway, an Alabama teenager who disappeared in Aruba. But the most popular cable host has urged the media to exercise some caution.
On June 9, Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly explained, “As you may know, we do not speculate here on ‘The Factor.’ We have no idea what happened to Natalee or why she left the bar with some Aruban men. I’ve heard some irresponsible media speculate about that, and it makes me angry.”
For those who have been following O’Reilly’s coverage of the case, this must have been puzzling. If not “speculation,” what would O’Reilly call the following statements he has made about the Holloway case?
“Looks like she’s dead because the five people, two arrested, three interviewed, are all shady characters.” (6/6/05)
“I think this was a straight abduction scene. OK? Was she probably — she went to a Boyz II Men concert before she went to the bar, where she danced and partied. All right? Then she indeed and everybody saw her leave with a couple of guys. Now after that is when I— obviously, she got into trouble.” (6/6/05)
“But to me, I mean, a woman like this, 18 years old, we know her background, doesn’t have sex with three guys she doesn’t know. I mean, that doesn’t happen.” (6/6/05)
CANDICE DeLONG (Retired FBI agent): Correct. Even if they weren’t drug dealers, I am with you in your assessment of what her situation may be now because if these are the five people that are most likely to have been with her, and they’re in custody or being looked at, where is she?
O’REILLY: She’s at the bottom of the ocean.
DeLONG: That’s what’s got me worried.
O’REILLY: She’s at the bottom of the ocean.
DeLONG: It’s not looking good.
“I think one of these sleazy thugs will flip. And we’ll probably have this solved at the end of the week — by the end of the week.” (6/6/05)
PATRICK J. BROSNAN (Former New York City homicide detective): It smells very bad. 240 hours. Where is she? It’s a small island.
O’REILLY: It’s either she’s held captive someplace, because there is that sex trade in the Caribbean. So there is a possibility that they didn’t do that. But if you don’t have a body, if they threw the body in the ocean, and there are a lot of sharks, you know.
This sort of speculation is nothing new to O’Reilly. When the story of “runaway bride” Jennifer Wilbanks became a cable news sensation, O’Reilly announced (4/29/05): “It’s got to be a crime. A woman like that with a long history of responsibility. She had a steady job… She just wouldn’t bolt and not tell anybody.” As it turned out, of course, that’s just what Wilbanks did.
And O’Reilly has “speculated” about far more important matters as well. Shortly after the September 11 attacks (9/14/01), he declared: “Saddam Hussein… I believe is involved with this World Trade Center and Pentagon bombing. I believe that you’re going to find out that money from Iraq flowed in and helped this happen.” No evidence to back up this speculation has since emerged.
And before the invasion of Iraq, O’Reilly repeatedly speculated about how long military operations would take. “I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week,” he challenged one guest (1/29/03).
On another show, O’Reilly asserted, “Our military machine will crush Iraq in a matter of days and there’s no question that it will.” When his guest countered that the war was “going to go on for months,” O’Reilly retorted: “There’s no way. There’s absolutely no way. They may bomb for a matter of weeks, try to soften them up as they did in Afghanistan. But once the United States and Britain unleash, it’s maybe hours. They’re going to fold like that” (2/10/03).
As always, please remember that your comments have more impact if you maintain a polite tone.
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