Down the Rabbit Hole into the Spin Zone

Reliable Sources took another swing at Mr Bill Sunday, but their guest expert got something very wrong.

Once again Bill O’Reilly was the lead story on Reliable Sources, and Brian Stelter brought in Eric Burns, one-time host of Fox News Watch, for analysis. Mr Burns described Fox viewers as ‘cultish’, with Mr O’Reilly ‘the head of the cult’, and then for some reason swerved to bring up Keith Olbermann:
BURNS: O'Reilly lies -- and he's lied so many times. You know, Keith Olbermann used to be on opposite him with his show "Countdown." He later wrote a book, all the segments in his show called "The Worst Person in the World."
STELTER: Oh, right, right. And O'Reilly was the worst person dozens of times.
BURNS: Yes. But every time he was, there was a charge that was made by Olbermann about something O'Reilly had said or done that was a complete fabrication. Yet -- I got ahead of myself there -- a complete fabrication, and it was also completely substantiated. I mean, Olbermann had all the evidence possible.
Really, Eric Burns? Olbermann’s attacks on O’Reilly were ‘completely substantiated’? We toiled at Olbermann Watch for several years fact-checking Olby, and his O’Reilly attacks were low-grade insults and name calling routinely based on falsehoods, fraudulent quotes, and outright lies.

Just a few hours in the Keith Olbermann Grooveyard of Forgotten Greats turned up more examples than we could possibly list here. Submitted for your consideration, a random selection from Olby’s hundreds of O’Reilly smears:

In an ironic coincidence, there’s a Brian Stelter connection to that fraudulent quote item. It was Mr Stelter who first published the erroneous quote on his TV Newser blog. When we exposed it as false we asked Stelter (OK, maybe ‘badgered’ would be more appropriate) to report on our exposé and put some pressure on Olbermann to correct it. Unfortunately neither happened; though Olbermann and MSNBC were aware of its falsity, Stelter informed us that Olby told him there would be no correction. Who knows, maybe that convinced KO that rules didn’t apply to him when it came to attacking O’Reilly.

Facts were entirely optional as Keith went on to smear Fox News, Brit Hume, Neil Cavuto, Scott Brown, John Gibson, Fox transcripts, Fox News Watch, Major Garrett (this one’s a doozy!), and even this website--in each case via proven falsehoods and/or deliberate lies. And if you don’t remember Keith’s apologies or corrections for all these spurious slurs, well, neither does anyone else.

And that brings us the lesson of Eric Burns’s bizarre embrace of Keith Olbermann as a speaker of truth. Whatever your view of O’Reilly’s latest controversies—whether you think he’s unfairly targeted or an inveterate fabricator— the ill-founded ret-conning of serial liar Keith Olbermann as a latter-day gold standard of journalistic veracity may be the sickest irony yet.

The Cable Game: Keith Olbermann’s Rabbit Hole
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