Now its Bill O’Reilly’s Turn?

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As I wrote about last week, Brian Williams from NBC news has himself in some ultra hot water, due to being caught in the middle of a lie regarding his reporting of the Persian Gulf War.  Williams has now been suspended for six months by NBC and his career as a whole may be in serious jeopardy.  Due to the fact that this story stayed in the national media for quite some time, it seems as if it lead other news outlets to question the honesty and integrity of other well known faces of news.

They looked no further than controversial conservative Bill O’Reilly of Fox News.  O’Reilly was originally accused by Mother Jones magazine for false reporting saying he was in the middle of the Falklands ware in 1982, when actually he was in Buenos Aires which is over 1,400 miles from where the confrontation was taking place.

After some staunch denial from O’Reilly as well as Fox News, the New York Times also chimed in and did some reporting of their own.  In the midst of this reporting, they attempted to reach out to O’Reilly for comments on the issue.  Mr. O’Reilly was not exactly pleased regarding the line of questioning, and handed out a rather serious threat to the New York Times reporter.  Saying that if the coverage was in appropriate that he would

Come at you with every thing I have.  You can take that as a threat.

Needless to stay, that comment fanned the flames of the media firestorm.  Soon to be retiring John Steward of the Daily Show came up with an incredible quote.

 Let’s face it, nobody watches Bill O’Reilly for the truth.

Of course, once the first allegations came out, there were plenty more to follow.  Not only does Mr. O’Reilly have his own television show on Fox News, but also has written plenty of best selling books regarding the deaths of famous people, including Lincoln, Kennedy, Patton and even Jesus.  I can say that I have read them all, and especially enjoyed Killing Lincoln, his first in the series.  Why this is important is that there was a part of Killing Kennedy in which O’Reilly states he was there in person for the suicide of George de Mohrenschildt, who was known to be friendly with Kennedy’s killer, Lee Harvey Oswald.  O’Reilly stated in the book that he was there in Florida knocking at the door when the man committed suicide.  The site, Media Matters, after some investigation speaking with many colleagues came to the conclusion that it was impossible that O’Reilly was in Florida at the time as he was working as a newspaper reporter in Dallas at the time.  It is thought that O’Reilly did travel to Florida after learning of the suicide to attempt to come up with some information, but that goes directly against what O’Reilly stated in his book.

What will come out of this, who knows?  However, taking such an offensive stance and threatening reporters probably isn’t the best strategy.  It makes you wonder if the floodgates will now open with other stories, not just about O’Reilly but other members of the news as well.  I will say that it causes me to want to question just about everything I see on the news at this point.

 

SNL 40 – An Incredible Trip Down Memory Lane

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I’ve been watching Saturday Night Live for as long as I can remember.  In all honesty, probably longer than my parents should have allowed me to.  Sunday’s three and a half hour spectacle was something I have been looking forward to for months.  To have a television show evolve over 40 years, and still stay relevant is quite the accomplishment.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect on the show, but when I read that it was going to be 3.5 hours, I knew I was going to be in for something special.

I honestly can’t think of another situation, in television, sports, or entertainment that could something like this could be accurately compared to.  You can people from the first cast in 1975 performing along side current cast members in skits and it just worked.  Its hard to even comprehend how difficult it must have been to write and produce not only a show of that length, but of that star power.  Afterwards it was said that Lorne Michaels continued to call all the shots, even on the 40th anniversary episode.  Even after 40 years, it seems as if Michaels is becoming more powerful with age.  He helped create the sitcom 30 Rock, and now produces both Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show, and Seth Myers on his Late Show as well, with each of those men being SNL alums.

The special aired on Sunday, February 15.  It went up against the NBA All-Star game, as well as The Walking Dead, was over three hours in duration, and still manage to draw in 23 million viewers, a truly staggering number.  There are many theories out there as to the reason behind the rating.  I like the thought of multi generations of people being able to sit in front of the television and remembering characters that were part of their youth.

As I’ve said in previous posts, my favorite part of Saturday Night Live has always been the music.  It seems as if SNL always seems to catch musical acts at the perfect time when they are just about to take off.  I’m sure it is more than difficult to try to cover 40 years of a television show, but I thought they did themselves an injustice by not showing some of the seminal music performances.  Whether it was the Rolling Stones in the 1970s, Nirvana, Sinead O’Connor, or even the Ashley Simpson lip syncing debacle, music has played such an integral role in the show that it would have been great if there was a bit more focus on it.

The only other downside of the evening was what took place with the long awaited return of Eddie Murphy to the SNL stage.  Eddies hasn’t been back in over 30 years, and when he agreed to be on the show, he was the most anticipated return.  Nobody knew if he would do one of his old characters, some standup jokes, or what.  After an amazing introduction by Chris Rock, Eddie seemed uncomfortable, said a few ‘thanks’, and quickly went to commercial.  News ended up breaking Thursday that Eddie was offered to play the Bill Cosby role in the ‘Celebrity Jeopardy’ skit.  This would have absolutely brought the house down, but you have to give some credit to Murphy, as he was quoted that he “didn’t want to kick a man while he was down”.

When it was all said and done, it was amazing show.  Many say the after party was even better.  It could be the best thing to happen to the current staff, as I know I’m hungry to build up new memories with the show in the now, that can maybe be relived at the 50th Anniversary Special.

Lifetime of Success Thrown Away?

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I have been quite intrigued by this story of Brian Williams from NBC Nightly news.  While everyone will agree that we absorb our news much differently now than we did 20 years ago, its no longer Walter Cronkite or Peter Jennings, but the person who reads us our nightly national news has always been the cornerstone of integrity.  For that reason, this story is just bizarre.

Brian Williams is a well put together, articulate cornerstone of the news for decades.  He is also quite funny.  What other news anchor has ever hosted Saturday Night Live?  He also hits the late night talk show circuit.  That is why it is mind blowing that he has now been suspended for six months by NBC due to fabricating a story regarding an helicopter attack in Iraq in 2003.  Williams claimed he was in the middle of an attack, and that his Chinook helicopter was shot multiple times.  In reality, his helicopter arrived after the fight was over.  When he said this in 2003, nobody thought too much of it.  However, he repeated the story on the David Letterman show in 2013, and then made reference to it early this month on the Nightly News.  The reference this month caused some people involved in that mission to come forward to state the story that Williams was putting out was inaccurate.  After that took place, the floodgates were opened.  It seemed that everything Williams has said his whole life has been questioned.  Whether if it was being robbed while selling Christmas trees, or seeing dead bodies in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, everything is now under scrutiny.

Williams did take the accusations head on and apologized to the viewers on the Nightly News on February 4.

It was only a couple of days later, that he decided to step away from the news desk, and Lester Holt would take over those duties.  Then just last night, it was announced that NBC has decided to suspend Williams for six months without pay for the “misremembering”.

The question now is whether or not this is the end of his career?  Let’s face it, our country is quite forgiving.  Whether it is Michael Vick with his dogfighting, or even former President Bill Clinton has his infidelities in the White House, if you show true remorse, our society has a tendency to grant forgiveness.  In this case however, I don’t see that happening.  People, rightfully so, take their news very seriously.  If you have someone delivering that news to you, and you are not sure what is coming out of their mouth is the actual truth, it is not only going to turn people off, but cause them to turn the channel.  This puts NBC into an interesting dilemma.  Brian Williams is the most well known working newscaster in the country, and a real asset to attract viewers and important advertising dollars.  When this six month suspension is over, will that asset have lost all of its value?  To say the least, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.