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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

The no spin zone under fire

Brian Williams’ six-month suspension from NBC was two weeks ago. Now, Bill O’Reilly has come under fire for allegedly falsely claiming in 1982 he reported on the Falklands conflict from a war zone.

Critics claim that, since he was in Buenos Aires 1,200 miles away, he was not in a war zone, even though he was reporting on a violent protest that was incited by the events in the Falklands.

I have never been a person who would defend Bill O’Reilly, but even a controversial pundit like him deserves some leeway with events that occurred 33 years ago. There is a point at which enough time has passed that events in one’s past, even misrepresented ones, should just not matter anymore.

Journalists are expected to report the news truthfully and without bias. To the extent that Bill O’Reilly and Brian Williams are considered journalists — because they really just read or comment on the news — they’re not misreporting the facts of a situation.

They provided, unknowingly or not, misleading details about their own experiences — experiences which are removed from their actual coverage of events. Especially because we are so far removed from the contested events, their validity has no bearing on present day.

Certainly, if we found out that O’Reilly did misleadingly portray the realities of his reporting on the Falklands, I doubt many people ?would care.

To me it seems if one likes Bill O’Reilly, then nothing short of treasonous activities could change one’s opinion of him.

Though older generations could be more affected, as a millennial, it doesn’t phase me as much. I would also bet that many of my peers know very little about the ?existence of the Falklands War.

Even so, journalists themselves are supposed to be removed from the situation they are reporting.

Though claiming certain facts about their experiences while reporting inserts them within the story, continuing to examine the precise details about the experience does not uphold standards of journalistic integrity because this practice continues to place the journalist above the ?story itself.

The journalist should be held responsible if he or she is not accurately and honestly reporting, but that is not the case here. It’s no coincidence that O’Reilly’s story has been uncontested for decades. It just doesn’t matter anymore.

In many ways, it would be unfair for us to hold Williams and O’Reilly to the standards of journalism when they are not functioning as journalists. They are personalities, ?bordering on entertainers.

Early in their career they were journalists, but they certainly are not now. O’Reilly’s show is built around his commentary on the news, which is the exact opposite of what a journalist is expected to do.

As for Williams, he’s just a talking head and a highly-paid one at that. That’s all. Give them a break, folks.

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