How best to handle the shuttle story. That is the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.
Some Factor viewers are angry with me over last night's report, where we asked NASA to explain why it fired five members of its safety board last June, after they had raised serious issues about shuttle safety with NASA administrators.
Sandra Miller from Monument, CO, opined, "O'Reilly, you are the media's ambulance chaser."
And Dr. Gregory Lord, who lives in Leesville, LA, wrote, "O'Reilly, NASA needs not a pinhead like you trying to tell them what to do. Less than halfway through your nonsense, I changed the channel to CNN."
And what you saw there, doctor, were segments full of speculation, which we do not do here. The information we presented is true. Five safety experts were fired in and a three-star admiral quit the board in protest. Also, former NASA boss Dan Goldin would not come to the phone to explain what happened. Those are facts.
And the question is, should we have reported the story 60 hours after the disaster? Was I insensitive to the nation's grief? And you have to make that call.
But I'll tell you my thought process. For two and a half days the TV media had covered the tragedy wall to wall. Some great print reporters have documented the problems with NASA's bureaucracy. So naturally, we had questions, questions that were not being answered.
If you give the principals time in any controversy, they will develop a spin to hide the truth. So it's imperative to break the story quickly.
It's also my job to tell you what's going on, not to hold back anything. When we reached former NASA chief Goldin's wife on the phone, she spoke for him. He wouldn't contact us. All kinds of bells and whistles then went off.
The fired members of the safety board were grieving, as well, yet they explained the problems that may have led to this disaster. Goldin was hiding and he remains hiding.
Sensibilities are an interesting thing. We first broke the story on the radio Factor, and few callers objected. But TV viewers were more critical. The mail around 50/50 as to whether we were right in covering the controversy.
Viewers like Travis Hartsoch, who lives in Denver, summed up the pro point-of-view, "Bill, I just wanted to thank you for the superb research the Factor did on the NASA safety situation. Your reporting sets you apart from all the other networks."
While I will cede, though, that sometimes hard news intrudes on grief, and I respect that point-of-view, this is a very interesting issue, if you would like to weigh in on it, dial up BillOReilly.com. For now, Talking Points is accepting criticism and evaluating it. We'll read more of your letters at the end of the broadcast.
And that's The Memo.
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Your humble correspondent -- me -- is featured in the March issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Ben Affleck is on the cover.
I'm on the back page, which is not at all ridiculous, since, as you know, I am a humble correspondent, and Affleck is -- well, a friend of J. Lo, whom I don't know and probably never will.
Anyway, you might want to check it out. It is amusing.
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