Newsweek magazine under tremendous fire. That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
As we reported last week, violent anti-American riots broke out in Afghanistan and other places after Newsweek reported that the Koran may have been disrespected by U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. At least 15 people have died. Thousands of others were either hurt or put at risk, all because of one sentence in Newsweek.
Now the magazine has retracted the story in what is a huge embarrassment for the publication and certainly a tragedy for the people injured and their families. "Talking Points" is on record as saying the American press is far too cavalier when it comes to publicizing alleged wrongdoing by the USA. I criticized The New York Times for running 53 front page stories about Abu Ghraib (search). I believe most of us got the message after the first forty.— Americans tend to catch on quick.
The truth is that some news agencies can't wait to get dirt on the military so they can embarrass the Bush administration. Ideological reporting is rampant in this country and it is getting people killed.
We all know the Islamic fascists will use anything to attack America. So the media has to be very careful when reporting on alleged torture, abuse, or bad behavior by the military. Mistakes happen in every war. And every one of those mistakes will be used by our enemies to hurt us.
I don't believe Newsweek realized its reference to the Koran would cause riots. The publication is usually responsible, but there is a hunger on the part of Newsweek and other elite media outfits to get this kind of material. —There's no doubt about it.
The irony is the American people understand the big picture and don't need to be hammered over the head with every interrogation mistake the military makes. We need to be told when abuses take place, who's responsible for them and what happens to those people. We don't need rumors, unverified allegations and irresponsible conjecture.
Let the ideological nuts run with that stuff on the Net. The big time media needs to be sure of what it reports. And if the source is anonymous, it must be vetted very carefully.
Obviously, Newsweek made a major, major mistake. We hope the lesson is not ignored.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time now for "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day"...
About 25,000 of you took the time to read two editorials from the "Houston Chronicle" about the Florida child molester law.
Now, you may remember, that newspaper attacked me for distorting, it said, its position on convicted sex offenders. So we posted what the paper had to say, and we asked you to vote in a billoreilly.com poll, which asked, "After reading the 'Houston Chronicle's editorials, do you think they are too soft on convicted sexual offenders?"
Eighty-nine percent said the paper is too soft after reading the articles. Eleven percent say no.
Now, what's really ridiculous is the paper's continued silence. We have but two questions. Do you support the new Florida law which gives first time convicted child molesters a minimum of 25 years in prison, yes or no? And if you do support that law, will you campaign for it in Texas?
Until the "Houston Chronicle" answers those very simple questions, it will be considered ridiculous. Period.
I—You can watch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel. Send your comments to: email@example.com
Bill O'Reilly currently serves as the host of FOX News Channel's (FNC) The O'Reilly Factor (weekdays 8PM/ET), the most watched cable news show for the past 13 years. He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York.