Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) published a good article on Bill O’Reilly’s “evolution” on one part of the IRS scandal. As you may recall, the Daily Caller published an article in which they claimed that former IRS Chief Douglas Shulman visited the White House 157 times while Obama was president. It took about a day for Garance Franke-Ruta of The Atlantic to write, The Fake Story About the IRS Commissioner and the White House. In it, she explained that those 157 times were not actual visits of Shulman to the White House, but just times that Shulman had been provided with clearance by the Secret Service to come to mostly standing meetings. As far as we can tell, that was 11 times. Shulman visited the White House compound (not usually the White House itself) 11 times. He only met with Obama twice and both those times were with a large group of people.
Let’s look at the timeline:
- 29 May
- The Daily Caller article appears.
- 30 May
- Bill O’Reilly reports, “This man former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House—ready—157 times. Incredible.”
- 31 May
- The Atlantic corrects the Daily Caller article.
- 3 June
- Bill O’Reilly reports, “So far, we have been dead on. Last week we told you that former IRS Chief Douglas Shulman visited the White House 157 times, far more than any other department head.”
- 4 June
- Bill O’Reilly reports, “How about the Shulman guy with 157 visits?”
- 5 June
- On The Factor, guest Kirsten Powers tries to inject a little fact into the discussion, saying, “The number of times he actually showed up is something like 11, I think.” O’Reilly corrects her, “Oh that’s—that’s false. We don’t know that. He was cleared in 157 times.”
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! Savor this moment, because this is the closest we ever get to a correction or apology from Bill O’Reilly. He’s right: we don’t know that he was only at the White House compound 11 times. He could have been there more. Not a lot more. And certainly nothing like 157 times, as O’Reilly keeps saying. But we don’t know that he was there only only 11 times. Bill O’Reilly likes to get his facts straight if they counter his ridiculously false claims.