Fox News host Bill O’Reilly stood up for a range of hearty journalistic principles last night in one of his signature “Talking Points Memo” rants. He riffed about the importance of independence, tough questioning and the seriousness of presidential campaign accountability. Less attention was given to another core journo scruple supported in full by the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, which, of course, is the always-disclose-vanilla-milkshakes rule.
*O’Reilly said last night that “the serious business of actually bringing information to you, the American people, about those who want power over you, is no joke.”
Just a month earlier, on Jan. 27, O’Reilly joked with his longtime friend Donald Trump in an effort to coax him into attending the Fox News debate preceding Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses: “Would you do me a favor? Look . . . because I bought you so many vanilla milkshakes — I bought you so many vanilla milkshakes, you owe me.”
*O’Reilly said last night that “running for president is a very serious business and all of us covering the campaign have an obligation to be fair but tough. And make no deals.”
Just a month earlier, on Jan. 27, O’Reilly displayed his make-no-deals ethos when he attempted to coax his longtime friend into attending the Fox News debate preceding Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses: “Will you just consider, I want you to consider, all right, think about it, say, ‘Look, I might come back,’ forgive, go forward, answer the questions, look out for the folks. Just want you to consider it. You owe me milkshakes. I’ll take them off the ledger if you consider it.”
*O’Reilly said last night that “the danger here is that some candidates will go only to venues that favor them.”
Just a month earlier, on Jan. 27, O’Reilly showed that his program provided no safe, smooth, creamy harbor for Trump:
O’REILLY: All right, you owe me 17 milkshakes then, and I want them.
TRUMP: That’s OK. I’ll do that. Thank you, Bill.
O’REILLY: All right, Donald.
Last night, O’Reilly complimented Trump’s “fairly fearless” approach to showing up for all kinds of interviews, even ones where he wasn’t asked to account for his vanilla-milkshake free ridership.