Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Spin in the no-spin zone? PunditFact fact-checks O'Reilly

On his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly said that Nelson Mandela was a communist. We checked to see if O'Reilly was right.
On his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly said that Nelson Mandela was a communist. We checked to see if O'Reilly was right.

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly recently caught the attention of fact-checkers on two entirely different topics.

In exchange with former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, O'Reilly called former South African president Nelson Mandela a communist.

"Nelson Mandela -- I spent some time in South Africa. He was a communist, this man. He was a communist. All right?" O'Reilly said. "But he was a great man. What he did for his people was stunning -- the sacrifices that he made. He could have repudiated and got out of that prison. He wouldn't do it. He was a great man. But he was a communist."

The weight of the historical evidence shows that O’Reilly is correct. For a time, Mandela -- despite his denials -- appears to have been a member not only of the party but also of its central committee. However, it’s worth noting that Mandela’s affiliation with the party or its goals was never a dominant feature of his ideology or message.

So we rated O’Reilly’s claim Mostly True.

In another segment, O'Reilly took on the decision of the Denver Post to hire a marijuana editor.

"The Denver Post has actually hired an editor to promote pot," O’Reilly exclaimed. O'Reilly was upset that the Post would, in his mind, promote the use of marijuana on its news pages.

But that's not exactly what's happening, our fact-check showed. We rated O'Reilly's claim False.

The Denver Post says it plans to cover many aspects of the unfolding story of legalized marijuana in Colorado, ranging from policy and laws to the culture of pot users.

While that coverage has yet to unfold, the stated goals of the Post do not match O’Reilly’s description of the newspaper’s intentions and we heard nothing from the show that supported O’Reilly’s view.