In kicking off what he called “no-spin coverage” of the issue, O’Reilly began the show by saying that “the Times and other newspapers have been under heavy fire for their misleading headlines, basically saying there was no link” between Iraq and al-Qaeda.
As Cole listened from Washington, the program played a clip of commission chairman Thomas Kean saying: “There is no evidence that we can find whatsoever that Iraq or Saddam Hussein participated in any way in attacks on the United States — in other words, on 9/11. What we do say, however, is there were contacts between Iraq and Saddam Hussein, excuse me, al-Qaeda.”
O’Reilly complained that this was the wrong sound bite. In retaping the commentary, he paraphrased one of Kean’s points but not the other: “Governor Thomas Kean says definitely there was a connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda. And he’s the 9/11 investigative chief, but that’s not enough for the Times.”
“I was sort of astonished he would do it so brazenly in front of guests,” says Cole, an activist attorney who has challenged the USA Patriot Act in court.
O’Reilly calls “totally absurd” the suggestion that he cut the sound bite “because it didn’t fit my thesis.” A producer had simply selected a clip that wasn’t right for the segment, he says.
What if any is the substantive difference between “not fitting his thesis” and “not being right for the segment [which had a thesis]”?