This time it’s Bill O’Reilly’s turn to be in the hotseat, accused of inflating his resume, of stretching the truth during his reporting, of, frankly, lying. Whether it’s true or not remains to be seen, but if it is true, I don’t think it’ll take him down like it did Brian Williams. Here’s why: When a bad moment or gaffe sticks to a public figure, it’s because it has undermined the core argument he has made about himself. In Williams’ case it completely undermined his integrity as a network news anchor.
O’Reilly may say he is always truthful and believes himself to have integrity, but his presentation contradicts that. He’s in your face, argumentative, doesn’t seem to have a sense of humor — certainly when it comes to himself. Therefore, even if he did lie, people won’t care because they almost expect it from him. It’s not part of the core argument he makes about himself. And here’s where it gets interesting: It’s all about his presentation, and when the way you present yourself contradicts what you say, people will believe the presentation vs. what you say. That’s what will protect O’Reilly. Interesting stuff.