CNN media critic Howard Kurtz on Sunday said that Fox News host Bill O'Reilly had "missed the mark" by offering an absurd defense after asserting that NBC News had not covered a story about drone attacks that the network was actually first to report.
On Wednesday night's O'Reilly Factor, the Fox News host opined that liberals had not complained about recent revelations of the Obama administration's justifications of drone attacks on American citizens the way that people on the left were outraged about the use of waterboarding against detainees during President George W. Bush's presidency.
"Remember the outcry over waterboarding?" O'Reilly asked Fox News contributor Bob Beckel. "You know, everybody jumping up and down? NBC News, I thought they were going to, like, melt down over there."
"You heard anything on NBC about the drones?" he continued. "So you haven’t heard anything over there about this, and neither have I. Neither has my staff. Okay? So we haven’t heard anything. But we heard a lot about waterboarding, but nothing about drone strikes. How do you process that?"
Kurtz pointed out that O'Reilly's comments were "kind of curious," given that the story had been discussed on NBC News and the MSNBC cable network repeatedly after NBC News chief investigative reporter Michael Isikoff exclusively released the memos that President Barack Obama's administration used to justify the drone strikes.
"So O'Reilly obviously misspoke and I thought he would just come back the next night and correct the record," Kurtz assumed.
But, instead, O'Reilly shocked viewers by blaming the "far-left machine" for painting him a "deceiver."
"True!" he exclaimed. "I didn't say NBC broke the [drone] memo story because we weren't talking about that. Waterboarding vs. drone strikes!"
"Bill, the only reason there is a drone debate right now is because NBC News revealed that memo," Kurtz said.