Abraham Lincoln did not shoot John Wilkes Booth...
"Titanic" did not sink a North Atlantic iceberg...
And Fox News is neither fair nor balanced.
These are simple historical facts -- intelligible to all adults, most children, and some of your more discerning domesticated animals.
But not, as the third story on the Countdown proves yet again... not to Billo.
The guilty pleasure offered by the existence of Bill O'Reilly is simple, and understandable.
99 times out of a hundred when we belly up to the Billo bar of bluster... nearly every time we partake of the movable Falafel Feast, he serves us nothing but comedy.
Farce, slapstick, unconscious self-mutilation -- the Sideshow Bob of commentators, forever stepping on the same rake, forever muttering the same grunt of inarticulate surrender, forever resuming the circle that will take him back to the same rake. The Sisyphus of morons, if you will.
But **this** is the 100th time **out** of 100.
It is not funny at all.
Bill O'Reilly has -- for the second time in just under eight months -- slandered at least 84 dead American servicemen. He has turned them, **again**, from victims of the kind of atrocity our country has always fought, into **perpetrators** of that kind of atrocity. He has made these Americans... into War Criminals.
They are dead - and **have** been, for 61 years. They cannot defend themselves against O'Reilly. We will have to do it for them.
Last October, O'Reilly railed against a ruling that more photos from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq might be released.
His guest was Wesley Clark.
Clark is a retired four-star General; was, for four years, the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe, first in his class at West Point, wounded in Vietnam, earned the Bronze Star and the Silver Star, and has streets named for him in Alabama, and **Kosovo**.
Therefore, naturally, **O'Reilly** knows much more about the military than General Clark does.
Clark defended the release of the additional Abu Ghraib photos, saying we needed to know what happened, and to correct it.
O'Reilly **lectured** him, and concluded that there had always been atrocities, even by Americans, in war.
It was a remarkable mistake.
The Belgian town of Malmedy **did** lend its name to one of the most appalling battlefield War Crimes of the 20th Century, but O'Reilly's implication that the **Americans** committed it, was entirely backwards.
Americans - most of them, members of Battery B of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion - surrendered to **German** Panzer troops - and were then shot by their captors from the S.S.
Yet O'Reilly had implied that **the Americans** had massacred this Germans in this one stark moment of the Battle of the Bulge. And he used this Alice-Through-The-Looking-Glass view of history to somehow rationalize Abu Ghraib -- while trying to dress down a four-star American general.
Still. It could've been a mistake.
We make them -- even historians do.
O'Reilly had not explicitly **called** the Americans the war criminals at Malmedy.
Our troops too were **accused** of crimes against prisoners in the second World War.
It was assumed he had simply made a foolish error. And, though he got beaten up appropriately in some places, it was largely dismissed as merely that -- a mistake.
Then came this Tuesday night.
Again O'Reilly's guest was General Wes Clark.
This time the topic was the apparent murder of Iraqi civilians at Hadeetha.
That O'Reilly was **dismissive** of the event, should be no surprise.
That he should have described as the **real** crime of Iraq, the events of Abu Ghraib, should be no surprise to those who know of his willingness to jettison his most important beliefs of yesterday, for the expediencies of today.
But that he should have brought up Malmedy -- **again** -- that **was** a surprise.
Thus was the full **depth** of Bill O'Reilly's insult to the American dead of World War Two made clear.
The mistake of last October was not some innocent slip, nor misremembered history.
This was the way O'Reilly understood it, and thus, this way -- it **had** to be.
No errors corrected, no apologies offered, no stopping the relentless tide of bull even briefly enough to check one fact. The facts **of Malmedy** are terrifying.
As described by Michael Reynolds in his painstakingly detailed article from a 2003 issue of "World War 2 Magazine," one week before Christmas, 1944, 139 U.S. soldiers, most of them from the 285th Field Artillery, encountered the "Kampf-gruppe Peiper," the leading formation of the German 1st S.S. Panzer Division, one of only two German units which actually carried Adolf Hitler's **name.**
The Americans were over-run. Eleven of the 139 Americans were killed in the very short **battle** of Malmedy.
Two more were killed as they tried to flee.
Six became Prisoners of War.
The other 113 Americans - nearly all of whom had surrendered outright -- were ordered to assemble in an open field next to a restaurant, the Café Bodarwe'.
What happened next has been attributed to many things: a cold-blooded decision by the Panzer unit Commander -- Colonel Joachim Peiper -- that he could not handle prisoners, or an unjustifiable over-reaction to some kind of escape attempt, or simply... horrible mass murder.
Within fifteen minutes, the S.S. Colonel or someone directly under him, had ordered his men to **shoot** the unarmed American POW's.
The bodies at Malmedy were not found until a month later. There were 84 of them, all, American soldiers.
More than half showed gunshot wounds to their heads. Six had received fatal **blows** to the head.
Nine were found with their arms still raised **above** their heads.
The fact that O'Reilly got these horrible facts completely backwards -- twice -- offended even his own usually compliant viewers.
From his program **Wednesday** night...
When you're **that** wrong -- when you're defending Nazi War Criminals and pinning their crimes on Americans, and you get **caught** doing so -- **twice** -- you're supposed to say 'I'm sorry, I was wrong'... and then you should shut up for a long time.
Instead, Fox **washed** its transcript of O'Reilly's remarks Tuesday -- its website claims O'Reilly said "In **Normandy**..." when in fact he said "In **Malmedy**..."
The rewriting of past reporting -- worthy of Orwell -- has now carried over into such on-line transcription services as Burrell's and Factiva.
Whatever did or did not happen **later**, in supposed or actual retribution... the victims at Malmedy, were **Americans**, gunned down while surrendering -- by **Nazis** in 1944 -- and again, Tuesday Night and Wednesday Night -- by a false patriot who would rather be loud than right.
"In Malmedy, as you know" Bill O'Reilly **said** Tuesday night, in some indecipherable attempt to defend the events of Hadeetha, "U.S. forces captured S.S. forces who had their hands in the air and were unarmed and they shot them dead, you know that. That's on the record. And documented."
The victims at Malmedy in December, 1944... were Americans. **Americans** with their hands in the air. **Americans** who were unarmed. That's on the record. And documented.
And their memory deserves better than Bill O'Reilly.
We **all** do.