Franken accuses O’Reilly of making up statistics

Franken makes O’Reilly out to be an Ogre, writing, “…the bully comes out and he bludgeons his guests with incorrect or just made-up facts and figures.”  Because O’Reilly spends so much time discussing issues live in front of millions of viewers, there are indeed misstatements made.  Franken scrounges up a few, fastens them into his slingshot and lets them fly… but do they hit the target?

O’Reilly once claimed (2/26/01) “in the university system in Florida… 37 percent of the 10 universities are black.”  As Franken points out, “Black enrollment that year was 18 percent.”  [p. 80, Lies] However, as Franken does not point out, O’Reilly had an accurate statistic but merely got the details wrong; the 37 percent figure was for all minority enrollment, not just black enrollment, for the previous year’s incoming freshmen. (Florida Times-Union, 8/30/00)

Another time (2/26/01), O’Reilly claimed, “58 percent of single-mom homes are on welfare.” (O’Reilly Factor, 2/5/02). Franken points out [p.80, Lies] that it was “Actually, only 14 percent”. Franken doesn’t mention what O’Reilly was trying to say, “52 percent of families receiving public assistance are headed by a single mother”—an accurate statistic O’Reilly cited the following evening on the Factor (2/6/02).

O’Reilly once claimed (5/8/01) those of us in the United States “give far and away more tax money to foreign countries than anyone else.”  Actually, we donate more of our private money.  Not more tax money.  O’Reilly (5/8/01) also said, “We have a three hundred million population base here and Sweden has three million…” to which Franken responds, “Sweden has about nine million people.”[p.81, Lies]

Amazingly, this is the only actual point Franken has on O’Reilly. That population estimates O’Reilly gives off the top of his head on live TV are not always accurate and O’Reilly occasionally gets his statistics confused.