Bill O’Reilly Forced To Apologize After Fox News Books Fictional Swedish Official For His Show
The O’Reilly Factor misfires
Controversy began brewing Sunday after a guest on Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor was incorrectly identified as a “Swedish Defense and National Security Advisor,” a title the network wrongly assigned him, the man said. The gaffe has prompted Bill O’Reilly to address the situation Monday, Mediaite reports.
The guest in question, Nils Bildt, provided Mediaite with a statement that spelled things out.
“Suffice to say I am an independent political advisor. Fox News is solely responsible for the header or title used. I cannot comment on that. Sorry for any confusion caused, but needless to say, I think that is not really the issue, the issue is Swedish refusal to discuss their social problems and issues.”
When he appeared on the program last week, Bildt supported President Donald Trump’s assertions that asylum seekers are largely responsible for an uptick in violent crime in the country, CNN reports.
“We are unable in Sweden to socially integrate these people,” he said, in reference to refugees. “These things are not openly and honestly being discussed.”
This is when the controversy brewed into a boil. The Swedish government said it didn’t know who in the heck this guy was, having never even heard of him.
“This is not a person who is known to [the government],” Catarina Axelsson, a press officer at Sweden’s foreign ministry told CNN.
A spokeswoman for Sweden’s defense ministry, Marinette Nyh Radebo, said Bildt has never worked for the government or the country’s armed forces.
And Johan Wiktorin, the CEO of a strategic intelligence company in Sweden noted on Twitter that “he’s never heard of [Bildt] before… he’s not known in our circles as an expert.”
— Johan Wiktorin (@forsvarsakerhet) February 24, 2017
He was indeed born Nils Tolling, according to Swedish media outlets. In 1994 he emigrated to the U.S., changing his surname to Bildt sometime after that. The New York Times reports that Bildt was convicted of assaulting a police officer in Virginia and sentenced to a year in jail in 2014.
According to the newspaper Aftonbladet, Bildt attempted an unsuccessful run for office in Sweden with the nationalist right-wing party Sweden Democrats in 2013, CNN reports.
All of this put Fox News on the defensive:
“Our booker made numerous inquiries and spoke to people who recommended Nils Bildt and after pre-interviewing him and reviewing his bio, we agreed that he would make a good guest for the topic that evening,” David Tabacoff, executive producer for The O’Reilly Factor, said in a statement.
On Monday’s show, O’Reilly brought up the criticism online and said after reviewing the situation he’s concluded “the criticism is valid,” Mediaite reports. He noted that even though the information presented on the show is accurate, “we should have clarified that he had no direct role in the Swedish government.”
O’Reilly also said attempts were made to reach out to the Swedish ambassador to appear on the show, but he declined.
As Politifact noted in this 2015 analysis, Fox News has a penchant for making inaccurate statements. Perhaps those at Fox News who do this are just stating “alternative facts,” like KellyAnne Conway and her boss.
In the video below you can watch O’Reilly’s interview with Bildt and journalist Anne-Sofie Naslund (and yes, the video is in English):
(Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)