Fox News has been accused of distorting its news content in the past. Often.
Now, a St. Petersburg man says he sent an email to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, and it ended up being displayed on his show, the O'Reilly Factor. Well, that man says part of his email ended up on the show, along with new words and concepts that ended up in front of O'Reilly's massive television audience.
Jeremy Kopchak says he was watching Bill O'Reilly interview noted atheist Richard Dawkins last week when he became "frustrated by Bill's usual demeaning of Dawkins" and sent an email to the Factor.
What Kopchak sent to O'Reilly, he says, wasn't exactly what O'Reilly displayed to the nation.
Here's the text of the email Kopchak claims he sent to O'Reilly:
Bill, have you read Richard Dawkin's book 'The God Delusion'? You should have the guts to investigate both sides before being so pompous in your faith while completely discounting the critical thinking of atheists. The truth will stand up to any scrutiny.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Here's how it went on the Factor:
Somewhere between Kopchak's computer and national television, he says the phrase "while completely discounting the critical thinking of atheists" turned into "that you would attack Dawkins."
As evidenced in the clip, O'Reilly's talking point turned into Kopchak's claim that O'Reilly attacked Dawkins -- a claim Kopchak never actually made, according to the purported email.
That leads to the question -- if the aforementioned premises are true, could Kopchak make a case for libel?
It's possible, according to Joseph Russomanno, a PhD, author, and professor of media law at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication:
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...Jeremy would seem to have two possible claims -- libel if he feels his reputation was damaged, or false light if his reputation was not damaged. Some states don't recognize false light, so that would be important to know.
With libel, because O'Reilly is a public figure, Jeremy would have to prove O'Reilly made the false information public with actual malice -- knowing the information was false or showing reckless disregard for the truth.
Amy Sohnen, executive producer of the O'Reilly Factor, tells the Pulp that the length of the email was the only alteration made to the email.
"We trimmed the letter for time but did not change the meaning," she says.
[h/t: Jeremy Kopchak]