Fox News Channel’s VP and Washington bureau chief Brian Wilson tells TVNewser he sent an email to Bill O’Reilly this morning explaining his comments about the FNC anchor at Texas Tech last week.
Last Thursday evening, after a day of teaching classes at the University, Wilson took part in a Q&A session with the local SPJ chapter; a group Wilson today described as “fairly adversarial.” Wilson told the students, “Bill O’Reilly is not a journalist; it is an opinion-based program.”
The comments appeared in a story Friday in the Texas Tech newspaper then spread through the industry blogs, including this one.
Wilson says he was explaining to the students that, like a newspaper, FNC has news and opinion. “What happens at 7:59 is that we move from the world of news to the world of opinion,” Wilson explained. “Hannity and O’Reilly are radically different from the other 22 hours of the day. This is our opinion page.”
Wilson concedes he should have chosen his words more carefully. “What I probably should have said is he’s not a reporter or a journalist in the traditional sense.” Wilson heard from his bosses, too. “They wanted to know what the heck happened. I made sure they understood.”
As for O’Reilly, Wilson followed up the “long” email with a phone call. “He could not have been more gracious,” Wilson says. “He said ‘as far as you and I are concerned, I have no problem.’”
So will Wilson be returning to Tech to teach any more classes? “They can ask, but I don’t think I’ll be going.”