Turns out that O’Reilly had it precisely wrong. The United States is now Ebola-free and, just as medical experts have said throughout, the pivotal consideration in keeping it that way is providing aid to the countries where the virus resides. Just how important is free travel to the aid effort? Daniel Epstein, a Washington-based spokesman for the World Health Organization, told the Erik Wemple Blog earlier this month that the organization had ferried 600 people in and out of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea since the virus broke out in March (some of those folks have made more than one trip). When asked how WHO had reacted to O’Reilly’s calls for a travel ban, Epstein said, “We never tried to get on his show or tried to rebut his statements but we did issue statements about our position about international travel and Ebola.”
Such statements and other appeals to simple logic didn’t work with O’Reilly, who thrust upon his viewers an ugly dark-ages isolationism. Which would have been fine, if only he’d been right. O’Reilly said in an August 2013 program: “When you make a mistake, admit it.” Surely he’ll do just that on Ebola.