rotten > Library > Biographies > Entertainers > Pundits > Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly

At the prompting of California gubernatorial candidate Larry Flynt, a group of protesters clustered around the Fox television affiliate in Los Angeles on a sunny Tuesday afternoon in August 2003. They were there to plead for God's mercy.

They sought relief from Bill O'Reilly, the biggest star of cable news. His show, The O'Reilly Factor, is by far the most popular news-talk program on cable TV. His predominantly-conservative political views have made him the darling of the Guns 'n Bibles crowd, but his popularity owes more to the fact that O'Reilly is an overbearing asshole who talks endless shit and takes almost none in return. It's vicarious fulfillment for his audience.

Taking a page from Pat Robertson's playbook, the assembled crowd held an outdoor prayer vigil asking God to cut short the news commentator's life on Earth. In fact, they were asking God for a horrific, painful, sudden, and ignominious death for the cable news celebrity.

It was a small but spirited crowd. They stood in the sun and clutched hand-lettered signs calling for the man's immediate death. Led by a priest holding a Bible and a megaphone, the mob chanted their ecumenical prayer in front of camera crews from CNN and Daily Rotten:

"Dear (God/Allah/Buddha/other entity of your choice), we ask you to afflict Bill O'Reilly with a brain aneurysm that will lead to his slow and painful death. O, Lord, may his blood vessels bulge out of his head and explode without mercy. May he writhe in agony on his office floor at Fox studios right after taping The O'Reilly Factor. O, God, may he reach for the phone to call 911 and accidentally dial 411. May he desperately gasp for breath and recall all the people he shouted down with no mercy. May he lay on the floor and twitch uncontrollably as he contemplates his worthless life. O, Lord, may he lose control of his bowels in those final moments so that the last and only warm feeling he ever experiences is his own shit. We ask this in all sincerity and humbleness, Amen."

O'Reilly is just another talking head on television -- cable television, no less. He worked his way up through a series of small TV stations and broke into the national market when he joined ABC's World News Tonight. After three years he jumped ship and made a name for himself hosting the tabloid television news show Inside Edition for six years. Ultimately he wound up at the Fox News Channel, where he spends his day berating people on the air.

What on Earth could this guy -- a political news pundit on cable TV -- have possibly done that would provoke people to publicly implore God to effect his summary execution?

For a tiny taste, we have to go back two months.

the lying liar

If you had switched to C-SPAN2 on May 31, 2003, you might have caught their live coverage of the Los Angeles Book Expo. It's a publishing industry tradeshow where authors come to hawk their new books. Normally this kind of thing is about as gripping as you would expect, but not on that particular day. Something was about to happen.

Former Saturday Night Live writer and political humorist Al Franken was on a panel promoting his new book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Conveniently seated next to Al just so happened to be one of the lying liars himself -- liberal-hating political commentator Bill O'Reilly.

Franken, known in conservative circles primarily as the mean-spirited dickhead who wrote Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations, proceeded to explain how Bill earned himself a spot in Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Here's the deal. Apparently, O'Reilly had mentioned in multiple interviews that his old syndicated tabloid news show Inside Edition had won two Peabody Awards, which he described as "the highest journalism award in the country."

The only problem being: Inside Edition never won any Peabodys. It had instead won a Polk Award, and that only happened more than a year after Bill left the show. The story, called "Door to Door Insurance," aired in February 1996. It was a piece about predatory insurance companies who took advantage of poor and elderly residents of Arkansas.

Now, to be fair, Bill's situation is understandable. Peabody, Polk... what's the difference? The George Polk Award is one of television journalism's three big prizes, along with the Peabody and the DuPont. You don't get that from a box of Cracker Jacks. And, for that matter, he wasn't even there when they won the damn thing. So he has no clear memory of the event. As such, the mixup can reasonably be construed as an honest, if sloppy and repetitious, mistake.

Now if O'Reilly had just said that in reply to Al's story, nobody would have batted an eyelash. But that's not what he said. After Franken had spoken for precisely 20 minutes and 7 seconds, Bill responded the only way he knew how -- by trying to incite a shouting match. Luckily for him, it worked.

O'REILLY: We're supposed to be on here for 15 minutes, this idiot goes 35. Okay? All he's got in six-and-a-half years is that I misspoke, that I labeled a Polk Award a Peabody. He writes it in his book, he tries to make me out to be a liar --
FRANKEN: Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no...
O'REILLY: HEY, SHUT UP!
FRANKEN: (stunned) I won't shut up!
O'REILLY: You HAD your THIRTY-FIVE minutes! SHUT UP!
FRANKEN: (still stunned) This isn't your show, Bill!

Had it actually been 35 minutes? Not even close. But it probably seemed like it from O'Reilly's seat.

Anyway, once he saw that he'd gotten Al on the defensive, Bill immediately calmed down. He was back in his element. After all, this is what he does every day on his show: push the interview subjects off-balance and capitalize on any rhetorical errors they make while they're squirming. Meanwhile, Franken proceeded to squirm energetically.

O'REILLY: (to the audience) This is what this guy does. This is what he does, all right?
FRANKEN: You can't tell me --
O'REILLY: This is what he does.
FRANKEN: (to the moderator) Take control, Pat -- come on!
HOST: I think -- I think I need a whistle and a striped shirt. My job is not a referee.
FRANKEN: Maybe I went on long because I got some laughs, Bill!

At which point, Bill knew he was in complete control of the discussion. So then he twisted the knife a little by parroting Franken's appeal for the moderator to step in:

O'REILLY: (to the moderator) Can you please control him?

Ouch. Then Bill turned to the audience and belittled Al for his impertinence.

O'REILLY: (continuing) This guy accuses me of being a liar, ladies and gentlemen, and on national television, because I misspoke. Because I called a Peabody a Polk. I didn't mention we won four National Headliners, okay?

This is what this guy does. He demonizes me, all right? And then other people pick it up. Now, if it's important to you that I misspoke and labeled a Peabody a Polk --

FRANKEN: You didn't just misspeak!
O'REILLY: That's fine, that's fine. Okay?

This is what he does. He's a vicious -- and that is with a capital "v" -- person who's blinded by ideology. And that's all I'll say in rebuttal.

Despite himself, Bill then proceeded to piss away any appearance of superiority by continuing to snipe at Franken for the remainder of the roundtable discussion. Otherwise, it was as well played as could be. O'Reilly had flexed a little muscle and put the liberal jerk in his place. It was an unruly performance that Bill and his legion of sycophants could be proud of.

Over the weekend, though, a few news outlets took notice of this little exchange and sided with Franken. Which is not that surprising, because Bill has a lot of enemies in the mainstream press. He's always referring to them as the "elite news media" and casting them as liberal ideologues.

On the Monday episode of The O'Reilly Factor, Bill screened a brief clip of himself heroically commanding Franken to Shut The Fuck Up. Then he informed his loyal audience that he would not make any more statements on the matter. But he couldn't resist. The next day on his radio show he shared his war story with the listening audience. He started by characterizing Al's extra five minutes and seven seconds as some kind of unfair trick:

"What this guy writes and says does not matter to me, other than he insulted me in a forum where I was at a decided disadvantage. You know, he went over his time limit. It was very, very sneaky."

Sneaky? Really? Precisely how is that sneaky? Rather than bother to justify that comment, Bill went on to explain that his response to Franken's monologue was strictly a matter of honor:

"And you know, as I said at the top of the broadcast, somebody calls you a liar to your face, you don't just laugh that off. Okay, that's -- that's an insult. In the Old West, that would have got you shot."

At which point, everybody in radioland -- except possibly O'Reilly himself -- must have been wondering where the hell is he going with this? Bill did not disappoint:

"See, in the Old West -- and I would have loved to have been in the Old West -- Al and I would have just had a little -- a little shootout, you know? We would have went out on Wilshire Avenue, and six-shooters. Now, he's a much smaller target than I am -- about four-foot-eleven, but he's wider. And it would have been, you know, Clint Eastwood time. I would have had the serape, would have given my squint, and I would have put a bullet right between his head.

"Would have been wrong, would have been wrong. But it was the Old West, and I would not have known any better. So I wouldn't have been accountable because I would not have known any better. Now I do. Now, in 2003, that would have been wrong."

the lawsuit

Bill continues to hate Al Franken more than anyone else on Earth. More than Jesse Jackson, the ACLU, and Hillary Clinton combined. Because, unlike those enemies, Al has damaged Bill's ego. And it makes him seethe.

This explains why, two months later, Bill lobbied Fox News Channel to sue the comedian over the title of his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. The basis for the suit? Fox claims to own the rights to the phrase "Fair and Balanced." No, seriously. That's what they claim.

Fox News filed suit against Al in August 2003. What no one has proven (so far) is that portions of the complaint were almost certainly written by O'Reilly himself. (Which he strenuously denies.) The court filing is a rich expression of utter loathing. It starts off by deriding Franken's credentials as a political commentator, painting him as some kind of wannabe:

Franken achieved some renown as a comedy writer in the 1970's, when he worked for the television program "Saturday Night Live." Since 1995, after Franken left a second stint with "Saturday Night Live," he has attempted to remake himself into a political commentator. In 1998, Franken wrote and hosted a political television program called "Lateline," which appeared on the NBC television network. Upon information and belief, Franken's guests on "Lateline" included well-known political figures Richard Gephardt, Jerry Falwell and Robert Reich. "Lateline" was cancelled after only 19 episodes. Since then, Franken has made dozens of appearances on television news programs, including FNC. Franken has appeared as a guest on FNC at least ten times from March 1998 until as late as December 2002. However, he is not affiliated in any way with Fox News. Upon information and belief, Franken is currently attempting to gain support to start a political talk radio program.

Interestingly, the complaint completely skips over Franken's critically-acclaimed Indecision '92 on Comedy Central, in which he anchored live coverage of the Democratic and Republican national conventions as well as the 1992 November election. Which means Al Franken actually had his own political TV show four years before O'Reilly even joined Fox News Channel.

The complaint also contains a wide selection ad hominem attacks lodged against Franken. The animus directed against him elicits in the reader a considerable degree of astonishment:

Franken has recently been described as a "C-level political commentator" who is "increasingly unfunny." Franken has physically accosted Fox News personalities in the past, and was reported to have appeared either intoxicated or deranged as he flew into a rage near a table of Fox News personalities at a press correspondents' dinner in April 2003. Franken is neither a journalist nor a television news personality. He is not a well-respected voice in American politics; rather, he appears to be shrill and unstable. His views lack any serious depth or insight. Franken is commonly perceived as having to trade off of the name recognition of others in order to make money. One commentator has referred to Franken as a "parasite" for attempting to trade off of Fox News' brand and O'Reilly's fame in the Preliminary Cover of his Book.

(If you're wondering whether that unnamed commentator inveighing against Al was O'Reilly himself, it was actually C.K. Rairden writing about that C-SPAN spectacle in The Washington Dispatch.) Needless to say, the insults go on and on. Here's one last taste:

Defendants' use of the Trademark also tarnishes the mark by associating the mark with Franken's sophomoric approach to political commentary. Such a use lessens the reputation of FNC for having a team of first-rate journalists and news personalities who gather, report, and analyze the news.

The immediate reaction to the suit was amusement from all sides. Legal experts opined that the case was utterly without merit. Observers noted that if the use of "Fair and Balanced" is damaging to FNC's trademark, then their legal staff had better get the coffeemaker going and send out for pizza. There are thousands of websites using the phrase in a satirical manner just like Franken.

But the crux of the matter is this: Does O'Reilly expect his fanbase to mistakenly assume that Al Franken is a Fox News employee? Or that a FNC stooge would write a book about conservative pundits called Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them? Does he really believe his own audience is that stupid?

An interesting conspiracy theory popped up on the internet after the lawsuit was filed: Perhaps Fox News filed this suit merely to give O'Reilly a dependable but buffoonish enemy. It sort of holds water: by categorizing Franken (who does not have a TV and radio show, and who does not have the same recognizability among Fox's audience) as an example of the liberal media coming to get Bill, it guarantees ratings as the two media figures continually get into public cockfights. How accurate this theory is requires more insider information than the Rotten Library currently has at its disposal. Either way, it made O'Reilly look just a tad clownish.

After some high-profile newspaper editorials dismissed his suit as juvenile nonsense, Bill went on his TV show and whined like a petulant child. He tried to present the pointless legal suit as a matter of principle, even if it would ultimately be laughed out of court. But Bill was careful not to mention Franken or his book by name:

It is simply a joke for the New York Times to editorialize that fabricated personal attacks are acceptable under the banner of "satire." [...] I guess the Times' editorial board would be yukking it up if their pictures appeared on a book cover accompanied by the word Liar. Satire, my butt.

There's no question that many of the attacks launched against Fox personnel are designed to injure and demean. It's unfortunate, but in this country if you're successful or famous, many courts will allow defamation, slander, and libel to go unpunished.

To outside observers, it was not exactly one of his most dignified moments. Boo hoo. I'm Bill O'Reilly. It's not fair when people say mean things about me. Of course I have to use the court system to get back at them. How else am I supposed to defend myself? I only have the most highly-rated cable news show at my disposal. Jesus, quit whining. Would you please -- for just one second -- act like a man?

The next time O'Reilly talks about how litigious America has become, somebody ought to bitchslap the hypocrite with a copy of his own lawsuit.

When NBC's Stone Phillips asked Bill about the specifics of the suit, O'Reilly dodged:

PHILLIPS: Were you in favor of the lawsuit?
O'REILLY: I was in favor of holding him accountable.

Which is misleading. O'Reilly knows that most people would understand his response as implying that he wanted to do something other than file a lawsuit against Al Franken. But that's wrong. In other interviews, O'Reilly claimed that he was pursuing his own legal options against Franken when someone from the Fox Network informed him they were filing their own suit on his behalf. So that obviated the need for Bill to get involved directly. How very tidy.

O'REILLY: If I had been in charge of the lawsuit, I probably would have gone the defamation route. Now, I know I would have lost, because I'm a famous guy. And famous people in America have no protection under the law.

No protection under the law? So the tabloids are free to print absolutely anything they want about a celebrity or public figure without fear of legal action? That's essentially what Bill's claiming.

Hasn't Bill ever heard of Nicole Kidman's successful case against the Sun? Or Carol Burnett's case against the National Enquirer? Or Clint Eastwood's? According to figures produced by the Libel Defense Resource Center, 75% of juries in libel cases found in favor of the plaintiff in 1996. Also, the success rate for suits filed by public figures (64%) is about the same as private persons (63%), if you look at the cases filed between 1980 and 1996. But who cares about facts?

Stone tried to get to the bottom of the matter, but Bill completely avoided the core issue.

PHILLIPS: Well, the standard is: is he lying about you?
O'REILLY: Of course he is. It's absurd. It's ridiculous. He --
PHILLIPS: What has he said that’s inaccurate?
O'REILLY: Well, I'm not gonna go over that. I'm not gonna -- I mean, all I can tell you is that I don't lie. Haven't lied about anything. He says I lie. That's not true.

the infamous Glick interview

The Franken - O'Reilly feud probably had little or no effect on the diehard Bill haters. They already had a bunch of reasons to write off the man as a hypocritical jerkoff. If you haven't noticed by now, Bill O'Reilly is obviously a touchy guy. For a person who makes his living hosting a confrontational news-talk show, the man has extraordinarily thin skin.

The perfect illustration occurred on February 4, 2003. That was the night when Bill tore into a guest whose father was killed in the World Trade Center attacks. In characteristic O'Reilly style, his verbal attacks got meaner and more egregious with each passing moment. The problem was, Bill's proven tactics abjectly failed when Jeremy Glick stood his ground, remaining cool and collected.

Even though Glick was obviously a dyed-in-the-wool leftie, for some reason Bill must have figured that he wouldn't try to pin the blame for 9-11 on the Republicans. When Glick started doing exactly that, O'Reilly discovered -- much to his dismay -- that it was impossible to shut the guy up.

Things quickly got ugly.

O'REILLY: I don't want to -- I don't want to debate world politics with you.
GLICK: Well, why not? This is about politics!
O'REILLY: Because, number one: I don't really care what you think.
GLICK: Well, okay.
O'REILLY: You're -- you're -- you're... uh... I want, I want --
GLICK: But you do care, because... the reason why you care is --
O'REILLY: No, I don't.
GLICK: -- you evoke 9-11 --
O'REILLY: Here's why I care --
GLICK: -- to rationalize --
O'REILLY: Here's why I care --
GLICK: Let me finish. You evoke 9-11 to rationalize everything from domestic plunder to imperialist aggression worldwide. You evoke, you evoke sympathy --
O'REILLY: Okay, that's a bunch...
GLICK: -- with the 9-11 families.
O'REILLY: That's a bunch of crap. I've done more for the 9-11 families by their own admission -- I've done more for them than you will ever hope to do.
GLICK: Okay.

Then a tiny corner of Bill's brain says Hm, what an odd response. Totally unemotional. Let's try again.

O'REILLY: So you keep your mouth shut when you accuse me of exploiting those people.
GLICK: Well, you're not representing me. You're not representing me.

Is that him getting angry? Let's keep pushing.

O'REILLY: I know. And I'd never represent you. You know why?
GLICK: Why?
O'REILLY: Because you have a warped view of this world and a warped view of this country.
GLICK: Well, explain that. Let me give you an example of a parallel --

Now things are starting to get creepy for Bill. He thinks, Does this guy have ice water in his veins, or what?

O'REILLY: No, I'm not going to debate this with you, all right?
GLICK: Well, let me give you an example of parallel experience.
O'REILLY: No, I won't.
GLICK: On September 14th --
O'REILLY: Here's, here's, here's, here's --
GLICK: On September 14th --
O'REILLY: Here's the record, all right?
GLICK: Okay.
O'REILLY: You didn't support the action against Afghanistan to remove the Taliban. You were against it, okay?
GLICK: Why would I want to brutalize and further punish the people in Afghanistan --
O'REILLY: Who killed your father!
GLICK: The people in Afghanistan --
O'REILLY: Who killed your father!
GLICK: -- didn't kill my father.
O'REILLY: Sure they did! The al Qaeda people were trained there!
GLICK: The al Qaeda people? What about the Afghani people?
O'REILLY: See! I'm more angry about it than you are!
GLICK: So, what about George Bush?
O'REILLY: What about George Bush? He had NOTHING to do with it!
GLICK: The Director -- senior -- as Director of the CIA.
O'REILLY: He had NOTHING to DO with it!
GLICK: So the people that trained a hundred thousand Mujahadeen who were...

Now O'Reilly realizes that he's in trouble. The guy isn't taking any of the bait and keeps spewing these pesky facts. So he tries to throw a little dirt in Glick's eyes:

O'REILLY: Man, I hope your mom isn't watching this.
GLICK: Well, I hope she is.
O'REILLY: I hope your mother is not watching this because you... That's it, I'm not going to say any more.
GLICK: Okay.

Now things are getting worse, and O'Reilly knows it. Glick hasn't taken the bait about his mother. So Bill tries to piss him off by invoking the guy's dead father:

O'REILLY: In respect for your father --
GLICK: On September 14th, do you want to know what I'm doing?

Now Bill realizes -- to his horror -- that there's just no way to distract this guy. He's unfazable. Here he starts grasping at straws:

O'REILLY: Shut up! -- Shut up!
GLICK: Oh, please don't tell me to shut up.
O'REILLY: As respect -- as respect -- in respect for your father, who was a Port Authority worker, a fine American, who got killed unnecessarily by barbarians --
GLICK: By radical extremists who were trained by this government...
O'REILLY: Fine. Out of respect for him...
GLICK: ... not the people of America.
O'REILLY: ... I'm not going to...
GLICK: ... The people of the ruling class, the small minority.

Nothing's working... this Glick guy is obviously inhuman! Finally, Bill has no other recourse but throw in the towel and pretend to claim victory:

O'REILLY: Cut his mic.

I'm not going to dress you down anymore, out of respect for your father.
We will be back in a moment with more of The Factor.

GLICK: That means we're done?
O'REILLY: We're done.
According to Glick, after the interview Bill completely lost his shit. He slammed his fist on the table and shouted "Get out! Get out of my studio before I tear you to fucking pieces!" In a radio interview, Glick later explained the lesson that Al Franken and innumerable other O'Reilly Factor guests would have benefited greatly from:

"O'Reilly's not there to debate. He's there to intimidate, he's there to bait his [guests]. And that's why, when he said that stuff about my Dad, the reason why I was calm is not because that wasn't hurtful or outrageous, it was because that's exactly what he wants to do. He wants to push your buttons."

the WMD situation

For several months, O'Reilly was playing a little game regarding the WMD situation in Iraq. Originally, Bill was convinced that when we liberated Iraq, there would be WMDs aplenty. Back in March 2003, he went so far as to tell the Good Morning America viewers that "if the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again."

Months later, after President Bush declared the end of combat operations in Iraq and still no weapons of mass destruction had been uncovered, O'Reilly started to regret those words. So he gave the White House an ultimatum to come clean about the WMDs "in the next few weeks." But when that deadline was about to expire, Bill offered a new expiration date, granting the President an additional five months. Five weeks later, when it became obvious that the administration had no intention of meeting O'Reilly's decree, Bill extended it another six months.

In effect, Bill kept hitting the snooze button on his WMD deadline to avoid (or at least delay) apologizing to the nation and declaring his mistrust for the Bush administration, two things he probably never had any intention of doing under any circumstances. But, in the end, it became unavoidable.

date O'Reilly quote deadline
5 Jun 2003 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "Reasonable people are faced with two conclusions -- one, that the intelligence was wrong, or, two, that more time is needed to find the weapons. Talking Points just asks one thing from President Bush: an update on the situation in the next few weeks. That's a very reasonable request, and one the President must take seriously if he wants to advance the cause of the USA throughout the world. In the end, if the intelligence was faulty, some people have to be fired. If, God forbid, the intelligence was contrived, and I don't believe that, but if it is proven, then Congressional action must be taken." 1 Jul 2003
11 Jun 2003 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "It is possible the President did lie, but most of the credible evidence points to wishful thinking on WMDs, rather than outright deception. By the way, the President must tell us his feelings on the guerrilla action in Iraq and the WMDs, or risk losing popularity... We the people deserve an extensive update from the President before he goes on summer vacation. This is not a partisan issue. This is a people issue. There are things we have the right to know about, and the President must tell us." 1 Aug 2003
31 Jul 2003 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "We're confused about the WMDs. And Mr. Bush has an obligation to clear this up by the end of the year." 1 Jan 2003
8 Oct 2003 During his appearance on the National Public Radio interview program Fresh Air, Bill O'Reilly declares: "Well, certainly the WMD situation is troubling, okay. All Americans should demand within the next nine months -- before the Presidential candidate, uh candidates, really swing in -- for an explanation of what exactly happened. Americans will accept mistakes if mistakes were made honestly, but it needs to be defined by the Bush administration why the intelligence was faulty. And, uh, you know, there is no spin on that. They have to do it." 1 Jul 2004
10 Feb 2004 Still lacking any substantive explanations from the White House, Bill O'Reilly grudgingly apologizes on Good Morning America.
O'REILLY: Well, my analysis was wrong and I'm sorry. Absolutely, you know.
GIBSON: Camera's right there.
O'REILLY: Um, and I'm not pleased about it.
GIBSON: Camera's right there.
O'REILLY: Yeah, I just said it. What do you want me to do? Go over and kiss the camera?

More About the Iraq War

16 Feb 2001 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "You know, I don't take Saddam Hussein all that seriously anymore as far as a world threat. Maybe I'm wrong and naive here. Should we be very frightened of this guy?"
17 Sep 2001 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly urges immediate bombing strikes against Iraq: "Their infrastructure must be destroyed and the population made to endure yet another round of intense pain... Maybe then the people there will finally overthrow Saddam."
16 Dec 2002 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "I can't, in good conscience, tell the American people that I know for sure that he (Saddam Hussein) has smallpox or anthrax or he's got nuclear or chemical and that he is ready to use that."
19 Mar 2003 Bill O'Reilly declares on Good Morning America: "And I said on my program, if -- if the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again. All right? But I'm giving my government the benefit of the doubt."
22 May 2003 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "The bad news for President Bush comes on the weapons of mass destruction front... The U.S. has captured enough scientists like Dr. Germ and Ms. Anthrax, or whomever, to get a picture of what Saddam Hussein had or didn't have. The Bush administration needs to begin explaining the situation. Talking Points understands time is needed, but the right wing spin that Saddam was a deadly weapon himself isn't going to cut it here. The American people must have honest, accurate intelligence in a world this dangerous. This is a vital issue that we hope will be candidly addressed by the President and soon."
9 Jul 2003 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "If Bush lied -- if he lied -- I'll be the first one to hang him, OK?"
11 Jul 2003 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "President Bush cherry-picked intelligence that pointed to WMDs inside Iraq. Now he's got some explaining to do. The anti-Bush zealots, of course, don't want to hear any explanations. They've already convicted Bush of lying. This is, of course, irresponsible. It is possible the President did lie, but most of the credible evidence points to wishful thinking on WMDs, rather than outright deception."
28 Jul 2003 In a opinion piece, Bill O'Reilly writes: "The Bush administration better find Saddam, Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammed Omar and it better explain the WMD situation. If it does not, history and the American people will render judgment, and it will most likely not be kind."
8 Sep 2003 In his syndicated column, Bill O'Reilly writes: "All Americans, but particularly those families who have lost soldiers in Iraq, deserve to be kept appraised of the WMD investigation. Fair-minded Americans will accept mistakes if they are made honestly, but there is no excuse for an information blackout on this important issue."
24 Sep 2003 While interviewing National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "Last March, I stuck up for you guys. After Colin Powell went to the United Nations -- and I said on Good Morning America that I believed that we were right to go to war, the United States, based upon weapons of mass destruction and the danger that Saddam posed. And I also said to Good Morning America: if the weapons found to be bogus, I'd have to apologize for my stance. Do I have to apologize?" Rice says no, but offers no specific evidence for the existence of WMDs in Iraq.
24 Oct 2003 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "It looks like President Bush, President Clinton before him, and other powerful Congresspeople were simply given erroneous information by the CIA and other intelligence outlets. We need to know why that happened. George Tenet should get a full hearing. But if his explanations aren't compelling, he should be asked to resign... We need to know exactly why the Iraq situation is so screwed up.
5 Feb 2004 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "You know, I could do soundbite after soundbite after soundbite of very, very influential people including Bill Clinton, and Richard Gephardt, and Ari Fleischer, and Condoleezza Rice, and on and on and on, all saying, 'Hey, they're there. Those weapons of mass destruction are there.' And they weren't. Or, they aren't. [...] A war was predicated at least partly on weapons of mass destruction that do not exist at this juncture. Perhaps we'll all be surprised."

Nazis, Nazis Everywhere

8 Mar 2002 At the end of a discussion about violence against women on The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly tells Professor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: "All right. Well, I think that's an offensive comment, but that's all right. You're entitled to it. This is America. And we have freedom here to say that. But if we didn't fight for that freedom, professor, you would be going like this: 'Heil Hitler.' And we appreciate your time."
Apr 2002 During a discussion on The O'Reilly Factor about Harmful to Minors, a book about pedophilia, Bill O'Reilly badgers journalist Kristin Tillotson: "Adolf Hitler wrote a book too! It was called Mein Kampf!"
27 Aug 2002 During a discussion with Dr. Robert Kirkpatrick about assigning the book Approaching the Koran: The Early Revelations on The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly draws a parallel with being forced to read Adolf Hitler's autobiography in 1941: "I wouldn't read the book. And I'll tell you why I wouldn't have read Mein Kampf either. If I were going to UNC in 1941, and you, professor, said, 'Read Mein Kampf,' I would have said, 'Hey, professor -- with all due respect, shove it. I ain't reading it.'"
20 Feb 2003 During a discussion with Rev. Ted McIlvenna about sexologist Alfred Kinsey on The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares:
McILVENNA: I can't justify what Kinsey did. I know he did it in a careful, scientific way. I don't do those experiments.
O'REILLY: So did Dr. Mengele, you know.
McILVENNA: But he didn't -- but Mengele hurt people. Kinsey did not.
O'REILLY: Well, you don't know. You don't know.
McILVENNA: Yes, I do.
O'REILLY: Well, I've got to stop you. I want -- I want the audience to draw their own conclusions.
19 Nov 2003 During a discussion of Michael Jackson on The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly chides Us magazine reporter Ian Drew by asking: "Would you tell both sides of the story for Hitler? I mean, would you say 'Oh gee, he had a bad childhood...' Come on, a monster!"
9 Jan 2004 On The Radio Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: “The ACLU is the most fascist organization I have seen in decades. They want to tell you how to live. They don’t want to abide by the Constitution. They want to go around the Constitution. They’re intellectual fascists, and they use the courts as their Panzer divisions.”
10 Jun 2004 Bill O'Reilly: "Joseph Goebbels was the Minister of Propaganda for the Nazi regime and whose very famous quote was, 'If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth.' All right? 'If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth.' And that's what Stuart Smalley and Michael Moore and all of these guys do. They just run around [...] So who turns out for the screening of this movie [Fahrenheit 9/11] last night? You ready? Now, here are the celebrities that turn out. Here are the people who would turn out to see Joseph Goebbels convince you that Poland invaded the Third Reich. It's the same thing, by the way. Propaganda is propaganda. Okay? Billy Crystal. Martin Sheen. Leonardo DiCaprio. Ellen DeGeneres. David Duchovny. Sharon Stone. Meg Ryan. Ashton Kutcher. Demi Moore. Norman Lear. Rob Reiner. Jodie Foster. Chris Rock. Larry David. Jack Black. Matthew Perry. Diane Lane."

Those Damn Commies

Dec 2000 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly invites former NOW President Patricia Ireland to love it or leave it: "You can always move to Cuba, where everybody is the same, and everyone is poor. You can always go there. They would love to have you, Ms. Ireland."
11 Nov 2003 During a discussion about the liberal political action group MoveOn.org on The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly compares them to Marxists, declaring: "The Communist Party had other positions, too!"

Timeline

10 Sep 1949 William James O'Reilly born in Manhattan. O'Reilly never actually lived in Levittown per se, but the family home in Westbury, Long Island still counts. It was part of the development built by William Levitt, albeit one of the more affluent sections.
1967 Graduates Chaminade High School, Long Island NY.
1971 Graduates Marist College with a B.A. in History, Poughkeepsie NY.
1989 Bill O'Reilly joins Inside Edition.
12 Sep 1994 Bill O'Reilly registers to vote as a member of the Republican Party. Years later, O'Reilly claims that he had inadvertently registered as a Republican: "I didn't even know I was registered as a Republican. I mean, I thought I was registered as an Independent... I was as surprised as anybody. It was my mistake, an oversight, and I corrected it." When asked how this could have happened, O'Reilly replies: "I don't know. I mean, it might've been just a rush job. It might've been, uh, a myriad of things, but um... if people want to think that I tried to deceive them, then you go ahead and think that, but I just told you the truth."
1995 Bill O'Reilly marries Maureen McPhilmy.
early 1995 Bill O'Reilly leaves Inside Edition to attend Harvard graduate school.
Feb 1996 Inside Edition airs "Door to Door Insurance" -- a piece of undercover journalism exposing the predatory practices of insurance salesmen in Arkansas. For this story, journalist Matt Meagher and producer Tim Peek later win the George Polk Award for national television reporting.
30 Aug 1999 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "I anchored a program called Inside Edition, which has won a Peabody Award for investigative reporting."
2000 Bill O'Reilly changes his voter registration from Republican Party to Independent.
8 May 2000 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "All I've got to say is that Inside Edition has won, I -- I believe, two Peabody Awards, the highest journalism award in the country."
19 May 2000 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "We won Peabody Awards... We won Peabody Awards... A program that wins a Peabody Award, the highest award in journalism, and you're going to denigrate it?"
Feb 2001 Bill O'Reilly gives a speech claiming credit for Inside Edition winning a coveted Peabody award during his tenure.
1 Mar 2001 The Washington Post reports that Inside Edition never won the Peabody Award. Although, they did win a Polk award, but more than a year after O'Reilly had left the show.
13 Mar 2001 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "Guy says about me, a couple of weeks ago, 'O'Reilly said he won a Peabody Award.' Never said it. You can't find a transcript where I said it."
8 Sep 2001 In an editorial, Bill O'Reilly claims that the ACLU supports the practice of pederasty because they defended NAMBLA in court.
Jan 2002 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly informs the pastor of the 5th Street Presbyterian Church in New York City: "Jesus would have demanded that the homeless people shape themselves up or else; because, we all know the passage: 'The Lord helps those who help themselves.'" [The quote appears nowhere in the Bible, much less in a quote attributed to Christ.]
5 Feb 2002 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly tells NOW President Kim Gandy: "58% of single mothers are on welfare." When Gandy questions the figure, Bill retorts: "You can't say no, Ms. Gandy. That's the stat. You can't just dismiss it... It's 58%. That's what it is from the federal government." Two days later, O'Reilly gives the correct statistic: a disappointing 14%.
16 Feb 2002 In an editorial, Bill O'Reilly advocates that the American people as a society shun those who act reprehensibly and refuse to speak to them. "I'll tell you this: If I see someone who -- in my judgment -- is hurting society, I will quickly invoke my Fifth Amendment rights and give them the silent treatment. Suspected criminals are not the only ones who should use that privilege."
16 Jul 2002 Fox News dispatches a letter to the proprietor of oreilly-sucks.com insisting that he immediately remove all instances of O'Reilly's name from the site. The letter is scanned, posted to the site, and promptly ignored.
Oct 2002 During the course of an interview with sex columnist Dan Savage on The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly insists (For the sake of argument): "I want to go to a gay bathhouse! I want to go to a gay bathhouse!"
Nov 2002 In an interview with Stuff magazine, Bill O'Reilly declares: "The most unattractive women in the world are probably in the Muslim countries."
15 Nov 2002 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly claims that only once has he ever attempted to silence one of his own guests: "Paula Evans, Winston-Salem, N.C. [writes]: 'Bill, if you are so concerned about public figures being bad role models for children, please stop interrupting your guests and telling them to shut up!' Well, the 'shut up' line has happened only once in six years, Ms. Evans, and that's because the editor from Pittsburgh was filibustering, after accusing me of exploiting the families of the murder victims. The No-Spin Zone is a tough place, and lies and unreasonable discourse will be stopped in their tracks."
4 Feb 2003 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly shouts down Jeremy Glick, tells him to shut up, and orders the producer to cut Glick's microphone. When they're off the air, O'Reilly tells his guest: "Get out of my studio before I tear you to fucking pieces."
13 May 2003 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "You know, in Europe, this kind of child molestation and child rape is -- you know, they let them do it. They don't enforce it. And in countries like Denmark, it's even legal." Later, the Danish embassy points out that child molestation, rape, abuse, and pornography are crimes in Denmark.
31 May 2003 Bill O'Reilly appears on a panel with Al Franken at the L.A. Book Expo, which is carried live by C-SPAN2.
5 Aug 2003 In a public demonstration in Los Angeles, a small crowd prays for the death of Bill O'Reilly. The event was organized by employees of HUSTLER magazine publisher Larry Flynt. Camera crews from both CNN and Daily Rotten cover the vigil.
19 Sep 2003 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly declares: "There's a new book out called The Clinton Presidential Center Cookbook containing 250 recipes. The money earned will go to Bill Clinton's library in Arkansas. There is no truth to the rumor that Marc Rich has purchased 10,000 copies. Anyway, included are Hillary's chocolate chip cookies, Bill's chicken enchiladas and Monica Lewinsky's... Wait, that's a mistake. There is no Monica recipe in that book. Sorry, I was being ridiculous."
7 Oct 2003 Bill O'Reilly grants an interview to the National Public Radio program Fresh Air, but storms out after just 35 minutes.
12 Jan 2004 During a discussion on The O'Reilly Factor of the ACLU's amicus curiae brief filed on behalf of Rush Limbaugh, an incredulous Bill O'Reilly describes the action as "grandstanding" no less than four times.
14 Jan 2004 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly excoriates San Diego councilman Michael Zucchet for saying that the Boy Scouts claimed themselves to be a religious organization: "All right, if I come back tomorrow Mr. Zucchet and the Boy Scouts say 'We never said we're a religious organization,' you're going to have to come back and apologize to me. And I'll do the same to you, all right? Is that a deal?" Zucchet agrees.
15 Jan 2004 On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly concedes that the Boy Scouts have in fact used the term "religious organization" to describe themselves "in several legal briefs" over the years. O'Reilly grudgingly offers to extend an apology to Mr. Zucchet (who is conspicuously absent from the program), but never actually does apologize.
23 Jan 2004 In an editorial about Wesley Clark on The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly takes another oblique potshot at Al Franken: "Once again, Talking Points believes Americans are entitled to political opinion they wish to hold. But to denigrate their country, use slanderous tactics, and provide the haters of America with ammunition is simply disgraceful. Stuart Smalley, Michael Moore, and others like them should be ashamed." [Stuart Smalley being a character Al Franken created for SNL.]
4 Feb 2004 Bill O'Reilly declares on The O'Reilly Factor: "You know, if you look at the Cabinet, the Bush Cabinet is more black than any President I can remember." [Perhaps O'Reilly never heard of 42nd President of the United States William Jefferson Clinton. Bush cabinet: Alphonso Jackson, Rod Paige, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice. Clinton cabinet: Jesse Brown, Ron Brown, Jocelyn Elders, Alexis Herman, Hazel O'Leary, Rodney Slater, and Togo West.]
5 Feb 2004 Defending Kid Rock's Superbowl halftime show wardrobe choice of an American flag with a slit for his head to poke through, Bill O'Reilly admits on The O'Reilly Factor: "Look, what Mr. Rock did by wearing the poncho shirt didn't offend me, I'm sorry. I know it offended some Americans. It didn't offend me, all right?"
23 May 2004 In a speech to The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan, Bill O'Reilly estimates: "In a country of 300 million, I'd say 15% of us are evil."
8 Oct 2004 Bill O'Reilly tells Fox News host Shepard Smith: "If you start to put yourself in the other person's head, you lose. Look: when I go on The Factor every night and I debate people, do you think I care what they say? I don't care what they say. I'm looking for their weakness of their argument. And to make my case stronger. They can say whatever they want. I'm gonna go in, wham. If I'm confident in my position, I usually win."
8 Nov 2005 Bill O'Reilly declares on his radio show The Radio Factor: "Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money. You know, if I'm the President of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, 'Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds.' Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead. And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up -- blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."


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