Bill O'Reilly (commentator)

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Bill O'Reilly

William James "Bill" O'Reilly, Jr. (born September 10 1949) is the host of a popular American cable television opinion program, The O'Reilly Factor on the FOX News Channel. O'Reilly also hosts a radio program syndicated by Westwood One called The Radio Factor and has authored five best-selling books, one of which is a novel. Recently, he has voiced concern about what he sees as the harmful influence of gangsta rap on children, the high level of mismanagement of charity funds for September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks victims and the liberal bias of The New York Times along with many other mainstream media outlets.

Contents

Personal background

O'Reilly was born in Manhattan, New York to William and Angela O'Reilly, from Brooklyn and Bergen County, New Jersey respectively. His father was an oil company accountant and his mother was a homemaker. He and his family moved to Levittown, New York when he was a toddler.

After graduating from Chaminade High School in 1967, O'Reilly attended Marist College, a small, co-educational private school in Poughkeepsie, New York. While at Marist, the 6' 4" (1.93 m) O'Reilly played quarterback, place kicker, and punter on the football team, and also was a columnist and features writer for the school's newspaper, The Circle. [1] (http://library.marist.edu/archives/Circle/circle.html) As an honors student majoring in history, he spent his junior year of college abroad, attending Queen Mary College at the University of London. [2] (http://library.marist.edu/archives/JLRBelanger.html) He also played semi-professional baseball during this time as a pitcher for the Brooklyn Monarchs, leading him to try out to play for the Mets. O'Reilly received his Bachelor of Arts in 1971.

O'Reilly married Maureen McPhilmy, a public relations executive, in 1995. They have one daughter, Madeline, born in 1998, and a son, Spencer, born in 2003. Since approximately 2001, O'Reilly has not discussed his family publicly due to security concerns, including past death threats.

Early career

After graduating from Marist, Bill O'Reilly moved to Miami, Florida, where he taught English and history at a Jesuit high school for two years. After leaving Miami, O'Reilly returned to school, earning a Masters in Broadcast Journalism from Boston University in 1976. While attending BU, he was a reporter and columnist for various local newspapers and alternative news weeklies, including the Boston Phoenix. O'Reilly did his broadcast journalism internship in Miami during this time, and was also an entertainment writer and movie reviewer for the Miami Herald.

O'Reilly's early television news career included reporting and anchoring positions at WNEP-TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he also reported the weather. At WFAA-TV in Dallas, Texas, O'Reilly was awarded the Dallas Press Club Award for excellence in investigative reporting. Then it was off to KMGH-TV in Denver, Colorado where he won an Emmy for his coverage of a skyjacking. O'Reilly also worked in Portland, Oregon, Hartford, Connecticut, and Boston. [3] (http://www.thebiofile.com/articles/stories/101950230.php) In 1980, he anchored his own program on WCBS-TV in New York where he won his second Emmy for an investigation of corrupt city marshals. He was promoted to the network as a CBS News correspondent and covered the wars in the Falkland Islands and El Salvador from his base in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1986, O'Reilly joined ABC News as a correspondent on ABC World News Tonight. In three years, he appeared on the show over one hundred times, receiving two National Headliner Awards for excellence in reporting.

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WJLA, Washington, DC Inside Edition promo featuring Bill O'Reilly, 1993.

In 1989, O'Reilly joined the nationally syndicated Inside Edition, a current affairs television program (called "infotainment" by critics). He started as senior correspondent and backup anchor for British journalist David Frost, but soon took over the anchor chair when the viewers found him more appealing. In addition to being one of the first broadcast journalists to cover the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, O'Reilly also obtained the first exclusive interview with murderer Joel Steinberg and was the first national anchor on the scene of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

In 1995, O'Reilly left Inside Edition to enroll at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he received a Master's Degree in Public Administration. Upon leaving Harvard, Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of the then startup FOX News Channel (and architect of the infamous Willie Horton attack ad), hired O'Reilly to anchor The O'Reilly Report, which aired weeknights. The nascent channel's most popular show was renamed to The O'Reilly Factor when it moved to a later time slot in 1998 since the host was the main "factor" of the show.

The O'Reilly Factor

O'Reilly's television show The O'Reilly Factor discusses political and social issues of the day with guests from a broad political spectrum. Some of the most influential politicians in America have been interviewed by O'Reilly on The Factor, including Pres. George W. Bush, who has nicknamed O'Reilly "Big O" and more recently "Factor".

Like many shows of its genre, notable among them Hardball with Chris Matthews and Tim Russert's programs, confrontation is a key ingredient to the show's successful formula, which often features fast-paced, aggressive verbal sparring between O'Reilly and his guests. O'Reilly's combative challenges to what he sees as inconsistencies and weaknesses in his guest's arguments lead to frequent interruptions, with him refusing to listen to what he calls "spin" or what he believes to be disingenuous answers. While some dislike O'Reilly's interviewing style and persona, he has also attracted a loyal following of viewers who enjoy his style of presentation, as well as his self-described confrontational interviews. O'Reilly bills his show as a "no spin zone," frequently declaring that "the spin stops here". [4] (http://www.bu.edu/alumni/bostonia/2001/fall/oreilly/)

The Factor is a tightly structured show, with each episode consisting of approximately six segments. It begins with a segment called "Talking Points" in which O'Reilly gives an editorial monologue on an issue of the day. The next few segments feature guests who discuss various issues with O'Reilly, broadly catagorized under segment titles such as "Back of the Book," "Personal Story," and "Factor Investigation." Sometimes segments feature only one guest, while other times they may feature several. The final segment featured is entitled "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day".

O'Reilly typically ends each episode by reading viewer e-mail. The letters typically alternate between agreement and disagreement, and he especially delights in reading back-to-back letters that accuse him of being alternately too liberal or too conservative. The final letter is typically slightly silly, and will sometimes allow him to segue to a plug for his website, promoting his themed product line called "Factor Gear", which is completely made in America and a portion of whose sales go to charity.

To the casual observer, there are times when O'Reilly seems to have a guest on for the sole purpose of being a punching bag. However, as O'Reilly has explained, much of his apparent tendency to interrupt and savage vacillating guests is simply driven by the practical need to keep the pace going, "as The Factor moves along" through its many short segments.

He occasionally has longer segments, more in the nature of truly expository interviews than of his famous confrontations. In those segments, he has talked civilly with guests as diverse as Rosie O'Donnell and Clint Eastwood.

In 2001, The O'Reilly Factor passed Larry King Live to become the most watched cable news program in the United States. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, O'Reilly was honored by The National Academy of Arts and Sciences for his coverage and analysis of the events. He has also received praise from viewers and readers, most notably his being named the third most popular U.S. television personality of 2003 in a Harris Poll, behind Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman. [5] (http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=429) He led the voting among people over age 65, as well as Republicans. In 2004, readers of Men's Journal named him their third favorite news personality, behind Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings and ahead of Dan Rather and Katie Couric.[6] (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,139046,00.html)

Political opinion

"Most Americans don't want to hear their country's a bad place every two minutes. Most Americans don't sympathize with terrorists. Most Americans feel the Abu Ghraib story was overplayed and they don't want a homosexual agenda taught in public schools. Most Americans don't think religion is bad. They don't like the ACLU and they want illegal immigration brought under control. So it's obvious that most Americans are not in sync with the big liberal media, which, you'll remember, went big for John Kerry. -- Look who's sitting in the White House." - O'Reilly, 5/12/05 [7] (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156041,00.html)

O'Reilly disagrees vehemently with the common belief that he is a conservative, preferring to call himself a traditionalist and a populist. In his book The O'Reilly Factor, he describes his political affiliation this way: "You might be wondering if whether I'm conservative, liberal, libertarian, or exactly what... See, I don't want to fit any of those labels, because I believe that the truth doesn't have labels. When I see corruption, I try to expose it. When I see exploitation, I try to fight it. That's my political position."

"I've always been an independent," he says. "I always split my ticket. I vote for the person I think is best."

However, O'Reilly has acknowledged that from 1994 until December 2000, he was registered to vote as a Republican. He changed his voter registration from Republican to independent when the Washington Post was about to expose his party affiliation. Now a registered independent, O'Reilly has said his previous affiliation was the result of a clerical mistake, and that no box for 'independent' was available on the registration form. [8] (http://alfrankenweb.com/talknation.html) [9] (http://www.onthemedia.org/oreillydiaries_020601_part1.html) [10] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A62722-2000Dec12?language=printer) The actual form (http://www.awptimus.com/docs/franken_lies/OreillyBig2.jpg) has since been widely published, showing an option for those who 'do not wish to enroll in party' did indeed exist, and that the Republican option was checked.

Liberal critics claim that O'Reilly has close ties to the Republican Party and other conservative groups. O'Reilly's keynote speech at David Horowitz's conservative "Restoration Weekend" event, taking place at the Republican convention in Philadelphia, is occasionally brought up in support of this argument. However, O'Reilly claims that some of these appearances were inadvertent on his part, such as when Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Shays asked him to speak at a charity benefit in Greenwich, Connecticut without telling him that it was for a Republican-backed cause.

Nevertheless, O'Reilly's opinions contain a mix of traditionally conservative, liberal and libertarian positions, and comprise a generally communitarian outlook. Notably, his position on illegal immigration does not follow a traditional conservative standpoint. According to O'Reilly it is based on protecting national security. Regarding embryonic stem cell research, O'Reilly believes that such programs are too controversial and objectionable to many citizens to approve federal funding for them. However, he also believes that private organizations should be allowed to persist with such research, especially with discarded embryos from fertility labs, even though he believes that it is a moral grey area.

Despite the apparent contradictions in his philosophy, and his tendency to lapse into Inside Edition-style "muckraking" and sensationalism, there is a common and consistent thread that runs through all of his viewpoints and his various crusades: America First, and specifically, the protection of children. A Roman Catholic himself, O'Reilly aroused significant ire among some traditional Catholics during the priest child molestation scandal, for what they saw as relentless attacks on the institution of the Church, and which he justified on the grounds that protecting the children was more important than protecting the Church hierarchy. His verbal barbs were especially targeted at Cardinal Law of the Boston Archdiocese, for his alleged reassignment of known child molesters; and Pope John Paul II, for allegedly taking too-little and too-late action on the scandal.

Traditionally conservative views

  • Supports harsher prosecution for hard drug dealers
  • Supports strict enforcement of immigration law by placing the National Guard on the U.S.-Mexico border
  • Feels that the mainstream media (such as network news, The New York Times and The Washington Post) has an extreme secular and liberal bias and is intent on undermining the authority of the Bush administration as well as the U.S. military.
  • Supports 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, while skeptical of the Bush Administration's handling of the occupation and lack of WMD evidence
  • Opposes the ACLU and frequently criticizes the organization in broadcasts
  • Supports subjecting violent criminals "to life in prison without parole in a federal work camp [...] in effect a gulag [...] to labor eight hours a day, six days a week in the harsh climate," because he believes that the death penalty is not harsh enough punishment [11] (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23246)
  • Supports prohibition of late-term abortion
  • Believes that the Democratic Party has been hijacked by a far-left, secular-progressive agenda.
  • Opposes court decisions holding that people have the right to enter into same-sex marriages, and has called the issue "crazy gay marriage insanity" [12] (http://mediamatters.org/items/200504150005)
  • Believes gays and lesbians should stay closeted about their sexual orientation, especially those in position to influence children, though he says that he does not feel there is anything wrong with them as individuals.
  • Opposes publicly funded medicine beyond what he considers a necessary "safety net"
  • Opposes federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, though believes research done in the private sector could be "promising"
  • Supports what he calls "coerced interrogation," at Guantanamo Bay, which he agrees some people would characterize "torture," as he believes it saves the lives of others [13] (http://www.crooksandliars.com/2005/06/18.html#a3501)
  • Opposes public secularization.
  • Feels that Intelligent Design, a controversial offshoot of religious creationism, deserves at least a minor place in public education.
  • Has called on prosecutors to seek the death penalty for a suspected killer [14] (http://mediamatters.org/items/200503160005)

Traditionally liberal views

Traditionally libertarian views

  • Opposes government regulation of private sexual acts between consenting adults
  • Opposes additional regulation of pornography
  • Supports gay adoption if no heterosexual couples are available and as an alternative to foster homes
  • Supports civil unions for homosexual couples; has given conflicting responses as to whether he supports actual same-sex marriage, which he feels the public has a right to vote down.
  • Opposes the death penalty, proposing federal military-run work camps in Alaska in alternative, which he referred to as "gulags." [15] (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23246) He has, however, called for the death penalty against several individuals.
  • Supports decriminalizing marijuana and the use of medical marijuana if prescribed by a physician [16] (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156794,00.html) [17] (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,125067,00.html)
  • Supports cutting taxes across the board and eliminating the inheritance tax
  • Opposes the criminalization of most forms of abortion (late-term abortion being the exception), though personally finds the practice morally questionable

Criticism and controversy

Disputes with individuals

Al Franken

O'Reilly has a long-standing dispute with liberal comedian and political commentator Al Franken, who O'Reilly refers to as 'Stuart Smalley', in reference to Franken's character from Saturday Night Live. This dispute reached its peak in 2003, when Franken published a book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, featuring an unaltered photograph of O'Reilly on the cover (Bill O' Reilly wears makeup to cover up blemishes on his face) and a full chapter about him (entitled "Bill O'Reilly: Lying, Splotchy Bully") within the book itself.

The two had a heated argument over Franken's accusations and O'Reilly's purported lies at a bookseller's convention that was aired on national television via C-SPAN. [18] (http://www.booktv.org/misc/BookExpo_053103.asp)

In his book, Franken accuses O'Reilly of distorting facts to make himself look better. For example, in the early years of 'The Factor', O'Reilly had stated multiple times that his former television show, Inside Edition, had won two Peabody Awards, which he also noted as 'the most prestigious award in journalism'. Franken contacted him personally on the claim, which O'Reilly initially defended. In a later phone call, O'Reilly disclosed that rather than two Peabodys, the series had earned a single George Polk Award, a year after his departure. According to the book, O'Reilly responded that the Polk award is "just as prestigious".

He has since claimed to have corrected the matter on the air at least six times before Franken's book was released. O'Reilly has pointed out that he was merely defending his old show, and not accepting the awards for himself. This seemed to be the central theme of their infamous clash on C-SPAN. On that program, after Franken's initial presentation, he repeated the issue, and the tension increased. At one point the agitated O'Reilly referred to Franken as an "idiot". Eventually moderator Pat Schroeder stopped the discussion before it could get physical, and moved the program along.

Fox News sued Franken for trademark infringement over the use of the phrase "fair and balanced" in the book's title. O'Reilly has consistently said that he was not involved in the lawsuit, though reports from several Fox News employees and insiders, including CEO Roger Ailes, indicate that he was the driving force behind it. Once the case reached court, the presiding judge dismissed the lawsuit as "wholly without merit." O'Reilly later said he had considered personally suing Franken for defamation but was told that, as a public person, the standard of proof would be too high to sustain a lawsuit.

In March 2004, Franken launched a radio talk-show named The O'Franken Factor on the Air America Radio network. Franken joked that he hoped O'Reilly would sue Air America for trademark infringement because it would generate publicity for Franken's new program. O'Reilly never publicly commented on Franken's choice of title and Franken renamed his program to The Al Franken Show in July 2004.

The rivalry has been devoid of confrontation for a few years now; O'Reilly admits to making an effort not to mention Franken too much to avoid giving him or his radio show any attention. Franken, on the other hand, regularly plays clips from O'Reilly's programs on his Air America radio show, often with guests or statistics on hand to challenge O'Reilly's claims. Franken has also played clips from O'Reilly's audio book reading of his novel containing graphic scenes of sexual perversion, to illustrate the hypocrisy Franken finds in O'Reilly's criticisms of rap music lyrics.

Bill Moyers

O'Reilly has criticized Bill Moyers, the host of NOW with Bill Moyers on PBS, on multiple broadcasts of The O'Reilly Factor, and Moyers has in turn accused O'Reilly of lying. In 2002, O'Reilly said Moyers called him a "warmonger," and also implied that Moyers was making money by selling videotapes of his program. The strongest accusation was that Moyers made contributions to the Columbia Journalism Review to "buy" the duPont-Columbia Award. Moyers responded in print that he never called O'Reilly a warmonger, that his share of distribution money from the show is minuscule, and that the Columbia Journalism Review doesn't pick the winner of the duPont-Columbia Award [19] (http://www.truthout.com/docs_02/12.06D.moyers.oreilly.htm). In 2003, O'Reilly criticized Bill Moyers again, saying that Moyers' position that taxes should be raised is "classic socialism" and that he "can't understand why Bill Moyers just doesn't move to Havana". [20] (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,100132,00.html)

Jeremy Glick

In a highly-publicized incident, Jeremy Glick, whose father was killed in the 9/11 attacks, was invited onto The O'Reilly Factor to discuss his having signed an anti-war advertisement [21] (http://www.thoughtcrimenews.com/video.htm). The interview was acrimonious in tone from the beginning, with Glick accusing the host of not telling the truth, and O'Reilly stating that his guest was "mouthing a far left position that is a marginal position in this society" and that he "[didn't] really care what [Glick] think[s]." Glick claimed that President George H. W. Bush trained the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, and went on to say that O'Reilly "evoke[d] 9/11 to rationalize everything from domestic plunder to imperialistic aggression worldwide." This infuriated O'Reilly, who demanded that Glick "keep [his] mouth shut" and told him to "shut up, shut up", adding, "I hope your mother isn't watching this!" An increasingly agitated O'Reilly eventually instructed the show's producer to "cut his mic," and ended the interview, then motioned to an off-camera worker to remove Glick from the studio. After the commercial break, O'Reilly claims he offered an apology, saying that "if I knew that guy [...] was going to be like that, I never would have brought him in here, and I feel bad for his family." [22] (http://www.bushpresident2004.com/oreilly-transcript.htm). O'Reilly has referred to the episode on several subsequent broadcasts of his show. A day after the interview, O'Reilly told his audience that "Glick was out of control, and spewing hatred for [...] his country using vile propaganda." [23] (http://www.yopyop.com/citizens/comments.php?id=10_0_1_0_C) Six months later, O'Reilly claimed that Glick said George W. Bush and his father "were directly responsible for 9/11". Nearly a year later, O'Reilly again referred to the interview, saying that Glick "accused President Bush of knowing about 9/11". [24] (http://www.spinsanity.org/post.html?2003_10_12_archive.html#106627610451774890) Glick and his supporters deny O'Reilly's allegations, and maintain that the transcripts show that he said nothing of the sort.

Neal Boortz

On May 7, 2003, Atlanta-based libertarian radio talk show host Neal Boortz came on O'Reilly's show to discuss a controversial "whites-only" prom at a Georgia high school. O'Reilly decried the incident as non-inclusive, and Boortz repeatedly assured him that the event in question, while organized and promoted by students within the school, actually occurred off-campus. Boortz argued that it was a private gathering, and as such wasn't subject to equal protection clauses or anything of the sort.

The discussion turned sour when Boortz suggested that O'Reilly was cherry-picking this issue as a PR stunt, designed to asuage a recent remark O'Reilly made at a charity function. The event was a benefit for minority children, and the theme for the evening was a 1950's sock hop. The kids' act following O'Reilly's speech was late, and O'Reilly jokingly remarked, "I hope they're not out in the parking lot stealing our hubcaps." Critics felt that O'Reilly was being racially insensitive, while O'Reilly maintained that stealing hubcaps was a common prank in the 50's, and thus was appropriate within the context of the event.

Immediately after Boortz brought up the hubcap incident, O'Reilly scolded him: "You know, you're a vicious son of a bitch for bringing that up." Boortz was a bit flustered, but mostly laughed off the insult, later buying the rights to www.viciousSOB.com and redirecting it to his website. To this day, Boortz retains a general disdain for O'Reilly, which he shares with fellow Atlantian and occasional studio guest, Ludacris.

Rap music

Following his criticism of gangsta rap, O'Reilly accused Ludacris, and Pepsi who employed the rapper to advertise their cola, of targetting young people with inappropriate material. O'Reilly called for a boycott of Pepsi. Pepsi stopped the Ludacris advertisements, but Ludacris and some supporters, including Russell Simmons, accused Pepsi of racism and called for an African American boycott of Pepsi. When Ludacris signed a deal with Anheuser-Busch to endorse Budweiser, O'Reilly protested, although Budweiser is not marketed to children.[25] (http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/171350p-149525c.html). Pepsi since replaced Ludacris as spokesman with Ozzy Osbourne. Despite Osbourne's controversial demeanor, O'Reilly has--so far--offered no complaint. O'Reilly had also targeted the rapper recently for unproven criminal acts on the March 9, 2005 show. He claimed that Ludacris alongside other high-profile rappers are being involved in the drug-dealing and narcotics sales. The grudge against Ludacris is on-going. Ludacris had rallied a boycott against O'Reilly and called him a racist on his albums. Ludacris had recently performed at the Superbowl on Fox Broadcasting company, a channel owned by Fox Entertainment Group which also owns FOX News, the channel that is responsible for the O'Reilly Factor.

Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z were also named as rappers targeted in O'Reilly's campaign against rap music. Snoop Dogg was edited out of a Jim Henson Muppets special after O'Reilly complained. Jay-Z was targeted for his promotional "principal for a day" concert in which he paid visits to inner-city schools. Other rappers such as Jadakiss was labeled a "smear merchant" over the lyrics for his controversial song in which he suggests President Bush was involved in the planning of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

O'Reilly is also rallying a boycott against Reebok for its endorsement in 50 Cent and his sneakers. On April 15, 2005, O'Reilly criticized the shoe maker for hiring 50 Cent to endorse his popular G-Unit Sneakers. As with Ludacris, O'Reilly finds that any company that employs rappers to advertises their products are not setting a example and are targetting young people with inappropriate material. Reebok has stood by 50 Cent and continues to promote the shoes.

Immortal Technique has also announced in verse his opposition to O'Reilly.

Andrea Mackris

On October 13, 2004, O'Reilly sued former O'Reilly Factor producer Andrea Mackris for what he claimed was a politically motivated extortion attempt against him. He also sued her lawyer, Benedict P. Morelli, and Morelli's law firm for the same reason.[26] (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/1013042oreilly1.html) O'Reilly's lawsuit contended that Mackris had privately demanded more than $60 million (USD) to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit she was planning on filing against O'Reilly, Fox News, and Westwood One in court. A few hours after O'Reilly's lawsuit was filed, Mackris filed her own against O'Reilly for allegedly making sexually inappropriate comments to her.[27] (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/1013043mackris1.html)

On October 19, Mackris filed an amended complaint, adding what she claimed were further details of O'Reilly's alleged sexual harassment. In addition to noting that O'Reilly had issued no formal denials, the complaint described actions allegedly taken against her by Fox and O'Reilly for the purpose of retaliation for filing her original complaint, and asked for additional damages. Fox News contended that Mackris was still on their payroll at the time her lawsuit was amended, and that she had not shown up for work for over two weeks and had stated she was not going to return at any point. They also moved to obtain the court's permission to fire Mackris without it appearing that they were retaliating, which would be illegal according to sexual harassment statutes.

On October 20, O'Reilly and Fox News petitioned the court, asking for any tapes Mackris had of the alleged conversations to be turned over.[28] (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/1020042fox1.html) The court agreed to meet on October 29 to decide whether or not the alleged tapes should be turned over to O'Reilly and his lawyers.

However, O'Reilly settled the case on October 28, 2004 before it ever reached the court. As part of the settlement, both parties stated publicly that no wrong had been done by O'Reilly or Mackris, and that the terms of the settlement would remain private, although it is alleged that O'Reilly had to pay Mackris several million dollars to settle the case. [29] (http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2004-10-28-oreilly-settles_x.htm) The following month on the Charlie Rose Show, O'Reilly refused to further talk about the settlement. On an episode of MTV show Total Request Live, rapper Ludacris, in an ongoing feud with O'Reilly, pointed out the irony of the whole event. O'Reilly, who had voiced strong opposition towards Ludacris' alleged degradation of women, had no retort.

Ward Churchill

Most recently O'Reilly has spoken out against University of Colorado leftist professor Ward Churchill. O'Reilly had noted that his personal grudge against Churchill was that Churchill was speaking against his neighbors by calling them "little Eichmanns". Until allegations of plagiarism surfaced, O'Reilly did not support having Churchill removed but spoke out to stop the use of educational funds being used to reward Churchill for his "hate speech". O'Reilly had rallied alongside Bill Owens, the governor of Colorado to have Churchill removed from his position from the university. O'Reilly had boycotted every event where Churchill had spoken.

Barbara Boxer and Sylvester Brown Jr.

In January 2005, O'Reilly briefly focused his attention on Barbara Boxer, Democratic Senator of California. Boxer had recently made headlines for her pointed questioning of Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush's nominee for Secretary of State, during Rice's Senate confirmation hearings. O'Reilly spent two hours of his radio broadcast criticizing Boxer, at one point stating "I mean, this is a nut. All right? This is a nut we got in the Senate." He then reiterated his distaste for the Senator on his television show.

Soon after, he had St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Sylvester Brown Jr. on his Fox show to discuss liberal attitudes toward conservative pundits. Brown noted O'Reilly's frequent use of terms like "idiot", "loon" and "nut", referring to his treatment of Barbara Boxer specifically. O'Reilly then claimed to have never used such language against an individual, promising to back it up with his archives and buy Brown dinner if proven wrong.

The next night, O'Reilly conceded that he had indeed called Boxer a nut and apologized to the Senator on television. He also thanked Brown for not taking him up on his dinner offer, to which Brown responded in his column: "I guess we were supposed to 'pinky swear' via satellite to make it official?"

PBS

In February 2005, O'Reilly joined the Bush administration in condemning an episode of the PBS Kids television program Postcards from Buster, which is a spin-off of the series Arthur. In the episode in question, Buster goes to a maple sugar farm in Vermont, visiting the adopted child of a lesbian couple.

O'Reilly spoke out against the cartoon on both his television and radio programs, feeling it was inappropriate to show a homosexual couple in a series aimed at elementary school-aged children. He also devoted an edition of his syndicated newspaper column to the matter. In the end, PBS decided not to distribute the controversial episode nationally, leaving it up to individual stations (such as the New Hampshire affiliate) to run it at their own discretion.

Criticism from organizations

Media criticism of O'Reilly, about both his politics and his style, has come most frequently from liberal and left-wing outlets such as Slate (http://slate.msn.com/id/2087706/), Media Matters for America (http://www.mediamatters.org/search.html?string=Bill+O%2527Reilly), and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), but conservative and right-wing outlets like AIM (http://www.aim.org/publications/aim_report/2003/18.html) have criticized O'Reilly for much the same reasons. David Brock, president and CEO of Media Matters, once called O'Reilly a "coward" for his refusal to invite Brock on his show after repeated criticisms of Brock and Media Matters. [30] (http://www.mediamatters.org/items/200412160011) Some conservative critics such as Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online have argued that O'Reilly is more of a populist, or communitarian, than a conservative.

Some critics contend that O'Reilly often makes up facts and figures to support his points. FAIR, a left-leaning media watchdog group, published a book, The Oh Really? Factor, documenting alleged false accusations and inaccurate statements that O'Reilly has made on his show. FAIR complains that O'Reilly distorts the news by framing it through his bias. [31] (http://www.fair.org/extra/0108/oreilly.html) For example, after the Supreme Court ruled that public hospitals could not test pregnant women for drugs and send the results to the police without consent, O'Reilly commented: "Coming next, drug addicted pregnant women no longer have anything to fear from the authorities thanks to the Supreme Court. Both sides on this in a moment" (O'Reilly Factor, March 23, 2001).

During the 2000 election, O'Reilly suggested Al Gore was running "on a quasi-socialistic platform" with "work and production being supervised by the government." FAIR claims that O'Reilly had been extremely tough on President Clinton during his tenure in office, but refrained from criticizing the Bush administration when it first entered office. "President Bush ran on the slogan 'reformer with results,'" O'Reilly had said, "That sounds good to me." Al Gore's refusal to appear on his program may have contributed to a possible personal bias. Nonetheless, O'Reilly has at times argued against some of George W. Bush's policies, while defending many of Gore's ideals.

In March 2003, O'Reilly called for a boycott of French products and services sold in the United States due to President Jacques Chirac's stance on the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The boycott is focused on high-profile French products such as cheese, wine, cosmetics, and bottled water, in addition to French-owned companies conducting business in the U.S., such as Air France.

Critics contend that any effect that the boycott has on France's $1.65 trillion (USD) GDP would be minimal. O'Reilly counters this by saying that French exports to America have declined significantly. State Rep. Mark B. Cohen of Philadelphia, a leading opponent of a proposal to legally ban the sale of French wine in Pennsylvania, appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on May 8, 2003, and expressed "surprise" that he received only favorable responses from O'Reilly's audience. "O'Reilly's ability to rally them for an anti-free trade position was clearly limited," he said. However, O'Reilly himself was opposed to legal bans on French products, saying he preferred citizen boycotts. "You might have convinced me," he told Cohen on the air.

On April 27, 2004, O'Reilly said on The Factor that the Paris Business Review stated that France had lost "millions of dollars" as a result of his boycott. Subsequent investigations by various groups, including watchdog Media Matters, showed that there is no publication of that name in France. [32] (http://mediamatters.org/items/200405020006) O'Reilly has since stated that he got the information from a publication by a different name; however, he has not named this publication. The likely source of the story is the Embassy of France and related news releases. On 19th of April, the Embassy of France released its report that "En 2002, le déficit commercial américain avec la France s'est contracté d'environ 10%, pour atteindre -9 milliards USD. Le volume des échanges bilatéraux de biens a diminué de 5,5%, à 47 milliards USD (28 milliards USD d'exportations françaises, 19 milliards d'exportations américaines)." Roughly translated this would be a 10% reduction to -9 Billion (or a $1 Billion gain in the trade deficit for US exports).

A little more than a year after his call for the boycott, O'Reilly stated that his claims regarding France's supposed financial problems were backed by U.S. government data. [33] (http://www.nydailynews.com/07-06-2004/news/ideas_opinions/story/209331p-180428c.html) However, statistics given by Media Matters show only a $288 million (USD), or 6%, drop in imports to the U.S. from France during the first two months of O'Reilly's boycott when compared to the same time period (March and April) of the previous year, and that even larger drops had occurred prior to O'Reilly's boycott. They also state that "it is meaningless to draw conclusions from only two months of data". [34] (http://www.mediamatters.org/items/200407080001) On January 26, 2005, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television newsmagazine the fifth estate, broadcast an investigative documentary show entitled, Sticks and Stones (http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/sticksandstones.html). [35] (http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/archives.html). The documentary noted that two years after the start of O'Reilly's boycott, US-France trade had actually increased -- a statement supported by data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The data shows that in February 2004, the United States imported $2.26 billion in French goods and services, up from $2.18 billion in February 2002. [36] (http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c4279.html)

O'Reilly has also been in a war of words with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation over Fox News Channel's cable carriage in Canada. On the January 28, 2005 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed that Fox News Channel is seen in seven or eight million Canadian homes, and that the CBC was attacking O'Reilly out of fear of losing their monopoly on Canadian television news.

American Civil Liberties Union

O'Reilly consistently targets the American Civil Liberties Union for its role in controversial lawsuits involving free-speech and religious expression. He contends that the organization aims to completely remove religion (mainly Christianity) from American culture, while the ACLU itself claims to only oppose Government preference toward any one religion. Both sides cite religious freedom as a primary concern.

In 2000, O'Reilly used his Fox show to spotlight the ACLU's legal aid for NAMBLA, a group dedicated to legalizing sex with minors and whose members have been linked to various child molestations. The case in question involved the murder and rape of a ten year old Massachusetts boy - the killer cited NAMBLA as inspiration in his personal journal. The ACLU defended NAMBLA against responsibility for the crimes, pro bono. According to a press release (http://www.aclu.org/FreeSpeech/FreeSpeech.cfm?ID=8100&c=86) from the Civil Liberties Union, its interest in the case was strictly in its relation to the first amendment, and that "the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive." O'Reilly has a different take on the matter, which he most recently summed up in a March 31, 2005 newspaper column: "...if you think about it, the philosophy of the ACLU is fairly consistent: The gratification of the individual is paramount. (...) The ACLU puts forth that NAMBLA has a free expression right to instruct adults on how to rape children and get away with it. It doesn't get any more misguided than that."

O'Reilly continues to spotlight controversial cases taken on by the American Civil Liberties Union, which his detractors accuse him of simplifying. He frequently promotes the Thomas More Law Center (http://www.thomasmore.org/), an organization that often counters the ACLU's efforts and has recently fought to ban same-sex marriage in several states. O'Reilly will even be appearing on a 'Caribbean adventure cruise' for the conservative legal group in Winter 2005.

Howard Dean

As former Vermont governor, Howard Dean took his position as the new chairman of the Democratic Party, Bill O'Reilly has continously smeared and called for investigations of the party leader. Conservative Zell Miller (a former Democratic Senator) has been used as a "liberal" for the comparisons of Dean.

General Disputes

His Background

Bill O'Reilly has long noted his working-class roots as his inspiration for speaking up for average Americans, or what he calls 'the folks'. He often points to his boyhood home in lower-middle-class Levittown, New York as a credential. As with most details surrounding the man, this has been the subject of much debate:

Al Franken, the Washington Post, and others have asserted that O'Reilly did not grow up in Levittown, but instead in a more affluent neighboring village, Westbury. The source the Post used for their assertion was O'Reilly's mother, who at the time a profile (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A62722-2000Dec12?language=printer) of O'Reilly was published in 2000 still lived in O'Reilly's boyhood home. O'Reilly has indicated in interviews since the article was published, notably including his 2004 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, that his mother felt as though she was misinterpreted.

However, O'Reilly maintains that he grew up in the Westbury section of Levittown, a claim with room for interpretation, as commented on in an October 2003 article by the vice president of the Levittown Historical Society. [37] (http://www.antonnews.com/levittowntribune/2003/10/24/opinion/manton.html) O'Reilly also points to the fact that he was not eligible to attend Westbury High School as evidence of his Levittown roots, since he did not live within the Westbury school district. However, in many cities, school district boundaries do not coincide with city limits.

In an interview (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3079847/) in September of 2003, O'Reilly stated that while the section of Levittown he grew up in was formerly called Westbury, it is now called Salisbury. O'Reilly did confirm that the post office where mail was delivered when he was growing up was Westbury, although post office delivery boundaries often do not coincide with city limits. In April of 2004, O'Reilly released the deed to the house his parents bought on Long Island in 1951, which shows the address as being in Levittown, NY. [38] (http://www.billoreilly.com/images/pdf/deed.pdf)

Apology to the nation

Speaking on ABC's Good Morning America on 18 March, 2003, O'Reilly made the following promise: "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." In another appearance on the same program on 10 February 2004, O'Reilly responded to repeated requests for him to honor his pledge: "My analysis was wrong and I'm sorry. I was wrong. I'm not pleased about it at all." With regard to never again trusting the current U.S. government, he said, "I am much more skeptical of the Bush administration now than I was at that time." He has continued to publicly support the U.S. invasion of Iraq, contending that weapons of mass destruction were not the primary case for war. However, he has also continued his relentless attack on the unwillingness of the President to assign the military to seal the Mexican border. In another of his bold assertions, he said on one program in 2004 that if al-Qaeda is able to bring a nuclear weapon or any other kind of mass-destruction across the border, that "Bush is done"... a sentiment all but echoed by other America-first commentators such as Pat Buchanan.

Bibliography

Books by O'Reilly

  • Those Who Trespass: A Novel of Murder and Television (1998), ISBN 0963124684 (note: contains graphic scenes of sex, violence, and deviant behavior - drawing in part from the lives of celebrities during his "Inside Edition" years)
  • The O'Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad, and the Completely Ridiculous in American Life (2000), ISBN 0767905288
  • The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America (2001), ISBN 0767908481
  • Who's Looking Out for You (2003), ISBN 0767913795
  • The O'Reilly Factor for Kids: A Survival Guide for America's Families (2004), ISBN 0060544244

Books about O'Reilly

  • The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (2003), ISBN 158322601X

External links

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