Bill O'Reilly responded to a December 18 column by The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof criticizing O'Reilly's focus on the "War on Christmas," accusing Kristof of "printing material from a left-wing smear site" for citing a Media Matters item documenting a previous O'Reilly statement.
On the December 19 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly responded to Nicholas D. Kristof's December 18 New York Times column (TimesSelect subscription required), "A Challenge for Bill O'Reilly," which implored O'Reilly to focus on something other than the so-called "war on Christmas."
O'Reilly accused Kristof of "print[ing] material from a left-wing smear site, claiming I want the Air America pinheads put in jail." O'Reilly defended his comments as "humorous talk radio hyperbole." The "left-wing smear site" in question -- Media Matters for America -- previously reported the statements by O'Reilly to which Kristof had referred, taken from the June 20 broadcast of O'Reilly's nationally syndicated radio show, The Radio Factor:
O'REILLY: Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything and they don't care, couldn't care less.
O'Reilly then maintained that Kristof went "completely off the rails" for writing of O'Reilly:
Perhaps I'm particularly sensitive to religious hypocrites because I've spent a chunk of time abroad watching Muslim versions of Mr. O'Reilly -- demagogic table-thumpers who exploit public religiosity as a cynical ploy to gain attention and money.
"So now I'm Mullah Omar," responded O'Reilly, displaying a photo with a beard and turban superimposed over his face. O'Reilly then said of Kristof: "How nuts is this guy?"
From the December 19 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: The secular progressive movement has taken a major bruising over attempts to marginalize Christmas. And as you know, we have reported extensively on the controversy. Last week, the House actually voted 401 to 22 to respect the traditions of Christmas. That's a good thing. Well, that's angered the SP [secular progressive] press, which has attacked me with glee. The latest is New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who writes, "Let us all pray for Bill O'Reilly. Let us pray that Mr. O'Reilly will understand that the Christmas spirit isn't about hectoring people to say 'Merry Christmas,' rather than 'Happy Holidays,' but about helping the needy. Let's pray that Mr. O'Reilly and other money-changers in the temple will donate the funds they raise exploiting Christmas -- covering the nonexistent 'War on Christmas' rakes in viewers and advertising -- to feed the hungry and house the homeless."
While I always appreciate prayers, Mr. Kristof, you are sadly misguided, sir. As anyone who watches this program knows, we donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to the poor each year through proceeds from billoreilly.com. In fact, I think it is safe to say this year alone, I have donated more money to help the poor than you have in your entire life. What say you, Nicholas Kristof? As for the "nonexistent" Christmas controversy, this proves Mr. Kristof is absolutely clueless, a trait he shares with many at The New York Times. Perhaps Kristof missed the Gallup poll last week that said 62 percent of Americans believe saying 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas' is not a good thing. And only 3 percent feel the greeting 'Merry Christmas' is offensive in any way. Kristof also accuses me of ignoring important stories like the suffering in Darfur. Wrong again. I've consistently asked the U.S.A. to lead the way at the U.N. by confronting opponents to strong action against the Sudan like France:
O'REILLY [July 13, 2004, video clip]: But basically, it looks like in the Sudan, where at least 10,000 people have died, and over a million have been driven from their homes, that the French government simply does not want to put U.N. sanctions on that country.
O'REILLY: Well, Kristof doesn't know what he's talking about, but he objects to me calling him a left-wing ideologue. Yet he prints material from a left-wing smear site, claiming I want the Air America pinheads put in jail. That riff on The Radio Factor was humorous talk radio hyperbole, as anybody listening would know. But good ol' Nick doesn't listen. He takes dishonest propaganda and prints it as fact. That's what ideologues do. Kristof then goes completely off the rails, writing, "Perhaps I'm particularly sensitive to religious hypocrites because I've spent a chunk of time abroad watching Muslim versions of Mr. O'Reilly -- demagogic table-thumpers who exploit public religiosity as a cynical ploy to gain attention and money."
So now I'm Mullah Omar. There I am. How nuts is this guy? The shame is that Kristof has done good work on Darfur and human trafficking, but he's a committed secularist and is seemingly happy to write distortions all day long. But in the spirit of Christmas, I've asked St. Nicholas to bring our pal Nicholas a special gift -- the wisdom to see what's really going on in this country and to do some honest analysis. And that's the Memo. By the way, we invited Kristof on The Factor this evening, but he apparently is too busy reading those left-wing smear sites.