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During the July 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, discussing comments he made the previous night comparing the Daily Kos blog to the Nazi Party and to the Ku Klux Klan, host Bill O'Reilly asserted that "[t]he comparison is valid." O'Reilly was responding to a viewer who said in an email that O'Reilly "owe[d] me and thousands of others an apology," claiming that "you should not compare anything to the Nazis." O'Reilly replied: "Hate to say it, sir, that website traffics in hate, as do the Nazi websites. No difference." O'Reilly then read an email from another viewer who asserted: "I'm a black American and understand your argument against JetBlue, but I disagree with you comparing the Daily Kos to the KKK. The website simply hates the Bush administration." O'Reilly responded: "What does the pope have to do with the president, sir? How about Israel? The website sells hate, as does the KKK and the Nazis. The comparison is valid."
The content of his viewers' criticisms stems from O'Reilly's report during the July 16 edition of The O'Reilly Factor addressing JetBlue's decision to sponsor the YearlyKos convention. The segment featured a number of statements posted as diaries or comments to items, including several documented by the blog News Hounds. Among those were statements about the pope and Israel, to which O'Reilly alluded on the July 17 edition of his program.
O'Reilly's reference to Israel apparently stems from an interview of JetBlue CEO David Barger by O'Reilly Factor producer Jesse Watters aired on the July 16 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, during which Watters asked: "I mean, do you think that your JetBlue customers want to know that you're kind of subscribing to the belief that Iran has the right to attack Israel? I mean, these are the kind of things they're saying on this website." Watters' allegation, in turn, appears to stem from a Daily Kos January 7 diary by "heathlander," titled "Iran has a right to attack Israel." In fact, the diary's thesis was that "any use of force aimed at destroying Iran's nuclear capacity would be preventive, not preemptive, and would thus be illegal." It added: "[I]f we accept that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, that would not qualify for a preemptive strike, even under the ridiculous standards of Israel and the United States. If it did, we would be forced to conclude that the majority of the states on the planet (including Iran) have a right to attack America, Israel, France, Britain, India and the other members of the 'nuclear club.' " The diary concluded: "I am not here advocating an Iranian 'preemptive' strike on Israel or the U.S."
O'Reilly's reference to the pope apparently stems from a user comment in response to a post reporting that a "Hindu delivered the morning invocation in the Senate chamber"; reader dconrad wrote: "Yes, the Pope is a Primate." As the Think Progress blog has noted, one of the pope's titles is "primate" because he is also the Bishop of Rome. A Daily Kos July 17 diary by AWhitneyBrown noted various media outlets referring to Roman Catholic bishops and archbishops as primates.
From the July 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: And finally tonight, the mail. JetBlue led the letters. BillOReilly.com premium members graded that segment very well.
David Reinstein, Buffalo Grove, Illinois: "O'Reilly, you owe me and thousands of others an apology. You should not compare anything to the Nazis. The Daily Kos keeps me informed."
Hate is hate, sir. That website traffics in it, as do the Nazi websites. No difference.
Kenneth Brown, Jacksonville, Florida: "Mr. O'Reilly, I'm a black American and understand your argument against JetBlue, but I disagree with you comparing the Daily Kos to the KKK. The website simply hates the Bush administration."
What does the pope have to do with the president, sir? How about Israel? The website sells hate, as does the KKK and the Nazis. The comparison is valid.
O'REILLY: Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight. JetBlue and the radical left -- that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
What do you think of someone who says the following: "The world would be better off without him." That after Tony Snow announced his cancer had returned. "The pope is a primate." "Evangelicals are nut cases." "Better luck next time," after an assassination plot against Vice President Cheney in Afghanistan. And "Some attacks against coalition forces in Iraq are legitimate."
All of those thoughts were posted on a vicious far-left website called the Daily Kos, one of the worst examples of hatred America has to offer. This summer, that website is having a convention in Chicago. And only one major corporation has stepped up as a sponsor. That company is JetBlue, the airline that melted down last winter.
As is our policy, we contacted JetBlue last week to ask why. Why would it sponsor a hateful website? It had no answer. So we sent Factor producer Jesse Watters out to see JetBlue CEO David Barger.
[begin video clip]
WATTERS: Hey, Mr. Barger, Jesse Watters with Fox News. How are you?
BARGER: Good morning.
WATTERS: Good morning. Do you mind if we ask you a few questions?
WATTERS: On the Daily Kos website, it says attacks against coalition forces in Iraq are legitimate. Does JetBlue subscribe to that kind of thinking?
BARGER: There's really, you know, politics and our business. Really, it's not something that we mix.
WATTERS: What about "The pope is a primate"? Do you agree with that kind of thinking?
BARGER: Same. I mean, it's -- from the standpoint of running our business, that's what we do from an airline perspective. So there's really not alignment along those lines. I appreciate your interest.
WATTERS: Do you think you're giving legitimacy to this kind of thinking? I mean, they're saying "The world may be better off" without Tony Snow when Tony Snow had a cancer relapse.
BARGER: It's -- I'm really not going to mix politics from the standpoint of running our business.
WATTERS: But aren't you guys kind of mixing politics by, you know, sponsoring this convention?
BARGER: It's -- it's -- I can see where you're trying to go with it, but it's -- I'm just not going to, you know, to respond to that here at this point in time.
WATTERS: But don't you think your sponsorship has kind of attached an endorsement to this kind of thinking?
BARGER: I think just the ability to leave my apartment and do that freely and go to work is really what I'm trying to do. And along those lines, I think the people can draw their own conclusion. We're running our business. And from the perspective of politics, there's not alignment. So thanks very much.
WATTERS: Thank you. I mean, do you think that your JetBlue customers want to know that you're kind of subscribing to the belief that Iran has the right to attack Israel? I mean, these are the kind of things they're saying on this website.
BARGER: I'll just close by saying this. I think our customers are -- I'll treat them with dignity and respect. They're very smart. They'll draw their own conclusion, whether it's watching your news show, whether it's watching our in-flight television. They're pretty smart people. They'll draw their own conclusion.
[end video clip]
O'REILLY: And we have. It is beyond belief that a company like JetBlue would sponsor hatemongers like the Daily Kos.
Comes a time when American consumers have to take a stand, and this is one of those times. Any company or person who endorses hate websites should be held accountable.
Finally, this isn't an ideological issue. If the company was sponsoring a David Duke convention, we'd do the same story. Hate is hate, no matter where it comes from. And that's the "Memo."
Now for the top story tonight, another view of this. With us, Diane Brady, a senior writer for Business Week magazine. I think Mr. Barger looked as bad as I've ever seen a CEO look in an interview like that. What do you think?
BRADY: Well, he's probably sending free air tickets to the pope and Tony Snow right now. But I think the main reason they did this is eyeballs. Daily Kos is a very popular website. It gets 500,000 hits a day. And one of the things with airlines is they seem to throw, you know, tickets at high school debating groups, forums. I don't think they necessarily always know what's on there.
O'REILLY: But we told them what was on there before we did the story. You got to understand that. We didn't ambush this guy. We gave them a week. We said look, look at this stuff. And they don't care. JetBlue doesn't care that they said all the things Jesse said at all. And I'm saying to myself, are they just plain stupid? Because this is hate of the worst order. It's like the Ku Klux Klan. It's like the Nazi party. There's no difference here. People should die. They want Tony Snow to die. Cheney to die. Doesn't get worse than this, Ms. Brady.
BRADY: You know, there's no question Daily Kos is clearly on the left. And one thing that comes up, especially with these open forums is you get a lot of lunatics come up. And I'm sure -- I look at this site.
O'REILLY: You know, you - look, I have my own website. We don't -- open forum is bull. All right? You can regulate what's on your website. Now, this kind of a thing has got to be troubling to, I think, millions of Americans when they hear it. Because this is the only, as we pointed out, sponsor. The only one. Everybody else stays way away from this.