Letter from David Brock to Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly
The O'Reilly Factor
FOX News Channel
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

Dear Mr. O'Reilly:

In May of this year, I asked that you allow me to come on The O'Reilly Factor to discuss your attacks on philanthropist George Soros. Your producer denied my request, saying you were no longer discussing the topic. Yet in subsequent weeks, you continued to discuss Mr. Soros on your radio and television programs. Despite my offer to discuss Soros, you still did not invite me on -- even complaining during your June 1 Radio Factor, “I mean, we really can't get anybody in here [to defend Soros] that's not a raving, raving Far-Left person, and why we would want to do that, I don't know.”

In recent months, you have repeatedly attacked me and my organization, Media Matters for America:

  • On the June 28 O'Reilly Factor, you referred to Media Matters as a “Far Left website”;
  • On the August 5 Radio Factor, you likened Media Matters to Mao Zedong;
  • On the August 5 O'Reilly Factor, you claimed your critics are “hiding”; in response, I reiterated my willingness to appear on your television show;
  • During your August 7 debate with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on CNBC, you compared Media Matters to the Ku Klux Klan and Fidel Castro;
  • On August 13, Media Matters noted your recent attacks on us, and wondered how long it would be before you compared us to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. It took less than a month: On the September 14 Radio Factor, you referred to comments I made as “Joseph Goebbels Nazi stuff”;
  • On the December 9 Radio Factor, you called Media Matters “the most vile, despicable human beings in the country”;
  • On the December 14 Radio Factor, you called Media Matters “sneaky”; accused us of “tak[ing] things out of context”; called us a “Far Left, deceitful, disgusting website”; and called us “character assassins” and “despicable weasels.”

As you can see, Mr. O'Reilly, you have repeatedly and personally attacked me, Media Matters for America, and my fine staff, calling us “vile,” “despicable,” and “weasels,” and comparing us to the Ku Klux Klan, Castro, Mao, and the Nazis. And you have refused my repeated requests to appear on your broadcast.

You once offered your viewers your definition of the word “coward.” On the January 5, 2004, O'Reilly Factor, you declared: “If you attack someone publicly, as these men did to me, you have an obligation to face the person you are smearing. If you don't, you are a coward.”

Well, Mr. O'Reilly, you have attacked me publicly on numerous occasions, and you refuse to face me. You, sir, are a coward -- by your own definition of the term. You are “hiding under your desk” (to paraphrase your August 26, 2003, claim about a “coward” who declined to appear on your show) rather than allowing me on your program to discuss your insults. You are “gutless,” to borrow the phrase you used on January 10, 2003, and February 8, 2001, to describe people who would not appear on your program. I attach additional examples of your pejorative descriptions of those who decline invitations to appear on your broadcast.

Your frequent complaint that your words are taken out of context appears to have spurred your recent assault on my organization. While reasonable people can disagree about conclusions we, or you, have drawn about your comments, you are simply wrong to say that we took you out of context. I remain willing and eager to appear on either your television or radio program to discuss your contention that my organization has taken your comments out of context.

Should you continue to refuse this offer, it is only reasonable that the American people will conclude that you are not only -- as you would put it -- a “coward,” but a hypocrite as well.


David Brock
President and CEO
Media Matters for America

Highlights from Bill O'Reilly's comments about people who refuse to appear on his program

O'Reilly frequently calls people “cowards”:

The O'Reilly Factor, 1/5/04:

O'REILLY: [reading a critical review] John Wright, The Herald Journal, Logan, Utah: “I graduated from one of the best journalism schools in the country, the University of Florida. You, Bill, are not a journalist. You spew propaganda. For example, you said the journalism professors from Rutgers and Lehigh were cowards because they would not come on The Factor. That's not true. Maybe they simply didn't want to appear.”

Well, I'm sorry, Mr. Wright. If you attack someone publicly, as these men did to me, you have an obligation to face the person you are smearing. If you don't, you are a coward. Wise up, sir.

The O'Reilly Factor, 12/19/03:

O'REILLY: We asked them both [Rutgers professor Steven] Miller and [Lehigh professor Jack] Lule to appear on The Factor, but they are too frightened.


O'REILLY: But, Professor [Victor] Navasky, what you're missing is -- you're missing that Lule and Miller and all of these other cowards who make these erroneous statements and won't back them up by coming in here and talking about them are basically telling their students in big schools -- Rutgers is a big school, all right -- that the FOX News Channel is not worthy, it's not journalism, it's garbage and ignore it. And that, sir, is dishonest and doesn't serve the student well.

NAVASKY: OK. First of all, I don't know that you know that they're cowards, and secondly --

O'REILLY: Yes, we know. We gave them --

NAVASKY: And secondly --

O'REILLY: We gave them any time they could appear.

The O'Reilly Factor, 8/26/03:

O'REILLY: I mean, this Dan Golden was a coward. We tried to get him on. He hid under his desk.

The O'Reilly Factor, 4/24/03:

O'REILLY: You know, I am so angry. I am so angry, Niger [Innis]. I mean I'm almost at the verge -- if [Brooklyn District Attorney Charles] Hynes were here --

INNIS: Well, you should be.

O'REILLY: And he's a coward. He's a coward because we gave him months. This story was on the board before the war, Niger. All right. We bumped it because of the war. We gave Hynes months to come up with his side of the story, explain it to us, tell us what happened, why he did it, and, you know, he gave us the finger. That's what he did.

O'Reilly calls people “gutless”:

The O'Reilly Factor, 1/10/03:

O'REILLY: He may have? That's not his prerogative. We have to demand, Mr. [Silver Lake High School alumnus Dan] Sullivan, you at Harvard, me here on The Factor, and everybody in the state of Massachusetts and around the country that these principals uphold principles and not run and hide.

Look, this guy [Silver Lake High School principal Richard Kelley] could be sitting where you're sitting, Mr. Sullivan. He could be in your chair. He's gutless.

The O'Reilly Factor, 2/8/01:

O'REILLY: [Congressman Henry] Waxman wouldn't come on this program, by the way. He's gutless.