O'Reilly falsely claimed to have “coined the term 'San Francisco values' ”

In a syndicated column, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed to have “coined the term 'San Francisco values.' ” In fact, the term “San Francisco values” has been used to attack political opponents since at least the mid-1990s, and Newt Gingrich appears to have popularized the phrase during the 2006 midterm election cycle.

In his November 22 nationally syndicated column, titled "Here Comes the Left," Fox News host Bill O'Reilly attacked the San Francisco Board of Education for “vot[ing] to ban Junior ROTC in the city's high schools” and claimed he “coined the term 'San Francisco values.' ” O'Reilly also wrote that “the far-left is rising like Dracula at midnight,” having been "[e]mboldened by the Democratic victory earlier this month." While discussing San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's (D) response to the San Francisco Board of Education's decision to eliminate Junior ROTC programs, O'Reilly claimed credit for “the term 'San Francisco values' ” and wrote that he “well understand[s] they have little to do with democracy.” In fact, the term “San Francisco values” has been used to attack political opponents since at least the mid-1990s, and former Speaker of the House and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich (R-GA) appears to have popularized the phrase during the 2006 midterm election cycle. O'Reilly appears to have first used the phrase during the October 2 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show.

A “News, all” search of the Nexis database for “San Francisco values” yielded these results:

  • In 1996, Rep. Frank Riggs (R-CA) attacked his Democratic challenger Michela Alioto over her “San Francisco values.” According to a July 18, 1996, Roll Call article, “In one particularly pointed attack, Riggs questioned whether Alioto's opposition to the bill to ban federal recognition of same-sex marriage represented 'North Coast values' or 'San Francisco values.' ” Riggs defeated Alioto.
  • The term was also used in 2003 following the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Texas' sodomy laws in the case Lawrence v. Texas. According to a June 27, 2003, Boston Globe report, Peter LaBarbera, now president of the conservative group Americans for Truth, stated of the Supreme Court's decision: “Obviously this is like the Roe v. Wade of the homosexual issue... The court is forcing San Francisco values on the whole country.”
  • Republicans have used the phrase “San Francisco values” to attack candidates associated with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), as USA Today reported on July 3, 2003. According to the report, "[a]bout a dozen Democrats who have received money from Pelosi's political action committee are being linked by Republicans to her 'San Francisco values' on gun control, abortion and other hot-button issues."
  • In 2005, political consultant LaVarr Webb asserted in the September 18, 2005, edition of Salt Lake City's The Deseret News that "[t]he prospect of Democrats taking control of the U.S. House will be a big factor in the race" for Rep. Jim Matheson's (D-UT) re-election. Webb asked: “Do Utah Republicans want to vote for a guy whose victory may turn control of the House to ultraliberal San Fran Nan [sic] Nancy Pelosi, who will attempt to impose San Francisco values on the entire country?” Matheson easily won re-election.
  • In a May 12 press release, North Carolina Republican Party chairman Ferrell Blount attacked incumbent Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) for his association with liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, charging that "[i]t is obvious that Brad Miller does not understand the difference between San Francisco values and North Carolina values." Miller defeated his Republican opponent, Vernon Robinson, in the midterm elections.
  • According to the July 26 edition of The Hotline's “Blogometer,” Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell also attempted to link his Democratic opponent, Ted Strickland, to “San Francisco values,” by claiming that “Strickland's Congressional voting record, 'almost mirrors that of Nancy Pelosi, so this will be a campaign about Ohio values vs. San Francisco values.'” Strickland defeated Blackwell.
  • Gingrich repeatedly used the term during the 2006 midterm elections. On August 17, the Associated Press reported that during a campaign speech in Georgia, Gingrich asserted: “If you ask what Nancy Pelosi stands for and the San Francisco values that Nancy Pelosi stands for, there wouldn't be 15 percent of this district that would want to see her as speaker of the House.” On August 31, The Post and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina) reported that Gingrich again used the term while stumping for Republican candidates in South Carolina, stating of Pelosi: “The prospect of her bringing San Francisco values and a whole attitude on foreign policy that is, I think, an attitude of weakness and appeasement and surrender, I think, would be a disaster for the country.” Gingrich also appears to have been the first to use the term on Fox News Channel, when he claimed on the September 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes that “Nancy Pelosi represents a San Francisco value system that, on a whole range of issues, the country would disagree with very deeply.”

O'Reilly appears to have first used the term during the October 2 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor, when he called Pelosi a “far-left secular-progressive bomb thrower” and warned that "[i]f you vote for the Democrats and if they get a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate," then “you bring to America San Francisco values.” O'Reilly repeated a similar sentiment during the October 2 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor when, during his “Talking Points Memo,” he asked: “Is the USA ready for San Francisco values? Does Nancy Pelosi reflect the attitudes of most Americans?”