O'Reilly revived an interview tactic he has made common -- cutting the guest's mike

On the August 10 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly revived a long-standing practice of shutting off the microphone of a guest, in this case, Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable communications director Jasmyne Cannick. The August 10 incident on Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly marks at least the 11th time that O'Reilly has shut off a guest's microphone on either his television or radio show, usually to retain control over or to end an interview. He last resorted to this on August 6, 2004. Perhaps the most famous incident was O'Reilly's barking to anti-war protestor Jeremy Glick to “shut up” and ordering his microphone cut.

Last week's incident occurred during a discussion on African-Americans and education. Cannick and O'Reilly sparred over parental responsibility for poor education performance and whether positive results could be obtained by targeting the parents of underperforming children. Cannick argued that “the school has a certain responsibility to the student, but so do those kids' parents. ... It does begin at home. [The students] don't just wake up with these attitudes.” O'Reilly commented that you can't “go into the house.” During the conversation, O'Reilly attempted to verbally cut off Cannick; when that failed, he ordered her microphone cut, and then finished making his argument: “All right, you can't and no one in Los Angeles can go into the house and demand the parents be good. So you have to assume that 30 percent or 40 percent of parents in Los Angeles are going to be bad. Bad parents. Their children are required to attend school. ... So for you and the school district to fall back on 'It's the parent's fault, we can't do anything about it' is surrendering.”

After cutting Cannick's microphone, O'Reilly commented that he wasn't going to “bring her back, because she doesn't want to have a conversation, she wants to make a speech.” In the past, O'Reilly has justified cutting a microphone because the guest was “filibustering” [March 16, 2004; January 10, 2003], which O'Reilly has called “a major violation” [April 18, 2003]. “I'm sorry I have to cut mikes, but we're not using this,” O'Reilly said on August 5, 2002, after killing the microphone of Lance Williams of the Center for Inner City Studies. “This is a no-spin zone. And guests are not going to, you know, run down our throats with their agenda. That is not going to happen here.”

O'Reilly has also threatened to turn off guests' microphones.

Previous examples of O'Reilly cutting off his guest's microphones include:

  • February 4, 2003, Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor: After repeatedly telling anti-war protestor Jeremy Glick (whose father died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001) to “shut up,” O'Reilly ordered Glick's microphone cut and ended the segment, explaining, “I'm not going to dress you down anymore, out of respect for your father.”

O'REILLY: In respect for your father --

GLICK: On September 14, do you want to know what I'm doing?

O'REILLY: Shut up. Shut up.

GLICK: Oh, please don't tell me to shut up.

O'REILLY: As respect -- as respect -- in respect for your father, who was a Port Authority worker, a fine American, who got killed unnecessarily by barbarians --

GLICK: By radical extremists who were trained by this government --

O'REILLY: Out of respect for him --

GLICK: .-- not the people of America.

O'REILLY: -- I'm not going to --

GLICK: -- The people of the ruling class, the small minority.

O'REILLY: Cut his mike. I'm not going to dress you down anymore, out of respect for your father. We will be back in a moment with more of The Factor.

GLICK: That means we're done?

O'REILLY: We're done.

  • May 24, 2004, The Radio Factor: Center for Constitutional Rights executive director Ron Daniels called O'Reilly a “propagandist.” Daniels tried to justify his comment, but O'Reilly cut in. When Daniels would not yield, O'Reilly cut his microphone and ended the interview.

O'REILLY: OK, let's bring in Ron Daniels. He's the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. So Mr. Daniels, where am I going wrong here?

DANIELS: Well, first of all, Bill, you describe yourself as a pragmatist and a realist. You should have added propagandist to your list, too, because you began framing this as an Al Qaeda prison -- an Al Qaeda story, when in reality, when you look at Iraq, certainly prior to Bush's war, there was not indication of any serious connections with Al Qaeda, and even now, there're only some slight indications of -- of relationship with Al Qaeda fighters. Most of --

O'REILLY: Well, that's -- that's -- that's --

DANIELS: Wait -- wait -- wait. You also --

O'REILLY: Mr. Daniels, that's flat-out wrong --

DANIELS: -- you also said --

O'REILLY: -- and I'm not going to debate it with you, but that --

DANIELS: -- that -- you said 90 percent of the people --

O'REILLY: Mr. Daniels -- Mr. Daniels -- Mr. Daniels -- quiet. Cut his mike. All right, I mean. That's it. Bye, Ron, see you later. Let me read it again: “While the military has now stated, as a result of public pressure, that these illegal techniques are banned in our prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are still allowed in other military prisons like Guantánamo Bay.”

We're sorry about Mr. Daniels, but he obviously is not going to have a conversation here, and we're not going to do that to you. We're just not going to do that to you. I'm not going to put people on who are going to misrepresent my position and then not stop when we try to get in to set the record straight.

  • January 9, 2003, The O'Reilly Factor: Pima County, Arizona, legal defender Isabel Garcia, appearing alongside former U.S. attorney Peter Nunez, challenged O'Reilly's claim that 30 percent of Mexican immigrants were on welfare.

O'REILLY: All right. Ms. Nunez [sic], you can blame it on corporate America all you want, but --

GARCIA: Small businesses to --

O'REILLY: Ms. Nunez -- I mean...

GARCIA: -- collapse, and workers have to come into --

O'REILLY: Ms. Garcia --

GARCIA: -- this country. That's a reality, and until we face --

O'REILLY: All right. Cut her mike, please. Mr. Nunez, I have to have -- finish it with you because -- it's ridiculous. The woman has no idea what she's talking about. And I'm sorry to impose her on the international audience. The 30 percent comes from the Center for Immigration Studies. It is a str -- it is a true statistic, and -- whatever.

After discussing Garcia's statements with Nunez, O'Reilly ended the segment:

O'REILLY: All right. Ms. Garcia, I'm sorry that I had to cut you off, but you were getting a little out of control there. Mr. Nunez, pleasure.

GARCIA: Bill --

O'REILLY: In a moment, a very famous guy is going to tell us how to make a good life. This guy knows how to do it. There he is. You know him. I'm taking notes.

Additional examples of O'Reilly cutting a guest's microphone on The O'Reilly Factor (in some cases, he re-enabled them later) include: August 6, 2004 (Reason editor Nick Gillespie); March 16, 2004 (defense attorney Bruce Nickerson); April 17, 2003 (Center for Economic Policy Research co-director Mark Weisbrot); September 3, 2002 (Patricia Roush) (Patricia Roush, whose ex-husband fled with their daughters to Saudi Arabia); August 5, 2002 (Lance Williams of the Center for Inner City Studies); July 15, 2002 (defense attorney Nedra Ruiz); January 15, 2002 (American Muslim Council executive director Eric Vickers); September 13, 2001 (Institute for Public Accuracy communications director Sam Husseini); May 31, 2001 (drug test evasion kit salesman Kevin Curtis).

O'Reilly has also threatened on several occasions to turn off a guest's microphone. For example, during a March 12, 2002, O'Reilly Factor segment with Vincent Cianci, the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, when O'Reilly was unable to cut Cianci off verbally, he threatened to cut his guest's microphone but ultimately did not:

O'REILLY: Mr. Mayor, I'm going to have to cut your mike off if you...


O'REILLY: -- don't let me get a question in here, OK?

CIANCI: Oh, I thought you were the expert on that.

O'REILLY: I'm going to have to cut your mike off if you don't let me get a question, because I want to be fair here.

CIANCI: [unintelligible] my First Amendment rights.

O'REILLY: All right, fine.

CIANCI: You're talking about First Amendments, and you're going to cut my mike off.

O'REILLY: If you don't ask, allow me to ask a question and get a comment in --

CIANCI: You asked the question, I was answering it.

O'REILLY: This isn't it -- yes, well, you were a little too filibusterish. You know what that is all about.

CIANCI: Really? Was I? I must have watched --

O'REILLY: Now, listen --

From the August 10 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: You have a tremendous amount of peer pressure in any high school. You've got kids in there in those schools that pretty much do what they want. And they dress the way they want, they dress inappropriately. They speak inappropriately. They use four-letter words to their fellow students and to the teachers. There aren't any apparatus to deal with those children. So those children basically do what they want. From the moment they get into the school to the moment they get out, they do exactly what they want. If they don't want to pay attention, they put their head down on the desk. If they want to curse the teacher out, they curse the teacher out. They might get a little sanction, but not much. Once you foster that kind of atmosphere where the students basically are setting the tone in the school, as you put it, you lose. And that's what is happening.

CANNICK: You know, again, the school has a certain responsibility to the student but so do those kids' parents.

O'REILLY: Well, the parents -- you can't count on them.

CANNICK: [Inaudible] It does begin at home. They don't just wake up with these attitudes and wake up --

O'REILLY: But Ms. Cannick, you can't --

CANNICK: -- and decide they're going to go to school and they're going to curse their teacher.

O'REILLY: Sorry, Ms. Cannick. You can't go into the house.

CANNICK: It starts at home. And if you have parents who take care of their children, teach their children the difference between right and wrong, stay with their children from preschool all the way up through graduation, a lot of times you won't have those problems. I could have been just like any one of those students that you're talking about right now.

O'REILLY: Ms. Cannick --

CANNICK: But I had parents who cared --

O'REILLY: You've entered the world of Oz.

CANNICK: --who made sure I did my homework and I knew the difference between right and wrong.

O'REILLY: Yeah, Ms. Cannick, you had two good parents, right?

CANNICK: Yeah, I had two good parents.

O'REILLY: Well, let me --

CANNICK: I had two grandparents --

O'REILLY: -- shock you.

CANNICK: But it doesn't matter.

O'REILLY: Yes, it does. It matters plenty.

CANNICK: No it doesn't [inaudible], somehow it doesn't matter.

O'REILLY: Yes it does. You can't go into a house --

CANNICK: I had two parents. I had --

O'REILLY: All right, cut off her mic. You can't go into the house, Ms. Cannick -- you cannot go into the house and demand the parents be good. You can't. All right, you can't and no one in Los Angeles can go into the house and demand the parents be good. So you have to assume that 30 or 40 percent of parents in Los Angeles are going to be bad. Bad parents.