O'Reilly: “I respect dissent on the Iraq war”

On The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly responded to a viewer who asked him to “stop labeling those who criticize our continued stay in Iraq as anti-American” by asserting: “I respect dissent on the Iraq war.” After Fox News anchor Laurie Dhue stated that "[w]e welcome dissent in this country," O'Reilly replied, “We do. And on this program.” In fact, O'Reilly has repeatedly attacked both the members of the anti-war movement and the media for their coverage of the war, asserting that they are “declar[ing] defeat” and “rooting for the USA to lose in Iraq.”


On the September 20 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, responding to a viewer who asked him to “stop labeling those who criticize our continued stay in Iraq as anti-American,” host Bill O'Reilly asserted: “Well, this is a total propaganda thing. I don't -- I've said, what, 3,000 times that I respect dissent on the Iraq war.” O'Reilly continued: “I have criticized the Iraq war. All right? It's only when you cross a line and you are a provocative presence, saying, 'The U.S. military is immoral, they're killers,' this, that, and the other thing, you make stupid propaganda movies, that's when I come down.” O'Reilly added: “This guy knows that. That's from far-left Loonville.” After Fox News anchor Laurie Dhue, whom O'Reilly referred to as “your new ombuds-gal,” stated that "[w]e welcome dissent in this country," O'Reilly responded, “We do. And on this program.” In fact, contrary to his assertion that he “respects dissent on the Iraq war,” O'Reilly has repeatedly attacked both the members of the anti-war movement and the media for their coverage of the war, asserting that they are “declar[ing] defeat” and “rooting for the USA to lose in Iraq.”

O'Reilly has repeatedly attacked “far left” critics of the Iraq war, referring to them as “kooks” and claiming they “are actually hoping for defeat” :

  • On the September 12 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly asked: “Do you really think for a moment that any improvement in Iraq would be acknowledged by the far left, which believes the war on terror is largely America's fault? Those people will declare defeat no matter what happens. MoveOn and the others are actually hoping for defeat.”
  • On the September 10 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, O'Reilly asserted: “I know that MoveOn is rooting against us.” He continued: “The leftists are rooting against their own country, because they're using this not only as a war but as a much bigger issue, that if they can pin this on the Bush administration and Republicans, they can damage the party so severely that the left can move in and then build the country up in their vision, which is a frightening vision.”
  • On the August 8 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed that “the cut-and-run club, led by [Sen.] Barack Obama [D-IL] and Congressman John Murtha [D-PA] continues to pound the drum of defeat in Iraq.” He later said that PBS journalist Bill Moyers “symbolizes those Americans who want their country to lose in Iraq based upon a hatred of all things Bush.” He continued: “But most Americans salute and admire our military people for making such a great sacrifice, for trying to bring freedom to a people who have been brutalized for decades. How on earth could you root against that?”
  • During a discussion with former CIA director George Tenet about his book At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA (HarperCollins, April 2007) on the May 2 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed that at the beginning of the war in Iraq, “everybody in the country [was] behind it, except the kooks.” However, 23 senators and 133 members of the House of Representatives -- including a majority of House Democrats -- voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq. Additionally, in a speech at the Commonwealth Club of California on September 23, 2002 -- six months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq -- former Vice President Al Gore denounced President Bush's Iraq policy, saying, “I am deeply concerned that the policy we are presently following with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century.”

O'Reilly has also criticized the media for their coverage of the war, asserting that they are “declar[ing] defeat” and “rooting for the USA to lose in Iraq” :

  • Following the publication of a July 8 New York Times editorial asserting that "[i]t is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit," O'Reilly attacked the Times on the July 9 edition of The O'Reilly Factor for “declar[ing] defeat in Iraq yesterday on its editorial page.” O'Reilly later asserted: “Not content with the Iraq debacle, the far left is also trying to diminish the overall war on terror. This movement is led by The New York Times and NBC News in the mainstream media.”
  • During the “Talking Points Memo” segment on the June 12 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly responded to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism that found Fox News spent less time covering the Iraq war than CNN and MSNBC in the first three months of 2007. O'Reilly asserted: “In my opinion, CNN and especially MSNBC delight in showing Iraqi violence because they want Americans to think badly of President Bush. And that strategy has succeeded.” O'Reilly also stated that he “can't speak for Fox News” but that his program does not “highlight every terrorist attack because we learn nothing from that. And that's exactly what the terrorists want us to do. I mean, come on, does another bombing in Tikrit mean anything other than 'War is hell'? No, it does not.” Additionally, O'Reilly asserted that “CNN and MSNBC put [coverage of the Iraq war] on because they want to give the impression that the war is a loser and Bush is an idiot,” adding: “Now, that may be true. The war is a loser, and Bush may be an idiot. OK, I'm not -- that's for you to decide. But that's why they're doing it.”
  • On the November 28, 2006, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly criticized NBC News' decision to refer to the conflict in Iraq as a “civil war,” and asserted that “the American media is not helping anyone by oversimplifying the situation and rooting for the USA to lose in Iraq.”

From the September 20 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: “Back of the Book” segment tonight, “The Dhue Point.” Fox News anchor Laurie Dhue is your new ombuds-gal. That is, if you have a complaint, question, or comment about The Factor, she is on your side. And you can reach Laurie at DhuePoint@FoxNews.com. So here she is.

[...]

DHUE: OK, next, changing gears to start talking about Iraq. OK, here we go.

“Please, Bill, stop labeling those who criticize our continued stay in Iraq as anti-American. Your argument that it demoralizes the troops is silly. How do you disagree with a policy and support the troops?”

O'REILLY: Well, this is a total propaganda thing. I don't -- I've said, what, 3,000 times that I respect dissent on the Iraq war.

DHUE: Yeah.

O'REILLY: I have criticized the Iraq war. All right? It's only when you cross a line and you are a provocative presence, saying, “The U.S. military is immoral, they're killers,” this, that, and the other thing, you make stupid propaganda movies, that's when I come down. This guy knows that. That's from far-left Loonville.

DHUE: Yeah, I mean, if you're criticizing the government, it does not make you anti-American --

O'REILLY: No. I mean, dissent is great.

DHUE: -- just in general. We do not live in communist China. We welcome dissent in this country.

O'REILLY: We do. And on this program. What else?

DHUE: And I do think that you -- they're not mutually exclusive. You can disagree with the government's policy and support our troops. And I think our troops know that we support them. We're behind them 100 percent.

O'REILLY: Do you want to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” ?

DHUE (singing): Oh, say can you --

O'REILLY: There you go. What else do you got?

DHUE: You asked.

O'REILLY: Come on, quick.

From the September 12 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight. Tony Snow in a moment.

But first, using Iraq as a political tool, that is the subject of this evening's “Talking Points Memo.” With almost 200,000 American military people in combat zones right now, it is wrong, wrong for politicians to use war as a vote-getter. That is opposing or supporting the war in raq because you think it'll get you votes. That is immoral and cowardly.

But that's what's happening in Washington. On the Democratic side, you have politicians condemning General Petraeus even before he said a word. On the Republican side, you have politicians saying the Iraqi government is doing OK. Blah, blah, blah.

Both of those positions are harming the country. Because Iraq has become the central issue in the upcoming presidential election, the American people and the military are being manipulated by callous, dishonest politicians seeking power. It is almost impossible for the folks to get the truth about Iraq or the war on terror in general. Because there is so much misinformation and propaganda being spit out there by the media and Internet partisans.

Do you really think for a moment that any improvement in Iraq would be acknowledged by the far left, which believes the war on terror is largely America's fault? Those people will declare defeat no matter what happens. MoveOn and the others are actually hoping for defeat.

On the other side, we have Americans who simply will not admit the Iraqi government couldn't care less about democracy. For most of them, it's about power and revenge.

Sadly, our brave men and women in the theater are protecting a crew that embraces corruption and murder with a vengeance. However, the USA right now is really fighting for itself and Iraq. And that is the key issue here.

Cutting and running will lead to another terrorist sanctuary dominated by the most dangerous country in the entire world -- Iran. The far left doesn't even think Iran's dangerous. And some on the right are in denial as well. I believe my interview with Congressman Ron Paul [R-TX] on Monday demonstrated that. And we have a link to the interview on BillOreilly.com if you want to see it.

Finally, Iraq is the most important issue in America today by far. And you deserve the truth about it, not dishonesty to further political agendas. Americans are dying over there. And in 14 months, a new commander in chief will be elected. It is vital we all pay attention and call out the people who are trying to deceive us wherever they may be. And that's the “Memo.”

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

O'REILLY: Well, you know, look, I'm sympathetic. I just want the best for America. I know that MoveOn is rooting against us. The leftists are rooting against their own country, because they're using this not only as a war but as a much bigger issue, that if they can pin this on the Bush administration and Republicans, they can damage the party so severely that the left can move in and then build the country up in their vision, which is a frightening vision.

From the August 8 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight. Iraq impeachment and the media, that's the subject of this evening's “Talking Points Memo.”

Even though the cut-and-run club, led by Barack Obama and Congressman John Murtha continues to pound the drum of defeat in Iraq, things may be improving in that god-awful place. According to analysis by the Associated Press, the surge is working. Writer Robert Burns says, quote: “In two weeks of observing the U.S. military on the ground and interviewing commanders, strategists, and intelligence officers, it's apparent that the war has entered a new phase in its fifth year. It is a phase with fresh promise,” unquote.

Now, the article goes on to say that despite the improvement, the Iraqi government's still a disaster. It would be awful hard for those who have declared Iraq as a “no-win zone” to acknowledge any improvement whatsoever. Does anyone really think these intense hate-Bush newspaper and TV commentators would be glad to see the tide turn in Iraq?

Take for example Bill Moyers of PBS, a relentless anti-war guy and Bush-basher. Moyers recently ran a program about impeaching the president after which PBS ombudsman Michael Getler said, quote, “There was almost a complete absence of balance [in the presentation],” unquote.

O'REILLY: Surprised? We're not. We called Mr. Moyers for comment, but he declined. So his pal, Factor producer Jesse Watters, paid him another visit.

[...]

O'REILLY: Now, the reason we're bothering Moyers is that he symbolizes those Americans who want their country to lose in Iraq based upon a hatred of all things Bush. As mentioned, this situation is clouded by the failure of the Iraqi government. Those people are now on vacation, while there is no vacation for the brave American and British military people fighting for Iraqi freedom. That is unsettling, no question.

But most Americans salute and admire our military people for making such a great sacrifice, for trying to bring freedom to a people who have been brutalized for decades. How on earth could you root against that? And that's the “Memo.”