Fox takes care of its own: the full-court defense of O'Reilly's 9-11 remarks

Since Bill O'Reilly appeared on the ABC's The View and said “Muslims killed us on 9-11,” Fox News hosts and commentators have predictably defended the Fox News host. O'Reilly has also used his Fox News platform to defend his comments.

O'Reilly on The View: “Muslims killed us on 9-11”

Comments prompted walkoff by Goldberg, Behar. During an appearance on the October 14 edition of ABC's The View, O'Reilly discussed the planned Islamic cultural center near the site of Ground Zero in New York. Asked by co-host Whoopi Goldberg why building the center there was “inappropriate,” O'Reilly responded, “Because Muslims killed us on 9-11.” The remark prompted Goldberg and co-host Joy Behar to walk off the set. O'Reilly later said, “If anybody felt I was demeaning all Muslims, I apologize.”

Fox hosts, commentators rush to O'Reilly's defense

Kilmeade: “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim.” On the October 15 edition of Fox & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade said of the hosts on The View: “That was our debate seven weeks ago, and they can't handle the give and take of a debate.” Kilmeade added, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim.”

Rove defends O'Reilly: “There is an insensitivity on the left and an attitude toward civil discussion where you can't have it toward a conservative.” On Fox & Friends, guest Karl Rove said, “There's an insensitivity on the left, and there's an attitude toward civil discussion that you can't have it with a conservative. You have a conservative viewpoint, it has to be dismissed, it has to be discredited.” Later in the segment, Rove said, “Bill had won the debate the moment Joy Behar got up and walked off.”

Carlson decries “not that friendly” body language, claims media double standard. Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson introduced the O'Reilly segment by saying that “the body language with the ladies the minute he sat down was not that friendly.” Later in the segment, Carlson asked phone guest O'Reilly, “She didn't leave, but let's turn the tables here for a minute. What if President Obama had been on that show, or any other high-level Democrat, and he had gotten into a screaming match with [View co-host] Elizabeth Hasselbeck and she had gotten up and left. She would have been fired probably, right?”

O'Reilly on Fox & Friends: "[T]he left wing in America will not come to grips with the fact that there is a problem in the Muslim world." O'Reilly talked to Fox & Friends via phone to discuss his experience on The View. He began by criticizing an appearance by Fox News host Geraldo Rivera earlier on Fox & Friends, in which he likened terrorists to abortion clinic bombers, as representative of “the liberal point of view.” From the show:

O'REILLY: I guess, you know, I'm a little discouraged with the liberal point of view as espoused by Geraldo just a few minutes ago on Fox & Friends. I mean, you know, I'm a little bit tired of this, that somehow the left wing in America will not come to grips with the fact that there is a problem in the Muslim world.


O'REILLY: It's a problem. All right? We're fighting them in Afghanistan, fighting them in Iraq. We might fight them in Iran. They cause trouble, they being Muslim extremists all over the world. But after 10 years, I think any intelligent person knew what I was talking about in that mosque debate. But they wanted -- they want, all right, they being the far left, I would say -- but even Geraldo, they want you to be politically correct in defining a life-death struggle, and I'm just not going to do it anymore.

O'Reilly on Beck: “I just told the truth that Muslims attacked us on 9-11.” O'Reilly appeared on the October 14 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck to defend his comments:

BECK: Bill, while I disagree with your reasoning on the mosque, on why you don't think it should be built there, what happened?

O'REILLY: I don't know. I mean, I just told the truth that Muslims attacked us on 9-11, and I guess I wasn't sensitive enough for Miss Behar or Miss Goldberg, and I apologize for not being sensitive enough. But I think after almost 10 years we all got that it was Muslim extremists. As I say on the Factor tonight, when we're talking about World War II, do we say we were attacked by Japanese extremists? No, we talk about the Japanese attacked us. Not every Japanese, but that was the group. And so the group that attacked us were Muslims.

O'Reilly also said, “The Muslims who attacked us on 9-11 are part of the jihad, which is a movement, and the movement has not been confronted by the so-called 'moderate' Muslims, good Muslims. They haven't confronted the jihad,” and added, “If all of the moderate Muslims throughout the world would confront the jihad, the jihad couldn't exist. The jihad exists because governments let the jihad exist.”

O'Reilly: Polls show “most Muslims don't believe 9/11 was even committed by al-Qaeda.” O'Reilly later said on Glenn Beck, “The truth that many liberal Americans don't want to acknowledge is if you look at every opinion poll in the Muslim world, most Muslims don't believe 9-11 was even committed by Al Qaeda, OK? They have a very low favorability of America, even with Barack Obama in charge. There is a tension between the Muslim world and America.”

Beck says View walk-off teaches “so much about the left and their willingness to have a conversation and tolerate other people's opinion.” During the appearance, Beck suggested that a guest calling tea-party members racist would not prompt a similar walk-off:

BECK: Do you think if they would have had, let's say, Michael Moore on -- and not to compare you to Michael Moore, and I apologize to you. But if you would have had Michael Moore on and he said, “These tea party people, they are all terrorists,” do you think any of them would have gotten up or even gotten heated at that?

O'REILLY: No, I don't believe anybody would have walked off if Michael Moore said that tea party people are racist. But look, the big issue that I want your audience, in case they didn't see the program today, was that I was saying there is a gulf between the president and many Americans and that's hurting him in the polls about the economy. And the gulf is that when he was asked about the wisdom of the 9-11 mosque, he wouldn't answer the question. And most Americans, according to the CNN poll, which I cited, agree with me, that it's inappropriate place to put a mosque because of what happened on 9-11.

BECK: I agree with you.

At the end of the interview, Beck said, “You watch the whole - I mean, it's amazing. You will learn so much about the left and their willingness to have a conversation and tolerate other people's opinion.”

O'Reilly guest Ingraham: “They're treating you like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the U.N. ... This is an attempt to shut down political speech.” Discussing the incident on the October 14 edition of The O'Reilly Factor. Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham called The View walk-off “an attempt to intimidate others” and a “sideshow”:

INGRAHAM: But what they're doing -- I just want to be very clear so people listening understand what's going on. What they did today was an attempt to intimidate others. They know they're not going to intimidate you, but it's really -- it's very disturbing to me because people who say that they're for free speech, and Barbara Walters usually does a pretty good job of moderating that -- I mean, to come back and say that you are the pinhead after they embarrassed themselves walking off their own set, that was embarrassing. They're treating you like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the U.N., and you're a lot taller than Mahmoud, Bill. So, I mean, it's ridiculous. This is an attempt to shut down political speech.

O'REILLY: But I didn't take offense at Ms. Walters. I have to say I didn't take offense at Barbara's --

INGRAHAM: Well, you should have. You are not a pinhead. Well, sometimes you are a pinhead, but not this time.

O'REILLY: She sees it -- sincerely sees it that if you say Muslims attacked America on 9-11 --

INGRAHAM: That's ridiculous.

O'REILLY: -- you are somehow denigrating an entire people. I don't see it that way. It's as simple as that. I will give you the last word.

INGRAHAM: Bill -- Bill, here's what's -- here's what's really happening is that I think a lot of the gals on The View, they're kind of freaking out, right? Because the hope-and-change thing and Obama and insignia and the star power and all the celebrities and all the Hollywood people who loved him, all of that has resulted in anemic approval numbers and Republican conservative Tea Party resurgence.

O'REILLY: All right.

INGRAHAM: And they don't know what to do. So they're trying to, you know, create these sideshows, and I think you did just fine.

Tantaros: View walk-off was liberal “schtick.” In an appearance on the October 14 edition of America Live, Fox News contributor Andrea Tantaros said:

TANTAROS: Well, if they were trying to convince anybody of their point, I think that they failed. And the message was, the show is called The View for one reason and not The Views. They tolerate only one point of view, and that's their point of view. And look, O'Reilly came on the show armed with facts. He was arguing from a position of strength, he had numbers to back it up, and he was stating his point of view, and they just did not have the facts to back it up. And so they stormed off the set -- I mean, this is their schtick, this is what liberals do: "We don't agree with you, we're getting off the set. And Megyn, they're not used to having anybody challenge them. To have O'Reilly come on the show and actually challenge them, I mean, wow, they just couldn't take it anymore.