Bill O'Reilly's enemies list, available in hardback for $26
Research ››› ››› SIMON MALOY, JULIE MILLICAN, PAUL WALDMAN, ELBERT VENTURA & ROB SAVILLO
"My goal," Bill O'Reilly writes in the introduction to his latest book, Culture Warrior, which is published by Random House's Broadway Books imprint and will go on sale September 25, "is to expose and defeat people who have the power to do you great harm. My weapons will be facts and superior analysis based on those facts" (Page 5).
But if "facts" and "superior analysis" are what readers are after, they may want to look elsewhere. Media Matters for America's review of Culture Warrior shows the book to be replete with factual errors, rank hypocrisy, and ad hominem attacks directed at anyone who has crossed swords with O'Reilly.
O'Reilly recently claimed to have thwarted an attempt by Media Matters to review Culture Warrior prior to its release. On the September 21 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, he noted that his publisher had refused a request to provide an advance copy to "a guy who writes for the left-wing smear site Media Matters." "Nice try," O'Reilly said, "no book." Nice try, Mr. O'Reilly.
The book purports to "expose the secular-progressive movement in our country for exactly what it is, to explain why it is so harmful for America, and to identify the movement's top leaders" (Page 7). What qualifies someone as a member of the secular-progressive (or "S-P" in his book) conspiracy? It may be an obscure professor who said something O'Reilly considers unpatriotic or a judge who gave an offender a light sentence. While O'Reilly claims to be an independent who stands apart from the conservative movement, conservatives are almost never the target of his ire. In addition to liberals and Democrats, he lashes out at numerous news organizations and journalists such as Tom Brokaw and Walter Cronkite. In other cases, all it takes is that someone criticized O'Reilly, which places people like actor/director George Clooney and Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin on the side of the sinister "S-Ps".
But O'Reilly puts a few individuals and organizations at the center of the conspiracy. At the top is financier George Soros, whom O'Reilly describes as "public enemy number one." (The FBI's collection of terrorists, drug dealers, and cop-killers apparently has nothing on someone who donates money to liberal organizations. Sorry, Osama.) Close behind is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), about which O'Reilly writes, "American culture, in my opinion, has deteriorated drastically in large part because the ACLU, thanks to its enormous power, gets a free pass from most of the media" (Page 27). (See the "enemies list" below for a comprehensive roster of those O'Reilly attacks in the book.)
Throughout the book, O'Reilly offers caricatures of what his opponents are supposed to believe, then claims that these views apply to the whole "movement" of secular progressivism. Early in the book, he writes a fictional State of the Union speech delivered by a future president named Gloria Hernandez, hailing secular-progressive accomplishments like "cap[ping] American citizens' net worth at $15 million" (Page 10). The fact that no one actually proposes such a thing does not deter O'Reilly, who later offers a "secular Ten Commandments," such as: "Thou Shalt Be Allowed to Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor if That Person Stands Against Secular Humanism." While the reader might be tempted to dismiss this as ridiculous, O'Reilly writes: "I know, some of you may think I am exaggerating. Not so. Those secular commandments are all part of the current S-P political agenda. Look it up" (Page 70). Exactly where we are supposed to "look it up" O'Reilly does not say.
But this is hardly uncharacteristic. Throughout the book, O'Reilly presents as "facts" things that are simply wrong, or in some cases appear to be made up. O'Reilly falsely suggests that the ACLU obtained a victory for the plaintiffs in the case in which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial struck down the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage (Page 16). O'Reilly claims that the ACLU "helpfully pointed out" that the Massachusetts Constitution "failed to define marriage specifically as between one man and one woman." In fact, the appeal was brought by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). The ACLU, along with other civil rights organizations, wrote a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of same-sex marriage, but, contrary to O'Reilly's assertion, that brief did not mention the fact that the Massachusetts Constitution did not contain a definition of marriage. He later writes, "There is no question that the vast preponderance of America's newspapers have a liberal editorial philosophy," going on to claim, "Locally, liberal papers outnumber conservative sheets about ten to one" (Pages 20-21). He offers no evidence, since this "statistic" appears to have been plucked from thin air. And in his list of newspapers that supposedly have "a liberal editorial philosophy," he includes the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Houston Chronicle, and The Denver Post even though all three endorsed George W. Bush for president in 2000, 2004, or both. He rewrites his own history, claiming that he encouraged a boycott of French goods "because Jacques Chirac and his pals do not provide much help in the war on terror" (Page 54), when in fact it was France's refusal to support the invasion of Iraq that led O'Reilly to call for a boycott.
This is just a small sampling of O'Reilly's falsehoods, distortions, and misrepresentations. Although he has a habit of accusing people of being "cowards" when they decline to appear on The O'Reilly Factor, he refuses to have most of "the S-Ps" on his show -- where they might answer some of his charges -- because "it is hard to imagine a more loathsome group." This refusal extends to Media Matters: Despite the fact that he has attacked us on the air numerous times (and in the book calls us "vile"), not only does he refuse to allow a representative from our organization to appear on his show to respond, he has never been able to cite a single instance -- not one -- in which we have said something about him that wasn't true. What follows is a catalogue of the errors, unsubstantiated claims, and baseless attacks that run through Culture Warrior.
"I mean, what I don't get about Susan Sarandon and her fellow S-P travelers," Bill O'Reilly writes in Culture Warrior, "is the constant anger" (Page 161). But if there's one thing Bill O'Reilly knows about, it's anger. In fact, Culture Warrior is little more than a string of attacks against people and media outlets O'Reilly doesn't like. O'Reilly presents himself as an independent, someone who opposes any ideological extremes. "Because I criticize what I consider to be dishonest and unfair media, and extremist pundits on both the right and the left as well as corrupt and/or ineffective politicians," he writes, "there is no shortage of people trying to marginalize me, or worse, destroy me" (Page 4). But as anyone who has watched his show knows, this is little more than a pose. A look at the list of people he specifically attacks in the book shows that among the dozens there appear to be only two clear conservatives -- Michael Savage and Ann Coulter.
- Air America host Al Franken
- Michael Savage
- The New York Times
- Air America Radio
- Boston Globe
- Washington Post
- Baltimore Sun
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Miami Herald
- New Orleans Times-Picayune
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- Kansas City Star
- Minneapolis Star Tribune
- Houston Chronicle
- Denver Post
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer
- The Oregonian
- San Francisco Chronicle
- Sacramento Bee
- Los Angeles Times
- St. Petersburg Times
- New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd
- New York Times columnist Paul Krugman
- New York Times columnist Bob Herbert
- New York Times columnist Frank Rich
- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA)
- Roger Baldwin, founder of the ACLU
- Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU
- University of California-Berkeley professor George Lakoff
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Harris Green
- Howard Dean
- Progressive financier George Soros
- Progressive financier Peter Lewis
- Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz
- New York Daily News entertainment columnist Jack Matthews
- Dallas Morning News columnist Macarena Hernandez
- Denver Post columnist Cindy Rodriguez
- Dan Rather
- Tom Brokaw
- Ted Koppel
- ABC News producer Rick Kaplan
- Walter Cronkite
- Bill Moyers
- Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
- British Broadcasting Co.
- Newsweek senior editor and columnist Jonathan Alter
- Ann Coulter
- New York Times Magazine columnist Randy Cohen
- New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger III
- New York Times executive editor Bill Keller
- Sam Donaldson
- Jon Stewart
- New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof
- New York Times assistant editor Adam Cohen
- Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Jeff Gelles
- Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board
- Associated Press television writer Frazier Moore
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial page editor Cynthia Tucker
- Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson
- Ted Turner
- National Public Radio host Terry Gross
- Jane Fonda
- Jeremy Glick, author and son of 9-11 victim Barry Glick
- Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan
- Filmmaker Michael Moore
- Barbra Streisand
- Washington State Supreme Court
- Associated Press
- Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt
- The "majority" of the Vermont press
- Susan Sarandon
- George Clooney
- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA)
- Alec Baldwin
- Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin
- David Letterman
Throughout Culture Warrior, O'Reilly makes provocative claims against his enemies. But a closer look at the book reveals that many of his accusations are groundless, and many of his criticisms of his opponents accurately apply to him. O'Reilly also peppers his book with lessons and principles for his readers. But the principles he preaches seem to be ones that he practices only selectively.
One of O'Reilly's means of argumentation is to catalog all the personal attacks and smears that he perceives to have been made against him. Accompanying such complaints are proclamations that he would never engage in personal attacks or smears himself. In Culture Warrior, O'Reilly writes, "I will try to avoid cheap shots and vindictiveness," and, "As a traditionalist who wants to win the fight, I try to avoid the personal stuff" (Page 5). As the list of enemies above suggests, O'Reilly didn't seem to try too hard.
Yet Culture Warrior is rife with the unsubstantiated personal criticism and ad hominem attacks that O'Reilly purports to deplore. He accuses Soros of having "no scruples, ethics, or sense of fair play" (Page 40) and calls him "public enemy number one" (Page 41) -- this after a long screed accusing Soros of financing a movement to undermine America. He labels several journalists as "fanatic" or "fanatical" -- including PBS' Bill Moyers (Page 52), The Washington Post's Richard Cohen (Page 143), and ABC News producer Rich Kaplan (Page 48); The Washington Post's Michael Kinsley is branded a "far-left bomb-thrower" (Page 142). Al Franken is slammed as a "man without scruples, a far-left fanatic" (Page 98). (It is worth noting that all of these "fanatics" have at one point or another taken O'Reilly and his work to task.) Even Walter Cronkite draws his ire. On Page 48, O'Reilly describes Cronkite as an "openly enthusiastic liberal if not quite a secular-progressive warrior." By Page 151, Cronkite, in O'Reilly's assessment, has morphed into a full-fledged "S-P archer." Training his sights on Hollywood, O'Reilly also labels George Clooney and Barbra Streisand "fanatics" (Page 16). Such name-calling is nothing new for O'Reilly, of course. As we have documented in the past, O'Reilly has a long history of making personal attacks.
O'Reilly accuses his secular-progressive opponents of being "capable of doing just about anything" (Page 99) and calls their attacks on traditionalist media "brutal," "unrelenting," and "unprecedented." Yet O'Reilly's shows have been a reliable forum for purveyors of hate-speech, such as Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter, whose exploits Media Matters has documented (for highlights, see here, here, here, and here). Even as he attacks others for what he deems to be uncivilized debate, O'Reilly minimizes his own excesses. Of his "joke" endorsing an Al Qaeda attack on San Francisco, he writes, "Actually, this is standard talk-radio stuff, intentionally using hyperbole to make a point" (Page 166). Regarding his penchant for personal attacks, he gives himself a pass: "Sometimes I make a mistake, but I know it's a mistake" (Page 182).
His criticism extends to questioning his enemies' loyalty to country. O'Reilly writes, "It is flat-out wrong to question the loyalty of any American unless there is rock-solid proof that the person is trying to damage the country" (Pages 190-91). Yet O'Reilly has engaged in precisely that behavior time and again; although never does he elaborate on what "rock-solid proof" of treason entails. In the book, he accuses secular progressives of not believing in "America's nobility, and so the battle rages on," without providing any examples. He writes that there are "fanatics who genuinely believe America is a wicked country that must be reformed in any way possible short of violence" and that this is "what the Soros crowd believes" (Page 191), offering no evidence. As he has displayed on his show, anyone who differs with his vision of America is in danger of being labeled unpatriotic or an America-hater -- a tradition he continues in the book, which even features a chapter titled "Hating America."
O'Reilly goes so far as to accuse his critics of threatening him and his family with bodily harm. "If you are on the traditionalist side, the S-Ps will reject you and perhaps try to inflict pain upon your person," he writes (Page 168). He laments his current lifestyle, claiming, "My family also has been threatened and I've had to change every aspect of my life. ... No longer can I even engage a stranger in conversation -- there are too many crazies out there. ... I am never off the job and am always on guard" (Page 4). O'Reilly never provides any details about the alleged threats made against him. As Media Matters has documented, O'Reilly himself has made threats against those he considers his enemies.
A key argument in O'Reilly's book is that there can be no rational discourse with "S-Ps" because of their ideological dogmatism: "Secular progressives drive on a one-way street all the time. If you don't agree with them totally, you are the enemy" (Page 60). Yet O'Reilly himself can be accused of the same fault. Throughout the book, O'Reilly encourages readers to forsake civilized discourse in favor of a state of war. "And so I have arrived at this necessary conclusion: All clear-thinking Americans should become opponents of the S-P movement for the simple reason of self-preservation," O'Reilly writes, endorsing the banishment of progressives from the national conversation (Page 112). That you're-either-with-us-or-against-us mentality is present throughout his book. Writing about David Letterman, he concedes that though the late-night talk show host may not be "an officer in the S-P corps," he is "certainly not part of the traditionalist cadre" -- there is no middle ground (Page 57). How did O'Reilly reach that conclusion about Letterman? Because Letterman challenged him on his relentless attacks against anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, the mother of an Army soldier killed in Iraq, with whose loss Letterman sympathized -- hardly the act of a "passionate advocate of the left," as he describes Letterman (Page 57).
On his battles with the "S-P" mainstream media, he writes, "I've been burned time and time again by writers who took my words out of context and provided snide commentary leading into my quotes" (Page 25). O'Reilly never provides any examples of such irresponsible journalism. Moreover, charges of not providing context accurately apply to O'Reilly.
Take the section in which he talks about the response to Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ (Newmarket Films, February 2004). O'Reilly writes that reviews of Gibson's film revealed the deep "S-P" bias of the mainstream media. Citing NewsMax columnist James Hirsen's book, Hollywood Nation (Crown Forum, 2005), he writes that New York Times film critic A.O. Scott "found that Gibson had 'exploited' the death of Jesus" (Page 24). But Scott had actually written something different. He wrote that Gibson had "exploited the popular appetite for terror and gore for what [Gibson] and his allies see as a higher end" (New York Times, February 25, 2004). Scott also noted that the movie was as bloody as Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1 -- a fair observation to make. In other words, Scott was commenting on the film's violence, not its spirituality. In fact, Scott acknowledged that the movie was "made with evident and abundant religious conviction." But O'Reilly leaves that out. O'Reilly also brings up a negative Los Angeles Times review by critic Kenneth Turan. Conveniently omitted from O'Reilly's telling is the fact that the Los Angeles Times also ran a counter-review praising the film by D. Paul Thomas. O'Reilly alleges that the criticism of The Passion in the media was a symptom of "S-P" groupthink. But was it really? Here are another critic's thoughts on Gibson's movie: "The Gibson focus is narrow and -- let's face it -- persistently sadistic. ... The presumption that Mel Gibson's cinematic form of witness will be an edifying or transcendent perspective for every believer [or sympathetic nonbeliever] is debatable at best." The author of that secular-skeptical review? Gary Arnold, film critic for that bastion of secular orthodoxy, The Washington Times.
Another accusation that O'Reilly slings at his enemies is their refusal to engage in face-to-face debate. Of Soros, Moyers, philanthropist Peter Lewis, and news legend Walter Cronkite, he writes, "They aim their arrows toward traditionalists and let fly, all the while keeping their distance from the counterattack of debate" (Page 151). He calls it a "common S-P tactic: avoid face-to-face encounters, snipe from afar" (Page 86). In more colorful language, he accuses one opponent, Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin, of being "more comfortable with 'drive-by' guttersniping than with actual debate" (Page 165). He criticizes University of California-Berkeley professor George Lakoff for his advice to progressives to "stay away from setups. Fox News shows and other rabidly conservative shows try to put you in an impossible situation, where a conservative host sets the frame and insists on it" (Page 34), accusing Lakoff and those who follow his advice of dodging his challenge. Yet O'Reilly himself admits that "I now rarely talk to the print press, and, as you know, I am a major blabbermouth" (Page 25), saying he has become leery of how he's portrayed -- precisely the concern that Lakoff expressed. Does O'Reilly consider himself a dodger for his evasion of the press? Is he guilty of avoiding direct questions -- something he accuses Lakoff of doing?
Indeed, much of the critique of "S-Ps" in O'Reilly's book can be considered "drive-by guttersniping," mischaracterizing the positions of his opponents (as we elaborate on below) without providing them a forum for rebuttal. His section on progressive values is particularly egregious in this regard. O'Reilly quotes passages from Lakoff's book, Don't Think of an Elephant (Chelsea Green Publishing, September 2004) -- and proceeds to mischaracterize Lakoff's meaning. Take one example: Lakoff espouses "healthy children" as a priority for progressives. To this O'Reilly responds, "In the secular-progressive world, the 'healthy' child is one who enters the school system as early as possible, is shepherded through childhood by public school nannies, and indoctrinated with progressive values at a very early age" (Page 186). Nowhere does O'Reilly supply facts or research to back up his claim. Perhaps if he asked Lakoff or any other progressive, he'll find that the desire for "healthy children" could refer to the fact that, according to the Census Bureau, 8.3 million children -- 11.2 percent of the child population in the United States -- are without health insurance. Or take his refutation of the progressive desire for "political equality." According to O'Reilly, that progressive value is in fact only a cover to preserve "the illegal alien vote, which is often cast for liberal, progressive candidates" (Page 185). Of course, illegal immigrants can't vote. If O'Reilly has some evidence that they are doing so -- much less for whom they are voting -- he neglects to mention it.
Early in the book, O'Reilly writes, "My weapons will be facts and superior analysis based on those facts" (Page 5). Later, he writes that "at this point in the culture war, trying to damage the opposition, rather than discredit its ideas with fact-based logical argument, has become the primary game plan of the S-P movement" (Page 169). As we show below (and as we have documented previously), it is O'Reilly who has played fast and loose with the facts. As we have previously pointed out, O'Reilly has never refuted any of our claims with facts, resorting instead to name-calling. Nor has he invited anyone from Media Matters to come on his show to discuss our research face-to-face, despite our repeated requests.
Perhaps the organizing principle of the O'Reilly persona is the notion that he is just a regular Joe looking out for the little guy. It's a populist image that O'Reilly has worked hard to cultivate over the years. Yet O'Reilly spends considerable space in his book trashing progressive taxation and defending tax cuts for the rich -- tax cuts that, of course, benefit a millionaire like him. One of the "S-P" commandments, he writes, is "Thou Shalt Take From the Rich and Give to the Poor. No Private Property Is Sacrosanct" (Page 70). He paints the progressive belief in taxing the rich more than the middle class and poor as old-fashioned socialism, an accusation he slings repeatedly in the book. In addition, O'Reilly, who prides himself on his historical prowess, never mentions the fact that marginal tax rates in the 1950s and early 1960s -- an Edenic period to traditionalists -- were over 90 percent, far higher than today's 35 percent. Indeed, O'Reilly surmises that President John F. Kennedy would be a traditional "culture warrior" were he alive today -- ignoring the fact that marginal tax rates for married couples were at 91 percent during his administration (Page 27). O'Reilly never reconciles Kennedy's "culture warrior" credentials with the tax policies in place throughout his presidency, which qualify as practically socialistic in O'Reilly's world view.
"Since every human being is a sinner, we should all concentrate on healing ourselves," O'Reilly writes (Page 179). While O'Reilly's humility in that statement is admirable, there is precious little of it in the rest of his book. Culture Warrior is filled with harsh judgments, mischaracterizations, and falsehoods regarding others and their views, but contains very little of the introspection that its author espouses.
"I will try to avoid cheap shots and vindictiveness." Mission not so accomplished
"Fidel Castro loves this [George] Lakoff guy."
"And these Internet guttersnipes will turn on their own in a heartbeat, as Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell found out in January 2006."
"So I'm now siding with George Lakoff and echoing his message to the far-left zombies: Don't go on Fox News."
"... the more outrageous aspects of the S-P jihad ..."
"And this libertine thinking is not limited to the S-P cranks in Berkeley, California, or Boulder, Colorado."
"I sincerely feel that many of these newspaper people are jealous, mean-spirited, petty, and cowardly."
"[Harold] Meyerson seems to be, well, a bit unhinged."
"He [Al Franken] was just another rabid show business liberal with a mean streak."
"... the guy [Franken] is an accomplished smear merchant."
"I can say this with absolute certainty: The man [Franken] is truly a loathsome individual."
"To borrow National Review columnist Mona Charen's description, Al Franken is a 'useful idiot.' [...] He, along with New York Times columnist Frank Rich, is their chief character assassin."
"A guy like Franken you can impale. Nobody's gonna feel sorry for an individual of that low caliber."
"If you really want to see just how 'caring' and humane the secular-progressive movement is, visit some of their black-hearted Web sites."
[Referring to the ACLU]: "This is a strategy -- mentally separate children from their parents -- that has been practiced by totalitarian governments all throughout history. In Nazi Germany, there was the Hitler Youth. Chairman Mao created the Children's Corps in Red China. Stalin and Castro rewarded children who spied on their parents."
"As the aforementioned NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin wrote about the vile Web sites Media Matters and Think Progress ..."
"... holding the Pepsi Company responsible for hiring the vile rapper Ludacris..."
"[Michael] Moore became a bitter anti-American extremist."
"As for ethical businesses, I believe George [Lakoff] would like a massive government to directly oversee them. Perhaps Fidel Castro could consult on this project."
"Finally, for the last piece of [George] Lakoff's apple pie, we are served with 'jobs that pay a living wage to everyone who works.' Pardon me, but isn't this right out of the Mao playbook? [...] This is called 'socialism.' "
Self-appointed "culture warrior"
When columnist Jimmy Breslin criticized the book, The O'Reilly Factor For Kids, O'Reilly reports in Culture Warrior, he responded by writing Breslin a note that read, "You have tried to hurt a project that could help many children. Hope you feel good about that."
How many children were helped by the humanitarian "project" that was The O'Reilly Factor For Kids, O'Reilly does not say. But this tale is hardly the only instance in Culture Warrior in which O'Reilly betrays a sense of his own greatness -- of accomplishment, mission, and sacrifice:
- "The culture war has also made me perhaps the most controversial broadcaster in the country. That hot-button label 'controversial' gives my enemies, they think, the right to attack me and my enterprises ceaselessly, unfairly, even dementedly. I truly drive the opposing forces nuts!" (Page 2)
- "I can tell you truthfully that I never envisioned myself crusading against establishment forces like the New York Times and today's vast armies of far-left and far-right zealots. Coming out of Boston University with a master's degree in broadcast journalism in 1975, I wanted to be one of the Woodward and Bernstein guys. You know, do serious investigative work and right wrongs by exposing corruption. I also wanted to cover war and study human conflict firsthand. In my journalistic career, I succeeded in reaching those goals and count myself very fortunate to have done so." (Page 3)
- The Factor concept is very simple: Watch all of those in power, including and especially the media, so they don't injure or exploit the folks, everyday Americans. Never before in the United States had a television news guy dared to criticize other journalists on a regular basis. The late Peter Jennings, a friend, told me I was crazy to do it. 'These people will not allow anyone to scrutinize them,' he said. 'They will come after you with a vengeance.'
"And so they have.
"In fact, not since the late Howard Cosell has an American broadcaster been so roundly vilified in print as I have been over the past decade. 'Gasbag,' 'blowhard,' 'demagogue' -- these are common adjectives used when newspaper writers refer to me. I'm not whining, just stating a fact. Because I criticize what I consider to be dishonest and unfair media, and extremist pundits on both the right and the left as well as corrupt and/or ineffective politicians, there is no shortage of people trying to marginalize me, or worse, destroy me.
"Because of the very personal nature of the battle I have chosen to fight, this is a difficult book to write. I don't like to sound bitter, but the truth is, I am bitter to some extent. Although I have won far more battles than I've lost, my life has changed drastically. I am routinely threatened with physical harm and have to employ security. I have to absorb rank defamation in the press, with no legal recourse because I'm a 'public figure.' My family has also been threatened and I've had to change every aspect of my life. No longer can I behave as a 'regular guy' and go out and cut loose with my friends. No longer can I even engage a stranger in conversation -- there are too many crazies out there. At work, every call I receive is monitored and every interaction I have has to be witnessed. I am never off the job and am always on guard. Would you want to live that way?
"Still, to quote Hyman Roth in The Godfather II, 'This is the business we've chosen.' And it's true. I don't have to be a culture warrior. I could make millions doing straight anchor work or just writing books. But I'm on a mission, one that I'm going to define for you throughout this book, and the mission is important." (Pages 3-4)
- "There is no Paul Harvey (who is traditional to the core) in network news. There's not even a Bill O'Reilly! Seriously, despite my success now, the networks never would have given me the chance that Fox News gave me. Never would have happened." (Page 48)
- "You are reading the words of the poster boy for U-M [upward mobility], by the way." (Page 117)
- "What I am about to say might sound delusional, but I believe the genesis of the O'Reilly loathing [people loathing him, not the other way around] lies in the fact that I win most of my battles in the culture war. If you've watched me on the tube over the years, you've seen me right a number of obvious wrongs, and expose more than a few bad guys. I've mentioned some of those stories in this book, but there are scores of others. From nailing the Florida judge who allowed eleven-year-old Carlie Bruscha's killer to avoid jail on a parole violation and walk the streets free to kill Carlie, to holding the Pepsi Company responsible for hiring the vile rapper Ludacris to promote its products, to encouraging CBS not to run a movie that unnecessarily demeaned Ronald and Nancy Reagan -- we have accomplished much in the culture war. And that, of course, drives the S-P forces nuts." (Pages 150-151)
- "The denial strategy will be for public consumption. But behind the scenes, the S-P power brokers will be seething, and I guarantee they will command their forces to attack me in every way possible. As in the past, personal smears will rule the day and I will be defamed from all secular directions." (Pages 168-169)
- "Sometimes -- it's true -- I wish I were not a traditional warrior. The fight is hard and exhausting. If you've followed my career at all, you know I have become a major target. Believe me, things were a lot easier when I was running around the globe reporting news stories. I'm not complaining, just bloviating (a little). As I've shown, I have taken on some very powerful interests in the United States and they are not at all pleased.
"It's been ten years now since I began this fight. Mostly, I have won. My programs are hugely successful, my books are bestsellers. But I've paid the price, and so have those around me, because the amount of hatred directed my way is staggering." (Page 207)
- "A decade ago, the Fox Newschannel [sic] and The Factor did not exist. Think about what America would be like now if we had not arrived on the scene and provided Americans with an alternative to the strongly S-P established media." (Pages 207-208)
O'Reilly on Media Matters and the Internet
Finally, we should note that Media Matters has been a frequent target of O'Reilly's ire on his various media megaphones, and Culture Warrior continues that tradition. He refers to us and the weblog Think Progress as "vile web sites" (Page 144), and though this is the only time he mentions us by name, on a number of other occasions he is clearly referring to Media Matters when he attacks "smear sites."
O'Reilly also focuses a number of attacks on various websites: He refers to "Internet smear merchants who engage in character assassinations of perceived opponents" (Page 15); refers to Soros as "the prime financier of a number of operations on the Internet that consistently smear conservative and traditional Americans" (Page 37) and later says Soros and Peter Lewis "funnel money to other smear Web sites that target individuals in the media and politics for personal attacks" (Page 39) and that they "continue to pump cash into the Internet sewer" (Page 65). He writes, "If you really want to see just how 'caring' and humane the secular-progressive movement is, visit some of their black-hearted Web sites" (Page 113); asserts that "[s]ome of those far-left Web sites, for example, might evaporate if they couldn't defame me on a daily basis" (150); alleges that "if you compare the S-P web sites with the traditional ones, there is no doubt: S-P anger is far more intense and personal" (Page 162); and writes, "I truly despise the people who run the smear Web sites" (Page 196).
For O'Reilly, the very fact that someone in the media has referred to something that appeared on the Internet appears to be a grave sin:
"Aforementioned New York Times columnists Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, and Bob Herbert have all referenced far-left Web site postings in complimentary terms in their articles. Harvard pundit Alan Dershowitz used Internet smear material in a Los Angeles debate. New York Daily News entertainment columnist Jack Matthews and the paper's vicious gossip writers routinely use smear items fed to them by racial-left guttersnipes. Dallas Morning News columnist Macarena Hernandez and Denver Post columnist Cindy Rodriguez used information from Web sites under their bylines (Ms. Rodriguez was subsequently embarrassed by corrections printed by her employer). In fact, the far-left Internet smear merchants have solid access to the so-called elite media, something the far-right Internet bloggers will never have." (Page 40)
If this paragraph left you confused, it may be because in none of these cases does O'Reilly give the barest indication of what he's talking about. In addition, O'Reilly never defines just what he means by "smear," or by the "defamation" he claims to suffer. In the case of Media Matters, it appears to mean something along the lines of "put audio, video, and transcripts of the things I and other conservatives say up on the Internet for anyone to see." Indeed, O'Reilly writes: "I do three hours of commentary every weekday (one on TV, two on the radio), and mistakes are going to happen. And when they do, the S-P smear Web sites, which obsessively tape every word I say, gleefully spit out the errors to the public." O'Reilly is correct that Media Matters records his television and radio shows, and when he makes "mistakes," we point them out. How this makes us an "S-P smear Web site" is unclear.
Culture Warrior's distortions, falsehoods and misrepresentations
- Page 16: O'Reilly falsely suggests that the ACLU obtained a victory for the plaintiffs in the case of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (which he erroneously calls the "Supreme Court of the Commonwealth") struck down the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage. O'Reilly claims that the ACLU "helpfully pointed out" that the Massachusetts Constitution "failed to define marriage specifically as between one man and one woman." In fact, the appeal was brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). The ACLU, along with other civil rights organizations, wrote a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of same-sex marriage, but, contrary to O'Reilly's assertion, that brief did not mention the fact that the Massachusetts Constitution did not contain a definition of marriage.
- Page 20: O'Reilly baselessly claims that [all emphasis as it appears in book] "[i]t is fair to say that the print press desperately wanted Air America [Radio] to succeed," and as proof, asserts that "conservative talk radio is a huge success" but "[c]hances are" "you have seen" no "newspaper articles" about conservative talk radio "lately." But, a "News, all" search of the Nexis database from June 1 to September 16 found that while Air America Radio has been mentioned 76 times in various news outlets, Rush Limbaugh, the most prominent conservative radio talk show host, has been mentioned more than 1,000 times during the same time period. Even Al Franken, arguably Air America's best-known host, has been mentioned only 301 times, about a third as frequently as Limbaugh.
- Page 20: O'Reilly declares "[t]here is no question that the vast preponderance of America's newspapers have a liberal editorial philosophy," listing, among many others, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Houston Chronicle, and The Denver Post. O'Reilly provides no evidence to prove that any of these papers has "a liberal editorial philosophy," nor does he offer any criteria by which he would judge a paper to have a "liberal editorial philosophy." Yet, despite O'Reilly's assertion that the Times-Picayune, the Houston Chronicle, and The Denver Post editorial boards are liberal, all three papers, in the past, endorsed George W. Bush for president. As Media Matters has noted, the Houston Chronicle endorsed Bush in both 2000 and 2004, and The Denver Post endorsed Bush in 2004 after endorsing former Vice President Al Gore in 2000. While the Times-Picayune did not endorse Bush's candidacy in 2004 -- the paper instead chose to endorse no presidential candidate -- the paper did endorse Bush for president in 2000.
- Page 22: To further his argument that the media is "liberal," O'Reilly points to a flawed UCLA media study to falsely claim the "study identifie[d] The CBS Evening News, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times as the most liberal news operations in the country," telling his readers "I know, you're shocked." In fact, the study O'Reilly cited -- "A Measure of Media Bias" by political scientist Timothy J. Groseclose of UCLA and economist Jeffrey D. Milyo of the University of Missouri-Columbia -- purported to find The Wall Street Journal the most "liberal" newspaper in the country, followed by CBS Evening News and The New York Times. O'Reilly frequently touts The Wall Street Journal's editorial page to be "the only bulwark against this [liberal media]." Further, the study itself is deeply flawed, as Media Matters has documented.
- Page 24: As noted earlier, O'Reilly discusses responses to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, which O'Reilly alleges, showed the "group-think tendency" among the purported secular progressives in the media. Citing James Hirsen's book Hollywood Nation, O'Reilly asserts that The New York Times' A.O. Scott "found that Gibson had 'exploited' the death of Jesus." In fact, Scott wrote in his February 25, 2004, review that Gibson had "exploited the popular appetite for terror and gore for what [Gibson] and his allies see as a higher end." Additionally, O'Reilly wrote that The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday praised Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 but "criticized Gibson for bad history." In fact, Hornaday wrote in December 2004 that she enjoyed aspects of both Fahrenheit and The Passion, but "took issue with both movies as well." Hornaday wrote that "both 'The Passion' and 'Fahrenheit 9/11' reflected something more troubling and difficult to name, a particular kind of bullying, coercive sensibility that sought to colonize their viewers' political and moral imaginations, rather than open them up." Continuing, Hornaday asserted that both films "played most successfully to viewers who already shared their vision of The Truth"; "did little to invite nuanced or critical thinking in the audience"; and "didn't open up debate as much as shut it down, reducing the conversation to Manichaean my-way-or-you're-a-traitor/heathen/pencil-necked-geek food fight that has come to pass for public discourse in this country."
- Page 25: O'Reilly later accuses "[t]he Tribune Company" of running a "primarily liberal" "chain of newspapers," pointing to "papers like the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and Newsday." Again, O'Reilly offers no rationale for his claim that the aforementioned papers are "liberal," only saying that readers should "[b]elieve" him because he has "the clips to prove the case that pervasive secular bias is rampant in America's print press." But one of the Tribune papers O'Reilly listed as "liberal," the Chicago Tribune, endorsed Bush for president in both 2000 and 2004, as did another Tribune-owned paper, the Hartford Courant.
- Page 28: O'Reilly falsely suggests that the ACLU is currently tied to communism by pointing to a quote from the ACLU's founder Roger Baldwin: "I am for socialism, disarmament, and ultimately for abolishing the state itself as an instrument of violence and compulsion. I seek social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class, and sole control by those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal."
Yet, O'Reilly does not mention that Baldwin's statements were reportedly from 1935 and that several years later, according to historians and Baldwin biographer professor Robert C. Cottrell, Baldwin became disillusioned with communism and other forms of totalitarianism "after the announcement of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact in August 1939." According to Cottrell, "The following spring ... Baldwin orchestrated a campaign" to expel all ACLU board members associated with such organizations, the immediate target being "Communist Party member, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn." While Baldwin severed the ACLU's ties to communism, Baldwin and the ACLU continued to defend the civil liberties of political dissidents.
- Page 29: O'Reilly also accuses current ACLU executive director Anthony Romero of giving "orders to all his ACLU cohorts never to appear on The O'Reilly Factor." O'Reilly provides no evidence or documentation to back up this claim. Regardless, since Romero took over as executive director in 2001, several ACLU members have appeared on The O'Reilly Factor. Most recently, on January 2, Redditt Hudson, ACLU of Eastern Missouri racial justice manager, appeared on the show to discuss "Project Vigilant," a program that would provide African-Americans in St. Louis video cameras to record St. Louis police officers allegedly displaying racial bias. Additionally, ACLU attorney Charles Hinkle was a guest on January 28, 2003; ACLU attorney John Reinstein appeared on the show on September 5, 2001; and ACLU attorney Michael Gross was a guest on September 4, 2001.
- Page 37: O'Reilly selectively quotes a Soros ad to baselessly claim Soros isn't "pulling for" the "United States." O'Reilly writes that Soros took "out an ad in the Wall Street Journal that stated: 'The war on terror as we have waged it since 9/11 has done more harm than good,' "and asked: "Whom exactly is Soros pulling for? It isn't the United States." In fact, the ad in question, which reprinted Soros's September 6, 2005, speech to the New America Foundation, described exactly what "more harm than good" Soros felt had occurred since the onset of the "war on terror." Soros asserted that the "war on terror" "has not prevented terrorist attacks around the world;" "diverted our [America's] attention from other vital tasks" like "strengthening the levees in New Orleans;" and has "damaged" the United States' "dominant position in the world."
- Page 40: O'Reilly falsely suggests that Denver Post columnist Cindy Rodriguez had a column corrected due to material cited from "far-left Internet smear merchants." O'Reilly writes: "Dallas Morning News columnist Macarena Hernandez and Denver Post columnist Cindy Rodriguez used information from Web sites under their bylines (Ms. Rodriguez was subsequently embarrassed by corrections printed by her employer)."
As Media Matters has noted, both columnists have cited material from Media Matters to criticize O'Reilly's position on illegal immigrants. Notably, Rodriguez cited Media Matters when noting O'Reilly's agreement with a Radio Factor caller's assertion that illegal immigrants are "biological weapons," bringing numerous diseases into the country. But Rodriguez was not corrected for anything in this column, and the information Rodriguez used from Media Matters was indeed accurate. A review of Rodriguez's columns that mention O'Reilly found only one correction. On November 17, 2005, Rodriguez incorrectly reported that O'Reilly's radio program "was canceled by WJFK-FM in Washington, D.C." and also falsely asserted that Al Franken's radio program garnered higher ratings in New York City than did O'Reilly's. Rodriguez did not cite Media Matters as a source for the incorrect information, nor has such information appeared on the Media Matters website.
- Page 40: O'Reilly misrepresents Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell's January 15 column to claim "these Internet guttersnipes will turn on their own in a heartbeat." As proof, O'Reilly falsely claims that "Ms. Howell made the mistake of pointing out that indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff funneled money to Democrats as well as Republicans," which prompted "the far-left smear merchants" to "organize a personal attack campaign against Ms. Howell." But, as Media Matters documented at the time, Howell did not claim that Abramoff "funneled money to Democrats as well as Republicans," as O'Reilly asserted, but rather that Abramoff had "made substantial campaign contributions" to both Democrats and Republicans. In fact, as reported in the Post articles Howell cited in her column, Democrats received money from Abramoff's clients and associates but not from Abramoff directly.
- Page 54: Discussing his "last appearance" on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, O'Reilly falsely claims that he encouraged a boycott of French goods "because [French President] Jacques Chirac and his pals do not provide much help in the war on terror." In fact, it was France's refusal to support the invasion of Iraq that led O'Reilly to call for a boycott in March 2003. On the March 10, 2003, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly explained his proposed French boycott, stating, "If France does, indeed, veto a new U.N. resolution, I will support a boycott of their products" because "France wants to embarrass the United States" and "is protecting a killer like Saddam [Hussein]."
- Page 63: O'Reilly defends Fox News from accusations of conservative bias, falsely asserting that "just as many liberal voices are heard on FNC as conservative voices." As Media Matters has repeatedly noted, conservative guests dominate Fox News programs, including O'Reilly's. A Media Matters study of The O'Reilly Factor for the first four months of 2006 found that Republican or conservative guests, most notably when the guests were politicians, greatly outnumbered Democratic or progressive guests. Eighty percent of elected or administration officials were Republicans, while only 20 percent were Democrats; conservatives represented 37 percent of all journalists/pundits, while progressives represented only 11 percent; Republicans/conservatives represented 34 percent of all solo interviews, which was double the percentage of Democrats/progressives; and guest panels on The O'Reilly Factor tilted right more than four times as often as they tilted left.
Media Matters conducted a similar study of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, finding that, in the first two months of 2006, the number of Republican/conservative guests on Hannity & Colmes dwarfed the number of Democratic/progressive guests. Excluding neutral guests, Republican/conservative guests in January outnumbered Democratic/progressive guests by a difference of 72 percent to 28 percent. In February, Republican/conservative guests continued to dominate Democratic/progressive guests by a difference of 67 percent to 33 percent.
Additionally, a 2004 Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) study of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume yielded similar results. FAIR's "study looked at 25 weeks of Special Report's one-on-one interview segments (6/30/03 -- 12/19/03)" and found that "[f]ifty-seven percent of Special Report's one-on-one guests during the period studied were ideological conservatives, 12 percent were centrists and 11 percent were progressives."
- Page 66: Discussing conservative radio host Bill Bennett's controversial "metaphorical remarks on crime and abortion in black communities," O'Reilly falsely claims Bennett's "words were ripped out of context by a left-wing smear site and fed to mainstream journalists sympathetic to the S-Ps." O'Reilly declared that "[t]he defamation pipeline swamped Bennett; George Soros and his pals had put another notch in their secular belts." As Media Matters noted, on the September 28 broadcast of Salem Radio Network's Bill Bennett's Morning in America, Bennett declared that if "you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Contrary to O'Reilly's claim, Media Matters did indeed provide viewers with the full context, transcription, and audio of Bennett's remarks.
- Page 77: Discussing the alleged "war on Christmas," O'Reilly again falsely suggests that school officials at Ridgeway Elementary School in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, "allowed a play to be put on that featured the tune of the classic German Christmas carol 'Silent Night,' " but only "with a change in the [song's] lyrics." In fact, as Media Matters has repeatedly noted, the changed lyrics were actually part of a Christmas play about a lonely tree lamenting his state to the tune of "Silent Night."
- Page 91: O'Reilly writes:
Still, I'm going to give the last word on the Christmas controversy to the ultraliberal Baltimore Sun, which on December 2, 2005, ran this headline:
"ACLU Says No War on Christmas!"
Well, that certainly settles it once and for all. My special thanks to the Baltimore Sun for its fair and balanced coverage.
A Nexis search turned up no Baltimore Sun article from December 2, 2005 -- nor any articles from any newspaper from any date -- with the headline: "ACLU Says No War on Christmas!" The Sun did publish a December 2, 2005, article with the headline: "Unhappy with 'holiday': Religious groups decry wording as 'war on Christmas.' "
- Page 96: O'Reilly falsely attacks Al Franken:
As Franken began speaking, I simply couldn't believe it. The guy told the audience that I was a pathological liar and had even lied about where I grew up. His presentation was based on a passage in his book. ... But far worse than Franken's deliberate lie about my upbringing was his reference to my mother. She has, tragically, been suffering from dementia for years and for that reason has round-the-clock supervision. Al Franken never talked with my mother or to anyone else who knows my background.
O'Reilly is referring to a passage from Franken's book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (Dutton, 2003), regarding O'Reilly's repeated claims that he grew up in Levittown, New York, a working-class Long Island town (Pages 73-74, hardcover). Franken, however, was not simply citing "a passage in his book." In Lies and the Lying Liars, Franken noted that O'Reilly's mother was cited in the Washington Post in December 2000 as saying that O'Reilly grew up in Westbury, New York -- a wealthier community a few miles away from Levittown. O'Reilly, in attacking Franken for making this claim without speaking to his mother, ignores the fact that Franken was citing a source that had, in fact, apparently spoken with O'Reilly's mother.
- Page 136: O'Reilly revisits a controversy surrounding an Ohio judge who sentenced a convicted pedophile to probation instead of prison. O'Reilly writes:
But most of the other media condemned me. Newspapers in Cincinnati, Akron, and Dayton actually supported [Judge John] Connor. It was another shocking display of media irresponsibility. The Dayton Daily News was the worst. It leveled personal attacks on me, the governor of Ohio, and the attorney general of the state for demanding Connor's removal. It was, perhaps, the most despicable thing I have ever seen in an American newspaper. And, no surprise, the Dayton paper is a bastion of secular-progressive opinion.
As Media Matters noted, the Dayton Daily News editorial to which O'Reilly referred did not support Connor, but rather argued for Connor to receive due process in any proceeding and called on O'Reilly, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, and Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro to "realize on a very personal level the importance of a legal system not inflamed by the politics of the moment." It also pointed out the past personal legal problems of each as examples where "[a]ll three men could have been destroyed by a rush to judgment of the kind they are now inciting."
- Pages 140-142: On Page 140, O'Reilly cites the GI Bill to support his argument in favor of school vouchers:
But, as we've learned, the true S-P agenda wants nothing to do with the traditional Judeo-Christian values that are taught in most private schools. That is really the issue here. The separation of church and state argument is just a ruse, and there's proof. After World War II, more than 2 million veterans were given educational "vouchers" paid for by the government in order to afford to attend the college of their choice. Many of these vets chose religious colleges. Back then, the S-P movement was in its infancy and little was said.
However, Professor Robert Lowe, former editor of Rethinking Schools, a public education journal, wrote in a 1995 column that this comparison holds little merit given that, under many voucher proposals "sectarian schools would become the chief beneficiary of the program":
The Supreme Court also makes distinctions between religious institutions at the collegiate level and those on the primary and secondary ones. In Tilton v. Richardson (1971), for instance, the Court found permissible government grants to religious colleges for construction projects used for secular purposes. Put briefly, it maintained that no excessive entanglement between church and state would follow from such a practice. In contrast to viewing parochial elementary and secondary education as being suffused with religion, it held that religious institutions of higher education typically resemble secular ones in their commitment to academic freedom, in the substance of their curricula, and in the employment of many faculty who are not affiliated with the religion of the college. Additionally, the Court pointed out that the greater maturity of college students makes them far less subject to religious indoctrination than children. Thus, the Court concluded that for secular colleges there was "less danger ... than in church-related primary and secondary schools dealing with impressionable children that religion will permeate the area of secular education, since religious indoctrination is not a substantial purpose or activity of these church-related colleges ..."
Also on Page 140, O'Reilly writes regarding school vouchers:
The entire issue, of course, is about free choice and the Constitutional right to pursue happiness on an equal basis. Using a variety of studies, ABC newsman John Stossel has documented that poor kids who use vouchers to attend private schools dramatically improve their academic performance. So the intense S-P opposition to school vouchers isn't exactly "nurturing" poor children, now is it?
As Media Matters has documented, Stossel, a proponent of "school choice," has offered skewed, misleading, and factually inaccurate portrayals of public and private schools. Stossel's January 13 report on ABC News' 20/20 on the state of U.S. schools, titled "Stupid in America," was heavily weighted in favor of voucher programs and "school choice," and employed a series of false or misleading claims in support of school choice. Also, when the Department of Education released a study in July 2006 demonstrating identical levels of academic achievement among public- and private-school students, Stossel dismissed the findings, claiming that "[t]he researchers tortured the data" by conducting regression analyses -- a universally used statistical tool to isolate the factor being studied (in this case, achievement by public- versus private-school students) by statistically controlling for the effect of other factors.
- Pages 143-144: O'Reilly congratulates himself for "gently advis[ing]" Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen "to cease and desist from smear tactics" after Cohen criticized O'Reilly in a February 3, 2005, column:
Now, Richard Cohen is one of the most fanatical S-P media people working today. He truly hates me and obviously despises the "deranged" millions all over the world who watch The Factor. Of course, I couldn't care less, and I don't hate him. In fact, the only thing about Cohen that even registered on my radar is that he often used personal attacks in his column to smear those with whom he disagreed.
But, I'm pleased to say, Richard Cohen no longer does that very much. After I gently advised him on the air to cease and desist from smear tactics, he did. Good for him.
O'Reilly's "advice" to Cohen, however, was anything but "gentle" and often incorporated the "smear tactics" he accused Cohen of adopting. From the February 3, 2005, edition of The O'Reilly Factor -- the same day Cohen's column on O'Reilly was published:
O'REILLY: Deranged viewers? Can you believe this guy just insulted you, this Cohen guy, and millions of people all over the world? Can you believe the arrogance and nerve of this man? In his eyes, anybody watching this program right now is unbalanced. Here's more from Cohen.
"Because O'Reilly had, in effect, organized an Internet lynch mob, a collection of cyber-goons -- one of whom threatened to bring a gun -- the school simply junked the program. It chickened out."
Now, Cohen must be self-destructive to write this kind of a loopy column. A committed progressive who rarely strays from the liberal template, he has to know that [former University of Colorado professor Ward] Churchill's story was reported all over the place. It's huge news on talk radio and on the Net. Millions of Americans are angry about the situation, and they all aren't watching The Factor.
Sure, Churchill and Hamilton got threats. I get them every day, along with defamation, slander, and libel. And who drives that kind of hate? Richard Cohen and his pals, that's who.
But as I said last night, this isn't about Ward Churchill or freedom of speech. This is about a power shift in the media. Cohen's a phony. He couldn't care less about Churchill or Hamilton, but he does care about his declining position and the fact that Fox News can now influence what happens in this country.
Finally, we invited Richard Cohen to come on The Factor this evening. Guess what? He chickened out. And that's the "Memo."
On the April 5, 2005, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly said he doesn't like Cohen:
O'REILLY: Well, let him write his own opinion, professor [Alison Schafer of American University]. The New York Times has no right to cull from that -- that would be like me doing an opinion piece through Virginia Heffernan on Richard Cohen. That would be real fair. Everybody knows I don't like Richard Cohen. It's absurd. It's not fair. It's a waste of space.
O'Reilly continued his attacks on Cohen on the June 21, 2005, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, and even issued a threat:
O'REILLY: But the smear business is interesting. It is echoed by far-left columnist Richard Cohen of The Washington Post who writes, "The vitriol being heaped on Durbin would be almost funny if it weren't so mean."
That sentence from a guy who has viciously attacked me and others using the worst possible personal invective, even as he has done shameful personal things. Keep it up, Mr. Cohen, you'll regret it.
- Page 159: O'Reilly writes:
As I explain in more detail in my book The No Spin Zone, the one appearance on The Factor by this fine actress [Susan Sarandon] came in the wake of a police shooting in New York City. An unarmed African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, was slain after some cops who were hunting for a rapist panicked after the lead officer fell down while attempting to question Mr. Diallo in a darkened hallway. This was an awful situation, but after all the evidence was presented, a twelve-person jury, including four African Americans, acquitted the police officers of any wrongdoing.
In fact, Diallo was shot in the vestibule of his building just after midnight on February 4, 1999, by four New York City police officers who opened fire after Diallo reached for his wallet during questioning. The officers, thinking he was reaching for a weapon, fired 41 shots at Diallo, striking him 19 times. The "lead officer" to whom O'Reilly referred -- Edward McMellon -- fell down only after the shooting began. The New York Times noted this in a February 14, 1999, article on the Diallo shooting:
The most puzzling question to be answered is whether any factor, aside from panic, prompted the officers to fire so many times. So far, three theories have emerged.
The first theory is that the officers may have mistakenly believed they were being fired on because some of their own bullets appear to have ricocheted off the wall. One of the officers, Sean Carroll, has turned in a pair of pants that he says he was wearing that night which have a small hole in one leg, possibly created by a wayward bullet, a person close to the officer said.
A second theory being advanced is that Mr. Diallo did not fall down immediately upon being shot because the bullets passed so quickly and cleanly through his body, leading officers to continue firing.
A third theory holds that the other officers may have become confused when Officer McMellon fell back on the stairs during the shooting, and believed he had been hit. The officer suffered a fractured tailbone in the incident. His colleague, Officer Carroll, also said after the shooting that he had hurt his right knee, left foot and neck, although it is not clear how.
- Page 185: O'Reilly, referring to "secular-progressive" opposition to a Republican-backed Georgia law requiring voters to show photo identification to be eligible to vote, writes:
The real reason S-Ps don't want IDs at polling stations is that they would, indeed, eliminate the illegal alien vote, which is often cast for liberal, progressive candidates.
The Georgia law was struck down by Fulton County Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford Jr. on September 19. In his ruling, Bedford noted that voter fraud in Georgia is not at all widespread -- which casts doubt on O'Reilly's unsourced, unsupported claim that "the illegal alien vote" is a boon to "liberal, progressive candidates." Bedford wrote:
The one fact agreed to by all is that the legislative reason given by the State for the passage of the new Voter ID law was to prevent voter fraud. The Court notes that, on this issue, the only evidence the Court actually heard from the State's own witness, Ms. Gloria Champion, representing the Fulton County Board of Elections. Ms. Champion testified that in her 26 years as an employee of that Board, she had personal knowledge of only one instance of voter fraud when someone tried to vote twice.
O'Reilly also writes on Page 185:
The "No Child Left Behind Act" poured billions of dollars into America's schools but, at the same time, instituted strict achievement standards -- testing -- to measure whether or not the school was succeeding in educating the kids. In other words, there is academic accountability to go along with the highest educational spending in America's history.
But progressives oppose standardized tests. They also don't want teacher evaluations based upon the academic proficiency of the students they teach.
O'Reilly, in taking a broad swipe at "progressives" who "oppose standardized tests," ignores the fact that one of the strongest supporters of the No Child Left Behind Act was Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) -- whom O'Reilly attacks on Page 27 of Culture Warrior as "one of America's biggest S-P enablers." When Bush signed the No Child Left Behind bill in January 2002, Kennedy attended the ceremony, and Bush described working with the senator on the legislation as a "great experience." Kennedy has since criticized the Bush administration for failing to adequately fund No Child Left Behind. The Washington Post reported on April 6, 2004: "As for education, Kennedy said Bush reneged on promises of adequate funding to carry out accountability provisions in the No Child Left Behind law passed with Kennedy's help in 2001. The current Bush budget 'leaves over 4.6 million children behind' by excluding funding to cover their needs, he said."