O'Reilly on France: "One of the few countries in Europe that really doesn't speak English," people "don't take a shower for 18 days"November 9, 2005 8:02 PM EST ››› ANNA DIMOND
On the November 7 broadcast of his syndicated radio show, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly claimed that "[o]ne of the few countries in Europe that really doesn't speak English on a large level is France, because they don't like us." When co-host E.D. Hill said that the French "like their own culture and they try to preserve it," O'Reilly appeared to agree, then added: "But when, you know, you don't take a shower for 18 days, you know --." O'Reilly made the comment at the start of a discussion about recent rioting in the country.
But according to the December 28, 1998, edition of the Financial Times, English is, in fact, the most frequently spoken foreign language in France. Further, 73.5 percent of state-educated students in France learn English.
O'Reilly's comments on the show were the latest in an ongoing series of false claims and misleading statements he has made about France. As Media Matters has documented, over the past year and a half, he has claimed, among other things, that France was "bribed by Saddam [Hussein]"; that it taxes its citizens as much as 80 percent and that French media is "government-controlled"; and that "in France, if you [a politician] have four mistresses, they like you better."
In addition, in March 2003, O'Reilly called for a boycott of French products. Since then, he has repeatedly made false claims (here, here, and here) about the status of French exports to the U.S., claiming that his purported boycott has harmed the French economy. Most recently, he stated that the purported boycott had "hurt the French economy, not to a tremendous extent, but to an annoying extent."
From the November 7 edition of Fox News' The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: Yeah, they love me. [Laughing] I'm real big over in France. You know, it's amazing, we're on in France but on the satellite, so we're not, you know -- masses of people don't speak English in France. One of the few countries in Europe that really doesn't speak English on a large level is France, because they don't like us. They don't like the British. So they look down upon our language and our culture --
HILL: But they like their own culture and they try to preserve it.
O'REILLY: And there's nothing wrong with that. Sure, you want to have a croissant, knock yourself out. You like the little escargot; hey, I'm down with that. But when, you know, you don't take a shower for 18 days, you know --
HILL: Stop it.
O'REILLY: I'm sorry. Come on, you know what I'm talking about. Some things they can copy from us. But anyway, so France isn't a country that speaks English, you know, on a wide level like Scandinavia or Holland or even Italy now. You're getting a lot of English speakers. Germany, it's half and half. Up north they speak English, but in the southern part, the more conservative part, they don't.