In a discussion about the recent controversy over an episode of the PBS-distributed children's cartoon Postcards from Buster that featured the children of two same-sex couples, FOX News host Bill O'Reilly claimed that he "saved SpongeBob single-handedly." O'Reilly was responding to his guest, Robert J. Thompson, director of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television, who compared the Buster controversy to a similar controversy involving the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants. Focus on the Family Founder James C. Dobson had objected to an anti-bigotry children's video -- featuring cartoon characters such as SpongeBob -- that Dobson claimed would be used to promote homosexuality.
From the February 16 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
THOMPSON: Buster does not get any more explicit than someone she would see outside of the house. And here's the rub on all of this: the people who are making the most complaints about this -- it's kind of the same mentality of the people who are complaining -- you know, speculating that SpongeBob SquarePants is gay. It's corrupting what was this kind of innocent little TV show: SpongeBob, Buster, Teletubbies --
O'REILLY: OK, but wait. There's one big, big fallacy in your argument, with all due respect. I agree with you on SpongeBob, and we mocked that, and, as soon as we did that, it went away -- and people say to me, "O'Reilly, you do X, Y, and Z" -- I saved SpongeBob single-handedly. All right? As soon as I ran it on [FOX News'] The [O'Reilly] Factor [on January 24], Dobson and his crew shut it down. Did you notice that, doctor?
THOMPSON: No, I didn't notice that direct correlation --
O'REILLY: It was over the next day. Believe me, all right? I saved SpongeBob's reputation. SpongeBob's my best friend now.