O'Reilly: "I'm not a conservative" ... he just plays one on TV

››› ››› GABE WILDAU

FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly is widely regarded as a conservative commentator. The October 25 edition of U.S. News & World Report mentioned "conservative Fox News TV gabster Bill O'Reilly." On October 8, The Washington Post referred to "conservative Bill O'Reilly of Fox News." On August 30, the Associated Press noted that "Fox News is known for its conservative commentators, including Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity."

But O'Reilly vociferously denies that he is a conservative. On FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, he has repeatedly insisted, "I'm not a conservative. I'm an independent." (O'Reilly has made the claim on the following editions of his show: 8/26/04; 3/8/01; 9/27/00; 7/24/00; 7/14/00; 6/26/00.) O'Reilly frequently derides "ideologues" on the left -- and occasionally on the right -- and proclaims that his freedom from ideology is central to his ability to carry out his claimed mission of "looking out for you."

But O'Reilly is a conservative who pushes a conservative agenda every day on radio and television. Media Matters for America has collected some of the most overt examples of O'Reilly's promotion of core conservative beliefs about the economy, foreign policy, and social issues and compared them to similar statements by avowed conservatives.

Reagan tax cuts created Clinton-era prosperity

O'Reilly: "I don't believe John Kerry's going to create 10 million jobs. But -- they -- they run around saying Clinton created 10 million jobs. He didn't. Ronald Reagan created those jobs by cutting corporate taxes so that the corporations invested in research and development. They got these fantastic machines that we're all using now, and people got jobs making and selling those machines." [The Radio Factor, 9/23/04]

Larry Kudlow, former Reagan administration official, economics editor of National Review Online, and co-host of CNBC's Kudlow and Cramer; and Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth and former director of fiscal policy studies at the Cato Institute:

This week America crosses one of the great economic milestones in our nation's history. We will officially break the record for the longest business cycle expansion in U.S. history. The previous record was 106 months in the 1960s. However, while the chattering heads in Washington are claiming that this expansion is sweet vindication for Clintonomics, they are wrong. Dead wrong. The politician most responsible for laying the groundwork for this prosperous era is not Bill Clinton, but Ronald Reagan. ["It's the Reagan Economy, Stupid," The Washington Times, 2/1/00]

Bush tax cuts rescued the economy

O'Reilly: "I think he's [President George W. Bush] done a very good job with the economy, very good job. I would give him an A or an A-minus for the economy because we could have easily gone into a tremendous recession after 9-11 with almost all commerce stopping. And I believe the tax cuts worked. I believe that he managed the economy in the short term very, very well, as well as Clinton did, and I -- he doesn't get any credit for that." [The Radio Factor, 9/27/04]

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform:

Countless economists, including Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, have confirmed Mr. Bush's tax cut served as an effective stimulus that lessened the impact of the recession." ["Supermajority: A Super Idea," The Washington Times, 8/11/02]

Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard executive editor:

Bush's initial tax cut got us out of the 2001 recession. ["A Tax Cut, Not a Whimper," Weekly Standard, 1/13/03]

The poor are lazy and indolent -- especially racial minorities

O'Reilly: "Reagan was not a confrontational guy, didn't like confrontation, much rather be your pal ... doesn't want to get involved with the really nasty stuff, the tough stuff, and that's what racial politics is -- nasty and tough. ... It's hard to do it because you gotta look people in the eye and tell 'em they're irresponsible and lazy. And who's gonna wanna do that? Because that's what poverty is, ladies and gentlemen. In this country, you can succeed if you get educated and work hard. Period. Period. ... You come here, you get educated, you work hard, you'll make a buck. You get addicted, you don't know anything, you'll be poor." [The Radio Factor, 6/16/04]

Heritage Foundation talking points on poverty and inequality:

America's "poor" suffer from the effects of behavioral poverty, meaning a breakdown in the values and conduct that lead to the formation of healthy families, stable personalities, and self-sufficiency. This includes eroded work ethic and dependency, lack of educational aspiration and achievement, inability or unwillingness to control one's children, increased single parenthood and illegitimacy, criminal activity, and drug and alcohol abuse.

"Secularists" threaten America's moral fabric

O'Reilly: "And that is the goal of the secularists: a judgment-free society. They believe that there is no place in American society for standards of conduct based on moral principles. The secularists want a behavioral free-fire zone, and God -- pardon the spiritual reference -- help you if you disagree with that. But most Americans do disagree with the secularists and want a society based on Judeo-Christian philosophy; nearly every poll on the matter demonstrates that." [Syndicated column, "Leftists are the Hypocrites," 5/26/03]

Gary Bauer, president of American Values, former Reagan administration domestic policy adviser, and 2000 Republican presidential candidate:

There is a great militant secularism among America's elite that don't want moral concepts in public policy debates. ["Red and Blue Religion?," The Dallas Morning News, 9/1]

"Activist judges" threaten American democracy

O'Reilly: "'Talking Points' [O'Reilly's daily monologue] has said over and over that if Lenny and Larry want to get married, we don't care, but we do care that the will of the people is being overrun by activist judges and an unbelievably biased press." [The O'Reilly Factor, 7/15/04]

President George W. Bush:

Activist judges ... have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. [State of the Union address, 1/20/04]

Kerry, Edwards, other liberals are "big government, anti-defense" liberals who opposed Reagan

O'Reilly: "[T]here's no question before 9-11 these guys [Senator John Kerry and Senator John Edwards] were pro-big government, anti-defense. They were. Ronald Reagan's worst enemy, when he was building up the arms to defeat the evil empire, the Soviet Union. His worst enemy were the two senators from Massachusetts -- [Senator Edward] Kennedy [D-MA] and Kerry." [The Radio Factor, 10/6/04]

Newt Gingrich, former Republican House speaker:

He's [Kerry] been in the Senate with a voting record to the left of Teddy Kennedy. He is a classic Massachusetts liberal. Most of his policy positions have been anti-defense, anti-intelligence, for big spending, for high taxes. I mean, Kerry can portray himself any way he wants to. He has more than enough in his record. [The O'Reilly Factor, 2/11/04]

Cal Thomas, nationally syndicated conservative columnist, on Reagan defeating the "evil empire":

In the 1980s, there were pleadings by the American left to decrease tensions with the Soviet Union. The proposal was for the Reagan administration to cease deploying missiles in Europe to counter a Soviet buildup and, instead, to unilaterally disarm in order to show Moscow we meant Russia no harm. ... Reagan understood that the "evil empire" of the 20th century could not be accommodated but had to be defeated. He was right, and his detractors were famously wrong. ["The choice: Accommodate or defeat evil," 1/5/04]

The United Nations is useless in Iraq

O'Reilly: "Those who continue to pound the drum [and say] the U.N. is the answer is [sic] simply wrong. Clear evidence now shows high-level U.N. officials were bribed by Saddam, as were high level officials in Russia and France. Millions of Oil-for-Food money somehow wound up in their bank accounts. At this point, the U.N. is largely corrupt." [The O'Reilly Factor, 4/12/04]

James Phillips, Heritage Foundation research fellow:

Despite the claims of many critics of the Bush Administration who call for the U.S. to abdicate its responsibility in Iraq in favor of the United Nations, the U.N. lacks the will and capacity to play more than a limited role in Iraq. The U.N. cannot bestow on Iraq what is not its to give: stability or legitimacy. ... They [Iraqi Kurds and Shiites] also distrust the United Nations because of its incompetent and possibly corrupt administration of the Oil-for-Food program, which Saddam's regime exploited to enrich itself, prop up its power, and cultivate international support. ["Building a Stable Iraq After the June 30 Transition," 6/25/04]

Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is the missing link between Iraq and Al Qaeda

O'Reilly: "We provided you the [Iraqi] link to Al Qaeda 86 different ways. His name is Zarqawi." [The Radio Factor, 10/5/04]

President George W. Bush:

Zarqawi is the best evidence of connection to Al Qaeda affiliates and Al Qaeda. [Press Availability, 6/15/04]

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