FOX News host Bill O'Reilly lashed out at Media Matters for America and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on the December 9 Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly. He called Media Matters "the most vile, despicable human beings in the country"; called the ADL "an extremist group that finds offense in pretty much everything"; and labeled ADL president Abraham Foxman "a nut."
When the caller on the December 3 Radio Factor objected to "Christmas going into schools" and explained that he "grew up with a resentment because I felt that people were trying to convert me to Christianity," O'Reilly informed him that the United States is "a predominantly Christian nation" and declared, "if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel then." O'Reilly labeled the caller's concerns "an affront to the majority," insisting that "the majority can be insulted too." In his letter protesting the comments, Foxman wrote, among other things, that O'Reilly's comment "plays into one of the oldest anti-Semitic canards about Jews, that they are not full citizens of a country and are not entitled to all of the rights afforded to the majority."
O'Reilly claimed on his December 9 radio show that "the write-ups about this didn't put any of it in context." In fact, Media Matters' original item included the full text and audio of the December 3 exchange. O'Reilly added that the "write-ups" "didn't say it was about Christmas," apparently suggesting that if the public knew that O'Reilly was talking about Christmas when he told a caller to "go to Israel," the remark would seem less offensive.
O'Reilly also claimed that the controversy surrounding his remarks is "why nobody sticks up for Christmas except me." He replayed the audio clip of the controversial December 3 exchange and told listeners: "If you think that's anti-Semitic, I wanna know. Do you think that's anti-Semitic?"
Despite his recent attacks on Foxman, O'Reilly once valued his opinions highly. In February and March, he repeatedly cited Foxman as a trump card against critics who called Mel Gibson and his film The Passion of the Christ anti-Semitic. (On the February 16 edition of ABC's World News Tonight, Foxman said of The Passion: "I do not believe it's an anti-Semitic movie. I believe that this movie has the potential to fuel anti-Semitism, to reinforce it." On his December 9 radio show, however, O'Reilly recalled Foxman's role in the debate surrounding The Passion of the Christ but lied about what he said:
O'REILLY: All right, you remember that controversy last February. I stuck up for Gibson. I said he had the right to put out the movie. ... And, then Foxman, of course, called me an anti-Semite and Gibson was an anti-Semite -- this is the guy.
The truth is that in February and March, O'Reilly eagerly cited Foxman saying that Gibson and The Passion were not anti-Semitic.*
From O'Reilly's February 23 nationally syndicated column:
Even Abraham Foxman, the militant leader of the Anti-Defamation League, now admits the film is not anti-Semitic. Yet Foxman continues to object to it on the basis of what it might do.
From the February 26 O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: So what you have is a controversy about anti-Semitism, which now Abraham Foxman, the head of the ADL says the movie isn't anti-Semitic. And when he says it, you got -- I think you got to believe it, as opposed to sacrilege on the -- with 90 percent of Americans are Christians.
From the March 8 O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: New York Times writer Frank Rich continued his savage attacks on The Passion of the Christ movie yesterday, even though most of you have seen the film, including the head of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League believe it is not hateful towards Jews. Rich is smarter than all of us. If you see merit in this movie, you're either a moron, a sadist, and/or an anti-Semite according to Mr. Rich.
On his December 9 radio show, in response to a Jewish caller who explained that he "Christmas caroled [as a child] and it didn't bother me because I knew I was Jewish," O'Reilly declared: "You know, 99 percent of Jewish Americans are just like you. You know, and that's why the shame of this Anti-Defamation League -- they're just nuts." He added that Barbara Streisand, who is Jewish, sings Christmas carols well:
O'REILLY: And, here's the capper. Who's got one of the biggest-selling Christmas albums in history? Barbara Streisand! Barbara Streisand has made gazillions singing Christmas songs. And she sings 'em really well.
O'Reilly blasted Media Matters and the ADL throughout the December 9 radio broadcast:
O'REILLY: You have a defamation pipeline that starts in the Internet. So, every day The Radio Factor's on the air, we have these creeps -- and they really are the most vile, despicable human beings in the country -- who listen to every word of the program. And then they try to feed stuff out to the mainstream media to discredit me. I mean that's what they do every single day of the year, they do this. So, last Friday we had a caller. We were talkin' about the Christmas being discussed in schools and in the public arena -- and I'm gonna play you the call in a moment.
So, one of these far left websites taped it and they sent it to the Anti-Defamation League, which is an extremist group that finds offense in pretty much everything. Abraham Foxman is the national director. These are the people who accused anybody of liking The Passion of the Christ as anti-Semitic.
So, well you're gettin' the game here. You criticize anybody, you challenge anybody, then you are a bigot. And that's the -- that's why nobody does it. That's why nobody sticks up for Christmas except me. Did Peter Jennings stick up for Christmas last night? I don't believe he did. How about Brian Williams, did he? Did Rather stick up for Christmas? How about Jim Lehrer -- did he? Did Larry King -- hello -- I love Christmas -- did he? No.
All right. And the reason they don't is because of this. So, we are not intimidated. We know how dishonest and disgraceful the defamation pipeline is. And now we wanna hear from you. 1-877-9NO-SPIN. And believe me, I'm not portraying myself as a victim here. I am not doing that. I am attacking these people for being the worst element in American society.
Lemme repeat that. The left-wing websites who are responsible for all of this kind of stuff, and the journalists in the newspapers who print it without any context -- are the worst element -- non-criminal element in the country. The worst. All right? They undermine freedom of speech. They undermine all fair play. They are despicable, vile human beings -- ankle biters. So, I'm no victim 'cause I got a forum and I can give it right back to 'em.
The far left is getting pounded by The Factor. And Foxman is just a nut.
Now, I have now been accused by Abraham Foxman as [sic] being anti-Semitic because I said to the guy [the December 3 caller], "hey, you know, if it's drivin' you crazy you gotta go back to Israel."
Now, the write-ups about this -- didn't put any of it in context. Didn't say it was about Christmas. Didn't say it was about anything. The writer said, O'Reilly told a guy if he didn't like it go back to Israel. Dishonest, of course, blatant. That's what they do all day long.
Remember, more than 90 percent of American homes celebrate Christmas. But the small minority that is trying to impose its will on the majority is so vicious, so dishonest -- and has to be dealt with.
*Update: Media Matters for America updated this item at 4:00 p.m. ET on December 10 to include the quotation of O'Reilly falsely claiming that Foxman called O'Reilly, Gibson, and The Passion anti-Semitic.