On the October 24 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly offered a more modest assessment of the impact of his ongoing boycott of France than he has in previous claims, now asserting that his boycott effort has "hurt the French economy, not to a tremendous extent, but to an annoying extent. To the extent that they sent the French ambassador to New York to try to talk me out of it." In the past, O'Reilly has variously claimed that the boycott effort has caused France to lose "billions of dollars," "more than a billion dollars," and "$138 million."
In making the claim on the April 27, 2004, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor that the boycott had cost France "billions of dollars," O'Reilly cited the Paris Business Review, of whose existence Media Matters for America has yet to find evidence.
O'Reilly also claimed on his October 24 radio show that France sent its ambassador "to New York to try and talk [him] out of" continuing the boycott. Although Media Matters could find no evidence to support or refute this claim, French ambassador Jean-David Levitte has suggested that anti-French comments on The O'Reilly Factor are "malicious" and represent "racism." From a July 20 article in The Kansas City Star, on a speech Levitte gave in Kansas City:
Bush and the American government came under scorching attack in the French press, Levitte said. But criticism in the United States tended to be directed at all the French and struck the ambassador as more malicious. He recounted giving Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, three pages of anti-French insults gleaned from a single week of cable television's "O'Reilly Factor."
"For me," the ambassador said, "it's racism."
From the October 24 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: Valencia, California, Bob. What say you, Bob?
CALLER: Hi, Bill.
CALLER: I had a thought about what you said about not buying gasoline on Sundays, but carry it a step further. There is the pro-oil people are always beating you up about the free market thing. Well, what if we just supported, say, Exxon Mobil, only bought from them? The others would have to drive their prices down in order to be competitive then.
O'REILLY: Well --
CALLER: That's just the free market at work.
O'REILLY: Number one, I don't have the power to do it. I mean, we reach 10, 15 million people a week here. But I don't have the power to make one oil company suffer and another not. I don't have the power to do it. What I have the power to do, and we've been successful in doing, is getting the word out that folks are getting hosed. OK? And we've been very successful in doing that. And the don't-buy-gas-on-Sundays, purely symbolic. It's a symbolic gesture of anger. I don't expect it will have -- it's not like France, where, you know, we know that our boycott of France hurt the French economy, not to a tremendous extent but to an annoying extent. To the extent that they sent the French ambassador to New York to try to talk me out of it. All right, but with the big oil companies, the perception and the anger we have been able to build our case, and that has spread. And that's what we're able to do.