O'Reilly defended S.F. comments but omitted key portion

››› ››› SAM GILL

On the November 14 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly defended as "satirical" his controversial remark that "[I]f Al Qaeda comes in here [San Francisco] and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. ... You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead." As Media Matters for America initially documented, O'Reilly made these comments on the November 8 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, The Radio Factor, in response to San Francisco's Proposition I, which encourages public high schools and colleges to prohibit the military from recruiting on campus. The statement incited a response from some San Francisco leaders.

During his November 14 television show, O'Reilly played an audio clip of his November 8 remarks, although he omitted the most controversial portion. He aired his complaint that "if you [San Francisco] want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money," but he omitted the succeeding statement that ""[I]f Al Qaeda comes in here [San Francisco] and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. ... You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead." One of his guests, Todd Chretien, who authored Proposition I, pointed out that O'Reilly had left out the Al Qaeda comments:

CHRETIEN: But you actually left out the part at the end there where you said if Al Qaeda came to San Francisco and wanted to blow up Coit Tower.

O'REILLY: Yes, we have the whole -- we can't play the whole thing. It's five minutes long. And anybody can hear it on billoreilly.com. But it was obviously the satirical reference. And even the San Francisco Chronicle knows that.

The clip is indeed available at billoreilly.com, however, contrary to O'Reilly's assertion that "[i]t's five minutes long," it runs only one minute, nine seconds.

Chretien then invited O'Reilly to San Francisco to debate the proposition and the merits of the war in Iraq. O'Reilly refused: "[W]hy would I debate someone like you who keeps deflecting the issue into Iraq? This wasn't about Iraq." As Chretien noted, however, the legal text of Proposition I directly addresses the human and economic costs of the Iraq war as grounds for opposing on-campus military recruiting. O'Reilly insisted that Iraq was not at issue in the proposition and qualified his resistance to Chretien's proposal, indicating he would prefer an "honest" debate:

O'REILLY: Mr. Chretien, look, if I thought you were going to debate the war on terror in an honest way, I'd kick your butt up and down the street.

CHRETIEN: OK, bring it on, as the president said.

O'REILLY: But all you want to do is put on a dog and pony show with your little left-wing moon friends.

CHRETIEN: You should have read the proposition, Bill. Then you would have known what was going on.

From the November 14 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: As you may know, voters in San Francisco, by a 59-41 margin, chose to oppose U.S. military recruiting in public schools there, including colleges. The vote is flat-out disrespectful, in my opinion, to the American military, which is doing a magnificent job protecting us from terrorists and fighting to bring freedom to people in Iraq. Now you may not agree with the Iraq War, but disrespecting the military is disgraceful. So on The Radio Factor, I called San Franciscans on their vote.

[begin audio clip]

O'REILLY: I hate to be picking on you guys in California. I hope you don't take it personally. One lady did yesterday. It isn't about you, the individual Californian. It's about how crazy your state is. In San Francisco, they're voting on two initiatives. One would ban military recruiting. Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money.

You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right in to Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead."

[end audio clip]

O'REILLY: And then I went on to do a satirical riff with a serious point. Why should the USA protect San Francisco from terrorists if they in the city are trying to undermine the military? We posted the entire monologue on billoreilly.com.

Predictably, some far-left Internet smear sites have launched a campaign to get me fired over my point of view. I believe they do this on a daily basis. This time, the theme is O'Reilly is encouraging terrorist attacks. Unbelievably stupid, but not unusual for these guttersnipes.

The San Francisco Chronicle picked up the story, but the reporter, Joe Garifoli, realizing the absurdity of it, wrote a tongue-in-cheek article. Included in the article are foolish statements from Mayor Gavin Newsom and some other city officials. Newsom's afraid to appear on this broadcast, but I have only one question for him: Hey, Mayor, are you proud of that anti-military vote? Are you? If so, why? Do you think there's one reporter in the city of San Francisco that would ask Mayor Newsom that simple question, just one? It hasn't been done so far. If somebody asks it, I'll put it on the air.

Finally, what did the citizens of San Francisco think was going to happen after they voted to oppose military recruitment? We're in the middle of a war on terror, and these loopy voters did something like this? And I'm not supposed to call them on it? Come on. Can you imagine this happening during World War II?

So I'm glad the smear site's made a big deal out of it, because now we can all know who was with the anti-military Internet crowd. We'll post the names of all who support the smear merchants on billoreilly.com. So check with us. Bottom line, these San Franciscans who voted to deny military recruiters access are working against their own country, period. And that's the memo.

Now for the top story tonight, two other views of this. Joining us from San Francisco, Todd Chretien, who authored the controversial proposition, and Jeff Katz, radio talk show host on KNEW 910, home of The Radio Factor.

Mr. Chretien, we appreciate you coming on the program. Most of the other people in San Francisco have run for cover. Two simple questions before we get to the issue. Number one, do you believe the USA is fighting a war on terror right now?

CHRETIEN: Thanks, Bill, for having me tonight. I appreciate the chance to talk to your audience. I believe that this war in Iraq is creating more terror than we've started with.

O'REILLY: OK, but do you -- overall, are we in the middle of a war on terror?

CHRETIEN: That's what the president calls it. I would call it something else.

O'REILLY: OK, so you don't believe we're fighting a war on terror. OK. Have you ever listened to The Radio Factor?

CHRETIEN: Yes, I have.

O'REILLY: OK. What time is it on?

CHRETIEN: In San Francisco, I'm bad with time zones, it's usually on in the evening.

O'REILLY: OK. But you have listened to the program? You know the --

CHRETIEN: But I heard your -- I heard - I noticed that, you know, you're right. You said that if it was -- what you were saying there in that intro piece was that it was satirical what you said.

O'REILLY: Right, right.

CHRETIEN: But you actually left out the part at the end there where you said if Al Qaeda came to San Francisco and wanted to blow up Coit Tower.

O'REILLY: Yes, we have the whole -- we can't play the whole thing. It's five minutes long. And anybody can hear it billoreilly.com. But it was obviously the satirical reference. And even the San Francisco Chronicle knows that.

CHRETIEN: Well, this is what I would say, Bill. The people of San Francisco do not think that the war in Iraq is a laughing matter. Because when I wrote Proposition I back in March, there were 1,500 dead American soldiers. As we speak today, there's almost 2,100. And by next Christmas, there'll be 3,000. That's not something that we should be laughing about.

O'REILLY: And you and your ilk have insulted every single military person in this country because, as you know, they're not responsible for the war in Iraq. That's a political decision. These people --

CHRETIEN: That's why we think they should come home now to stop --

O'REILLY: No, it's not about coming home. Hey, you want coming home, put coming home on the proposition. You put --

CHRETIEN: It was in the proposition.

O'REILLY: We don't want --

CHRETIEN: Did you read it?

O'REILLY: Yeah, I did.

CHRETIEN: Did you read it, Bill?

O'REILLY: We don't want military --

CHRETIEN: Because it says bring them home now.

O'REILLY: -- recruiting in our schools. That's why I'm saying we don't want military in our homes.

CHRETIEN: And it says bring them home now, Bill.

O'REILLY: It's the same thing. You insulted them.

CHRETIEN: We don't think that the troops who are dying in Iraq should be replaced with more --

O'REILLY: Then put that on the -- then make a proposition.

CHRETIEN: It was on the ballot, Bill. Hey, that's what the proposition said. You should have --

O'REILLY: This is about military recruiting, is it not, Mr. Katz? Is it not about military recruiting?

KATZ: It is completely about military recruiting inside of schools and college campus. And I have to tell you something, Bill, with the exception of a handful of the uber-leftists here in San Francisco, everybody understood that what you said was really part of what most of America thinks about when they think about San Francisco.

Frankly, those of us who live and work in the Bay Area routinely look at San Francisco, the outrageous votes, the ridiculous things that happen at City Hall and think that San Francisco has simply become a punch line.

It is a virulently anti-American statement. It is attacking the troops full-on. And that's what Proposition I was all about. It's what the continued efforts here in San Francisco -- they have what they call peace marches, where they chant, "Death to America, death to Bush." They hate the troops.

And all you need to do -- and Mr. Chretien, I'm sure, is proud of the support he received on Proposition I. Take a look at some of the groups that are supporting Proposition I. And you tell me which side of this war they're on.

O'REILLY: All right, now Mr. Chretien, I respect you for coming on the program because you knew this wasn't going to be an easy ride.

CHRETIEN: Well, I respect you for having me.

O'REILLY: And I also respect the fact that you dissent from the war in Iraq. It's not about the war in Iraq. And if you wanted a proposition on the war in Iraq, you should have put one on there. But you have to understand, sir, that this is a slap in the face to the U.S. military. This is a volunteer army. These men and women are putting their lives on the line to protect us. And I'll tell you what. I don't back down from any of my comments about San Francisco or the satirical reference. And the satirical reference was this. And again, anybody can hear it on billoreilly.com. Why should we protect you in San Francisco? If you feel so harshly toward the U.S. military, why should they even protect you, sir?

CHRETIEN: I'll tell you what, Bill. If you feel that strongly about defending it, and we challenge you to come to San Francisco and let's have a 60-minute debate moderated by a neutral person. And you can debate that we should keep our troops in Iraq and we should keep the military.

O'REILLY: Not about Iraq.

CHRETIEN: And we'll debate --

O'REILLY: Not about Iraq.

CHRETIEN: --getting the troops home now --

O'REILLY: Look.

CHRETIEN: --and getting the military recruiters out of the school.

O'REILLY: Mr. Chretien, Mr. Chretien.

CHRETIEN: So if you're up for that --

O'REILLY: No, no, look.

CHRETIEN: -- we're happy to have you. We won't back down. Will you?

O'REILLY: All right, why would I debate someone like you who keeps deflecting the issue into Iraq? This wasn't about Iraq.

CHRETIEN: Where do you think they go once they get recruited, Bill?

O'REILLY: It was about denying the military access to your schools. That's what it was about.

CHRETIEN: That's right.

O'REILLY: You deflected into Iraq. I'm not going to debate somebody like you who won't even stay on point. And in fact, I'm going to give Mr. Katz the last word. Go.

KATZ: Well, I will tell you, Bill, that the efforts here, they have a variety of groups that want to talk about how they want to offer alternatives to kids in schools. The reality is this, that there is an underlying contempt for the military. There is an underlying contempt for this country. That's what we find with the left wing. It is epitomized by many of the people who serve on our --

CHRETIEN: That's why 60 percent of the people in the country want the troops to come home now.

O'REILLY: It's not about Iraq.

KATZ: It has nothing to do with that. That's the clearest thing, that you guys continue to attack them.

O'REILLY: Not about Iraq. But I would say one thing to be fair, Mr. Katz. I don't think it's the left wing. I think it's the far left. And there's a big difference.

CHRETIEN: Come on, Bill, don't back down. Come to San Francisco and debate us.

O'REILLY: Mr. Chretien, look, if I thought you were going to debate the war on terror in an honest way, I'd kick your butt up and down the street.

CHRETIEN: OK, bring it on, as the president said.

O'REILLY: But all you want to do is put on a dog and pony show with your little left-wing moon friends.

CHRETIEN: You should have read the proposition, Bill. Then you would have known what was going on.

O'REILLY: Yes.

CHRETIEN: Thanks for having me.

O'REILLY: Well, Mr. Katz illiterate, too? We both read the proposition. We both know what it was. Gentlemen, thanks very much.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
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