O'Reilly derided caller as "Kool-Aid drinker," "insane"; falsely claimed Democrats took campaign contributions from Abramoff

››› ››› JOE BROWN

On his radio show, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that Democrats took campaign contributions from former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. When a caller noted his false claim, O'Reilly stated: "So you are a Kool-Aid drinker who is blinded by whatever neurosis you have, because that's just insane." As Media Matters for America has documented, only Republicans received direct contributions from Abramoff.

On the January 18 broadcast of The Radio Factor, host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that Democrats took campaign contributions from former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. When a caller noted his false claim, O'Reilly responded: "So, you are a Kool-Aid drinker who is blinded by whatever neurosis you have, because that's just insane." But as Media Matters for America has documented, only Republicans received direct contributions from Abramoff. O'Reilly then said to his listeners: "Sorry you had to listen to that call."

O'Reilly advanced his false argument when the caller complained about the behavior of the Republican leadership in Congress, citing the Abramoff scandal as evidence of "a criminal Congress that needs to be expelled." O'Reilly replied that "[t]he Abramoff thing is being made a big deal on the left, and I'm going, 'Well, you better watch it because Abramoff was spreading the money around to everybody.' " When the caller accused O'Reilly of telling a "[t]otal, complete lie," O'Reilly responded: "It's not a lie if you look at what the prosecutor publicly put out as far as money going to Democrats and Republicans. The prosecutor in the case released documents that said, here's who Abramoff gave money to, and the money is about equally divided between [Republicans and Democrats]." When the caller correctly persisted that "Abramoff gave not one dime to a Democrat," O'Reilly ended the call "because that's just fallacious. And you, madam, don't know what you're talking about. OK? So, you are a Kool-Aid drinker who is blinded by whatever neurosis you have, because that's just insane."

O'Reilly falsely claimed that Abramoff gave "big money" to "both sides" in Congress. He then listed some of those to whom he said "Abramoff gave money": Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). But of these politicians and committees, only Burns received a direct contribution from Abramoff. The others received campaign contributions from American Indian tribes represented by Abramoff, but no contributions from Abramoff himself.

From the July 18 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, which featured co-host Lis Wiehl:

CALLER: It's not robust in that way. What I'm trying to say is -- is that when you have one-party control like this, and you have people strong-arming other members to get their votes; when you have an ethics scandal of the nature of the Abramoff scandal; when you have votes being held open way passed their expiration date -- again to muscle votes through that aren't good for the country -- you don't have a robust debate. You have a criminal Congress that needs to be expelled.

O'REILLY: Well, let's walk through that. Number one, there's no difference between what's happening today than what's happened in every Congress that's ever sat. I mean I agree with you, they're ruthless and they're going to try to get their votes anyway they can. And -- but from the time that George Washington was president to up to this point, that's always happened in Congress.

They've always made deals. They've always had backroom bargains. There's always been lobbyists, and that's just a fact of life. It's no different now.

The Abramoff thing is being made a big deal on the left, and I'm going, "Well, you better watch it because Abramoff was spreading the money around to everybody." You understand that, Sherry?

CALLER: Total, complete lie.

O'REILLY: That's a lie?

CALLER: That's a lie.

O'REILLY: Well, I mean, look --

CALLER: If the top-heavy Republican --

O'REILLY: Whoa, Sherry. Hold it, hold it, hold it. Sherry. It's not a lie if you look at what the prosecutor publicly put out as far as money going to Democrats and Republicans. The prosecutor in the case released documents that said, here's who Abramoff gave money to, and the money is about equally divided between --

CALLER: That is -- Abramoff gave not one dime to a Democrat. Not one.

O'REILLY: All right, Sherry, I'm going to let you go, because that's just fallacious. And you, madam, don't know what you're talking about. OK? So, you are a Kool-Aid drinker who is blinded by whatever neurosis you have, because that's just insane.

Get me that -- get me that Abramoff stuff, please. You know that's the kind of stuff that --

WIEHL: No, it's - that's why this scandal is so --

O'REILLY: When you get a caller on like that who has no idea what's going on in the country and is trying to, you know, parade this out as -- this Abramoff is bribing Republicans and no Abramoff money is going to Democrats, that's just insane. So, I mean, I -- here's my take on Abramoff, he should go to jail for forever.

WIEHL: Right.

O'REILLY: All right, for life. And anybody who took money from him and then voted his way should be expelled, impeached, kicked out of Washington, and scorned nightly.

WIEHL: Hmm. There'll be nobody left in D.C.

O'REILLY: That's how I see it, because I think this is awful.

WIEHL: Right.

O'REILLY: But anybody who did it should be held accountable to doing it. But to come on to a national radio program and say Abramoff didn't give a nickel to Democrats, is grossly irresponsible.

We'll be right back.

O'REILLY: All right, here are the facts on Abramoff so Sherry can perhaps have a -- epiphany here. The two largest donors, the guys who got the money I should say, Conrad Burns, Republican Senator from Montana got $147,000. Patrick Kennedy, Democrat, Rhode Island, got $131,000.

WIEHL: Hmm.

O'REILLY: OK, those are the two top guys. The National Republican Senatorial Committee got $395,000 from Abramoff. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee got $353,000 from him. Almost the same. The National Republican Congressional Committee got $337 -- $337,000. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee got $332,000. Almost the same.

All right. All told, the prosecutor says Republicans got $3.41 million, Democrats almost $2 million. So, there the plurality shifts to the Republicans, but, big money by Abramoff to both sides. Got it? OK.

Sorry you had to listen to that call, but we -- you know, we trust that our callers are going to be honest and sometimes they're not.

Posted In
Elections, Campaign Finance, Government, Ethics
Network/Outlet
Westwood One
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The Radio Factor
Stories/Interests
Abramoff Scandal
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