Keith Olbermann interviewed "Mike from Orlando," the man who called into Bill O'Reilly's nationally syndicated radio program and was threatened by O'Reilly with "a little visit" from "Fox security," simply for mentioning Olbermann's name on the air.
On March 9, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann interviewed "Mike from Orlando," the man who called into the March 2 edition of Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's nationally syndicated radio program and was threatened by O'Reilly with "a little visit" from "Fox security" simply for mentioning Olbermann's name on the air. Olbermann aired a recording of a voicemail "Mike" received from a man identifying himself as "Tony" from "Fox News security," and "Mike" explained that he is not the only person to have called into O'Reilly's radio program and subsequently been contacted by "Tony."
From the March 9 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
OLBERMANN: Erich Maria Remarque will forgive me, I hope, but it is all quiet on the Bill O'Reilly front. Quiet, too quiet. Our No. 2 story on the Countdown: haven't heard a word from Ted Baxter since the last Thursday [March 2], when, chillingly, he revealed that he really believed he could summon local police to pay a visit to callers to his radio program who disagreed with him or said bad words, like my name. Of course, if he's been quiet, others like [talk show radio host] Howard Stern and [talk show radio host] Al Franken have not been -- that, and one of the callers who actually got an O'Reilly-ordered phone call from Fox security in a moment. First, a refresher; though we can't be certain how much of the call actually got on the air. This was what was posted on Bill O'Reilly's website.
[begin audio clip]
O'REILLY: Orlando, Florida -- Mike, go.
CALLER: Hey, Bill, I appreciate you taking my call.
CALLER: I like to listen to you during the day. I think Keith Olbermann's show --
O'REILLY: There you go. Mike is -- he's a gone guy. You know, we have this -- we have your phone numbers, by the way. So, if you're listening, Mike, we have your phone number, and we're going to turn it over to Fox security, and you'll be getting a little visit.
E.D. HILL (co-host): Maybe Mike is from the mothership.
O'REILLY: No, maybe Mike is going to get in big trouble, because we are not going to play around. When you call us, ladies and gentlemen, just so you know, we do have your phone number. And if you say anything untoward, obscene, or anything like that, Fox security then will contact your local authorities, and you will be held accountable. Fair?
HILL: That's fair.
O'REILLY: So, just, all you guys who do this kind of a thing -- you know, I know some shock jocks, whatever, you will be held accountable. Believe it. We'll be right back.
[end audio clip]
OLBERMANN: And they'll hit you real hard. The caller insists he used no foul language, but the host used the dump button to cut him off. By the way, their entire exchange was later scrubbed from the website. Last Friday, we addressed Mr. O'Reilly's notion that the caller was doing something illegal, or something constituting harassment. He was not. We explored the possibility that when Fox security calls callers, that that itself could amount to harassment. And it might. As mentioned, there has been some talk about this elsewhere. From the Denver newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News, TV writer Dusty Saunders expressed amazement that talk radio is being used to threaten talk radio callers.
"My first thought," he wrote, "was that the former Denver broadcaster, O'Reilly, had his tongue tucked firmly in his cheek, particularly in regard to Fox security and calling local authorities. But a self-deprecating sense of humor is not one of O'Reilly's strong points," end quote. Then there was the one-two radio punch. First Howard Stern on Tuesday [March 7], from his broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio, besides getting a good laugh from the references to Fox security, Mr. Stern had this to say.
STERN [clip]: I think O'Reilly's getting crazy. The fact of the matter is, you are allowed to call into a radio show and say whatever you want. The radio show is soliciting for phone calls. That's the idea of the show. Just because the host doesn't like what the caller is saying, you can't alert the authorities. You can't contact authorities when you have a call-in show.
OLBERMANN: And my friend, Al Franken, on Air America, who got wind of O'Reilly's threat, and has experienced them of his own, during yesterday's broadcast, he aired his Fox security recruitment promo.
[begin audio clip]
VOICEOVER: Join the proud, the few, join Fox security. Boys, we just got a phone number from O'Reilly. Let's roll!
VOICEOVER: O'Reilly and Fox say hello.
[sound effects: punching and body hitting floor]
VOICEOVER: Join Fox security and be part of the No. 1 security team in cable news. You'll learn how to pat down [former Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright. You'll learn how to stretch [Fox News host] Greta Van Susteren's face to the breaking point. And most importantly, you'll learn how to trace a phone number to its source.
FRANKEN: Oh, hi.
VOICEOVER: Fox security: fair --
[sound effects: punching and body hitting floor]
FRANKEN: Oh, my God! Stop! Oh, please!
VOICEOVER: -- and balanced.
[end audio clip]
OLBERMANN: And then there is the real Fox News security, which, as the big giant head himself promised, would be calling Mike from Orlando. Last Friday, it actually happened. Fox News security left this message on his answering machine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE [audio clip]: My name is Tony [name & phone number deleted], from Fox News security. I was wondering if you could give me a phone call? I'd appreciate it. So long. See you.
OLBERMANN: He did not swear there, by the way. We bleeped his last name and his phone number for his own protection. And speaking of his own protection, joining me now is so-called Mike from Orlando whose name is actually Mick, we're withholding his last name to protect his identity. And obviously, that's not bad lighting, we're obscuring that picture deliberately. Good evening to you, sir.
"MICK": Hi, Keith, how are you doing?
OLBERMANN: Tell us what you -- what you said on that call to Mr. O'Reilly that we never got a chance to hear.
"MICK": Well, what I said was: "Hey, Bill, thanks for taking my call. I like to listen to you in the afternoons because Keith Olbermann has the best show at 8 o'clock. Why are you always smearing him?"
OLBERMANN: That was it. There was no swearing? There was no --
OLBERMANN: Wow. And why did you -- why did you call?
"MICK": Well, there's a -- you may or may not be aware of it. There's actually a petition up on Bill O'Reilly's website trying to get you fired.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, we heard a little something about that.
"MICK": There's' a website, it's www.callingallwingnuts.com, that has basically said that both sides should be heard. And if Bill O'Reilly wants to try and get you kicked off the air, well, then I think we have the right to call Bill O'Reilly and say that that's not a very good idea, because we like you.
OLBERMANN: Well, thank you for that. What do you do for a living, by the way? Can you tell us that without giving away too much of your identity?
"MICK": Well, I can say hi to my students at Fairview and leave it at that.
OLBERMANN: So, you're a teacher at some school somewhere in America.
"MICK": Something like that.
OLBERMANN: The Fox News security guy who left you a message, did you call him back?
"MICK": No, I didn't, actually. He called on Friday evening [March 3], and I was actually out. And I missed your segment Friday evening as well, and I actually did not even hear about this until Sunday [March 5], when my wife alerted me that there was actually a voicemail message for me.
OLBERMANN: But you know of others who have been called by someone identifying themselves as Fox News security?
"MICK": Correct. The www.callingallwingnuts.com, there were several people -- we decided that we were going to call Bill O'Reilly's show, and we all agreed we were going to be polite, nice, but just voice our opinion, that we disagreed with what he was saying, what he was trying to do. And another caller did manage to get through. She did say your name on the air and she said, 15 minutes later, her cell phone rang. She was actually in the car with her daughter, and it was the gentleman who identified himself on my answering machine; and he was with Fox security. And she actually was reduced to tears, she was so concerned. Her daughter was in the car.
OLBERMANN: I've had a lot of perverse fun with this, but honestly, even if that were, I don't know, [talk show radio host] Rachel Maddow, or another liberal on the air threatening callers, it makes me shiver for the democracy. Mick, alias Mike from Orlando, thanks for putting yourself at such great personal risk from the -- also now from the Fox security video squad by joining us here tonight.
"MICK": All right. Thanks, Keith. Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir. Stay safe.
C-SPAN's Q&A will feature an interview with Olbermann that will air on March 12. Excerpts of the interview, in which Olbermann discusses his relationship to O'Reilly, can be read on the TVNewser weblog of Mediabistro.com.