O'Reilly attacked media interest in New Yorker Iran report while ignoring primary reason for that attention -- the Bush administration's reported consideration of tactical nuclear weapons

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

In a series of broadcasts, Bill O'Reilly condemned the media "hysteria" over Seymour Hersh's article in the April 17 issue of The New Yorker -- on one show calling it a "phony and political" attempt to "denigrate the Bush administration." But O'Reilly largely ignored a primary reason Hersh's story has received such attention: the disclosure that the administration is considering "the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon" against Iran.

In four consecutive appearances on his television and radio shows, Bill O'Reilly attacked the media for extensively covering the claims made by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in his article for the April 17 issue of The New Yorker, which documented steps the Bush administration is taking to prepare for a possible military strike against Iran. But, in all but one appearance, O'Reilly completely ignored a primary reason Hersh's report has received such attention: the disclosure that "[o]ne of the military's initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon."

On the April 11 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly declared that the media "hysteria" over Hersh's report is a "phony and political" attempt to "denigrate the Bush administration." Suggesting that Hersh's report revealed only that "the Pentagon has been planning a military scenario" in response to Iran's evolving nuclear program, O'Reilly called the media's interest over Hersh's report a "joke," concluding that "the anti-Bush media is relentless in trying to undermine the president," which "puts us all in grave danger." But O'Reilly ignored the reported consideration of tactical nuclear strikes against Iran even while claiming that the "anti-Bush press" is "pound[ing] the administration into pudding by painting a Dr. Strangelove scenario" -- a reference to Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film, in which, according to the Internet Movie Database, "[a]n insane general starts a process to nuclear holocaust that a war room of politicians and generals frantically try to stop."

Similarly, during the April 11 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, O'Reilly made no mention of the nuclear strike option plans cited in Hersh's report, despite stating that The New Yorker is a "disgusting ... crazy magazine" that "should be forced to listen to those 9-11 tapes around the clock." On the April 12 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, while again ignoring the nuclear option plans that Hersch reported, O'Reilly claimed that "some in the American press are all upset by the possibility that military action might happen against Iran."

Finally, during the April 12 broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly referred to media reports that Bush is "going to use ... a nuclear device," but misleadingly attributed those reports to other media outlets that had picked up Hersh's broader point that the Bush administration is planning a potential military strike against Iran and "spun it right away" to be about nuclear weapons.

Hersh wrote: "One of the military's initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites." Hersh reported that the plan has allegedly created significant divisions among military officials and Pentagon civilian workers, noting that a former intelligence official claimed that "[l]ate this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran -- without success" and that "some officers have talked about resigning." The article also stated that "[t]he Pentagon adviser on the war on terror [has] confirmed" both the interest in using tactical nuclear strikes against Iran and "that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue." Hersh further reported that the suggestion to include nuclear weaponry in a potential strike against Iranian nuclear facilities has garnered support among "Pentagon civilians and in policy circles."

From the April 11 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: Now, Iran -- and this is a very interesting story -- continues to say, "Look, we're going to develop our nuclear weapons and, you know, blank you. Blank you. We don't care what the world says; we're going to do it."

Now, a left-wing magazine has an article this week that says the Pentagon has military options -- is exploring the option of using the military against Iran. Is this -- is this shocking to anybody? I mean, you would impeach President Bush if he didn't examine some military options, would you not? Iran is the most dangerous country in the world, sworn to hurt Americans. And you're not going to examine military options against the country that's developing nuclear weapons in violation of the world? Of course, you are! This is a big deal?

This left-wing magazine runs out and says, "Are you shocked about this?" Are you, E.D.?

E.D. Hill (co-host): Not at all.

O'REILLY: OK. Anybody would do that, anybody would do it. If -- if Bush didn't do it, he would be incompetent and irresponsible. But all the press is, "Oh, oh, look at this. Oh, how can we be?" What? Are you people insane? Of course, you have to have that option. Diplomacy is first. You take diplomacy as far as you can take it. Absolutely.

If we can disarm Iran in a peaceful way, by a boycott or any other way or, you know, a revolution within the country, good. But, you don't not look at the military option when you have a rogue state threatening you.

I mean, these lefties, these anti-Bush people -- and I'm not here to defend Bush; he screwed up Iraq. We all know that that's the truth. Military campaign was screwed up. That's the truth. All right? You don't want to believe it, don't believe it. But the truth is, we have made severe mistakes in Iraq. We, the United States of America, under President Bush's leadership. That's true.

But that doesn't mitigate his responsibility to protect the nation against Iran or anybody else. And you got these crazy, I mean insane, far-left people, "Oh no, we can't be saber rattling against Iran." You got -- you know, I mean? This is pathetic.

Those people at this crazy magazine, which is as irresponsible as you get. I'm not even going to name it, because it's disgusting -- should be forced to listen to those 9-11 tapes around the clock. You know, we are really in a -- in a real mess here in the USA with these people in the media. Have I made myself clear?

HILL: I think you have.

O'REILLY: OK, good.

From the April 11 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: The media is making a big deal out of a report that the Pentagon has been planning a military scenario in case Iran will not stop its nuclear weapons program. Apparently, that has horrified some in the press. But, once again, the outrage is phony and political, designed to denigrate the Bush administration.

I mean, come on. If the Pentagon isn't studying military options against Iran, President Bush should be impeached. Iran presents a huge threat to America, does it not? Just today, that country announced it has enriched uranium for the first time, a key step towards developing nuclear weaponry. Of course, diplomacy has to be given every chance. But, if it fails, the USA might have to use force against Iran. So, planning for every contingency is a must, is it not?

So, what's the big deal here? Planning is planning. And the Bush administration has a responsibility to examine worst-case scenarios. The press hysteria over this is a joke. Any president, short of [Democratic National Committee chairman] Howard Dean, would want to know the military options.

"Talking Points" has stated that there are some Americans who would allow Iran to develop nukes and do nothing, and some of those people are members of the media. But the larger issue is for the anti-Bush press to continue capitalizing on the Iraq mess and pound the administration into pudding by painting a Dr. Strangelove scenario. You have to see that movie to know what I'm talking about, but it's out-of-control military. Now, there is no question that the Bush administration has made tactical errors in the Iraq war. And now those errors are being used by the Bush-haters to undermine any future military action. This, of course, is extremely dangerous.

Iran, as I said, is a very real threat. And if you think the U.N. [United Nations] is going to stand up to that threat, you need to get Dorothy and Toto off your front lawn. The time has come for all Americans to be honest. The Iraq military campaign has not gone well. That's the truth, but it's still winnable. And a victory would be good for the USA in the overall war on terror. That's the truth.

Iran's government wants to hurt Americans. Thus, allowing them nukes is reckless. That's the truth. And, finally, the anti-Bush media is relentless in trying to undermine the president and will not stop, no matter what the issue. Again, truthfully, that puts us all in grave danger.

From the April 12 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: OK, so there you have it. And I'm telling you, that "Talking Points Memo" is one of the best that I've ever written, because it encapsulates what the press is trying to do in America, what the real threat is, and what the responsibility of the federal government is to deal with the real threat.

[...]

CALLER: Hey, Bill, thank you. Listen, I've heard you say before on the Factor and on the television Factor that there are honest liberals. In fact, you've had them on your show. But my question is with regard to -- and I'd love to hear your thought on this -- with regard to the brouhaha about war plans for Iran. Isn't anyone saying that we've had war plans for Iran as well as any other number of countries for years and they're updated on a quarterly basis. Why are they just saying, "Oh no. Look here now." What do you think?

O'REILLY: Well they're going -- look. The liberal magazine which ran this story is an anti-Bush magazine. All right? So, we know why they did it. The people who picked it up spun it right away that Bush is getting nuclear -- he's going to use a -- you know -- bunker buster, a nuclear device, blah, blah, blah, blah. All of this nonsense. Just garbage. And that's what they do. They create hysteria.

From the April 12 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: In the "Impact" segment, tonight, as we told you last night, it would be insane for the Bush administration not to be looking at military options when it comes to Iran. As you know, that country is defying the world and trying to get nuclear weapons. But some in the American press are all upset by the possibility that military action might happen against Iran. Joining us now from Washington is Fox News military analyst Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney. You know, General, I know you're close to the Pentagon and you talk to those guys all the time. But, what kind of a country would not even consider options, you know, at the planning stage, against an adversary like Iran? I mean, you'd have to be totally irresponsible. So all of this press brouhaha, are you guys laughing at it or what are you doing?

McINERNEY: It's absolutely ridiculous, Bill. And I think that Hersh's article borders on ridiculous as well. The fact is we expect our military to be making plans for a military option. There will be no diplomacy without a very strong, capable military option.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, Westwood One
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The Radio Factor, The O'Reilly Factor
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