O'Reilly on Rosie O'Donnell: a "blithering fool" who is "full of you-know-what"

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

Bill O'Reilly attacked Rosie O'Donnell for stating on September 22 that, despite O'Reilly's claims to the contrary, O'Reilly wasn't "that working class" while growing up because "[h]e went to the [high] school where all the rich Catholic kids went." O'Reilly called O'Donnell a "blithering fool" and announced that he would "tell her that to her face" during his upcoming appearance on ABC's The View, which O'Donnell co-hosts.

During the September 25 editions of both Westwood One's The Radio Factor and Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly attacked Rosie O'Donnell, co-host of ABC's The View, for stating on September 22 that, despite O'Reilly's claims to the contrary, O'Reilly wasn't "that working class" while growing up because "[h]e went to the [high] school where all the rich Catholic kids went." On October 15, O'Reilly reportedly will appear as a guest on The View to promote his new book Culture Warrior (Random House, September 2006).

On his radio show, O'Reilly called O'Donnell a "blithering fool" and announced that he would "tell her that to her face" during his upcoming appearance on The View. O'Reilly said that O'Donnell, "[radio talk show host] Al Franken and all these other assassins are, you know, full of you-know-what, four-letter word."

Later that evening on The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly pointed to O'Donnell's comments as evidence of the "S-P [O'Reilly's abbreviation for "secular-progressives"] smear machine" being "cranked up" over Culture Warrior. O'Reilly declared that the "smear-O'Reilly machine" was attacking his book and declaring that "O'Reilly lies," adding that O'Donnell was the "number one" person who "buys into this propaganda." Continuing, he announced that on his October 17 appearance on The View, "I'm going to have Rosie read page 92 of Culture Warrior aloud." Page 92 of his book is near the end of his chapter on "The Battle for Christmas," and discusses how the alleged "war on Christmas" has started to spread to Easter. As purported proof, O'Reilly, on this particular page, pointed to an incident in St. Paul, Minnesota, in which a secretary was asked to remove her Easter decorations from her desk. It appears that O'Reilly might have intended to refer O'Donnell to page 96, where, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, O'Reilly attacks Franken for citing a Washington Post article, which quoted O'Reilly's mother, to assert that O'Reilly grew up in a wealthier community than he claims he did. On page 97, O'Reilly prints what he said was the deed to his parents' house to prove Franken was "deliberate[ly]" lying about O'Reilly's upbringing.

As Media Matters has documented, O'Reilly's book is rife with factual misrepresentations and inaccuracies, as well as unsubstantiated personal criticism and ad hominem attacks. While O'Donnell is not singled out in O'Reilly's book, O'Reilly recently criticized O'Donnell for her September 12 remarks on The View, in which, during a discussion about President Bush's September 11 address to the nation and the fight against terrorism, she asserted that "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have a separation of church and state." For instance, on the September 14 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, O'Reilly declared O'Donnell to be "hyper-partisan[]"; asked "What planet are you living on, madam?" and stated, "Rosie O'Donnell is angry because she's gay, she wants to be married, she wants to adopt people and she perceives that the ones preventing her from doing that are evangelical Christians." O'Reilly repeated this claim during the September 20 edition of The Radio Factor, stating, "she's resentful toward the Christian right because they don't wanna give gays adoptions privileges and they don't want gays to get married. And she, her, that's her life now. She's a gay advocate " O'Donnell made no mention of gay rights while discussing terrorism on The View's September 12 broadcast.

Also on the September 14 edition of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly took umbrage at O'Donnell's statement that "[a]s a result" of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks "and the killing of nearly 3,000 innocent people, we invaded two countries and killed innocent people in their countries." O'Reilly responded by saying he was "gonna ask" O'Donnell "about Afghanistan" during his appearance on The View because "war is you destroy the enemy, and when you destroy the enemy, innocent people get killed, and that is what war is." O'Reilly asserted that O'Donnell's "argument is easily shot down" because "radical Christianity, whatever that may be," is "not on a jihad to kill anybody." O'Reilly further declared that it was "insane" that audience members applauded O'Donnell's remarks, and concluded: "[Y]ou're just sitting there and you're looking at the woman, and ... looking at Barbara Walters going, 'Boy, I don't know whether I did the right thing by hiring her.' "

On the September 15 broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly agreed with a caller's assertion "that 60 years ago, there'd be millions of...Jews pulled out of the ovens at Auschwitz that would probably disagree with" O'Donnell's anti-war statements. O'Reilly also called O'Donnell's remarks "absurd," anointed O'Donnell an "S-P warrior," used O'Donnell's comments as an opportunity to promote the Culture Warrior, and announced that "you can't get a better window on the culture war in this country" than by listening to O'Donnell's remarks.

From the September 12 edition of ABC's The View, which also featured co-hosts Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Barbara Walters:

HASSELBECK: Because we were attacked five years ago. So I do --

[crosstalk]

O'DONNELL: Wait a second. We were attacked, not by a nation. And as a result of the attack and the killing of nearly 3,000 innocent people, we invaded two countries and killed innocent people in their countries.

HASSELBECK: But do you understand that that the belief funding those attacks, OK? That is widespread. And if you take radical Islam and you want to talk about what's going on there -- you have to -- you have to --

O'DONNELL: And Just one second. Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America --

HASSELBECK: Anything -- are we --

O'DONNELL: -- where we have a separation of church and state. We're a democracy.

HASSELBECK: We're not -- we're not bombing ourselves here in the country. We are being attacked.

O'DONNELL: Yeah, but we are bombing innocent people in other countries. True or false?

BEHAR: But -- but -- but Christians are not threatening to kill us. There's that difference.

HASSELBECK: No, we're talking about our safety here. And if you -- This is a --

BEHAR: This group is threatening to kill us.

HASSELBECK: This is a terrorist group.

O'DONNELL: Well, Iran never threatened to kill us, and Iraq -- Iran is -- is a danger.

HASSELBECK: Yes.

O'DONNELL: Iraq and Afghanistan never threatened to kill us. Ever.

BEHAR: Well, they're building their nuclear weaponry in Iran --

HASSELBECK: Don't you feel that -- don't you feel that though this extreme terrorism in other countries -- we're not isolated here in the United States of America. That -- protecting our -- protecting our borders and making sure that the world is a safer place and a more peaceful place does affect our safety here.

[crosstalk]

O'DONNELL: But you'll never bring peace at the hands of war.

HASSELBECK: I disagree with that.

O'DONNELL: As a species, we have to rise above this.

HASSELBECK: But I -- we have --

BEHAR: John Miller, who's the -- who's in charge of homeland security in Los Angeles now --

O'DONELL: Yeah.

WALTERS: No, he's not, he's the assistant director of the FBI.

O'DONNELL: What's his job?

WALTERS: I think he was my partner on 20/20 --

BEHAR: You remember, he was saying that we have thwarted several attacks already in this country. That means that they are here trying. That means that we need to guard the ports.

[crosstalk]

O'DONNELL: The people who want us to be afraid are telling us that we should be even more afraid because we could have been worse off if it wasn't for them.

HASSELBECK: What a second. What about August? We just completely -- we dissipated --

O'DONNELL: We foiled --

BEHAR: It's an election year, let's not forget that.

HASSELBECK: We foiled an attack that was headed here --

O'DONNELL: Well, we didn't foil it.

HASSELBECK: -- you don't believe it.

WALTERS: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The View!

O'DONNELL: Well, the British -- wait --

[applause]

BEHAR: This is it! This is The View!

O'DONNELL: The British CIA foiled it. We did not foil it. I don't think the American government can take credit for what the British government did.

HASSELBECK: You don't even want to know what they're foiling out there, because that would scare everybody to death. You need to have a little more faith in the system.

O'DONNELL: But they're scaring you enough already. They're scaring --

BEHAR: Do you feel safe? Do you feel safe? I don't. In New York City? I don't.

[crosstalk]

HASSELBECK: I'll tell you, I don't think anyone on September 11th in New York City felt safe yesterday. Today, I woke up and I realized, you know what, emotionally, I felt very -- I did feel threatened yesterday. I've come to that stage.

BEHAR: Yeah, you made that kick yesterday.

HASSELBECK: I did. I did.

BEHAR: Yeah.

HASSELBECK: I woke up today and thought about it on an intellectual level. We haven't had an attack in five years.

O'DONNELL: But do you know that --

WALTERS: But do you feel safe?

HASSELBECK: We are doing more to protect the borders.

WALTERS: Do you feel safe today?

HASSELBECK: I feel more safe -- I do feel as though we're on the offense against these extremists.

O'DONNELL: But let me ask [inaudible] one thing before we --

WALTERS: How can you feel totally safe --

O'DONNELL: I'm supposed to be moderating, and they're giving me the wrap card.

WALTERS: No, no, you can let us go. One more thing.

O"DONNELL: OK. Keep going.

BEHAR: Barbara has to say something. Go ahead, Barbara.

O'DONNELL: Go.

WALTERS: We are told it's not if but when. So none of us can really feel safe in that sense.

HASSELBECK: Yeah.

O'DONNELL: Right, but in life, you have two choices always -- faith or fear. A government should lead by faith, never by fear.

HASSELBECK: I think we are leading by faith.

[crosstalk]

BEHAR: How about rational -- how about rationality? What happened to that?

O'DONNELL: Faith is not Christianity -- faith in humanity; faith in equality; and faith in free giveaways, because frankly, that's what I think TV is really all about.

From the September 14 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor:

O'REILLY: Yeah, it does. You know, listen, I'm probably one of the top five most influential commentators in the world right now. My voice is heard by tens of millions of people. But I can't get through to the hyper-partisans.

I'm gonna give you another example of hyper-partisanship. You got that Rosie O'Donnell byte cued up? All right. Here's another -- look, I can only persuade reasonable people. I can't persuade those who are -- not insane, but so hyper-partisan they're never gonna change their mind. Roll Rosie O'Donnell.

[...]

O'REILLY: OK. So Rosie O'Donnell basically says two things. Number one: Radical Christianity is just as dangerous as radical Islam. And of course, that argument is easily shot down by -- look, radical Christianity, whatever that may be, evangelicals or whatever, they're not on a jihad to kill anybody. OK? That, that's -- that blows that argument right out of the water. And secondly, if Rosie O'Donnell thinks that invading Afghanistan was wrong, where the Al Qaeda had training camps to kill 3,000 Americans, then the argument pretty much ceases.

Now, I'm going on The View in a couple of weeks to promote Culture Warrior. I'm gonna ask Rosie O'Donnell about Afghanistan. You know, you're bombing innocent people. Well, by that measure we couldn't have attacked Germany or Japan. We bombed innocent civilians in both of those countries, Ms. O'Donnell. I mean, what planet are you living on, madam? You know, war is you destroy the enemy, and when you destroy the enemy, innocent people get killed, and that is what war is. And we didn't declare this war on terror, we were attacked. But this hyper-partisanship goes beyond reason. It's not reasonable. It's emotional.

Let's go to Cutchogue, Long Island. John, what say you?

CALLER: Hi, Mr. O'Reilly. How you doing?

O'REILLY: Good.

CALLER: Good. I have to tell you, I just listened to the -- the thing you had on with Arianna Huffington. And what's scary is she's not alone.

O'REILLY: No.

CALLER: She's not even close to being alone.

O'REILLY: Nope.

CALLER: There's millions of them. I went to a show last night, I went to a concert in Madison Square Garden, a Roger Waters show. Twenty thousand people in there, and I left in the middle of it. Halfway through the show I had to walk out because all of a sudden, there -- I was bombarded with graphics and everything calling the president stupid, calling [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair a lapdog. I mean -- it was just, it was out of control.

O'REILLY: Yeah. And -- and -- and --

CALLER: You know, the right-wing cult, the religious right --

O'REILLY: Yeah. Neil Young, Neil Young has done that all throughout his concert tour with Crosby, Stills and Nash this summer. It's not only out of control, it's offensive. It's offensive, and it's demeaning to somebody like you who goes in and pays good money to hear entertainment, and you get stuff rammed down your throat by people who don't know what they're talking about.

But here -- you're right about the millions of people. Did you hear the people applaud when Rosie O'Donnell said that radical Christianity is just as dangerous as radical Islam? I mean, it's insane. There are no radical Christian countries. There is no inquisition anymore in -- in the world. And it's just, you're just sitting there and you're looking at the woman, and you're -- and I'm -- And I'm looking at Barbara Walters going, "Boy, I don't know whether I did the right thing by hiring her." You see? Because once you get into that zone, it's -- it's almost impossible to get out of the zone. See once you define yourself that way, that radical, you can't come back.

[...]

CALLER: Bill, when Rosie O'Donnell compares radical Christianity to radical Islam, I think she's missing the most important point: Christ is probably the most radical Christian there was, and he laid down his life for others and he said there's no greater love than any man can have than to lay down his life for a brother. That's exactly the opposite of what Islamic fascists are. They're -- they're to take other people's lives --

O'REILLY: Yeah. But you know what's going on here. Rosie O'Donnell is angry because she's gay, she wants to be married, she wants to adopt people, and she perceives that the ones preventing her from doing that are evangelical Christians. So it's -- she's coming at it from solely that point of view. And I understand that. I mean, that's why she doesn't like radical Christians, as she calls them.

You know, O'Donnell and I were -- are from the same area on Long Island, Irish Catholic homes, you know, the same thing. Yet she went one way, I went another way. Is she a bad person? I don't think she is. But, again, she's a hyper-partisan, she looks at the issues through her prism, and her prism is these radical Christians, as she calls them, are preventing me from doing what I want. Therefore, they're as bad as the radical Islamists. You know, I'm sitting there going, "This is crazy," and all of you know it is. I don't have one call on the board saying this is true. The best they can do is, well, some nuts blew up an abortion clinic. That's the best they can do, you know, the -- the O'Donnell side.

From the September 15 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor:

CALLER: Bill, Hey, Bill. It's good to talk to ya. Yesterday, Rosie O'Donnell made a statement. She said peace never results from war. Now I hate war, I wish it never had to happen. But I'm willing to bet that 60 years ago, there'd be millions of Britons, French and especially the Jews pulled out of the ovens at Auschwitz that would probably disagree with that.

O'REILLY: Of course. I mean, that's an absurd statement. She also said that we were wrong to invade Afghanistan after 9-11. But, look, she's an American, and she's entitled to these opinions. We shouldn't hate her, but she should be challenged. Look, I'm going on The View in a couple of weeks to promote Culture Warrior. I'm coming in. Here I come.

Now, I got a few questions for Ms. O'Donnell. I got -- you know what I'm talking about? It's gonna be a very lively program. Am I gonna be mean to her? No. I'm gonna be very, very matter-of-fact. So, look, you know people in your own lives, your friends, some of them, are just nutty. You know, you just, you look at them, you roll your eyes. What else can you do?

[...]

CALLER: All right. My, my comment is to Ms. Rosie O'Donnell --

O'REILLY: Right.

CALLER: -- saying that radical Christianity has done so much damage. In fact, if you look at what the liberal godless theology has done to families in this society, there has been more damage in the last 40 years adopting their hedonistic, no values toward anything, especially human sexuality. We know that marriage is protective. We know that the number one group trapped in poverty are the ones choosing to have, you know, hedonistic, out-of, out of --

O'REILLY: But this is -- what you're talking about, what you're talking about, [caller], is the culture war.

CALLER: Yes it -- that's what I'm talking about -- So we have to document --

O'REILLY: Okay. Rosie O'Donnell -- yeah -- Rosie O'Donnell is a secular progressive, and you are a traditionalist. You're gonna love my book, Laura. In fact, send [caller] a galley of Culture Warrior, all right? Send her a galley. That's what this is. You know, Rosie O'Donnell feels conservative Christians, aggressive Christians are just as dangerous as, as Muslims, terrorists. OK? Radical Muslims. The term she used was radical Christians are just as dangerous to this country as radical Muslims. And she said that on The View.

Now, you gotta understand where she's coming from. Rosie O'Donnell is a secular progressive. She's in that -- she is a warrior, an S-P warrior. And I am an S-P traditional warrior. That's what Culture Warrior is all about. So you can't get a better window on the culture war in this country. Now, who's gonna win? Who's gonna win?

From the September 22 edition of ABC's The View:

ROBERTS: We have Rachael Ray on the show [20/20] tonight, and then Barbara Walters also has a revealing look at one of your favorite guys, Bill O'Reilly.

[crosstalk]

O'DONNELL: Bill. Lil' Billy. Billy from Long Island. I actually did his show once. Highly rated.

HASSELBECK: I remember.

ROBERTS (I think?): Highly rated.

O'DONNELL: Highly rated. That's what everyone tells me: "When you gonna go back on the highly rated show?" I'm like, you know --

BEHAR: How was it? Was it fun to be with him?

O'DONNELL: It was all right. You know, the guy grew up in Long Island. He went to the school where all the rich Catholic kids went, Chaminade. You know, and he always portrays himself as sort of a working-class kind of guy. I'm like, "But you went to Chaminade, so you aren't that working class." [inaudible]

BEHAR: Oh, I see.

HASSLEBECK: Maybe -- Maybe he had a grant or a scholarship to that little school.

O'DONNELL: I asked him; no, he didn't. But -- but you know, he's an interesting guy. I think it's much more fun to watch Stephen Colbert make fun of him --

[crosstalk]

O'DONNELL. -- than it is to sort of watch Bill, but you know --

OFF-SCREEN VOICE: That is fun.

[crosstalk]

ROBERTS: But, whatever you think about him, he's hugely popular and --

HASSELBECK: He is -- he's very popular.

BEHAR: He's a little grandiose. He thinks that Al Qaeda is after him. I mean, come on. They're in the mountains: "You know, I've got to get that Bill O'Reilly. I cannot stand him."

HASSELBECK: You know, he's actually going to be here next month.

O'DONNELL: What is up with that?

BEHAR: That's my all-purpose Al Qaeda accent.

HASSELBECK: You should do that for him, Joy, when he comes here next month.

O'DONNELL: You sounded like the Frito Bandito guy for a minute, you know. "I'm going to get Bill O'Reilly. I love the Fritos corn chips. I love them, I do."

From the September 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Today, this full-page ad appeared in the secular-progressive newspaper of record, The New York Times. The ad was a shot across the S-P bow. As they say in the land of the cliché, it's on.

Already, the S-P smear machine is cranked up. In tonight's "Most Ridiculous Item," we'll play you comments by Rosie O'Donnell and Jon Stewart. They're amusing. The hateful stuff I'm ignoring until tomorrow.

[...]

O'REILLY: Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day." As I mentioned in the "Talking Points Memo," the smear-O'Reilly machine cranked up last week, because my book Culture Warrior was set to be released. Displays were pretty pathetic, the usual blather -- O'Reilly lies, that kind of thing. Bush lies, O'Reilly lies. Pass the Kool-Aid. Anyway, it's entertaining to see who buys into this propaganda. Rosie O'Donnell is number one.

O'DONNELL [video clip]: You know, the guy grew up in Long Island. He went to the school where all the rich Catholic kids went, Chaminade. You know, and he always portrays himself as sort of a working-class kind of guy. I'm like, "But you went to Chaminade, so you aren't that working class."

O'REILLY: Of course, the truth is my father broke his back to send me to Chaminade, a very fine school. Now, when I go on The View in a few weeks, I'm going to have Rosie read page 92 of Culture Warrior aloud.

From the September 25 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor:

O'REILLY: OK, so there's [Comedy Central's The Daily Show host Jon] Stewart. And it's true, we're all on the Al Qaeda hit list, but Stewart is very far down on it. OK? So you don't have to worry about it. All right. So, anyway, he's totally taking my remarks out of context. And that's OK. I mean, that's what Stewart does. He's got 15 writers, they come in every day, they do a half an hour at 11 o'clock Eastern time, and my rerun kicks their butt every night. Beats them silly. OK. Which brings me great satisfaction.

[...]

O'REILLY: OK. Well, you know, Rosie, with all due respect, is a blithering fool. And I'm going --

E.D. HILL (co-host): What do you mean, with all due respect, she's a blithering fool?

O'REILLY: With all due respect -- I'm gonna go on that show in a couple of weeks, and I will tell her that to her face. My father broke his back, broke his back, to send me to that school. Now on pages 92-95, on Culture Warrior in the book, I prove once and for all that Rosie and Al Franken and all these other assassins are, you know, full of you-know-what, four-letter word, and there it is. There's the proof. And there's pictures, there are pictures in the book to illustrate what I'm talking about.

[...]

O'REILLY: OK. Why? Why am I being too hard on them?

CALLER: Well, they both came on your show, and I think that, especially, Rosie had extremely good points about the gay adoption, and I think that Jon Stewart just being a good sport. And I think that you should give them both a little bit more respect instead of --

O'REILLY: All right. But I'm just joshing around with them the way they josh around with me. You know, let's face it. I have nothing against them. I like Stewart. O'Donnell, I don't really know.

HILL: But she had the guts to come on.

O'REILLY: She did. She came on and she was fine and everybody watched. And, you know, I respected her position and I wasn't disrespectful. But, look, if she's gonna say that I was a rich kid growing up, then she's not telling you the truth, and I gotta correct the record, [caller]. As for Stewart, you know, Stewart, we go back and forth all the time. You know, back, back, back, back, back. In fact, one of the great clips they used on the 20/20 piece on Friday was when I called Stewart a pinhead. That was great.

[...]

CALLER: And also, what's it gonna take to get people like Rosie O'Donnell and these other left-wing nutcases to open their eyes and see what is going on, Bill?

O'REILLY: You know, you're not gonna get them to say -- when I go on The View in a couple of weeks, I'm gonna say to Rosie O'Donnell -- I'm gonna say, "Listen, you made a comment that conservative Christians in America are just as dangerous as radical Islamists. Now you wanna explain that to me, madam?" I'm gonna say that. And, you know, but, look, I don't expect her to say, "You're right, Bill, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that," because she lives in that world. She lives in a world of overstatement.

Now, that comment, that bothered me a little bit. I have to be truthful; that bothered me a little bit. Because, look, I understand she's resentful toward the Christian right because they don't wanna give gays adoptions privileges and they don't want gays to get married. And she -- her -- that's her life now. She's a gay advocate. I understand why Rosie O'Donnell's angry with the Christian right. But to compare them to the fanatical Islamists who run around killing people, it's wrong, it's wrong. And, you know, you know me, the no spin guy. But I'm hoping we can have a few laughs too on the show. I hope it, you know, I don't wanna have to. I'm gonna be sitting between her and Joy Behar, my God. Jeez. What I do to sell this book, you know?

HILL: You're gonna -- you're gonna come out a changed man.

O'REILLY: No, I don't think so. I've been on there five times, and I've survived all times. I actually like going on the show. It's a lot of fun. 1-877-9NOSPIN. Let's take a quick break. We'll be back with more of your calls and comments in a moment.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, Westwood One
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The Radio Factor, The O'Reilly Factor
Stories/Interests
Attacks on Progressives, Propaganda/Noise Machine
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