On Irish TV, O'Reilly called Media Matters "an assassination website" that takes him "out of context"

››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER

On April 13, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly appeared on RTÉ One's The Late Late Show, a talk show based in Dublin, Ireland. During the interview, host Pat Kenny asked O'Reilly about his previous references to the poor as "irresponsible and lazy" and the Iraqi people as "prehistoric." When Kenny said that he found both remarks on Media Matters for America's website, O'Reilly responded by attacking Media Matters as "an assassination website" and a "far-left propaganda thing." O'Reilly further claimed that he didn't "remember saying" either of the statements pointed out by Kenny and added that Media Matters takes him "out of context." However, Media Matters provided documentation of O'Reilly referring to the poor as "irresponsible and lazy" and the Iraqi people as "prehistoric."

During the April 13 interview, Kenny asked O'Reilly about what Kenny called O'Reilly's "advice to the poor": "It's hard to do it because you've got to look people in the eye and tell them they're irresponsible and lazy, and who's going to do that?" When O'Reilly asked, "Well, where did you get that? Because I don't remember saying that." Kenny responded, "We got it off the website." O'Reilly quickly lashed out, saying, "OK. The website you got it off is called Media Matters, which is an assassination website. It's a far-left propaganda thing. ... They'll take two, three sentences; they'll put it on out of context." O'Reilly added: "[B]e very careful when buying into the American website factory, because they're set up to assassinate people with whom they disagree. That's where you got it, and we know that game. They play it all the time."

However, in documenting O'Reilly's June 11, 2004, description of poor people as "irresponsible and lazy," Media Matters provided more than simply "two, three sentences":

O'REILLY: Reagan was not a confrontational guy, didn't like confrontation, much rather be your pal ... doesn't want to get involved with the really nasty stuff, the tough stuff, and that's what racial politics is -- nasty and tough. ... It's hard to do it because you gotta look people in the eye and tell 'em they're irresponsible and lazy. And who's gonna wanna do that? Because that's what poverty is, ladies and gentlemen. In this country, you can succeed if you get educated and work hard. Period. Period. I mean I know people from Haiti, from the Ukraine from eh, -- we got callers all day long on The Factor. From Romania. You come here, you get educated, you work hard, you'll make a buck. You get addicted, you don't know anything, you'll be poor. But Reagan did not want to confront the issue. And that's the truth about it.

During the interview, Kenny also noted: "But you do have views, say, on the Iraqi people. Did you say that thing about the Iraqi people, that they're prehistoric?" O'Reilly responded: "No. I don't remember saying that at all. And, again, taken out of context." O'Reilly did not explain the apparent contradiction between his simultaneous claims that he could not remember saying the Iraqi people were "prehistoric" and that Media Matters took him "out of context."

Following is the transcript originally provided by Media Matters of O'Reilly's June 17, 2004, comments regarding the Iraqi people:

O'REILLY: Because look ... when 2 percent of the population feels that you're doing them a favor, just forget it, you're not going to win. You're not going to win. And I don't have any respect by and large for the Iraqi people at all. I have no respect for them. I think that they're a prehistoric group that is -- yeah, there's excuses.

Sure, they're terrorized, they've never known freedom, all of that. There's excuses. I understand. But I don't have to respect them because you know when you have Americans dying trying to you know institute some kind of democracy there, and 2 percent of the people appreciate it, you know, it's time to -- time to wise up.

And this teaches us a big lesson, that we cannot intervene in the Muslim world ever again. What we can do is bomb the living daylights out of them, just like we did in the Balkans. Just as we did in the Balkans. Bomb the living daylights out of them. But no more ground troops, no more hearts and minds, ain't going to work.

Later in the interview, O'Reilly said to Kenny: "I will tell you this. Those cards you have in your hand came from one of the most vicious websites on earth. All right? And there are a hundred of them. And if you run for office in America, or you're me and you go on every night, those people will assassinate your character every single day. They will lie about you, they will defame you, they will slander you." O'Reilly claimed that politics is now "a vicious game," adding, "It used to be in our country where people shook hands and this, that, and the other thing. Now, it's like the Mafia: 'Let's kill them.' And that has driven good people away."

In his April 19 column, O'Reilly complained about his visit to Ireland, and in particular, the Irish news outlets. O'Reilly wrote:

Last Friday, I appeared on Ireland's version of "The Tonight Show" and the host had scores of cue cards from "Media Matters," the far-left internet smear-factory.

When I asked the man why he was quoting from an obviously biased source, he blinked nervously and put down the cards.

From the April 13 broadcast of RTÉ One's The Late Late Show:

KENNY: Yeah. Some of the things that you've said and -- either on your radio show or on your TV show. Advice to the poor. "It's hard to do it because you've got to look people in the eye and tell them they're irresponsible and lazy, and who's going to do that?"

O'REILLY: Well, where did you get that? Because I don't remember saying that.

KENNY: That's Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly. 11-06-2004.

O'REILLY: By whom? Who put that out?

KENNY: We got it off the website.

O'REILLY: OK. The website you got it off is called Media Matters, which is an assassination website. It's a far-left propaganda thing.

Now, I do two hours -- you do radio, two hours as well. They'll take two, three sentences; they'll put it on out of context. I can't possibly answer that question. I don't know what the discussion was.

But be very careful when buying into the American website factory, because they're set up to assassinate people with whom they disagree. That's where you got it, and we know that game. They play it all the time.

KENNY: But you do have views on, say, the Iraqi people. Did you say that thing about the Iraqi people, that they're "prehistoric?"

O'REILLY: No. I don't remember saying that at all. And, again, taken out of context. And if you want to ask me a question about the Iraqi people or about American poverty --

KENNY: Which I will.

O'REILLY: I'll be happy to answer it. But be careful about this.

[...]

KENNY: But there's another problem. Maybe it's true of all Western democracies. And maybe democracy is not the only way you can rule a people.

O'REILLY: True.

KENNY: There have been other ways.

O'REILLY: True.

KENNY: But when I look at the caliber of the people who are running for the United States presidency, without running any of them particularly down, I mean, it's not exactly a glittering field, is it?

O'REILLY: You know, I'm not going to say that. I admire and respect people who put themselves out for public service. But I will tell you this.

KENNY: But do you know what I mean?

O'REILLY: Those cards you have in your hand came from one of the most vicious websites on earth. All right? And there are a hundred of them. And if you run for office in America, or you're me and you go on every night, those people will assassinate your character every single day. They will lie about you, they will defame you, they will slander you. And we can't sue, unlike the British system. If you're famous in America, you can't sue.

So, put yourself in a position of, "Do you want that kind of life? Do you want your family threatened every day, like my family is? Do you want that?" So the good people say, "We don't want this."

KENNY: Yeah. And if they've ever done anything remotely sinful or wrong or --

O'REILLY: Oh, they'll make it up. They'll make it up. You don't have to do anything. They'll make it up. So, good people --

KENNY: But is there any way to reform that kind of system?

O'REILLY: There has to -- there should be.

KENNY: Because if it's a --

O'REILLY: There should be tort reform in the United States.

KENNY: What does Hillary Clinton got? Forty-four million bucks so far?

O'REILLY: Well, that's fine. That's a different measure --

KENNY: No, but do you know what I mean? If that's what it takes to get elected --

O'REILLY: That's what it takes.

KENNY: It means that some campaigner, someone who leads with his or her heart, unless they have the cash, they can't do it.

O'REILLY: Well, that's true. America, you have to buy TV time. You have to campaign coast to coast. You've gotta have to have a private jet. You've gotta be everywhere.

But the money doesn't bother me as much as the defamation. Because now politics is a vicious game. It used to be in our country where people shook hands and this, that, and the other thing. Now, it's like the Mafia: "Let's kill them." And that has driven good people away.

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