O'Reilly: "I think that Obama needs to answer some questions about his point of view, not only on the USA, but on a lot of things"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

On his radio show, Bill O'Reilly replied to a caller who said she was "disturb[ed]" over an email she received about Sen. Barack Obama, showing he was "the only one with his hand not over his heart" during the "Pledge of Allegiance," and "over the lapel pin thing," by saying, "Well, I think that Obama needs to answer some questions about his point of view, not only on the USA, but on a lot of things, and he simply doesn't do it."

On the December 10 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Bill O'Reilly took a call from a listener who claimed she was "disturb[ed]" over an email she received about Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), which showed he was "the only one with his hand not over his heart" during the "Pledge of Allegiance," and "over the lapel pin thing." She added: "I don't want an anti-American or an unpatriotic person running our country" O'Reilly replied: "Well, I think that Obama needs to answer some questions about his point of view, not only on the USA, but on a lot of things, and he simply doesn't do it."

The "lapel pin thing" to which the caller was apparently referring was Obama's statement in October that he had decided to stop wearing a U.S. flag lapel pin during the run-up to the Iraq war because it had become "a substitute for, I think, true patriotism." In an October 3 interview with ABC-affiliate KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Obama explained: "I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great and, hopefully, that will be a testimony to my patriotism." As Media Matters for America documented, Obama's comments led conservative media figures to question whether he "believe[s] in America"; to describe him as a "domestic insurgent"; and to suggest that he has "patriotism problems."

The email the caller apparently referred to was a chain email containing a photograph that appeared in Time magazine with a caption indicating it was taken during the national anthem -- not the Pledge of Allegiance, as the caller asserted. Several commentators criticized Obama for his purported failure to place his hand over his heart during the anthem, as Media Matters noted, with one even baselessly suggesting that Obama was violating United States Code.

Later in the broadcast, another listener called in to say, "it seems to me that after I saw what was on the Internet with Obama and next to [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] -- he didn't -- everybody else put his hand over the heart to say the Pledge of Allegiance to these United States of America that we're so fortunate to live in, and he not even would place his hand over his heart." O'Reilly replied, "Well, I gotta find out about that." The caller replied, "Well, it's in the news, OK." O'Reilly then stated: "I know. But you can't believe everything you read on the Internet, Bonnie. Come on. You gotta be a consumer that's skeptical. You've gotta -- it's like -- look, just be careful of the Internet."

A separate caller subsequently told O'Reilly: "I had heard that [the photo] was actually during the national anthem, where it is not customary to place your hand over your heart." O'Reilly replied: "I always put my hand over my heart during the national anthem myself, but I know that that's not compulsory. But anyway, look, it's a little thing, I think. The bigger thing is that Barack Obama doesn't really want to answer a lot of questions. That's huge."

From the December 10 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: Mandy, Portland, Oregon. What say you, Mandy?

CALLER: Hi, Bill. Thanks for taking my call.

O'REILLY: Pleasure.

CALLER: I'm calling because, at first, I was interested in Obama, but recently, over the lapel pin thing, and I had got an email where him, Hillary Clinton, and another candidate are all doing the "Pledge of Allegiance," [sic] and he's the only one with his hand not over his heart. These things disturb me. I don't want an anti-American or an unpatriotic person running our country.

O'REILLY: Well, I think that Obama needs to answer some questions about his point of view, not only on the USA, but on a lot of things, and he simply doesn't do it.

One of the things that I don't like about Senator Obama is that they've kept him away from everybody -- they, his handlers -- and they have. It's a strategy. It's a conscious strategy. Don't let Obama get into anywhere where he has to answer any questions that are tough. I don't like that. You know, if Giuliani can go in and sit with Tim Russert -- he knows Russert's gonna give him a hard time -- then why can't Obama come in and talk to me?

I mean, we asked him. He said he would, and he hasn't. Now, maybe, he will down the road, but, you know, look, this is -- it's unlike Hillary Clinton, who you know who she is. You know, I hope she'll come in for an interview someday; I'm not counting on it. But you know who she is. We don't know Obama. We don't know her [sic].

[...]

CALLER: Hi, avid listener, Mr. O'Reilly. Just a question. Maybe if you do get Oprah on, you could ask two things: If she admires -- well, you've mentioned you admire Oprah, and I'm questioning the fact that her special children that she has in Africa that she wants to help and everything -- what about the other 25,000 that she might have been able to get malaria meds for, to help them? And how does that make everybody else feel in the country that, you know, they're not so special --

O'REILLY: Well, but I mean, you only can do -- go ahead.

CALLER: -- and the more important point about Obama, that she is preaching on television to the black vote, as far as I'm concerned, because she placated -- that voice she pulls out every once in awhile for that audience -- seems to me that after I saw what was on the Internet with Obama and next to Hillary Clinton, and he didn't even -- everybody else put his hand over the heart to say the Pledge of Allegiance to these United States of America that we're so fortunate to live in, and he not even would place his hand over his heart.

O'REILLY: Well, I gotta find out about that.

CALLER: But he wouldn't even recite it. Well, it's in the news, OK.

O'REILLY: Yeah, I know. But you can't believe everything you read on the Internet, Bonnie. Come on. You gotta be a consumer that's skeptical. You've gotta -- you know, it's like -- look, just be careful of the Internet. I think the point you're making is -- and by the South African thing, look, you do what you can. You can't save everybody, and I think Oprah Winfrey's spent a lot of money trying to save people. So you can't disparage her because she can't do more. She's spent, you know, tens of millions of dollars trying to save people, so I respect that.

[...]

CALLER: Hey, I wanted to give you a call and just let you know, the caller that had called about Barack Obama not placing his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance --

O'REILLY: Right.

CALLER: I did -- I think a lot of people got that email, and I had heard that it was actually during the national anthem, where it is not customary to place your hand over your heart. So just wanted to throw that out there to you this morning, that --

O'REILLY: All right, so Pledge of Allegiance it is [sic] -- now, I always put my hand over my heart during the national anthem myself, but I know that that's not compulsory. But, anyway, look, it's a little thing, I think. The bigger thing is that Barack Obama doesn't really want to answer a lot of questions. That's huge.

Posted In
Elections, Government
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The Radio Factor
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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