MSNBC Countdown host Keith Olbermann interviewed Joseph Amann and Tom Breuer, authors of Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly and co-founders of www.SweetJesusIHatebillOReilly.com, and discussed O'Reilly's recent gaffes.
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On the April 28 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, guests Joseph Amann and Tom Breuer, the authors of Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly (Nation Books, March 2006) and co-founders of www.SweetJesusIHatebillOReilly.com, discussed O'Reilly's recent gaffes. Amann and Breuer made light of O'Reilly's attacks against newspapers that O'Reilly claims have "smeared" him, pointing out an incident in which O'Reilly mistakenly attacked Stephen Rogers, former editor of the Post-Standard of Syracuse, New York, for his recent "incompeten[ce]," even though Rogers died in 2002.
As Media Matters for America noted, O'Reilly created a new segment on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor in which he purportedly identifies media outlets that engage in personal attacks and use "smear" tactics. During the April 24 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly mistakenly posted the photo of Stephen Rogers, the deceased father of Stephen A. Rogers, the current editor and publisher of the Post-Standard, after the paper editorialized that O'Reilly "put his spin on current events as the keynote speaker for Wednesday's Boypower fundraiser for the Boy Scouts." Speaking while displaying the wrong photo, O'Reilly declared that Rogers and editorial writer Mark Libbon were "unprofessional" and "incompetent" "villains," and even encouraged his viewers to contact Rogers with their complaints.
From the April 28 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
OLBERMANN: Unhappy that the newspaper the Syracuse Post-Standard smeared him by merely referring to the 2004 Andrea Mackris sexual-harassment lawsuit, which he had to settle for a reported $10 million, Mr. O'Reilly declared that "the smear stops here" and then proceeded not just to smear that paper, but smear a dead guy.
O'REILLY [video clip]: The villains of that paper are publisher Stephen Rogers and editorial writer Mark Libbon. These men are not only unprofessional; they are incompetent. Over the past few years, the Post-Standard circulation has declined nearly 30 percent. It is a disgraceful newspaper, nicknamed "substandard" by some in upstate New York. Now, we posted contact numbers for Rogers and Libbon on BillOReilly.com, should you want to speak with them.
OLBERMANN: Hey, good luck with that. If Bill has actually found a working phone number for Stephen Rogers, then he's buried the lead. He's broken the biggest news story of the century, because Mr. Rogers is dead.
The gentlemen on the left, as shown on O'Reilly's program, passed away at the age of 90 in 2002. Stephen Rogers was the publisher of the Syracuse paper from 1955 through 1981. So if you want to try to call him, make sure you don't get stuck with some heavy-duty roaming charges.
The men who spotted that egregious error, among numerous other O'Reilly mishaps, are Joseph Amann and Tom Breuer, co-founders of the web site SweetJesusIHateBillO'Reilly.com, and authors of a book by the same name.
Gentlemen, thanks for your time.
BREUER: Thanks for having us.
OLBERMANN: Tom, I'll start with you. Assuming here, you know, we've all done stuff like this. We were once talking about Neal Boortz, and we showed a picture of Max Cleland. So the next night, we came on, apologized, and we made Countdown one of the worst persons in the world.
But I'm gathering there's been no apology from Ted Baxter over this mistake?
BREUER: Not as far as we know. He could be, you know, doing that soon, but he's not really the apologizing kind. And we're figuring that there's a better chance that the dead guy is going to apologize to Bill than the other way around. So as far as we can tell, he's hiding under his desk. So --
OLBERMANN: Joseph, stuff like this, do you go searching for it? Do you do the fact-checking that Bill obviously never does? Or are you guys like us? You just wait for this manna to fall from heaven, as it invariably does about 3.7 times a week?
AMANN: We have a pretty great group of readers on our website, and they've send us a lot of tips and things. But you can really start to kind of feed through O'Reilly's patterns as you watch his broadcast.
So I think that whenever he quotes a statistic or tries to interpret a chart or a graph, you can pretty much be assured that there's some flaw in his logic or reasoning. So that's usually where we start, is whenever he tries to use anything that he considers fact.
OLBERMANN: And the title, Joseph, of your book, it seems reasonably self-explanatory. How did you and Tom find each other? What made you decide on exposing the big, giant head?
AMANN: We have had an alternative newspaper in Wisconsin that we ran together, and O'Reilly, you know, it's just one of those things you're flipping through channels and you come across him. And either you love him or want to you want to throw things at your television.
And after breaking, I think, three televisions, I decided that it would be more productive to actually launch some kind of website and point out to the humorous aspects of his insanity. And obviously, then a book deal followed.
OLBERMANN: So something good came out of that. Tom, there's so much to choose among, Tom, but it's like -- I don't know -- which package do you open on Christmas morning first? But what do you think is Bill O'Reilly's biggest mistake, biggest gaffe? What is the thing that you've gotten the most -- has resonated the most with your readers?
BREUER: Well, of pure visceral laughs, this one is pretty good. But I mean, he's done a lot of other things that are, you know, I think more, I guess, disingenuous and just sort of slimy.
You know, I think "Paris Business Review" is one of my favorites, because he cited an economic journal to defend the success of his French boycott that didn't exist. And I don't think he's ever mentioned it since, but I'm sure he's aware by now that it doesn't exist.
AMANN: And enough to fill a book. You fill a book with it. It's -- and we could probably fill four or five books, to be honest.
OLBERMANN: I hope you do. But in the interim, the fact that this one notes that you guys, quote, "realized that upon publication of this book, they could well die at the hands of Bill O'Reilly or one of his henchmen. They are at peace with this," end quote.
I'm sure when you wrote this, Joseph, that this sounded like some sort of far-fetched idea. But then we heard about Fox security and the local authorities. Have you had a visit from the O'Reilly-nistas yet?
AMANN: Well, people have asked if they've called yet, and I think that rather than a ring, we're going to hear a kind of a dull thud to the back of our heads one day.
Tom, I joked, is going to be coming home with some groceries and get clonked and, you know, Boca burgers and soy cheese will be flying everywhere, because he's a vegetarian.
And I'll be swimming somewhere off the coast of Martha's Vineyard when some speed boat will come along and dump chum all over me, and I will be, you know, wading in blood and fish guts as the sharks circle. And I'll know that O'Reilly was to blame.
OLBERMANN: And the last thing they saw were loofahs.
The book, to say nothing of the website, Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly. The authors and webmasters are Tom Breuer and Joseph Amann. And boys, the falafels are on me, as we say around the building. Great thanks for joining us.
BREUER: Thanks for having us.
OLBERMANN: Keep up the good work.
AMANN: We will.
From the April 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Then a couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Syracuse, New York, to give a speech in support of the Boy Scouts, who had been thrown off the campus of Syracuse University after the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] complained.
For my trouble, I was smeared twice by the Syracuse Post-Standard. The villains at that paper are publisher Stephen Rogers and editorial writer Mark Libbon. These men are not only unprofessional, they are incompetent.
Over the past few years, the Post-Standard's circulation has declined nearly 30 percent. It is a disgraceful newspaper, nicknamed "substandard" by some in upstate New York.
Now, we posted contact numbers for Rogers and Libbon on billoreilly.com, should you want to speak with them.
And that is what we'll continue to do. Any media person who uses smear tactics in any way, not just on me, but any way will be featured on The Factor and inducted into the billoreilly.com "Hall of Shame."
We will keep a running list of media smear merchants on the website, in addition to our "don't buy, don't advertise" list.
As you know, we debate issues all day long on this program. I have no objection to any media criticizing my stand on any matters of the day. But beginning today, the smear stops here.
You guys want to do that? We'll let everybody know about it. That's called accountability.