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O'Reilly Guest Insults American People, Claims They're So Scared They'll Allow President to Break Law to Save Their Own Skins

Reported by Marie Therese - December 21, 2005

Last night on the O'Reilly Factor Bill O'Reilly slammed Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter's most recent column (web exclusive commentary), published 12-20-05 on MSNBC.com. In it Alter makes the startling statement that Bush on December 6 of this year "Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story [about alleged illegal spying on Americans]." Since it was labeled "commentary" Alter also expressed his opinion that "the president knew publication would cause him great embarrassment and trouble for the rest of his presidency. It was for that reason—and less out of genuine concern about national security - that George W. Bush tried so hard to kill the New York Times story."

O'Reilly interviewed Presidential Historian and Tulane University History Professor Douglas Brinkley about this. At one point, Brinkley called Alter "one of the best journalists of my generation" but then went on to join O'Reilly in condemning him. Even though the online article was clear labeled as "commentary," O'Reilly and Brinkley condemned Mr. Alter for mixing "commentary" with his "story."

O'Reilly said that Alter had no basis for "saying the President knows he's a lawbreaker. It's ridiculous. You can't say that stuff unless Mr. Bush said that to somebody. You just can't pull just out of the air that he knows he's a lawbreaker!! Isn't that insane? You're a reporter. You write stuff all the time."

After admitting that Alter was expressing his opinion in an editorial, Brinkley bent over backwards to find some way to agree with Bill's assessment:

BRINKLEY: "I have to look at this as an editorial but I think what you're saying is true. In this regard, the big story here is that President Bush is - the question is did he or did he not break the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. Bush's view is 'So what if I did. There's a war on terror going on.' The critics of President Bush are gonna be [saying] 'But you broke the law at any rate.' ... And I think this story's not a dead one, Bill. I think in the coming days you're gonna see it grow. But I think President Bush has the vast majority of the American people on his side of the argument, saying 'Look, whether I signed and rubber-stamped a document or not - bull! I was acting after 9/11. I'm trying to make the American people safe. Judge me on it.' And I think his aggressive posture was the smartest thing that he could have possibly done because if he didn't ... then he would have been getting hammered more than in this Alter article."

Later in the interview O'Reilly stuck his foot in it big-time. Remember as you read this that Alter's piece is clearly marked "WEB EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY."

O'REILLY: "All he has to say is ... look. Alter's entitled to his opinion. He's a columnist. He can write his opinion all day long. He just has to say 'It's my opinion that he's desperate, but he's stating it as fact."

COMMENT

Click here to listen to President Bush avow in 2004 that all wiretaps were properly vetted before a judge. Bush is clearly caught here in a brazen lie, since at the time he made this comment he knew he was secretly wiretapping Americans. Not only has Bush violated the Constitution, he's now proven to have lied to the American people.

As for Douglas Brinkley, he's just another Republican toady, feeding the base what it wants to hear. Nothing shocking there.

What DID shock me, though, was that Brinkley, a Professor of History at a reputable university, would make the argument that it's alright for a President of the United States to break the law as long as the majority of the American people agree with him. Additionally, he actually claimed in this interview that Americans don't care about the law - that they are such a bunch of timid, lily-livered cowards that they'll overthrow our legal system to save their own skins.

I don't think that's the case. I suspect Americans are more in agreement with the words of Thomas More to his son-in-law, John Roper, as penned by Robert Bolt in his masterful play, A Man for All Seasons:

MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

MORE: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow, then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

God bless and keep the laws of the United States of America.

N. B. Jonathan Alter was scheduled to appear today on the Radio Factor. The online feed isn't available until 3:00 PM, so I'll have to write up the report tonight, when I have time to listen to it.

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