O'Reilly predictably angry at Don Wycliff slams, denies cheerleading Bush administration
Reported by Chrish - June 23, 2006
It was no surprise to find Bill O'Reilly in a foul mood on The Factor tonight, 6/22/06. The Chicage Tribune had printed a column by Notre Dame Professor Don Wycliff which took O'Reilly to task for his Tuesday Talking Point Memo. That rant put the blame for the horrific deaths of Private Kristian Menchaca of Houston and Private Thomas Tucker of Oregon on organizations that O'Reilly fears: the ACLU, Air America, and the BBC.
Wycliff's column accused O'Reilly of intellectual dishonesty, pointing out that BORe wants to blame and punish all the wrong people for this brutal incident because to point fingers at the Bush administration, he would "have to say bad things about some people for whom you have been a cheerleader." O'Reilly, who has been calling for martial law, curfews, and shoot-on-sight punishment for curfew-breakers , would rather blame "far-left" civil liberties defenders and reporters who do not spin for the administration.
Wycliff, who teaches media criticism at Notre Dame University, allegedly cancelled his scheduled appearance on The Factor an hour before the show was taped ("aired", if you believe the show isn't edited), earning him the nickname "the hiding Irish." Bill "I don't do personal attacks" O'Reilly said "If you're going to launch personal attacks, have the courage to back them up. Cowardice is unbecoming."
Columnist Clarence Page, also of the Chicago Tribune, was a last-minute replacement for Wycliff, and witnessing the bullying he was subjected to as a welcome guest it's no wonder Wycliff kept his distance. O'Reilly started the segment by opining that the paper has been fair in its coverage of the "war on terror" but erred in publishing the critical column, which he said was "grossly irresponsible and a lie, which makes (him) angry,"
In a role reversal, Page asked BORe how it was irresponsible and a lie. O'Reilly says that saying the US government is to blame for the grisly murders is irresponsible. Page invites him to look at Wycliff's logic and at his own commentary the past week, saying BORe praised Saddam Hussein's tactics of martial law and curfews, but, as Wycliff notes, there can't be martial law without adequate police and military force and there hasn't been adequate troop strength from the get-go.
O'Reilly responds that no, Wycliff's opinion is that the war has been waged poorly, a valid opinion, (Page pipes up "That's your opinion, isn't it? You want to get tougher." to which BORe responds "You bet.")
The conversation stalls on semantics, O'Reilly adamantly denying that he praised Hussein or his tactics, Page insisting that O'Reilly's comments that the current government should run it the same way (martial law, curfews, shooting-on-sight) is tantamount to praise. Comment: At the very least it is an acknowledgment that Hussein had the populace under control, but O'Reilly endorsing the same tactics of the despiised, reviled dictator is stunning hypocrisy. How low can we sink? Page accuses O'Reilly of spinning his own words, both men jabbing fingers at one another. For the first but hardly last time, O'Reilly says "That's bull." Lost in the exchange is any explanation or clarification of Wycliff's logic or train of thought.
Using the word "despicable" four times in one short paragraph, O'Reilly say the Chicago Tribune should be ashamed of running the column that charges the US government bears responsibility for the horrendous deaths of the two privates without a countering column right next to it. To him it is beneath contempt (lip curled) to draw a moral equivalent between the government he champions and the savages who murdered Menchaca and Tucker. But Wycliff didn't draw a moral equivalent, he just connected some dots that link the understaffing to the deaths.
Page said O'Reilly was reading into Wycliff's words, and O'Reilly shouted him down for a while. Page finally said Bill, it's your show; you've got the whole hour. Let me respond for thirty seconds. He accused O'Reilly of trying to pick out who's helping the enemy and who isn't, and he's starting to sound like one of those editors at one of those Arab papers that are censoring Muhamad cartoons (O'Reilly overtalks the last five words, shakes his head and says "Clarence, I don't know what youre talking about"). Page says Don Wycliff is entitled to give his opinion, and no one is trying to tell FOX News that they shouldn't run his opinion.
Beaten, O'Reilly says "Don Wycliff is a coward. He's not a man of his word. He backed out at the last minute. He's entitled to his opinion, no matter how despicable (5) it is. Now here's the lie."
As O'Reilly turns to his notes and begins to quote Wycliff, Page says with a smile "Don Wycliff is a gentleman, and a scholar, and too nice to engage in this kind of combative atmosphere, but I'm (entitled)(?). " Meanwhile O'Reilly, annoyed at being interrupted, is raising his voice and saying ' bull, that's bull. He's a coward. He's a coward. He takes cheap shots, personal attacks at me, and won't stand up. He's a coward." Barely heard is Page's "talking about your comments, not your person" as O'Reilly steamrolls over him reading from Wycliff's column: "O'Reilly would have to criticize some people for whom you have been a cheerleader." (but, astonishingly enough, as he "quotes" the writing he misquotes it!)
Denying that he's cheerleading for anyone, he quotes himself on Rumsfeld: "We will remind you three weeks ago we reported Donald Rumsfeld had lost control of the Iraqi occupation. His mistakes were endangering US troops." So, one quote from May 6, 2004 is the "balance" to prove he's not an administration booster. Pfffft.
In high dudgeon he claims he has not cheerleaded anyone and Wycliff lied about him in the Chicago Trib, which prints the lie! Explain! he demands of Page (who continues to smile).
Page says calmly "There are occassions when you have cheerleaded. the United States' side..."
and O'Reilly explodes "BULL! BULL!" while Page continues unperturbed "...and the administration's side" and O'Reilly, more quietly, says again "Bull!" and shuffles papers. Page says that occassionally BORe criticizes, and that's OK, but it's very well known... and the music starts. Page says that he hears the music and asks if he'll be cut off, and O'Reilly says No - cut off the music! (which stops immediately) - it's very well known what?
Page states that O'Reilly has defended the administration's side in the war, and O'Reilly again cries bull. There's a lot of overtalking, but essentially Page says O'Reilly defends the administration and criticizes anyone who criticizes the handling of human rights infractions, while O'Reilly claims to be very critical of the way the war's been waged and says the human rights statement is not true. Page, holding his own, says that the other night O'Reilly said that people who signed an anti-torture petition were helping the enemy ((Specifically: "Last week, I chastised Reverends Ted Haggard and Jim Wallace for signing an advertisement, urging the USA to stop torturing people. I told both men that torture is not policy, and that the enemy would use that ad against us. And so they have.") and that's McCarthyism; that's demagoguery. That's beneath you. Overtalking, O'Reilly's almost said "bullshit" but caught himself and said "Bullsh....bull! It's bull."
O'Reilly contends he's reported accurately, saying when we've (the US government) made mistakes. The difference between O'Reilly and Wycliff is 1.) O'reilly wants us to "win" (so presumably now Wycliff wants the US to "not win"), and 2.) he doesn't believe in the moral equivalency between what we do and what the terrorists do, and he (Wycliff) does.
BORe ends the interview by saying Page is a stand-up man and is welcome back. I'd say he's more than stand-up - he's a class act and the best opponent I've ever seen on O'Reilly this side of Jeremy Glick. Clarence gets Top Dog honors for not backing down, for defending his colleague, and for putting O'Reilly is his place with the utmost grace and dignity.