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Bill O'Reilly Declares War On The New York Times - Again

Reported by Ellen - February 3, 2009 -

Not that we didn't know the war was already on but now it's official – again. In a jaw-dropping series of segments on last night's (2/2/09) O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly and each of his four guests attacked the New York Times for having the nerve to call O'Reilly and some FOX News regulars “racialist extremists” who are clinging to nativism in the hope that they can use illegal immigration as a wedge issue. A steady stream of right-wing pundits go on FOX and call liberals treasonous and worse. But on FOX, evidently, slurs are OK so long as you're a Republican dishing them out. If you're a Republican on the receiving end, it's time for war. And that's exactly what O'Reilly pledged repeatedly last night, with a unanimous chorus of support from each of the four guests involved. One of them, Jim Pinkerton, made the astounding statement that he was not involved in the Willie Horton campaign ads. There has been a lot of reporting otherwise. With video.

The first of three segments on the subject began with O'Reilly saying that the reason the Times favors amnesty for immigrants is “primarily” because it's “a way to gain political power.” It was a charge he'd repeat several time that night without offering any evidence to support it.

In fact, the Times' editorial in question never advocated for amnesty. The point of the piece was that despite the election of Barack Obama and despite the voters' rejection of harsh anti-immigration measures, there's a vocal group of Republicans using potentially dangerous, inflammatory rhetoric against immigrants. If you ask me, the Times hit the nail on the head. Left without a credible defense, O'Reilly was howling "I'll get you!"

O'Reilly set up a straw man by saying that “most Americans reject blanket amnesty.” But the Times never said otherwise. It said, “For years Americans have rejected the cruelty of enforcement-only regimes and Latino-bashing, in opinion surveys and at the polls. In House and Senate races in 2008 and 2006, “anti- amnesty” hard-liners consistently lost to candidates who proposed comprehensive reform solutions... It is easy to mock white-supremacist views as pathetic and to assume that nativism in the age of Obama is on the way out. The country has, of course, made considerable progress since the days of Know-Nothings and the Klan. But racism has a nasty habit of never going away, no matter how much we may want it to, and thus the perpetual need for vigilance."

The Times also had the gall to suggest that readers “Google the words 'Bill O’Reilly' and 'white, Christian male power structure' for another YouTube taste of the Fox News host assailing the immigration views of 'the far left' (including The Times) as racially traitorous.”

That was good for another FOX News assault on Google.

“Of course you can post anything on YouTube, any lie you want,” O'Reilly said. “Google can highlight the smear in the blink of an eye.” True enough. But in this case, the Times is referring to videos – not some unknown blogger ranting – of O'Reilly railing against the Times for putting in jeopardy the “white, Christian, male power structure.” Notably, while O'Reilly was attacking the Times for citing YouTube, he never denied having said such a thing. You can view O'Reilly saying exactly that here.

“I have always been consistent in calling for a fair and responsible immigration plan which protects both American citizens and illegal aliens who are often exploited, sometimes brutalized," O'Reilly said. He played some clips of himself saying that if he were Mexican, he'd want to be here, too. We also saw him saying, “I don't blame the illegal aliens” and “I'm pro immigration."

O'Reilly didn't mention his “unfortunate gaffe” of calling an immigrant a “wetback” or saying that Americans don't want Mexicans "clustering in neighborhoods." And, of course, he never explained his "white, Christian, male power structure" remarks.

O'Reilly further asserted, also without offering any evidence, that the Times doesn't just want amnesty for illegal immigrants but for their extended families, too. “They want a one party system in America,” O'Reilly claimed, “a liberal fiat. ...The Times doesn't trust the voters and wants to gin the system. And they hate being outed on it.” Then, in a statement that could easily apply to himself, O'Reilly added, “So they use hate accusations to distract folks from their true agenda.”

Two more discussions followed. Half the guests were two of the anti-immigrationists cited by the Times, Bay Buchanan and Pinkerton. The other discussion included conservative Mary Katherine Ham and sort-of liberal Juan Williams. “Fair and balanced” FOX News did not think it important to find a single guest in three segments who is an advocate either for immigrants or someone who, like the majority of Americans, supports a comprehensive immigration policy. Nor was there anyone to defend the Times.

Pinkerton suggested that “in addition to the NY Times' increasingly desperate and frenzied attempt to salvage liberalism,” the paper wrote the editorial to endear itself to its potential Mexican buyer, Carolos Slim (a claim O'Reilly rejected in favor of his “political power” theory).

Buchanan agreed with O'Reilly that political power “is (the Times'/liberals'/immigration advocates') goal. And if they can use the politics of intimidation to keep us quiet, I think they see a path.”

“Look, I'm taking this New York Times on,” Commandant O'Reilly said. “I mean, it's war. Absolute war. I've had enough... All we do is reply to their attacks (right, and if you believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you). ...I know people are saying, 'Hey, O'Reilly, nobody reads the New York Times, it's obsolete. As Jim pointed out. it's got severe economic problems. But they listen in Washington. It gets on the net. And it goes into the Hispanic community. And the Hispanic community thinks me, you, Miss Buchanan, and you, Jim, are white supremacists. 'Cause these people, some of them, don't watch The Factor. They see this and they run with it.”

And some of us DO watch the Factor and know that the Times spoke the truth. I hope they don't back down.

Pinkerton suggested that O'Reilly rebut by nailing the Times “on specific, factual errors, as you do all the time.”

Pinkerton further said that he planned to write a letter to the Times saying, “Look, you said that I was involved in the Willie Horton campaign of 1988. I wasn't.” Pinkerton added that then he and O'Reilly can go to the minority communities and tell them, “these guys are just not telling the truth and we can prove it chapter and verse.”

Actually, there's reason to believe that Pinkerton is the one not telling the truth. Pinkerton's involvement with the Willie Horton ad campaign, the racially charged ad used by George H.W. Bush (and FOX News chief Roger Ailes) to attack presidential candidate Michael Dukakis has been documented elsewhere by The Times, BBC, and The New York Review of Books, among others.

We're gonna continue to cover the issue (of illegal immigration) fairly, O'Reilly said at the conclusion. “But with the New York Times, it's going to go to another level.

In the next segment, O'Reilly asked Ham, “Has there ever been anybody in your lifetime... more misunderstood than me? More attacked than me?”

“I doubt it, Bill,” Ham replied. She attacked the Times for being “juvenile” and “intemperate” and for quoting “Google and YouTube” which it did not. “Largely, this is a signal to the cultural left and from the New York Times that they're not giving up on this racial demagoguery stuff.”

Of course, Ham didn't think there was any racial demagoguing going on at FOX News. No, siree. Ms. Anti-demagogue was “glad to see you fightin' back 'cause that's what it takes.”

“Liberal” Williams agreed O'Reilly was “getting beaten up.” He, too, attacked the Times for “sending people to Google, as if – oh, yeah – that's a credible, legitimate source that's been vetted and editorially, we've checked the facts. How ridiculous!”

What's ridiculous is that Williams couldn't make his argument without distorting what the Times said. They did not cite Google as a source. They told readers that there are videos of O'Reilly making racially inflammatory statements that can be easily found via Google. And they were right.

Even worse, Williams seemed to be justifying his workmates' xenophobia. He assailed the Times for identifying as racism the “real anxiety in white America about the number of immigrants in this country, both legal and illegal.” I wonder if Williams would have identified as racism the “real anxiety” whites in the south felt about the civil rights movement.

“Every single culture war issue, if you're on the other side from the far left, they attack you personally, Juan,” O'Reilly said.

“Believe me, I understand it,” Williams said. “It's the smear part – it's the idea that they can attack your reputation. They don't go back and look at what you actually said.”

No, Juan, the Times did actually go back and look at what has been said on FOX and instead of defending it, you and FOX News are doing the smearing.

“Look, what they've now done is declare war and we're up for the fight,” O'Reilly said.

We'll be watching.