Bill O’Reilly is a bad man

by Ted on January 12, 2004

Need a couple of fresh reasons to dislike Bill O’Reilly?

* Thankfully, there seems to be a widespread agreement that Nazi comparisons are inappropriate for our domestic political opponents. Last week, columnist Ralph Peters was criticized for his comparison of Dean to Hitler, and MoveOn was criticized for failing to remove from their server homemade commercials that compared Bush to Hitler.

Ladies and gentlemen, O’Reilly on the ACLU:

“The ACLU is the most fascist organization I have seen in decades. They want to tell you how to live. They don’t want to abide by the Constitution. They want to go AROUND the Constitution. They’re intellectual fascists. And they use the courts as their Panzer divisions.”

Nothing expresses faith in our nation of laws like comparing “courts” and “Panzer divisions”, does it?

* O’Reilly has repeatedly lied about the interview in which he told Jeremy Glick to “shut up” and cut off his microphone. As it turns out, transcripts can be checked on this intergummy thing. Someone should make up a phrase about that.



Ophelia Benson 01.13.04 at 12:09 am

No, I don’t really need fresh reasons, but they don’t hurt anything.

That notorious interview on Fresh Air – where he pretended Terri Gross had been horribly biased and ‘liberal’ and blah blah because she asked O’Reilly hostile questions and she didn’t ask Al Franken hostile questions. ‘You should be ashamed,’ he yelled in his usual self-righteous manner, and then stalked off, and later bragged about it on his horrible poxy little tv show. T.G. didn’t think quite fast enough (nor would I have had I been at her desk) – she could have told him the truth: she wasn’t more civil to Franken because he’s a ‘liberal’ and O’Reilly is a conservative. She was more civil to him because he’s a nice guy (at least on air, which is the issue here) and funny, and O’Reilly is a horrible loud braying self-infatuated bully and about as funny as a rock. It wasn’t political. It was basically about manners. O’Reilly’s are terrible.
(Plus of course there’s the lying.)


Jonathan Lundell 01.13.04 at 12:47 am



Dedman 01.13.04 at 1:10 am

I will say that the ACLU is completely inconsistent with respect to the Second Amendment. There’s no question that the Framers intended to bestow a personal right, and yet the ACLU clings to the notion that it does not because the fashion of its donors dictates it. A very interesting resource is the Fifth Circuit’s opinion in United States v. Emerson, which traces the history of the Second Amendment.


Ophelia Benson 01.13.04 at 1:38 am

There’s no question? No question at all? Hmm. I’ve read some historians who wouldn’t agree with that. (And no I don’t mean Bellesiles.)


micah 01.13.04 at 2:08 am

Apparently, the ACLU has filed this “amicus brief”: on behalf of Rush Limbaugh. Hmmmmmm–those darn fascists at it again.


Ophelia Benson 01.13.04 at 2:24 am

That reminds me of Bush Senior’s lovely sneer about a ‘card-carrying member’ of the ACLU. One of his finer moments.


Ted Barlow 01.13.04 at 2:50 am


Ah, yes. That was… um…

Improved. Thanks.


DonBoy 01.13.04 at 3:04 am

My memory of “card carrying member of the ACLU” is that Dukakis actually said that all by himself, as in “I’m proud to be a…” and Bush picked it up and turned it against him.


Brian A. 01.13.04 at 5:43 am

No. I don’t need any more reasons.

Classic O’Reilly spin tonight. O’Neill’s accusations against Bush are no big deal–he’s just a “prissy” malcontent who got fired.

Shut up Shut up Shut up


liveman 01.13.04 at 11:56 am

I don’t want to take this off on dedman’s tangent, but I’ll see his Emerson and call (not raise) with Silveira v. Lockyer, the appeal of which was denied certiorari by the US Supreme Court.


liveman 01.13.04 at 12:01 pm

Oh, and the discussion of the 2nd in Emerson is dicta; and we know what Justice Scalia thinks of dicta, at least.


Keith M Ellis 01.13.04 at 1:23 pm

A very astonishing quote—”astonishing” in that it’s an audacious lie. But I wonder if each of us is careful to avoid similar (mirror-image) hyperbole in our own writing.


Dedman 01.13.04 at 1:24 pm

Dicta or no, it is certainly helpful and informative. A scholarly opinion indeed. As for Silveira, the mere fact that cert was denied is not a sign one way or the other on how SCOTUS would ultimately rule, as you know. It is curious that the Court refuses to clarify the issue. After all, the Second Amendment has yet to be made binding on the states by incorporation through the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. What’s up with that? The last meaningful discussion of the Second Amendment by SCOTUS was before World War II. Now, I’m not suggesting that there can be no restrictions on firearms ownership — just as there are tests, qualifications, and special circumstances in First Amendment jurisprudence, so too would there be in Second Amendment jurisprudence. The real problem, of course, is that there is no meaningful jurisprudence from the high court on the issue, so that’s where we are, left to scour the writings and personal papers of the Founders.

To Ophelia, I say merely that I stand by my statement. We can argue today about what we think the Second Amendment means, or what it should mean, but the papers and surrouding circumstances of the Second Amendment at its inception clearly suggest a personal right. To those opposed to that, there’s a better approach than elasticizing the constitutional language:

Why not just concede that yes, the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to bear arms, then recite all of the familiar arguments against gun ownership as it now stands, and propose a constitutional amendment? That approach, though undesirable by most and unwise in social policy, would at least be intellectually honest on the issue. No less of a constitutional scholar that Joe Pesci in the terrible, terrible film With Honors stated that “[t]he beauty of the Constitution is that it can always be changed.” After all, if conservatives can advocate sullying the constitutional with social views on marriage, why can’t the liberals do the same on the gun issue? Who knows?

See here for more of that. Of course, such an approach would be exhaustively difficult, but at least it would be intellectually honest.


Keith M Ellis 01.13.04 at 2:47 pm

There’s no need to rehash the 2nd Amendment/gun control debate here. I will say, though, that there are a few of us on the left in the US that are willing to admit that the tendency towards maximalism on the 1st contrasted to the minimalist tendency on the 2nd does, indeed, indicate an inconsistency and reveals a bias. This is true in the example of the ACLU; although in other matters the ACLU has certainly defended the rights of (and cherished by) conservatives—a fact that conservatives tend to ignore.

In my case, this inconsistency isn’t worrisome as I dispute both the utilitarian and the essentialist basis for an assumed “right” to bear arms. I’d like the 2nd to be corrected but, short of that, a weakened interpretation suffices.

I will agree that the onus is on the liberals who do accept either an essentialist or utilitarian basis for the Bill of Rights in general to defend their lack of zeal in defending the 2nd. That probably includes me (as I defend the Bill of Rights on a utilitarian basis), but I do so by simply disagreeing with the positive evaluation of the utility of a right to bear arms.


Barry 01.13.04 at 3:45 pm

Keith, there is no onus whatsoever on the ACLU, which was the topic of this thread. They’ve done far, far more work defending the rights of people they despise than any of us have.


Ophelia Benson 01.13.04 at 5:09 pm


I wasn’t arguing about the Second Amendment itself so much as the way you phrased your take on it –
‘There’s no question that the Framers intended to bestow a personal right.’ ‘No question’ – that’s a pretty strong claim, that’s all.


Thorley Winston 01.14.04 at 3:17 pm

“The ACLU is the most fascist organization I have seen in decades. They want to tell you how to live. They don’t want to abide by the Constitution. They want to go AROUND the Constitution. They’re intellectual fascists. And they use the courts as their Panzer divisions.”

Hyperbolic but his major point (that the ACLU is not really about the Constitution and uses the courts to infringe on the rights of others) is certainly true. The ACLU is very much anti-liberty when it comes to matters such as freedom of association or freedom of religion (so long as the religion is of a Christian persuasion). Others have pointed out their lukewarm support for gun rights (although this may vary between chapters) and I do not believe they have been consistent in defending freedom of contract and property rights either. In addition, they have been notorious supporters of State-mandated racial discrimination visa vi “affirmative action.” In which case they are no more or less principled than any other leftist special interest group who falsely claims to be acting for some “public interest.”


Jeffrey Kramer 01.14.04 at 3:31 pm

thorley, that was the most naziistic post I’ve ever seen in my life, and you didn’t substantiate any of your sweeping characterizations (“anti liberty [for] Christians,” etc.)

Now you can’t deny that my “major contention” was correct, despite whatever “hyperbole” might have been present.


Pierre Menard 01.15.04 at 8:37 am


I disagree with your first post — I entirely buy O’Reillys contention that it was unfair to ask him tough question but go easy on Franken.

Your justification is that Franken is a nice guy while O’Reilly is often pretty rude. But Franken is not at all nice — his books are filled with unfair ad hominem attacks (Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot).

Franken justifies this by claiming that his books are works of political satire. Calling Rush Limbaugh a big fat idiot is OK because his book is supposed to ridicule our modern political environment and the sharp attacks that permeate it. However, the actual books are not satirical at all; maybe a tenth of the material in them could be legitemately classified as satire. The rest is simple political advocacy — interspersed with (pretty funny) jokes here and there.

Anyway, I am not a conservative and I do think Limbaugh is an idiot — but I also listened to the Franken and O’Reilly interviews and was stunned by the difference in tone — especially given as it was Franken who began this whole affair by making accusations against O’Reilly in his book. Sholdnt Franken be the one held to higher scrutiny?


Circular Ruins 01.15.04 at 1:02 pm

Uh, Pierre, note Ophelia’s caveat: “at least on [the] air.”

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