Big Bad Terry Gross vs. Poor Defenseless Bill o'Reilly

Before playing the taped interview, Terry Gross played a clip from O’Reilly’s show last night, in which he vilified NPR in general, and mentioned (if I recall correctly) that he “enjoys telling off a woman.”

He’ll occasionally say something that makes sense, and we actually agree about some things. Then he’ll get back on track as a bully, a whiner and a hypocrite.

I probably should have put all of this in one post. Oh well. Here goes number 3.

Around 24:23, O’Reilly claims that because of an ACLU legal challenge, the phrase “Christmas holiday” cannot be used on a school calendar. A Google search turns up this article by O’Reilly, where he says:

There’s no mention of the ACLU, at least not in reference to this issue. This was the first example I found, and O’Reilly wrote it, so I looked into it. According to the Catholic League:

The ACLU web search goes back to the year 2000. A search for “christmas” on the Advanced Search page returns one result, about the ACLU defending student’s right to distribute candy canes with religious messages. Since only one result from the main ACLU site seemed a little low, I went to google and entered this search: “ christmas calendar”, which returned 2 results, both unrelated to the story I’m looking for. I dropped the term calendar, and Google returned 158 results. I examined all of them and found nothing relating to a threat to sue over the term “Christmas holiday” on a school calendar.

I did some further searching and discovered a January 2003 post on a message board about the ACLU threatening to sue a Georgia school over the word “Christmas” on a school calendar. I could not find any further information on this.

Because of the lack of information about this on the ACLU website or from any reputable news outlet, and the speculatory nature of some of the claims, I am forced to conclude that this is not true. Somebody should tell Bill.

Another possibility is that Bill meant that the school did this because it feared a lawsuit from the ACLU. Well, that’s not the ACLU’s problem. At best he’s ignorant. At worst it’s a lie. I report, you decide.

NOTE: If you happen to have a link to an actual news story about this, I urge you to post it. I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong if someone can come up with a legitimate cite for this thing.

Should read: “Around 24:23, O’Reilly claims that because of ACLU legal challenges, the phrase “Christmas holiday” cannot be used on calendars in some school districts.”

In fairness to Bill, I thought he said some things that sounded reasonable. I was surprised to hear him sort of criticize the Bush administration regarding WMDs (though his statement that we should be upset if we don’t see something “in the next nine months” was a bit rich) and I was also surprised that he opposes the death penalty. (I don’t watch his show, obviously, or these might not be surprises.)

I have to agree with tomndebb, though, that his coming unglued at the end seemed awfully random not to be staged. It seemed to throw Terry for a loop. If being asked to defend some of his more egregious comments is his definition “hatchet job”, Bill needs to grow a pair.

Dr. J

What more can we say about this pile? The fact that Rush Limbaugh has far more defenders on this board should say something. Rush can at least give as good as he gets in an interchange without turning beet red and storming out somewhere. O’Reily seriously seems to have absolutely no sense of humor about himself whatsoever, as Tucker Carlson pointed out in a Salon interview. He simply can’t function outside of an environment where he controls everything.

Tom, Dr. J, remember: Terry reaches maybe 4 million people a day, on a good day (I’m pulling that largely out of my ass, since I don’t have the arbs handy). On FOXNews,, and the Factor radio program O’Bill reaches how many? Ten times that? Twenty? And what’s the NPR/FOX overlap like? I reckon about, oh, us.

He knows full well he can get away with treating Terry like shit and then lying about it and playing the martyr.

IMO it was a publicity stunt, pure and simple, and I’m frankly disgusted by it. I know he’s an entertainer through and through, but he needs to fabricate his gimmicks at his own expense, not at others’.


I’ve never gotten the sense that Rush takes himself 100% seriously and that he just sort of gets a kick out making liberals pop blood vessels.

He also doesn’t pretend to be objective or non-partisan,

Eh, he’s probably just whacked out on Oxycontin again.

Bear in mind that Terry Gross never aired her interview with Monica Lewinsky, because Lewinsky thought that the interview portrayed her in a bad light.

If Bill O’Reilly walked out on Gross complaining that the interview was a hatchet job, then it seems pretty clear to me that the walkout was staged. If he really felt that the interview was a hatchet job, then he could have stopped the interiew from being aired.

I only caught 5 minutes or so of the interview (but I plan to listen to it in its entirety later,) but O’Reilly came across as having the pugnacious belligerence of the deeply insecure. (By contrast Al Franken is so comfortable in his own skin that at times he rubs me the wrong way. Not physically, mind you, but the wrong way.) When he ranted about how negative reviews of his books are all part of a secret conspiracy orchestrated by the New York Times, he sounded paranoid to the point of being outright unhinged.

Well, it started a bit adversarial. Terry asked Bill about some stuff in Franken’s book, Bill was very defensive. He was quite the sound-byter. Terry challenged very little of what he said.

It got pretty chatty in the middle; Terry asked about Bill’s background. He went to a Catholic school. He had a brawl with Dad about who’s boss. Terry was being very deferring, Bill was eating it up and liked telling what a great guy he was.

Around 31:32 it got ugly. Terry asked him about his political affiliations, no accusations, and he launches into a big, prepared speech defending some allegation in Franken’s book that Terry really didn’t address specifically. Terry does not challenge him on this, changes the subject.

Terry asks about book reviews of his previous book. She starts to bring up a review from People magazine. Bill interrupts, gets immediately defensive: “they’re reviewing Me not The Book.” etc etc.

Terry defers, changes the subject again: do you think it’s okay to mock a book reviewer on your show, don’t you think that may cross a line? Bill sez, “depends on the review!” She starts to bring up a quote from People magazine, but Bill doesn’t allow her to read it.

Suddenly O’Reilly melts down. He goes off on Terry for about 3 minutes. “Do you think I don’t know what’s going on here? This interview is obviously a hachet job on me. I have been defending myself for 50 minutes against wild allegations. Were you this tough on Al Franken? Huh? Huh? Huh? Were you?!?”

Terry is obviously at a loss. “Um, no, I probably wasn’t, but Franken wrote a satirical book and…” and we never hear the rest. More of O’Reilly fuming & ranting, then, finally “Terry, this interview is Over.” Terry asks to a dead mike if he’s going to let her ask her question about the People quote, she gets no response, and concludes “This has been Fresh Air, I’m Terry Gross and this has been an interview with Bill O’Reilly.”

The final part of the audio airs the People magazine quote, which is all of 12 words, relating that O’Reilly called the book reviewer a “pinhead” on his show the day after the book review was published.

I tried to listen to the audio file on the Fresh Air site, but it kept telling me the file was not found. To repeat Wesley Clark’s question, is there anyplace else I could find an audio file or transcript? I have a friend who would marry Bill O’Reilly if either of them found homosexual marriage to be not entirely despicable, and I would really like to see what he has to say about this.

Ben, one important thing to note is that Bill O’Reilly challenged her to air the interview - he said something about “if you have enough courage to air this.” I think if he’d said “Don’t air it” she wouldn’t have.

My favorite line…

O’Reilly: Nobody yells on my show except me.

What a dickweed. What a jackass.

I heard Bill’s radio show for a brief second this morning. (I didn’t know about the NPR interview)

The 1st caller said “This NPR thing only shows how afraid those liberals are of you…”

That was as much as I could handle and changed the channel to ESPN radio.

It was staged, they all do it. Listen to Howard Stern when an interview is going too good. He’ll do the same thing and try to somehow switch it to sex or lesbians. Bill O’Reilly wasn’t going to win any fans on NPR, so he planned a meltdown to please his Fox fans. You know they ate it up.

I had two main thoughts about his Franken interview comparisons.
One is that they are two completely different people. Even though the results are sometimes the same, Franken is a humorist, the ex-head writer for SNL. I don’t think you would interview him the same way you would O’Reilly, a hardcore Fox news analyst…or whatever he considers himself. This is just a WAG, but I would say a P.J. O’Rourke interview would be similar to Franken’s.
The second thought is that it’s Terry’s damn show and she can ask whatever questions she wants. Would O’Reilly allow someone to defend themselves by whining to him “in your interview with so & so last week, you didn’t ask such hard questions…”

O’Reilly’s just a scam artist. He picks a couple of areas to disagree with the Bush administration so no one can accuse him of being just like Limbaugh. That way he’s fair and balanced…

Run Away!

Is there any truth to the story that his reaction to Franken’s book about him was to give him a hearty slap on the back and say, “Great book!”?

I don’t know but I think that story came from Franken, himself. It wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve talked to people who know Rush IRL and they say that his radio persona is a bit of a put on-- not that he’s not really conservative, but that he’s doing a somewhat hyperbolic “performance” on his show. He’s not an asshole in person and he’s even nice to liberals. Unlike O’Reilly, Rush has a sense of humor and can take a little criticism without having an embolism.

I feel dirty posting this link, but O’Reilly has an audio file on his own site at

Hmmm. Thanks for the consideration, Diogenes, but the link on his site just goes back to the NPR site.

Oops, nevermind, I see the other link to a clip.