I never thought we’d see the day when Bill O’Reilly was getting the Obama treatment by the Right. But he is.
Remember when the very Christian then-Senator Obama made the comment “they cling to guns or religion”? Oh, you’d have thought the world was going to end. Fox News never let it go. Context was irrelevant! Lately, Bill O’Reilly has been making the argument that the (right wing) opponents of gay marriage haven’t “been able to do anything but thump the Bible.”
This is not going over well. The Right descended upon him with glee; Rush and the posse of fumers are hysterical. Commence semi-civil war meltdown. Then Dana Milbank of the Washington Post dared to mention in passing that there were signs of hope on the right because, “Bill O’Reilly criticized opponents of same-sex marriage as Bible-thumpers…” So last night, Bill O’Reilly denied ever saying that, calling Milbank a “liar”.
Watch here via Media Matters:
O’Reilly read part of what Dana wrote at the end of an article, “But there are hopeful signs: Fox News Channel has dropped Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly criticized opponents of same-sex marriage as Bible-thumpers, and even the much-feared Rush Limbaugh has come in for criticism on the right.”
Bill fumed, “No I didn’t! I didn’t do anything close to that. What I said was, you don’t use, you don’t thump the Bible, in debating the issue. I didn’t criticize critics of gay marriage or categorize them as Bible-thumpers. This guy is just a liar. And he gets paid by the Washington Post to do this. I am so furious.”
In other words, Bill doesn’t like getting a taste of Fox’s Obama treatment (take sound bites out of context and repeat ad nauseam for years). This might be a good time to refresh the memory on what Obama actually said that got him into so much trouble with the right:
Obama (April 6, 2008): “You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
So, yes, context matters. Obama admitted he didn’t express himself well, but the point he was making was that people were suffering and when they suffer, they get frustrated.
By these standards, Bill most certainly did criticize the right as Bible-thumpers. Plus, Bill did say Bible-thumpers. And he did categorize the opponents as Bible-thumpers. So, really, by any standards, he said it. He might not have meant it, but he said it several times.
Here’s Bill saying same-sex advocates have the compelling argument, whereas their opponents haven’t done much more besides thump the Bible:
During last night’s O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly and his guest Megyn Kelly both agreed: same-sex marriage advocates have the “more compelling” argument, whereas their opponents have not done much besides “thump the Bible.”
O’Reilly responded that he agreed with her (Megyn Kelly) 100 percent. “The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals,” he said. “That’s where the compelling argument is: ‘We are Americans. We just want to be treated like everybody else.’ That’s a compelling argument. And to deny that you’ve got to have a very strong argument on the other side. And the other side hasn’t been able to anything but thump the Bible,” he concluded.
And here, while poor Bill tries to explain the difference between private issues and public policy to Laura Ingram, he says at 1:05 “people who thump the Bible”, and at 3:07 he says “can’t thump the Bible”, and at 4:16, “there are Bible-thumpers and all they do is say I object to gay marriage because God objects to it”. (h/t to Media Matters’ commenter neworleans878 for the video links and times.)
If only Bill O’Reilly hadn’t invoked Jesus as a get out of jail free policy card to argue against unemployment insurance at Christmas time, “For them, the baby Jesus wants us to “provide,” no matter what the circumstance. But being a Christian, I know that while Jesus promoted charity at the highest level, he was not self-destructive. The Lord helps those who help themselves. Does he not?”
If only Bill O’Reilly had some credibility on the issue of keeping religion out of the role of government. But this is the man who tried to defend the government endorsing and promoting Christian based holidays by claiming Christianity was not a religion, but a philosophy (he called atheists “fascists” in the same exchange).
If Dana Milbank is a “liar” for essentially quoting Bill O’Reilly, what does that make Bill O’Reilly and Fox News? Double standards, or no standards? “We report, you decide.”
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.