Ben Affleck's "Argo" is currently the toast of Hollywood, as movie writers and critics stumble over themselves to praise at the based-on-a-true-story thriller. On Wednesday night, however, Bill O'Reilly had a slightly different take. His main question, parsed over nearly the entirety of Affleck's visit to the "No-Spin Zone": What is an avowed liberal doing making a film about perhaps the tensest moment in Iran-U.S. relations?
"Argo" focuses on an intricate plot drummed up by the CIA, after the organization is tasked with extracting six Americans from Iran. Another 52 Americans were held after being captured in a 1979-81 takeover of the United States embassy in Iran, but this group of six took refuge in the Canadian ambassador's personal residence -- until a CIA exfiltration expert came in and swept them out.
The heroes in the story, then, are the CIA and the U.S. intelligence services. As O'Reilly points out, it's surprising a liberal actor would make a "valentine to the intelligence community -- the same people who waterboarded, the same people who rendition-ed."
"I don't worry too much about what my liberal friends are going to say," Affleck said. When pressed by O'Reilly ("In the back of your mind, you didn't say, 'Look, I'm glorifying some people who maybe did bad things'?"), Affleck doubled down: "I've been to the CIA. I met Gen. Petraeus. These are extraordinary, honorable people at the CIA. Make no mistake about it."
Though he collapses a few decades, O'Reilly's question is worth asking. Given the current tensions between the Iran and the United States (and Israel), making a film about an act of Iranian aggression could easily be seen as adding fuel to a fire that's already spread to the floor of the United Nation's General Assembly.
Affleck -- who said he is voting for Obama -- brushed aside the notion that the film could be used as right-wing propaganda in an interview with The Huffington Post:
"I tried to make a movie that is absolutely just factual. And that's another reason why I tried to be as true to the story as possible -- because I didn't want it to be used by either side. I didn't want it to be politicized internationally or domestically in a partisan way. I just wanted to tell a story that was about the facts as I understood them. And what that meant was probably two people with different political perspectives would walk away with two different interpretations. Because I find, most times, your interpretation depends on what you went into the situation believing. And I think people will use things. You know, it's like, if people want to misrepresent something, they'll do it anyway. You can't worry about that too much.
It seems as though Bill O'Reilly, of all people, thinks you can worry too much about your film being used as fodder for war hawks.