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Bill O'Reilly's Right-Wing Buffoonery: A Brief Catalog

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Bill O'Reilly invited me on his Fox News show last Wednesday night to criticize me for characterizing The O'Reilly Factor as "right-wing buffoonery," in a blog post I wrote (about Stephen Colbert and Pete Seeger) for the Huffington Post the previous day.

In my five-minute interview with O'Reilly, he asked, "Can I have an example of 'right wing buffoonery' so I don't do it again?"

I didn't want to take his bait, because I did not want to waste my few minutes with O'Reilly talking about him. I wanted to talk about Pete Seeger and the other people in my new book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame.

I relented once. I told O'Reilly that he had unfairly criticized Social Security. O'Reilly said, "When you said I criticized Social Security, I never have." He was lying. On his September 13, 2011, show, O'Reilly said that Social Security, "is not exactly a Ponzi scheme, but it's close."
O'Reilly insisted, "You can't give me an example of right-wing buffoonery on this program." He said, "You can't back it up and that makes look intellectually deficient." He accused me of "perpetuating propaganda."

Although I didn't want to spend my few minutes on The O'Reilly Factor reminding him of the many examples of his "right-wing buffoonery," I don't want his accusations that I "can't back it up" to go unanswered. So, in the spirit of being "fair and balanced," and with thanks to Media Matters for America, which regularly monitors The O'Reilly Factor, here are examples of O'Reilly's lies, distortions and right-wing buffoonery over the past eight years.
O'Reilly Has Frequently Pushed Falsehoods About The Environment
O'Reilly Described Renewable Energy As A "Phantom," Said "God Controls The Climate." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 4/7/11]
O'Reilly Claimed That Environmental Movement "Absolutely Did" Contribute To The BP Oil Spill Disaster. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/10/10]
O'Reilly Hosted AccuWeather.com's Bastardi To Claim That "The Globe Is Actually Cooling." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 9/9/09]
O'Reilly: "Nobody Can Control The Climate But God, So Give A Little Extra At Mass Or Services" [4/6/11]
How CBS Helped Bill O'Reilly Misinform His Audience About Clean Energy [1/18/12]
O'Reilly Said Question Of Whether Humans Are Causing Global Warming Is "All Guesswork." [3/4/08]

O'Reilly Has Made Anti-Immigrant Statements
O'Reilly Scapegoated Undocumented Immigrants And Public Employees For California's Budget Problems. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/18/11]
O'Reilly Proposed "More Prisons" To Curtail Undocumented Immigration. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/16/11]
O'Reilly Smeared La Raza As "A Pretty Radicalized Group" That Opposes "Any Kind Of Border Security." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/27/11]
O'Reilly: "The Constitution Is Being Misused" By The Parents Of "Anchor Babies." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 1/6/11]
O'Reilly Falsely Claimed That Undocumented Immigrants Don't Pay Taxes. [3/10/10]
O'Reilly wondered whether children of Mexican immigrants in U.S. "have any kind of traditional value system" or are "setting up Acapulco North" [8/18/06]

O'Reilly Has A History Of Using Nazi Analogies To Demonize Opponents
O'Reilly: Liberals Who Support Gun Control Are "Totalitarians" Like Hitler. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 3/2/10]
O'Reilly: Huffington Post Uses "Same Exact Tactics That The Nazis Used." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 3/5/08]
O'Reilly: "I Don't See Any Difference Between [Arianna] Huffington And The Nazis." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 2/27/08]
O'Reilly: Daily Kos Is "Like The Nazi Party." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/16/07]
O'Reilly Compared Tim Robbins' Comments To Those Of "Von Ribbentrop In The Nazi Hierarchy." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 12/13/07]
O'Reilly Compared Michael Moore's "Power" To What "Happened In Nazi Germany." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/28/04]

O'Reilly Has A History Of Making Racially Charged Statements
O'Reilly Dismissed Racist Chant As A "Sporting Arena Taunt." [3/24/12]
O'Reilly Joked: How Will The Obama Administration Reach Out To African Americans? "Are They Going To Be On Soul Train?" [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 12/6/11]
O'Reilly Asked, "[S]hould White Americans Be Concerned About Judge Sotomayor?" [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/13/09]
O'Reilly, On His Now-Defunct Non-Fox Affiliated Radio Program, "Couldn't Get Over The Fact That There Was No Difference" Between Harlem Restaurant And Other New York City Restaurants. [Westwood One, The Radio Factor, 9/19/07]
O'Reilly Said "White Americans Are Terrified" To Compliment Blacks Out Of Fear "They May Be Taken As Condescension." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 2/5/07]
O'Reilly Opposed "Clustering" Of Mexicans. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/31/07]

O'Reilly Has A History Of Fearmongering About Muslims
O'Reilly: "For Every Muslim In The World That Wants Democracy And Wants Human Rights, There's One Who Doesn't." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 5/19/11]
O'Reilly Pressed Trump On Whether There Is A "Muslim Problem In The World." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 3/28/11]
O'Reilly: "There Are No Democratic Countries At All" In The Muslim World. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 2/18/11]
O'Reilly Insisted That Extremism Is "A Muslim Problem." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/25/10]
O'Reilly Claimed "The Muslim Threat ... Is Real." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/25/10]

O'Reilly Repeatedly Demonized Abortion Provider Dr. George Tiller And Then Lied About It After Tiller Was Murdered
O'Reilly Repeatedly Referred To Tiller As "The Baby Killer." [6/2/09]
In 2006, O'Reilly Sent His Producer To "Confront" The "Doctor Known As Tiller The Baby Killer." [11/8/06]
In 2007, O'Reilly Again Sent A Producer To Ambush The "Doctor Known As Tiller The Baby Killer." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/12/07]
After Tiller Was Murdered, O'Reilly Repeatedly Falsely Claimed He Had Only Reported What Other Groups Called Tiller. [6/2/09]
O'Reilly Subsequently Accused Joan Walsh Of Having "Blood On Her Hands" For Defending Tiller. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/12/09]
In 2012, O'Reilly Was Still Claiming That "What Tiller Was Doing Was Murder." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 3/1/12]

O'Reilly Has Engaged In Anti-Gay Rhetoric
O'Reilly Was Accused Of "Equating Gays" With "Terrorists." [6/3/10]
O'Reilly Suggested That If Same-Sex Marriage Is Legalized, "Polygamy Is Then Going To Run Rampant." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 5/11/09]
O'Reilly: Gay Marriage Could Lead To Goat, Duck, Dolphin, And Turtle Marriage. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 5/11/09]
O'Reilly: "[T]housands" Of Gays In One Place "Can Be Confusing To Children." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/12/07]

More Examples of O'Reilly's Lies and Distortions
O'Reilly falsely claimed Bush didn't oppose 9-11 Commission. O'Reilly defended President George W. Bush from a Kerry-Edwards '04 TV ad highlighting Bush's opposition to creation of the 9-11 Commission by denying that Bush had ever opposed the commission. In fact, Bush did oppose the creation of the 9-11 Commission. (10/21/04)
O'Reilly falsely claimed Iraq had ricin. O'Reilly responded to a caller to his radio show by defending the Iraq war: "They did have ricin up there in the north -- so why are you discounting that so much?" In fact, the Duelfer report (the final report of the Iraqi Survey Group, led by Charles A. Duelfer, which conducted the search for weapons in Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion) indicates that Iraq did not have ricin. (10/19/04)
O'Reilly repeated discredited claims on Iraq-Al Qaeda link. O'Reilly interrupted a former Clinton administration official who tried to correct the record on O'Reilly's claim that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi constitutes a direct link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. He also allowed a conservative guest to repeat without challenge other discredited claims about Iraq's supposed involvement in terrorism -- claims O'Reilly has himself cited in the past. (9/27/04)
O'Reilly fabricated "Paris Business Review" as source for success of French boycott. O'Reilly falsely claimed "they've lost billions of dollars in France according to 'The Paris Business Review'" due to an American boycott he advocated of French imports. Media Matters for America found no evidence of a publication named "The Paris Business Review." (4/27/04)
O'Reilly cited phony stats to argue that taxes on rich are excessive. O'Reilly tried to "blow off" the argument that wealthy Americans ought to pay more taxes by citing phony statistics about the tax burden the rich currently bear. (6/30/04)
O'Reilly confused on elementary economics. O'Reilly told a caller on his radio show, "We [the United States] have a trade deficit with everybody, because everybody wants our stuff, and we're not wild about snails" -- indicating that he doesn't know the definition of "trade deficit" and implying that the United States runs a trade surplus with France. In fact, in the first four months of 2004, the United States had a $3 billion trade deficit with France. (6/10/04)
O'Reilly doctored quotation to suggest Soros wished his own father dead. During his smear campaign against progressive financier, philanthropist, and political activist George Soros, O'Reilly doctored a 1995 quotation by Soros to make it seem as if Soros wished his own father dead. (6/1/04)
O'Reilly questioned if Kennedy would show up to Democratic convention ... as Kennedy spoke behind him. O'Reilly teased an upcoming segment of The O'Reilly Factor, broadcast live from the Democratic National Convention, by saying of convention speaker Senator Edward Kennedy: "When we come back, we'll let you listen to Ted Kennedy for a while, if he shows up." In fact, Kennedy had already shown up and had been speaking for several minutes, as O'Reilly need only have turned around to see. (7/27/04)
O'Reilly disparaged Democrats with trifecta of voter falsehoods. In a discussion about what went wrong for Democrats in the November 2 election, O'Reilly claimed that Democrats "lost votes from four years ago"; that "18- to 24[-year-old]s didn't go" to the polls; and that "[c]ommitted Republicans didn't carry the day for the president; independents did." All three claims are false. (11/4/04)
O'Reilly on the radio: Three lies, one broadcast. Lie No. 1: Bush tax cuts didn't create the budget deficit. Lie No. 2: "Socialistic" French, Germans, and Canadian governments tax at 80 percent. Lie No. 3: Canadian, British, and French media are "government-controlled," but Italian media is free. (7/7/04)
• Appearing again on Today, O'Reilly repeated false claim that he didn't attack Cindy Sheehan "personally," suggested he never uses personal attacks (6/14/06)
O'Reilly hatchet job on Boxer filled with lies [1/24/05]
Hannity and O'Reilly conveniently ignore accusations that CIA misled Congress [7/10/09]
Defending Coulter, O'Reilly and Limbaugh claimed she "doesn't lie" [6/9/06]
O'Reilly falsely claimed he's only "called for one boycott ... and that's been France" June 29, 2006
O'Reilly ambushed by his health care lie -- Now what about that Fox News "zero tolerance" policy? April 17, 2010
O'Reilly treated Radio Factor listeners to a cornucopia of misinformation about intelligence, Iraq, terrorism May 11, 2006
O'Reilly raised question of whether or not he's a liar; smeared CAP's Podesta June 7, 2004
O'Reilly: "No lies have been told about anyone ... and you can't produce one, madam" February 17, 2005
O'Reilly agreed with O'Neill's lies, then boasted of "fairest Swift Boat coverage in the country" September 16, 2004
O'Reilly denied lying about Soros September 17, 2004
O'Reilly defended Bush service record with lies September 14, 2004
O'Reilly: Calling Alterman "Castro confidant" was "just making fun" June 17, 2004
O'Reilly renewed attacks on columnists Hernandez and Rodriguez; claimed Hernandez is "incompetent" and a "Latina ideologue" November 7, 2005
O'Reilly's Midwestern Yuletide smear tour rolls on to "Madison, Wisconsin, where you expect those people to be communing with Satan" December 14, 2005
O'Reilly denied comparing Franken to Goebbels -- but he did; CAP urged: E-mail O'Reilly "to correct the record" June 23, 2004
O'Reilly falsely claimed no evidence U.S. has used "electric shock" on detainees June 19, 2006
Latest attack on Imam Rauf: He "pals around with truthers" September 14, 2010
O'Reilly challenged on lies July 6, 2004
O'Reilly lied about his French boycott ... again July 16, 2004
O'Reilly And Lila Rose Team Up To Spread More Lies About Planned Parenthood May 29, 2012
Fox Regularly Uses The "Racial Code Words" Denounced By Fox's Juan Williams January 31, 2012
O'Reilly on MMFA: "A Far Left website [is] questioning my honesty. It's all a bunch of baloney." June 29, 2004
O'Reilly again trumpeted "annoying" French boycott October 27, 2005
Serial misinformer O'Reilly: Bill Moyers is "totalitarian" January 6, 2005
O'Reilly falsely claimed he did not have option to register as an independent October 3, 2005
O'Reilly on France: "One of the few countries in Europe that really doesn't speak English," people "don't take a shower for 18 days" November 9, 2005
O'Reilly: "I Think The Danger To The Country Now Lies In The Executive Branch With President Obama" April 18, 2011
O'Reilly said Savage doesn't engage in "malicious" attacks; Limbaugh "doesn't lie"June 23, 2004

Peter Dreier is professor of politics and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His new book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, was recently published by Nation Books.