A longtime advocate of Christian supremacy and anti-everything else, Bill O’ Reilly has finally been forced out of his position at Fox News – his vile, animalistic behavior too much even for the unctuous Murdoch family to endure.
In fact, it’s notable that the only person still supporting this piece of human excrement is the Harasser in Chief himself – “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong,” Trump said only four days after the news broke of Fox settling not one, not two, but five women’s claims against the sexually aggressive anchor. “He’s a person I know well,” Trump announced, referring to O’Reilly as “a good person.” Oh, really.
I know Bill, too. I’ve been on his show not once, but twice. It’s not the easiest show to get a spot on. “The O’Reilly Factor” is – well, was – the cable darling of the alt-right; an echo chamber of confirmation bias tailored specifically for the ultra-conservative, double Jesus evangelical fundamentalists that make up the bulwark of the Christian Right.
Many of the bigwigs at the nearly endless number of fundamentalist Christian proselytizing organizations weren’t on his show. Even cowardly and shameful fundamentalist Christian military officers (who unsuccessfully tried to shut down a secular concert at Fort Bragg with the backing of FOX News columnist Todd Starnes in 2012) weren’t able to get on the show (I ended up being a speaker at that event!)
But O’Reilly wanted me on his show in 2013 after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF, of which I am founder and president) stood up for the rights of military servicemembers requesting two nativity scenes be moved away from the public dining halls at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and over to the base’s chapel.
Bill’s well-known for supporting the War Against Tolerance, as related by MRFF Thomas Jefferson Award winner, former New York Times Middle East Bureau Chief and Pulitzer Prize Winner Chris Hedges. He was quite peeved.
We didn’t make it very far in that interview before Bill shut off my mic in a fit of pique after I objected to him describing both the military servicemembers stationed at Guantanamo (who were anonymous and thus refused his demand to come on his show and “explain themselves”) and the military base commander who ordered the nativity scenes taken down as “cowardly.”
I said, “Please don’t call our members of our military cowards (the majority of whom are Christians!)… at least they joined the military and they’re prepared to fight… they understand what their rights are, and your Christian personal rights will always be trumped by the civil rights of your fellow Americans.”
He responded irately, “You’re a bloviator!” and followed up with this ridiculous piece of self-aggrandizing false equivalency: “I covered four wars with a pen!”
When I called him an arrogant idiot (for presuming his writing about war was remotely similar to serving in the military) he had my mic cut off. “Cut him off! He’s a jerk!” – and again, proudly spewed, “I covered four wars with a pen! Don’t ever impugn my courage… you’re a weasel!”
The video went viral, and the brilliant and irrepressible hosts over at “The Young Turks”, based out of Los Angeles, subsequently asked me on their cool and trendy show to recap the interview – and the panel later enjoyed much hilarity as they parodied his words. Unlike Al Gore, who actually went to Vietnam as an Army journalist, Bill “covered the wars” from the assured safety of comfy berths in North and South America, after dodging the draft with an education deferment that let him skip off to London.
The firing of Bill O’Reilly from FOX News is a long time coming. The only shame is that it took decades of alleged hate speech and sexual harassment to get there.
Truth be told, the Murdochs likely made their decision not based on the atrocities committed by O’Reilly in word and deed, but because of loss of bottom-line revenue thanks to advertisers leaving en masse. Which just proves that fighting back does make a difference.
Frederick Douglas was SO right when he said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.”
MRFF will never cease to be the “Demanders of our Military’s Commanders!”