Bill O’Reilly showed his trademark swagger on his March 26 program ”The O’Reilly Factor.” On the table was the Supreme Court’s consideration of the Affordable Care Act, and O’Reilly’s guest was Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy, a progressive legal organization.
O’Reilly, prone as ever to polemical exaggeration, charged that the act would use “police power” to compel folks to fetch health insurance for themselves. Fredrickson, calm and factual, hit back:
Tax power. And it’s designed completely within the rational scope of the legislation ...
All this “rational” stuff was clearly too much for the host, who said:
This is becoming absurd. It’s police power if you punish someone for not doing anything. Sounds absurd.
The contrast between one person who knew what she was talking about and another person who had no idea what he was talking about could not have been sharper. Beaten on the merits, O’Reilly took to beating his chest:
Ms. Fredrickson, you’re going to lose, and your argument is specious. We appreciate you coming on. But this is absolutely a mandate. It’s absolutely a force. It’s absolutely police powers from the federal government, and it’s going to be 5 to 4.
And if I’m wrong I will come on, and I will play — I will play your clip. And I will apologize for being an idiot. But I think you’re desperately wrong.
Subsequent events have lined up behind Fredrickson. Asked whether she’s gotten her apology yet from O’Reilly, the advocate responds with a big laugh: “Nooo, not yet. I’m still waiting. I’m eager to hear from him,” she says.
O’Reilly is on vacation this week. He had enough time, however, to phone into his show and rant about yesterday’s Supreme Court decision. There was a great deal of scare talk about how the bill would ration health care and depress the economy. But there wasn’t quite enough time to fit in an apology to Fredrickson. Here’s the clip:
Looking back at her “Factor” appearance, Fredrickson says she “didn’t want to do that, and I didn’t enjoy it very much. . . . He is so hostile.” Perhaps Fredrickson is referring to the moment in the segment when O’Reilly was trying to force a bogus premise about federal power down her throat:
FREDRICKSON: The legislation — you have to let me answer.
O’REILLY: Are you going to answer this question or not? If you’re not going to answer, I’ll abort the segment right now.
Though she says it’s good for “progressives” like her to beam her views to a conservative audience, “There’s so little opportunity with Bill O’Reilly to say your piece,” she says. As for O’Reilly himself, Fredrickson says, “Apart from the time when you’re on the air, he seems like a charming guy.”
Fredrickson says she has e-mailed the producer who set up her March appearance to discuss a return or the promised apology, but she hasn’t yet heard back.