About a year ago, Bill O’Reilly lost his license to critique the media when he offered poor and dodgy explanations for how he had exaggerated and told untruths about his past reportorial exploits. Yet he persists.
For the past two nights, O’Reilly has been sticking it to Jorge Ramos, the anchor for Univision, the country’s largest Spanish-language TV outlet. “Jorge Ramos and other press folks are out to get Trump. We are not. We are out to cover him,” said O’Reilly on his show last night.
Why was O’Reilly so fixated on Ramos? Because Ramos had given him a shellacking on Wednesday night’s show — one in which O’Reilly showed an exquisite sense of hypocrisy. The entire goal of that Wednesday interview, it appears, was for O’Reilly to carry the water of Donald Trump by hammering Univision’s coverage of Trump. “Can you cover him fairly since you’re on the record as calling him an anti-immigrant bigot?” asked O’Reilly, the guy who has a three-decade-long friendship with Trump.
Among other things, O’Reilly, the longtime friend of Trump, defended the candidate’s June statement about Mexicans being “rapists.” “He didn’t say all of them were,” O’Reilly quipped.
On the question of Trump’s well-documented racism, O’Reilly, who has shared an unknown quantity of vanilla milkshakes with Trump, told Ramos on Wednesday night, “I’m trying to tell you that it’s your subjective opinion, not an objective opinion, that Trump’s a racist. There are other people who don’t think he is. All right. OK, so I’m not going to get in the middle and say that’s a racist, that isn’t. What I’m going to do is bring it back to your network. If you, the top guy, has demonized him as a racist, how can you cover him?”
Bolding added to highlight a contradiction with what O’Reilly, the buddy of Trump, said last night: “I will not brand Donald Trump a racist. He is not. He doesn’t care what color or race somebody is.”
Another O’Reilly slam from Wednesday night: “Every time you cover Donald Trump, you have to put on the screen, ‘We think he’s a racist.” Or, alternatively: You have to put on the screen, “Donald Trump is a longtime vanilla milkshake-drinking buddy of Bill O’Reilly.”
It’s clever of O’Reilly to attempt to bootstrap Univision and Ramos into some imaginary conflict of interest/bias vis-a-vis Trump when he’s got a real, honest-to-goodness conflict/bias. Misdirection and deflection in one effortless segment — that’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” Following Ramos’s repeated and resounding claim on Wednesday night that O’Reilly had failed to hold Trump accountable, O’Reilly last night showed that he took that criticism very seriously. And his attempt at rebuttal provided documentation on just how O’Reilly has chosen to “challenge” Trump on secondary and tertiary issues, instead of boring into the real problem, which is Trump’s bigotry. Below is the transcript of O’Reilly’s I’m-tough-on-Trump argument, complete with bolded annotations in brackets.
Here’s the FACTOR record and you can look it up. Everything is online. In the beginning of his campaign, I directly told Donald Trump that Mexico would not — would not — pay for the border wall. [Searing accountability journalism here]. Even if economic reprisals were taken against that country. Simply put, no Mexican politician could survive in office if he or she agreed to that. I suggested to Donald Trump that a mass deportation of illegal aliens would be tied up in federal courts for years, effectively shutting down the policy. [See, it’s not offensive or inhumane — just impractical.] Same thing with temporarily barring Muslims from entering the U.S.A. Courts would block that. And the hearings would take forever. [Yeah, marathon hearings — that’s the main problem with a proposal to bar Muslims from entering the United States].
We also investigated Donald Trump’s statement about thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating after the 9/11 attack. And found the statement to be exaggerated. [PolitiFact, which doesn’t share vanilla milkshakes with Trump, rated it “Pants on Fire.“] In addition, I suggested to Mr. Trump that Muslim nations are needed to do defeat the jihadist and America would be wise not to alienate them. [So courageous.] Also, I told Donald Trump that John McCain is a hero, Carly Fiorina’s appearance was no issue. That Megyn Kelly’s question about women was legit [In truth, O’Reilly, a good friend of Trump’s, was widely denounced for having failed to stick up for Kelly in an interview with Trump, and Kelly even went public with her disappointment over the matter] and just last night I said that rhetorical mudslinging will not make America great again. [“Rhetorical mudslinging," huh? Such a perfect euphemism for the racism, sexism and bigotry that come from Trump.] I said all this to Mr. Trump’s face. I can list dozens of other issues where I have challenged Donald Trump.
Though O’Reilly has spent years picking nits with people who’ve criticized his best-selling books, he declared, “I’m not in the nitpicking business. Trump and every other politician misspeak at times.”