Multimillionaire, best-selling author and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly wants you to know he’s a victim. An “organized campaign,” after all, lit into a segment piloted by his protege Jesse Watters earlier this week — an ill-advised expedition in which Watters interviewed people in Chinatown on U.S. politics and other topics. The theme was humiliation — straight-up humiliation plus humiliation via stereotyping.
In an interview with Fox News colleague Chris Wallace, O’Reilly was asked whether all the criticism of the segment signaled that he and Watters had crossed a line. Here’s how O’Reilly responded:
I would have edited it a bit differently than it was edited. But no, it wasn’t over the line. We ran that piece on Monday of last week. Five million people plus saw it in live time. You know how many negative letters we got? Less than ten. Know know how many phone calls came into Fox News? Zero, as far as I know. It was 36 hours later that this outrage appeared, and where did it appear? Far left websites, far left precincts. I read every single one; they’re all the same. So this is an attack on Fox News. That’s what it is. It’s happened before. I thought it was a gentle piece. There were a few things in there I felt were over the line. The old lady, I would have taken that out. I should have seen it before but I’m so busy with the election that I didn’t. But Watters is a gentle satirist. He’s worked very well for us. We’re proud of him. And this is an organized campaign.
This is what they do. They’ve done it before
Italics: In pointing to a lag between the air time of the segment and the moment that outrage exploded, O’Reilly apparently believes he’s citing a mitigating consideration. He’s not. All he is saying is that the 5 million Fox News viewers who saw the segment had few-to-no concerns about it. A tidy abridgment: My viewers are fine with racial stereotyping and general nastiness.
Bolding: Deflect the substance of the criticism by playing the lefty card — a standard O’Reilly trick, and one that surely works with the 5 million viewers who had no problem with the segment to begin with.
: Speaking of repetition, O’Reilly, too, has “done it before.” Which is to say that in 2015, he lashed out critics who rightly busted him on a series of embellishments regarding his reportorial past. Same playbook. “Far left” critics, that is.
It wasn’t over the line