Bill O’Reilly


Following up to yesterday’s post about FOX News commentator Bill O’Reilly’s remark that “the Bush administration defeated Al Qaeda,” I direct your attention to these paragraphs from today’s Chicago Tribune:

Al Qaeda has expanded its presence in Afghanistan, taking advantage of the sinking security situation to resurface where it was forced to flee seven years ago, the nation’s top military intelligence official testified Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, described Al Qaeda’s efforts as part of developments behind the Obama administration’s decision to order additional troops to the region.

Afghanistan is no longer the haven for Al Qaeda that it was leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks. But in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Maples said, “I believe Al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan is more significant, although still at a relatively minor scale, than we have seen in the past.”

I tend not to blog about comments made by TV talking heads with obvious political agendas, but O’Reilly’s assertion that the Bush administration defeated Al Qaeda was so offbase I couldn’t ignore it. But now that I’ve made my point, I shall resume my policy of generally ignoring O’Reilly and his ilk.

FOX News commentator Bill O’Reilly was named one of the “Worst Persons in the World” on Monday’s edition of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” This is not shocking or unexpected, as Olbermann often tweaks O’Reilly that way. However, this time stood out to me because of the unbelievable O’Reilly quote Olbermann used against his talk-show rival.

“Look,” O’Reilly said Friday, “by all accounts, the Bush administration defeated Al Qaeda, all right? Al Qaeda was marginalized, been downgraded as a threat to the world. So we won the terror war. We won the war in Iraq, at great cost, no doubt. No doubt. But we won.”

Just to make sure Olbermann hadn’t used an O’Reilly quote out of context, I found a FOX News transcript of Friday’s “O’Reilly Factor.” O’Reilly definitely credited the Bush administration with defeating Al Qaeda and winning the so-called “war on terror.”

O’Reilly uttered the quote during a segment called “Is Obama administration’s attack on Rush Limbaugh a distraction from more serious issues?” Ironically, the “conversation” between O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and former federal prosecutor John Flannery was all over the map and didn’t address the topic until the segment was halfway over. (Click here to read the transcript.)

O’Reilly made the comment in response to Flannery saying he applauds the Bush administration and Karl Rove for finally agreeing to let Rove testify before the House Judiciary Committee investigating whether there was corruption in the Justice Department during Bush’s presidency. It was an odd, off-topic response from O’Reilly.

As for the question posed in the segment’s title, O’Reilly and Coulter agreed that the Obama administration is attacking Limbaugh to distract the American people from more pressing issues like the economy. However, they didn’t expound on their answers, just agreeing on them before the segment ended.

In my opinion, of course the Limbaugh attacks are a distraction, but the reason they still have legs is because (1) they resonate with a large number of people and (2) a lot of Republicans are falling into the trap by trying to distance themselves from Limbaugh and then apologizing to him the next day. Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves for looking like they aren’t allowed to have an opinion contrary to what Limbaugh says. It will be interesting to see how long they carry on like this before they are able to change the subject in the news cycle.