Bill O’Reilly is a notoriously imposing figure; his brash manner and inability to let his guests respond to obscene questioning must make the prospect of visiting his show terrifying.
In a Washington Post op-ed today, Mary Alice Carr, vice president of communications for NARAL Pro-Choice New York, announced that she would no longer be willing to be a guest on his show. She wasn’t intimidated by him, but in awe of his response to the assassination of Dr. Tiller.
“O’Reilly had the opportunity to apologize for his words, and he didn’t. He had the opportunity to say that this tragic outcome was something about which he felt sorry. He didn’t. When restraint and perspective were called for, he fanned the flames higher. In fact, on his June 1 ‘Talking Points,’ he played the martyr, saying his critics were seeking to stifle any criticism of ‘people like Tiller—that and hating Fox News is the real agenda here.’ On his show the next day—the show I declined to appear on—he again called a murdered man ‘Dr. Killer.’”
O’Reilly attracts about 3 million viewers a night and, for some reason, many of them trust his smug demeanor, incorrect facts, and bombastic language. Sometimes it’s difficult to handle. While watching a clip of Carr being berated by the FOX commentator in 2004, I shouted at my computer screen. Instead of listening to her points, he simply repeated questionable polls, and an anecdote about a women that used the excuse of a headache in order to receive an abortion the day before she gave birth. (I did some careful digging, and found no evidence to back it up.) Despite this distraction, Carr was able to make a clear point about keeping late term abortions legal.
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So why now, at a time when he seems to be so in need of correction, does Carr not want to appear on the show? She was offered a slot for the June 2 show, but turned it down.
“I realized I just couldn’t. Because if the murder of a man in a house of worship wasn’t enough to make Bill O’Reilly repent, what hope did I have?”
It’s obvious that O’Reilly already has his mind made up, and that he will misrepresent these issues as long as someone gives him a soapbox to stand on. But does that mean the 3.132 million viewers that tuned in that night are lost causes, as well?
The opportunity to speak to that many members of the opposite side—and a few of us sick liberals who watch it like a car crash—shouldn’t be lost. If Carr has become exasperated with O’Reilly’s bullying tactics, it’s understandable that she would decline further invitations. But lets make sure someone can respond intelligently and patiently to his empty stories and smug smiles, as Carr was able to do before.