Bill O’Reilly is crazy

By | December 14, 2005

Following up on what I wrote last week about President Bush’s Christmas/Holiday cards, here is something I picked up on from the Daily Show a day or two ago. Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, of the O’Reilly Factor, had as a guest on his show a man named Philip Nulman, author of a book called “Just Say Yes! Extreme Customer Service – How to Give it! How to Get It!” They had the following exchange (I have taken bits out, but I have not affected the context at all — here is a link to where I got the complete transcript from):

O’REILLY:
I don’t believe most people who aren’t Christian are offended by the words “Merry Christmas.” I think those people are nuts. I think you’re crazy if you’re offended by the words “Merry Christmas.”
NULMAN:
“Seasons Greetings” and “Happy Holidays,” Bill, does not offend Christians.
O’REILLY:
Yes it does! Absolutely does. … Let’s do a FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll question up there. Now, I’m givin’ the signal to my guys about if you’re – “Are you offended if they don’t use the words ‘Merry Christmas’ in a – in a store that you go to shop” and we will – and I guarantee you that I’m right. I’m guaranteeing that the Christian majority in this country is fed up, fed up to here with the ACLU and all of this business – this anti-Christian business.

Honestly, Bill, how can you sit there and say that anyone who is offended by “Merry Christmas” is crazy, but then say just seconds later that you and other Christians are offended by “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings”?

Things like this bother me a lot, because Bill O’Reilly theoretically speaks for me. I am a registered Republican, and I consider myself pretty darn conservative. But I don’t believe that “conservative Republican” and “intelligent and logical” have to be mutually exclusive. I can see the point of view that “Merry Christmas” is exclusionary to people who do not celebrate Chrismtas, although I don’t believe that it is exclusionary to the point of being offensive. I think it is probably a sound business decision for companies (and presidents of countries, as I discussed last week) to try their best to be respectful of their entire respective constituencies, and I can see how they would come to the decision that removing the name of a specific holiday that is only observed by 85% of them would do that.

What I can’t see is how “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” can be offensive. I don’t think that any statement with such obvious good will behind it can be offensive. The only way to believe that is offensive is to honestly believe that anyone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas is evil. So either Bill O’Reilly is making a big deal out of nothing for the purpose of ratings, or he is a bigot. Either way, he is a moron.

6 thoughts on “Bill O’Reilly is crazy

  1. Randy

    Jeff,

    You are the moron. Obviously you do not watch The Factor and you are taking these transcripts from Hate Fox News/Hate O’Reilly websites.

    You mention that the transcript above is not taken out of context, technically that appears to be true, but if you watch the show you will see that Mr. O’Reilly has no problem with the use of the phrases “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings.” His problem is with is companies and organizations that refuse to recognize or mention the name of the Federal Holiday that is celebrated by a very large majority of the population, for fear that mention of the word “Christmas” might offend a very small portion of the 15% who don’t celebrate the holiday.

    His real problem is with companies or organizations like WalMart, last year, who forbade their associates from mentioning the word “Christmas” to customers that came through the register. That is at least borderline, a free speech issue.

    The transcript listed above does make it appear, when read by it self, that Mr. O’Reilly is offended by the non-Christmas oriented greetings, but I know from watching other segments that he is not. He does, however, think it is ridiculous that firms leave out the name of the major holiday celebrated this time of year.

    Finally, even a careful reading of the transcript above does not lead the reader to think that Mr. O’Reilly is offended by “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings,” but, if anything, offended by the refusal to recognize the name of the Christmas holiday.

  2. Jeff J. Snider Post author

    Bill said that “Seasons Greetings” and “Happy Holidays” are offensive. I don’t care even a little bit if he actually believes that. I care that he said it on his national TV show. It doesn’t matter if Bill O’Reilly doesn’t actually believe anything he says; if he says something stupid (like “‘Happy Holidays’ is offensive to Christians”) he needs to be called on it.

  3. Randy

    I believe this is the final word on the topic. If there was truly any doubt where Mr. O‚??Reilly stood on the issue (and there wasn‚??t, for any reasonable person who watches the show) he made it abundantly clear last night.

    ‚??I am not saying you shouldn‚??t say ‚??Happy Holidays‚?? or ‚??Happy Chanukah‚?? or ‚??Kwanza.‚?? You see that is the biggest misnomer in the world. All I object to is‚?¶(inaudible as his guest was speaking over him).‚??

    ‚??You are distorting what I said, as well as all these other pinheads in the press, and I want to make it very clear to you and everybody else out there. My objection is to ordering people not to say Merry Christmas. That‚??s it. ‚??Happy Holidays‚?? all day long. ‚??Kwanza‚?? all day long, and ‚??Happy Chanukah‚?? as well.‚??

    When he said that ‚??Happy Holidays‚?? is offensive to Christians in the transcript that you quoted above, he was in the middle of what appears to be a heated discussion and he apparently misspoke. This kind of thing happens all the time in talk radio and television and real life when people are arguing. They get caught in a trap and words don‚??t come out the way they were meant to.

    How do I know that he misspoke in the transcript that you quoted? Well, I read the next two sentences that you left out. I also continued to read the transcript which made it clear that he does not think that Christians are offended by the use of the other slogans, only denying employees the right to say ‚??Merry Christmas.‚??

    Here is the rest of the exchange that you left out:

    O’REILLY (emphatically): Yes it does! Absolutely does. Ummm – and I know that for a fact. But the smart way to do it is (gestures with hands as if posting signs) “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Chanukkah,” “Seasons Greetings,” Happy Kwanza.”

    NULMAN: It’s a long list.

    O’REILLY: It’s OK. Ya’ got a big store!

    NULMAN: Um-hum.

    O’REILLY: Ya’ got a big store.

    NULMaN: Right.

    O’REILLY: You can put the little banners all over the place.

    NULMAN: Uh-huh.

    O’REILLY: But to tell your employees don’t say “Merry Christmas” is, you know – I just think you are alienating far more people by that …

    NULMAN: Um.

    O’REILLY: … than you would be by saying “Merry Christmas” and all of the other slogans.

    NULMAN: Well, I think that, statistically speaking, we’d be hard-pressed to find that Christians are offended by gestures on the part of employees that say “Happy holidays to you.” [indecipherable]

    O’REILLY (overtalks): Alright. We’re gonna do a poll question and I’m gonna signal to my guys …

    I understand that you may not agree with Mr. O‚??Reilly, but he deserves to be treated fairly and not have his words taken out of context (as you have done) and misconstrued to make it seem like his position is idiotic. I agree with you that anyone who says ‚??‚??Happy Holidays‚?? is offensive‚?? and doesn‚??t correct himself is an idiot. But don‚??t call someone a moron who mumbles something in an argument, then immediately clarifies his position.

    It seems to me like you are getting your information about Bill O‚??Reilly from smear websites that hate Fox News. (The site where the transcript was obtained has a slogan across the top of the page that reads: We watch Fox, so you don‚??t have to.) That hardly sounds impartial.

    I am not telling you that you should watch the Factor if you don‚??t want to, but don‚??t attack Bill O‚??Reilly based upon the claims of haters. It makes you seem less intelligent when you don‚??t have all the information about his position, but make definitive statements. And it makes you seem less trustworthy when you conveniently leave out the parts of the conversation that would refute your theory.

  4. Jeff J. Snider Post author

    As I have explained to you privately, I did not get any information from any hate websites. I saw the exchange in question on the television; when I decided to write about it, I wanted to get it verbatim, so I Googled for a transcript. The opinion I stated was my own; I have no idea if other people on Fox News hater sites had the same opinion, because I don’t need websites to do my thinking for me.

    It makes you seem less intelligent when you don‚??t have all the information about his position, but make definitive statements.

    As I also explained to you, I have no beef with what Bill O’Reilly believes. My post had absolutely nothing to do with what he believes; it was only about what he said. He said “Happy Holidays” is offensive to Christians, which is a stupid thing to say. You say that people do that all the time in the course of an argument, say something they don’t mean. I disagree. The main time that happens is when a person is more interested in arguing than in making his point. It is clear that O’Reilly had it in his mind that he disagreed with everything Nulman had to say, and it came back to bite him when it turned out that there was something he didn’t disagree with, because he didn’t realize he didn’t disagree until he had already disagreed out loud.

    And it makes you seem less trustworthy when you conveniently leave out the parts of the conversation that would refute your theory.

    Again, I didn’t leave out anything to refute my theory. My only “theory” was that O’Reilly said something stupid that he shouldn’t have. If anything, the fact that he corrected himself supports that theory.

    I used to watch O’Reilly on a fairly regular basis. I stopped watching when I decided that he does more harm than good for the causes I believe in. I am a pretty conservative guy, and Bill and I probably agree on a lot of things, but his main goal seems to be to argue, and I fail to see how coming across as a jackhole does anything to win friends or influence people.

  5. Craig

    Sorry Jeff, you’re wrong and Randy is right. If you look at all of what O’Reilly says, then he makes it clear that he has no problems with people saying “Happy Holidays”. He has a problem with people forbidding the utterance of Merry Christmas.

    I’m sure you’ve experienced people who take one statement about Mormons, which is contracted by a hundred other authoritative statements, and declare that Mormons are crazy because of that one statement. I’m sure you’ve heard these folks use the same argument you’re using (It’s right here, so it must be 100% fact, regardless of all your evidence to the contrary). You’re doing the same thing to O’Reilly.

  6. Jeff J. Snider Post author

    I am fine with being wrong. I just don’t think I am in this case. What he SAID (over two years ago) was that “Happy Holidays” is offensive to Christians. As I explained to Randy, I don’t care what O’Reilly actually believes. There is absolutely no evidence that can contradict what I said, which is that it was a stupid thing for O’Reilly to say, whether he believed it or not.

    Your point on incorrect notions about Mormons is fine, but I don’t see that it applies here. If I said, “Because I am a Mormon, I believe that all chameleons will someday become alligators and eat all the butterflies in the world, because that’s what we Mormons believe” … well, that wouldn’t make it true, and anyone who took that statement as proof of that tiny tidbit of Mormon “doctrine” would, indeed, be wrong to do so. But if someone declared that I was an idiot for saying it, I think they would be within their rights and absolutely correct.

    So, to recap again: my only point was that it was a stupid thing for O’Reilly to say. The fact that he doesn’t actually believe it doesn’t make it less stupid, it just slightly tweaks the reason that it’s stupid. And reinforces what I said in the second-to-last sentence: “Bill O’Reilly is making a big deal out of nothing for the purpose of ratings.”

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