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#14: Franken and Glick vs. O’Reilly: Resolved! (Hopefully)
In a chapter attempting to discredit Bill O’Reilly, Franken cites an interview that O’Reilly conducted with a young man named Jeremy Glick. Glick sadly lost his father in New York City in the events on September 11. After signing his name to a full-page anti-war ad published in the New York Times, he appeared as a guest on the O’Reilly Factor on February 4, 2003.
The interview became the subject of a lot of discussion for quite a while in the media because things became quite heated between Glick and O’Reilly.
In his book, on page 78 (paperback, p. 82), Franken writes that Glick explained himself "modestly and eloquently." Apparently, presenting facts correctly takes a back seat as long as you sound good – and your views are different than Bill O’Reilly’s.
The interview began when O’Reilly said that he was surprised that Glick signed his name to an ad which, according to O’Reilly, equates the United States with terrorists. Glick responded with a statement that ran nearly 45 seconds. Here is part of what he said:
: [Our] current president, who I feel and many feel is in this position illegitimately by neglecting the voices of Afro-Americans in the Florida coup ...
Wait a second. "Florida coup"? Glick needs to read this section!
He continued unchallenged and added a moment later:
: Our current president now inherited a legacy from his father and inherited a political legacy that’s responsible for training militarily, economically, and situating geopolitically the parties involved in the alleged assassination and murder of my father and countless of thousands of others.
"Alleged assassination"?! "Alleged"?! Is he saying the events of September 11 allegedly happened?
At this point, the discussion was animated, but far from confrontational. O’Reilly even said to his guest that he was entitled to his opinion, and he thought Glick’s beliefs were sincere.
At a November 19, 2003, University of Missouri speaking event, later broadcast on C-SPAN, Franken revisited the Glick episode and said,
"Jeremy said some things on the show that got him (O’Reilly) mad, like that Bush the elder had funded – helped fund the moujahadeen. Y’know, true stuff. And so he told Jeremy to ‘shut up!’, ‘shut up!’ ... And then (he) kicked the kid off his show, unplugged his microphone ..."
Well, suffice it to say that Glick’s history is not exactly "true stuff," as Franken claims.
Anyone with a history book would have had a problem with what Glick presented.
: [S]ix months before the invasion in Afghanistan, starting in the Carter administration and continuing and escalating while Bush’s father was head of the CIA, we recruited a hundred thousand radical mujahadeens to combat a democratic government in Afghanistan, the Taraki government.
Glick is flat-out wrong on two points here. First, George H. W. Bush was head of the CIA for less than one year under President Ford starting on January 30, 1976. After Jimmy Carter was elected President, he resigned, exiting his position on January 20, 1977. Second, the "democratic government" to which Glick refers was the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), who seized control of the country after a coup in 1978. (Nur Mohammed Taraki became its President, Prime Minister, and General Secretary.) The new government then signed a friendship pact with the Soviet Union. The mujahadeen was committed to combating the new communist government and any Soviet intervention. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in late December in 1979. If the United States began aiding the mujahadeen six months before the invasion, this is over two years after Bush left his CIA post.
But did O’Reilly tell the man, "Shut up! Shut up!"? Yes, he did, but only after the interview really took a sour angle when Glick went after O’Reilly personally.
: Let me finish. You evoke 9-11 to rationalize everything from domestic plunder to imperialist aggression worldwide.
Anyone who’s watched O’Reilly knows he is not the kind of guy to take an accusation like that lying down.
: OK. That’s a bunch –
Glick: You evoke sympathy with the 9-11 families.
O’Reilly: That’s a bunch of crap. I’ve done more for the 9-11 families by their own admission – I’ve done more for them than you will ever hope to do.
O’Reilly's response was understandable. Following September 11, millions of Americans donated over a billion dollars to the Red Cross and the United Way. People believed that the money would go directly to the families devastated by the tragedies. Unfortunately, the charities had planned to put much of the money aside for their general funds and for programs like "community outreach." But Bill O’Reilly, through his television program, successfully lobbied to redirect millions of dollars of that money straight to the families.
Needless to say, after this point of the interview, the Ice Age had a better chance of making a comeback. An argument erupted when the two argued over the United States' attack on Afghanistan to remove the Taliban. Glick tried to repeat his falsehood of the Bush/CIA connection. O’Reilly wanted to wind down the interview and began to make a statement, but Glick pushed to continue the debate. It was at this point that O’Reilly told Glick, "Shut up. Shut Up." Glick would not be stopped, however, and O’Reilly finished the interview. "Cut his mic. I’m not going to dress you down anymore, out of respect for your father. We will be back in a moment with more of the Factor." Glick, who was still audible, asked, "That means we’re done?" O’Reilly said, "We’re done."1 End of interview. Music rises. Cut to commercial.
Franken has said O’Reilly "kicked the kid off his show [and] unplugged his microphone." If anything, O’Reilly simply cut the segment a little shorter than it normally would have run. But then, again, in a span of two minutes, Glick had
... referred to the Florida election as a "coup";
... he called September 11 an "alleged" assassination and murder;
... he falsely accused Bush the elder of training 100,000 moujahadeen while head of the CIA;
... and then attacked the personal integrity of the host.
If anything, O’Reilly was simply unprepared to handle such an insane barrage of utter lunacy.
There is little doubt, however, that Franken felt Glick achieved that "impossibly high standard."
1 An anti-war site has an unofficial transcript of the exchange. It is also recommended that readers find a video of the exchange. One has been found at an anti-war site: http://www.propagandamatrix.com/multimedia/oreilly_glick.html. (They don't seem too fond of O'Reilly, either.)