Criticism of Bill O'Reilly (commentator)
Over the years, there have been several issues highlighted in American political commentator Bill O'Reilly's print and broadcast work. He has drawn criticism from several individuals and groups, mostly liberalFact|date=October 2008, including
Al Franken, Bill Moyerscite web|url=http://www.freepress.net/node/41488|title=Bill O'Reilly Thinks You're Crazy|publisher=Free Press|accessdate=2008-08-28|author=Silver, J] , David Lettermanin addition to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Free Press, Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann, and Media Matters for America, usually in response to criticism by him or disputes of factual accuracy.Fact|date=July 2008
Analysis of Bill O'Reilly and his Methods
Indiana University study
In early 2007, researchers from the
Indiana UniversitySchool of Journalism published a report in the academic journal"Journalism Studies" that analyzed the Talking Points Memo segment that opens most " O'Reilly Factor" broadcasts. Using analysis techniques developed in the 1930s by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis, the researchers compared O'Reilly's comments and style to a 1939 study of Father Charles Coughlin. Among the conclusions, the study found that O'Reilly used propagandafar more often than Coughlin and that he was three times more likely to be a "name caller". The report also found "a consistent pattern of O'Reilly casting non-Americans in a negative light. Both illegal aliens and foreigners were constructed as physical threats to the public and never featured in the role of victim or hero." [cite web|author = Indiana University|url= http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/5535.html|title = Content analysis of O'Reilly's Rhetoric find spin to be a 'factor'] [Mike Conway, Maria Elizabeth Grabe, and Kevin Grieves, " [http://journalism.indiana.edu/papers/oreillyjourstud07.pdf Villains, Victims, and the Virtuous in Bill O'Reilly's 'No-Spin Zone'] ," "Journalism Studies" 8:2 (2007).]
O'Reilly criticized the study. He asserted that "the terms '
conservative,' 'liberal,' 'left,' 'right,' 'progressive,' 'traditional' or 'centrist' were treated as name-calling if they were associated with a problem or social ill." The study's authors responded that O'Reilly was incorrect and that, as the study itself said, "We did not count 'liberal, conservative, centrist' as name-calling unless they were linked to a derogatory qualifier. O'Reilly's reference to " Kool-Aidleft" is an example of what we counted as name-calling. Or is the reference to folks of a particular political persuasion as a culton a suicidemission fair and balanced reporting?"Mike Conway, Maria Elizabeth Grabe and Kevin Grieves, Los Angeles Times, [http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-conway16may16,0,3767872.story?coll=la-opinion-center "Bill O'Reilly and Krippendorff's Alpha"] , May 16, 2007. Retrieved May 18, 2007.] O'Reilly also claimed that Indiana University has received millions of dollars from George Soros' Open Society Institute. [O'Reilly B, [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,270063,00.html "Calling People Names"] , "Foxnews.com", May 4, 2007. Accessed May 10, 2007.] The authors refuted O'Reilly's claim, responding that they had received no funding at all, including from Soros, for the study. Fox Newsproducer Ron Mitchell also wrote an op-ed criticizing the study. He echoed O'Reilly's charge that too many terms were counted as name-calling and pointed to "buried headline" as an example. He also accused the authors of seeking to manipulate their research to fit a predetermined outcome. Mitchell argued that by using tools developed for examining propaganda, the researchers presupposed that O'Reilly propagandized. [Mitchell R, [http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-mitchell9may09,0,3143633.story?coll=la-opinion-center "Stop Calling O'Reilly Names"] , "LATimes.com (Opinion)", May 10, 2007, Accessed May 10, 2007.] He also pointed to a section in which the authors describe making changes to their "coding instrument" because the first attempts generated "unacceptably low scores." The authors responded that their study had been extensively vetted through two rounds of anonymous peer review prior to publication. They also pointed out that the methodology that Mitchell criticized was accepted scientific practice that is put in place to prevent bias, not to create it. Specifically, a Media Matters response piece said that Mitchell misunderstood what a "coding instrument" is. The methodology called for individual researchers ("coders") to analyze broadcasts and code their findings into a database. The mention of "unacceptably low scores" did not mean that initial methods found too few instances of O'Reilly calling names; instead, it referred to "unacceptably low" consistency between coders analyzing the same data. [ [http://mediamatters.org/items/200705110001?f=h_latest Media Matters - Peas in a pod: In LA Times op-ed, O'Reilly producer misrepresented IU study to defend host ] ]
FAIR's Peter Hart
Peter Hart (a media analyst for the progressive
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) is the co-author of "The Oh Really Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly." [cite web | publisher = Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting| accessdate = 2008-05-20 | url = https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/592/t/6157/shop/item.jsp?storefront_KEY=56&t=&store_item_KEY=285 | title = "The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly" ] In the 2004 documentary "", Hart states that " The O'Reilly Factor" is a "perfect example" of what is wrong with Fox News Channel, alleging that the Republican Party gets favored treatment over the Democratic Party. [cite web | url = http://www.outfoxed.org/docs/outfoxed_transcript.pdf | title = Outfoxed - transcript pgs 49-50 | accessdate = 2007-05-05 ]
In an Air America broadcast on the
Sundance Channel, Franken criticized O'Reilly for selectively and misleadingly editing a June 5, 2005interview of Senator Joseph Biden by George Stephanopoulos. In the interview Biden proposed the submission of legislation for an independent commission to look into wrongdoing in the U.S. Army's prison system at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraiband elsewhere. [cite news | year = 2005 | work = Air America Radio| url= http://shows.airamericaradio.com/alfrankenshow/node/2803 | title = GOP Woes Lead to Finger-Pointing; Bin Laden Resurfaces in Attack Ads | accessdate = 2007-03-04 ] When O'Reilly analyzed the same interview on "The Factor", the broadcast edited out all references Biden made to appointing an independent commission and only presented Biden's call to shut down Guantanamo Bay. O'Reilly accused Biden of misusing the prison abuse story and then presented the missing part of Biden's remarks as his own opinion: "The Bush administrationshould set up an independent commission to investigate American detainee policy across the board. The president must take the offensive on this, or else the country's image will continue to suffer and the jihadists and their enablers will win another victory." Franken criticized this as a misrepresentation by O'Reilly. [cite web | title = Franken vs. O'Reilly | url = http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2671823 | date = 2005-05-24| accessdate = 2007-03-04 ]
Marvin Kitman and his O'Reilly biography
In January 2007,
St. Martin's Pressreleased a biography "The Man Who Would Not Shut Up: The Rise of Bill O'Reilly", written by longtime " Newsday" TV critic Marvin Kitman. O'Reilly initially cooperated with the author by giving him 29 interviews. According to Kitman, O'Reilly was going to help promote and publicize the book until, just prior to publication, they had a disagreement over the inclusion of a chapter covering Andrea Mackris' 2004 sexual harassment lawsuit against O'Reilly. [citenews | first=Frank | last=Lovece | coauthors= | title=O'Reilly bio may surprise fans and foes |date=2007-01-18 | publisher=Newsday.com | url=http://18.104.22.168/search?q=cache:hsc2TXHKEY0J:www.newsday.com/features/booksmags/ny-etkit5055225jan18,0,883143.story+%22Marvin+Kitman%22+biography+reilly&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=42&gl=us | work= | pages= | accessdate =2007-06-22 Accessed via Google cache] After the book came out with the chapter included, Kitman asserts that O'Reilly, instead of promoting the book, attempted to bury it by "intimidating" and "terrorizing" Fox News reporters to keep them from giving Kitman interviews. [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17419934/ 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for March 1 - Countdown with Keith Olbermann - MSNBC.com ] ]
In an interview with Keith Olbermann, Kitman criticized O'Reilly as "kind of a hypocrite" by pointing out O'Reilly's belief that journalists should not attempt to flatter or indulge the people they cover. "Throughout all my interviews," Kitman said, " [O'Reilly] was telling me that nobody could ever tell him what question to ask, or what to say." However, when the subject was O'Reilly himself, Kitman said that "it turned out that he‘s not so much in favor of telling it like it is, but like it isn‘t". Kitman also said he found it strange that O'Reilly sought to suppress the book when it cast him in a generally favorable light. When speaking to Olbermann, Kitman said, "This is the only book that‘s ever said anything positive about Bill, except for the six he wrote about himself." Several critics agree that the book's portrayal is fair. [ [http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6396133.html Social Sciences - 12/15/2006 - Library Journal ] ] [ [http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6387979.html Nonfiction Reviews: Week of 11/6/2006 - 11/6/2006 - Publishers Weekly ] ]
Conflicting comments on teen pregnancy
O'Reilly criticized the news media for addressing the matter of Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin's seventeen year-old, unwed daughter's pregnancy. O'Reilly claimed it was a strictly private family matter and that Palin could not be responsible for her daughter's actions. The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Editorial Page Editor Cynthia Tucker, Jon Stewart and the Huffington Post each noted that O'Reilly himself had several months earlier criticized another unwed pregnant teenager, Jamie Lynn Spears, sixteen at the time, labeling her a "pinhead" and calling her parents irresponsible. [cite web|url=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/04/jon-stewart-hits-karl-rov_n_123852.html|title=Jon Stewart Hits Karl Rove, Bill O'Reilly, Dick Morris On Sarah Palin Hypocrisy] [cite web|url=http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/tucker/stories/2008/09/03/tucked_0903.html|title=Concern, care for Palin’s teen should extend to all] [cite web|url=http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=184086&title=Sarah-Palin-Gender-Card|title=Sarah Palin Gender Card] [cite web|url=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-mitchell/cynthia-tucker-vs-bill-or_b_124032.html|title=Cynthia Tucker vs. Bill O'Reilly: Does Palin Deserve Criticism for Daughter's Pregnancy?] [http://newsone.com/elections/article/jamie-lynn-spears-and-bristol-palin-show-limbaugh-and-oreillys-hypocrisy] In response to Tucker's criticism, O'Reilly sent a producer to confront her outside her home. During the brief confrontation, Tucker defended her column and her opinion that O'Reilly is a "hypocrite." [cite video|people=
Keith Olbermann|date2=2008-09-08|title= Countdown with Keith Olbermann|publisher= MSNBC] [cite web|url=http://www.ajc.com/blogs/content/shared-blogs/ajc/bookman/entries/2008/09/06/on_this_peaceful_pleasant_atla.html|title=Bill O’Reilly’s Faux bravado] [http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003846022] [http://.creativeloafing.com/freshloaf/2008/09/04/cynthia-tucker-and-bill-oreilly-are-a-feudin/]
Critics and Rivals
O'Reilly has been involved in numerous controversies and rivalries with various people and organizations. Some of the more notable are
Media Matters for America, Al Franken, George Sorosand Keith Olbermann.
Media Matters for America
Media Matters for America describes itself as a politically
progressive, web-based, non-profit organizationthat reports and criticizes what it describes as "conservative misinformationin the U.S. media." [cite web | url = http://mediamatters.org/about_us/ | title = Our Mission: Who We Are | publisher = Media Matters for America| accessdate = 2007-03-04 ] O'Reilly is often the subject of Media Matters' online reports.
O'Reilly has referred to Media Matters as "smear merchants," and "the most vile, despicable human beings on the planet," and has expressed distaste for the site he claims is funded by George Soros. [cite news | url = http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,171328,00.html | title = Unresolved Problem: Political Smear Sites | date =
2005-10-05| accessdate = 2007-03-04 ] Media Matters maintains that it has never received funding from Soros "either directly or through another organization." [ [http://mediamatters.org/items/200704240003 O'Reilly purported to chart an intricate web leading to "vile propaganda outfit" Media Matters] ] Media Matters founder David Brocksays that he has repeatedly requested that O'Reilly debate him on O'Reilly's program and that O'Reilly has refused. Media Matters also says that O’Reilly has not been able to specifically challenge the accuracy of Media Matters’s reporting. [cite web | url= http://mediamatters.org/items/200412160011 | title = Letter from David Brock to Bill O'Reilly | date = 2004-12-16| first = David | last = Brock | publisher = Media Matters for America| accessdate = 2007-03-04 ]
Al Franken's 2003 book "" included a picture of O'Reilly on the cover and a chapter devoted to him inside. In his book, Franken accused O'Reilly of distorting facts both to serve conservative politics and to improve his public image. The two men participated in a panel discussion at the 2003 BookExpoAmerica (which was televised on
C-SPAN). Franken described O'Reilly's denial of erroneous statements regarding receiving two Peabody Awards. After Franken spoke, the two men argued.
Book TVargument, Fox News sued Franken for trademark infringementover the use of the phrase "fair and balanced" in the book's title. O'Reilly has generally said that he was not involved in the lawsuit. In an interview with "Time", O'Reilly was asked if he "regrets pushing the lawsuit against Al Franken", to which he replied, "Not at all." [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,490678,00.html 10 Questions For Bill O'Reilly - TIME ] ] When the case reached court, the presiding judge denied Fox's request for injunctive reliefand described the case as "wholly without merit, both factually and legally". [cite web
title="In Courtroom, Laughter at Fox And a Victory For Al Franken"
New York Times"] Fox then dropped the suit. O'Reilly later said he had considered personally suing Franken for defamationbut was told that, as a public person, the standard of proofwould be too high to sustain a lawsuit.
Olbermann's show "Countdown" on
MSNBC, which airs opposite "The O'Reilly Factor", is highly critical of O'Reilly. Olbermann frequently names O'Reilly in the "Worst Persons in the World" segment of the program. On "Countdown", Olbermann had also previously initiated an unsuccessful campaign to "Save the Tapes", referring to the rumor that there exist tapes of O'Reilly making lurid phone sex calls to Andrea Mackris, a former producer of his show. Mackris sued O'Reilly for sexual harassmentand the suit was settled out of court. O'Reilly also sued Mackris for attempted extortion, but dropped the case when her suit was settled. O'Reilly never refers to Olbermann specifically and usually just says "NBC News."
When questioned about O'Reilly on
July 6, 2008, conservative radio host Rush Limbaughtold " New York Times" reporter Zev Chafets, "Sombody has to say it: the man is Ted Baxter," a reference to the pompous, self-aggrandizing and vacuous anchor character portrayed by Ted Knighton " The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in the 1970s. [" The New York Times: " [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/magazine/06Limbaugh-t.html?pagewanted=all Late-Period Limbaugh] "] Keith Olbermann used the same nickname for O'Reilly as far back as February 2006. [NewsBusters.org: [http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brad-wilmouth/2006/02/03/olbermann-attacks-bill-ted-baxter-oreilly-over-amanpours-iraq-disaste Olbermann Attacks Bill "Ted Baxter" O'Reilly Over Amanpour's "Iraq is Disaster"] .] [MSNBC: " [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11698322/ 'Olbermann' banned from 'The O'Reilly Factor'] " by Keith Olbermann] [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-young/limbaugh-on-oreilly-the-m_b_111128.html]
Dispute with Bill Moyers and Free Press
During the 2008 National Conference for Media Reform, Bill sent producer
Porter Barryto question Bill Moyers. According to critics, the conduct and goal of Porter Barry was to "ambush" Moyers, to set up an attack piececite video|title=Countdown with Keith Olbermann|people=Olbermann, Kieth|publisher=msnbc|date2=2008-06-10] In his questioning, Porter repetitively asked why Bill Moyers did not agree to go on O'Reilly's show and said that he had played "games" with O'Reilly. Moyers denied playing games and Porter did not specify what those "games" were. cite video|title=NCMR Footage (Via youtube)|url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_2IZT4VgDY|publisher=Uptake/Free Press] In response to Barry's questions asking why he wouldn't go on Bill's show, Moyers said that: quote|"Rupert Murdoch said the best thing that will come out of the Iraq War would be gasoline at $20 a barrel. Now today when I came here I looked at it and it was $130 and something dollars, when is Rupert going to explain why the war didn't give us $20 a barrel."|Bill Moyersand that he wouldquote|"come on the O'Reilly show first after Rupert Murdoch has explained why we are not getting $20 a barrel of oil for the Iraq War he said would deliver. Secondly I will come on Bill O'Reilly's show after he accepts my invitation to be on my show unedited. I'll give him a whole hour. You go back and take that message. But let's see if the message gets on the air. And if it doesn't, you know, if you want a job, I may have some recommendations for you."|Bill MoyersFurthermore, Moyers called O'Reilly a "pugilist", not a "journalist", and claimed that another of Bill O'Reilly's producers had ambushed him previously. After speaking with Moyers, several reporters questioned Porter Barry using what they claimed were the same tactics he used on Moyers, as the producer left.The O'Reilly factor did not air the interview, and instead called the NCMR a "far-left fiesta" [cite video|title=The O'Reilly Factor|people=O'Reilly, Bill|date2=2008-06-09|publisher=Fox News] , in addition to previously calling free press "crazy" and "fascist".In response, Free Press, which supports the NCMR, launched a campaign saying O'Reilly was not a journalist, and that he should stop calling himself one.
Bill O'Reilly has been involved in several controversies throughout the years.
On his televised program on
February 4, 2003, O'Reilly interviewed Jeremy Glick (co-author of "Another World is Possible"), whose father had been killed in the September 11 attacks. Glick had signed an anti-war ad that made comments relating the attacks to atrocities in Baghdad, Panama Cityand Vietnam. After Glick accused O'Reilly of evoking "9/11 to rationalize everything from domestic plunder to imperialistic aggression worldwide", and also of evoking "sympathy with the 9/11 families" to do the same, O'Reilly became visibly angered with Glick and said, "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". At one point in the interview, O'Reilly told Glick to "shut up" and said, "I don't really care what you think." The short and heated segment ended with O'Reilly giving the command to his staff to cut Glick's microphone. [Jack Shafer, Slate.com, [http://slate.com/id/2087706/ "Bill O'Reilly Wants You To Shut Up"] , Aug. 28, 2003. Retrieved Oct. 20, 2007.] [John Colapinto, Rolling Stone, [http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/6417561/mad_dog/ "Mad Dog"] , Aug. 11, 2004. Retrieved Oct. 20, 2007.]
In an interview with "
Rolling Stone", Glick said that O’Reilly said to him after the interview, “Get out of my studio before I tear you to fucking pieces.” Glick also says that he insulted O’Reilly’s show off-camera. [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/6417561/mad_dog/ Mad Dog (Rolling Stone, Aug 11, 2004)] ] O'Reilly aired the segment, which was recorded "live to tape" [ [http://www.billoreilly.com/audienceletters;jsessionid=E6A7BB766D6BF7005C74537CFC7437CF BillOReilly.com: Behind the Scenes Q & A ] ] , then said to his audience, "If I knew that guy Jeremy Glick was gonna be like that I never would have brought him in here. I feel bad for his family, I really do." Afterward, O'Reilly apologized for Glick's appearance on the show and then inaccurately accused Glick of touting 9/11 conspiracy theories, specifically that Glick said the Bush administration planned the 9/11 attacks. [ http://mediamatters.org/items/200509220012?f=s_search ]
Barbara Boxer Comments
In January 2005, O'Reilly criticized Senator
Barbara Boxerfor allegedly calling Condoleezza Riceunpatriotic. Boxer had said, "I personally believe that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth." Media Matters criticized O'Reilly for misquoting her several times as referring to Rice's "respect for the troops". [ [http://mediamatters.org/items/200501250001?f=s_search Media Matters - O'Reilly hatchet job on Boxer filled with lies ] ] When several callers attempted to correct the error on O'Reilly's show, he rebuked them. [ [http://mediamatters.org/items/200502010001?f=s_search Media Matters - O'Reilly rebuffed two callers' attempts to correct his misquotation of Boxer ] ]
O'Reilly incorrectly claimed at a
February 10, 2001speech at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Universityin Daytona Beach, Florida, that " Inside Edition", a show he had previously anchored, had won a Peabody Award. After watching subsequent broadcast of the speech on C-SPAN, Franken performed a search on LexisNexisand found three previous occasions dating back to August 30, 1999where O'Reilly had repeated the incorrect claim. On at least one occasion, O'Reilly used the first-person pronoun "we" and said the show won (plural) "Peabody Awards".cite news | url = http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1070 | title = Bill O'Reilly's Sheer O'Reillyness | first = Seth | last = Ackerman | coauthors = Peter Hart | work = Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting | accessdate = 2007-03-04 ] [cite book|author = Franken, Al | title = |publisher = Dutton Books|year = 2003|id = ISBN 0-525-94764-7] Franken called O'Reilly for a statement and O'Reilly admitted he had made an error, correcting himself and stating that the show had won a George Polk Awardand not a Peabody.cite news | url = http://www.brooklyn.liu.edu/polk/prev/prev90.html | title = The George Polk Awards for Journalism | publisher = Long Island University | accessdate = 2007-03-04 ] Further research that Franken documented in his book " Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" reveals that the Polk award was given one year after O'Reilly's tenure at "Inside Edition" and for work O'Reilly had not been involved with.
Franken called Lloyd Grove, a reporter for "
The Washington Post," who called O'Reilly and asked him about his statements. O'Reilly said, "So I got mixed up between a Peabody Award and a Polk Award". Grove published the story on March 1, 2001in his column "The Reliable Source". [cite news | url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A6352-2001Mar1¬Found=true | title = The Reliable Source | first = Lloyd | last = Grove | work = The Washington Post| date = 2001-03-01| accessdate = 2007-03-04 ]
Robert Reno of "
Newsday" wrote an opinion piece that used this example to argue that O'Reilly cares more about self-aggrandizement than journalism. O'Reilly criticized Reno's article as an example of "attack journalism" and said that "you can't find a transcript where I said [I won a Peabody] ". He has rejected the characterization that he was lying and maintained that he never said that he personally won any such award. Franken and other critics have pointed to O'Reilly's use of "we" to rebut O'Reilly's contention.
Boycott of French goods
In March 2003, O'Reilly called for a
boycottof French products and services sold in the United States, due to President Jacques Chirac's stance on the 2003 invasion of Iraq.cite web | last = Schweber-Koren | last = Raphael | date = 2005-10-27| title = O'Reilly again trumpeted "annoying" French boycott | url = http://mediamatters.org/items/200510270012 | publisher = Media Matters for America| accessdate = 2005-12-27] In April 27, 2004; O'Reilly said, “They’ve lost billions of dollars in France” as a direct result of his boycott, referring to "The Paris Business Review" as his source, a publication that does not exist, being a part of an April Fool's joke. [cite web | author = Albert Lea | date = 2003-04-01| title = The Paris Business Review | url = http://www.parisbusinessreview.net/ | publisher = The Paris Business Review| accessdate = 2008-09-17] O'Reilly then said about two months later that the boycott caused France to lose $138 million in business compared to the previous year. [cite web | author = G.W. | date = 2004-07-07| title = O'Reilly defended old lies exposed by Jack Mathews and MMFA, told new ones | url = http://mediamatters.org/items/200407080001 | publisher = Media Matters for America| accessdate = 2007-01-19] [cite web | date = 2004-04-28| publisher = Media Matters for America| author = G.W. | url = http://mediamatters.org/items/200405020006 | title = FOX's O'Reilly fabricated evidence of success of purported boycott]
The CBC and Media Matters for America have said that French exports to the US increased during the period of O'Reilly's boycott, citing U.S. Census Bureau figures. [cite news | year = 2005 | publisher = Canadian Broadcasting Corporation | url = http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/sticksandstones.html | title = Sticks and Stones ] [cite web | date =
2005-08-02| publisher = Media Matters for America| author = R.S.K. | url = http://mediamatters.org/items/200508020002 | title = O'Reilly boycotts truth to spin French boycott; falsely claimed it 'hurt France'] [cite web | year = 2006 | publisher = U.S. Census Bureau | author = U.S. Census Bureau | url = http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/imports/c4279.html | title = U.S. Imports from France from 2001 to 2005 ]
In May 2007 O'Reilly announced he was ending the boycott upon the election of
Nicolas Sarkozyas French President. [ [http://thinkprogress.org/2007/05/08/oreilly-lifts-boycott-of-france/ Think Progress » O’Reilly lifts boycott of France ] ]
Controversy about O'Reilly's childhood home and upbringing
O'Reilly has long said that his inspiration for speaking up for average Americans, or what he calls "the folks", are his
working-classroots. He has pointed to his boyhood home in lower-middle-class Levittown, New Yorkas a credential. In an interview with " The Washington Post", O'Reilly's mother said that her family lived in Westbury,cite news | url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A62722-2000Dec12?language=printer | work = The Washington Post| title = The Life of O'Reilly | first = Paul | last = Farhi | date = 2000-12-13| accessdate = 2007-03-04 ] which is a few miles from Levittown. Citing this interview, Al Franken, Michael Kinsley, and others have accused O'Reilly of distorting his background to create a more working-class image.
O'Reilly has countered that "The Washington Post" misquoted his mother, [cite news | url = http://www.nydailynews.com/news/col/story/185118p-160369c.html | work =
New York Daily News| title = Gloves of fairness are off | date = 2004-04-18| accessdate = 2007-03-04 | first = Bill | last = O'Reilly ] and he said his mother still lives in his childhood home, which was built by William Levitt. O'Reilly placed a copy of the house's mortgage, which shows a Levittown postal address, on his website. Levittown was redrawn into a squarish shape [cite web | url = http://www.nycroads.com/history/1960_metro-4/ | title = New York Metro Maps (1960) | publisher = nycroads.com | accessdate = 2007-03-04 ] to conform with the 11756 ZIP code, which was introduced in 1963. After this time the O'Reilly home was located in Westbury. On a 2005 episode of " The Al Franken Show", Franken invited a Long Islandhistorian onto the show, and she said that O'Reilly's statement about having lived in "the Westbury section of Levittown" was generally accurate and that the house could fairly be described as being in either town. She also said that O'Reilly's neighborhood was not the "hardscrabble" environment he suggested it was. [The Al Franken Show, October 28, 2005.]
O'Reilly has also said, "You don't come from any lower than I came from on an economic scale" [cite news | url = http://www.observer.com/node/52060 | work =
The New York Observer| title = Fox News Superstar Bill O'Reilly Wants to Oppose Hillary in 2006! | first = Jason | last = Gay | date = 2000-10-09| accessdate = 2007-06-19 ] and that his father "never earned more than $35,000 a year in his life." Fairness and Accuracy in Reportinghas calculated that adjusted for inflation, $35,000 in 1978 would be worth over $90,000 in 2001 dollars. O'Reilly has retorted that his father's $35,000 income only came at the end of his long career, at which point O'Reilly would have been long independent of his parents. [* cite book | first=Bill | last=O'Reilly | authorlink=Bill O'Reilly (commentator) | year=2003 | title=Who's Looking Out For You? ]
Inaccurate reporting on "lesbian gangs"
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance (
GLAAD) and the Southern Poverty Law Center ( SPLC) have each separately criticized O'Reilly for featuring a story about a "national epidemic" of teenage lesbiangangs who carry pink pistols and try to indoctrinate young girls into lesbianism. GLAAD and the SPLC outlined ways in which the sourcing for the story was flimsy, false, or omitted pertinent facts. [ [http://www.glaad.org/action/calls_detail.php?id=4031 GLAAD: Update: Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor Offers Unsubstantiated Claims in "Lesbian Gang Epidemic" Segment ] ] [ [http://www.splcenter.org/intel/news/item.jsp?aid=274&site_area=1 SPLCenter.org: O'Reilly and lesbian gangs ] ] Rashad Robinson, GLAAD's Senior Director of Media Programs, said, "This type of inaccurate tabloid journalismperpetuates dangerous stereotypes about lesbians and feeds a climate of homophobia, anti-gay discriminationand violence." [ [http://www.glaad.org/action/calls_detail.php?id=4031 GLAAD: Update: Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor Offers Unsubstantiated Claims in "Lesbian Gang Epidemic" Segment ] ] O’Reilly acknowledged that the story was overhyped, but defended it. "It’s a valid story," he said. "Is it out of control? No." He continued, "I’m not in fear of the lesbians beating me up tonight." Robinson called O'Reilly's response a "non-apology apology" and added that "the story is a complete and total fabrication, and he still has failed to offer one shred of evidence as to why it’s legitimate news." [" [http://www.nytimes.com/cq/2007/07/16/cq_3090.html Gay Gun Advocates Draw Bead on O'Reilly] ," "Congressional Quarterly" (16 July 2007).]
Virginia Tech Shooting
September 6, 2007a free concert was scheduled in remembrance of the Virginia Tech shooting. The concert was scheduled, with headline acts including John Mayer, Nas, Phil Vassar, and Dave Matthews Band. [http://www.vt.edu/concert/ A Concert For Virginia Tech] . The Virginia Tech massacre; the bloodiest school massacre in U.S. history, had taken place earlier that year, on April 16 2007, when student Seung-Hui Cho, killed 32 and wounded more, before committing suicide. Retrieved on August 1, 2007.] When it was announced that Nas was to perform, O'Reilly and Fox News Channel denounced the concert and called for the removal of the rapper citing "violent" lyrics on songs including "Shoot 'Em Up", "Got Urself A...", and "Made You Look". During his "Talking Points Memo" segment for August 15, 2007, an argument erupted in which O'Reilly claimed that it was not only Nas' lyrical content that made him inappropriate for the event, but claimed repeatedly that Nas also had a "gun conviction" on his criminal record. [ Bill O'Reilly.com. [http://www.billoreilly.com/show;jsessionid=800B15A6C73C984F6AA5FFC67BD987BE?action=viewTVShow&showID=1474 Segment Summaries] August 15 2007.] Responding to O'Reilly, Nas in an interview with MTV Newssaid: [Reid, Shaheem. [http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1569047/20070906/nas.jhtml?rsspartner=rssMozilla Nas Slams Bill O'Reilly Over Virginia Tech Comments] . MTV: September 6 2007.]
American Red Cross and the United Way
September 11 terrorist attacks, O'Reilly devoted substantial time on his television show and wrote pieces accusing the United Way of Americaand American Red Crossof failing to deliver millions of dollars in donated money, raised by the organizations in the name of the disaster, to the families of those killed in the attacks. [ [http://www.papillonsartpalace.com/celebrit.htm "O'Reilly rips celeb 'phonies'"] , Richard Johnson with Paula Froelich and Chris Wilson, PapillonsArtPalace.com, November 2, 2001] [ [http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=25667 "Fight the power"] , Bill O'Reilly, WorldNetDaily, December 13, 2001] O'Reilly claimed that the organizations misrepresented their intentions for the money being raised by not distributing all of the 9/11 relief fund to the victims. [ [http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/10/30/171728.shtml "Red Cross Diverts Donations From Sept. 11 Victims"] , Kevin Curran, NewsMax.com, October 31, 2001] Actor George Clooney responded to O'Reilly's claims, accusing O'Reilly of misstating facts (including confusing the United Way with the Red Cross), sloppy reporting and harming the relief effort by inciting "panic" among potential donors. [http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,1016211,00.html] Congressional hearings were called on the matter and an investigation by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzertook place. Bernadette Healey, the president of the Red Cross, resigned shortly thereafter. [ [http://philanthropy.com/free/update/2001/10/2001102601.htm "Red Cross President Resigns Under Pressure From Board"] , Grant Williams, Philanthropy.com, October 26, 2001] In a statement before the House Ways and Means Committee in November 2001, Congressman J.D. Hayworthasserted that media pressure, most notably from O'Reilly, helped cause the Red Cross to increase payments to affected people and helped cause other charities to participate in an oversight database established by Spitzer. [ [http://waysandmeans.house.gov/legacy/oversite/107cong/11-8-01/hayw.htm Opening Statement of the Hon. J.D. Hayworth, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Oversight of the House Committee on Ways and Means] , Hearing on Response by Charitable Organizations to the Recent Terrorist Attacks, Committee on Ways & Means, November 8, 2001]
Military recruitment in San Francisco schools
November 8 2005, the voters of San Franciscoapproved Proposition I/College Not Combat, a ballot measure that declared the city's opposition to "the federal government's use of public schools to recruit students for service in the military." [cite web | author = San Francisco Department of Elections | year = 2005 | title = No Military Recruiters in Public Schools, Scholarships for Education and Job Training | url = http://www.sfgov.org/site/election_index.asp?id=33918 | publisher = San Francisco Department of Elections | accessdate = 2005-12-27 ] In response, O'Reilly stated on his radio show, "You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right in to Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead. And if Al Qaedacomes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it....We're going to say, "Look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead." [cite news | last = Garofoli | first = Joe | date = 2005-11-11| title = Talk host's towering rant: S.F. not worth saving | url = http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/11/MNGFMFMNV41.DTL | work =San Francisco Chronicle | accessdate = 2005-12-27 ] San Francisco Supervisor Chris Dalyresponded, calling for O'Reilly to be fired from Fox. [cite web | last = Garofoli | first = Joe | date = 2005-11-12| title = Local leaders unleash vitriol at O'Reilly TV host should be fired for comments about city, Daly says | url = http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/11/12/COIT.TMP | work = San Francisco Chronicle | accessdate = 2005-12-27 ] O'Reilly refused to apologize, saying his comments were "obviously satirical." [cite web | last = O'Reilly | first = Bill | authorlink=Bill O'Reilly (commentator) | date = 2005-11-18| url = http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,176009,00.html | title = San Francisco... Part III | publisher = FOX News Network, LLC (foxnews.com, "Talking Points,";;) | accessdate = 2005-12-27 ] The proposition's author, Todd Chretien, appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" in response and stated that to the people of San Francisco, the proposition itself was "no laughing matter."
Shawn Hornbeck(a former missing child) was found living with 41 year old Michael J. Devlinon January 12, 2007. Hornbeck had been kidnapped by Devlin in 2002 at the age of 11. After being discovered, it was revealed that at some point in that four years Devlin had given Hornbeck the freedom to get on the internet, ride his bike, and have friends over. Many members of the media speculated that Hornbeck apparently did not try to escape because of Stockholm syndrome. On January 16, 2007's edition of "The O'Reilly Factor", O'Reilly called this analysis into question. He said that he doesn't believe in the Stockholm Syndrome, and that the boy probably preferred not going to school and playing video games to living with his parents. O'Reilly said: "The situation here, for this kid, looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn't have to go to school, he could run around and do whatever he wanted…there was an element here that this kid liked about this circumstance." He then went on to say that Hornbeck was probably maladjusted before being abducted. He supported his comments with the fact that Hornbeck had piercings and that O'Reilly himself had once taught high school. Following his comments, the Naples, FloridaChapter of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Childrenannounced that O'Reilly's appearance at a fundraiser where he was to give the keynote address was cancelled. He was replaced by John Walsh. [cite web | url = http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/NewsEventServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=3059 | title = Statement | date = 2007-02-09| accessdate = 2007-02-14 | work = National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Collier County, Florida Branch] The "New York Daily News" reported that "O'Reilly responded that he may find it necessary to apologize to Shawn's parents, Pam and Craig Akers - but not until he learns more.'This is a complicated, disturbing story,' he said. 'No question this monster [accused kidnapper Michael] Devlin made threats and intimidated Shawn. But teenagers have brains, and Shawn had the freedom to get away if he wanted to.' Shawn was 11 when he was kidnapped." [Christina Boyle, "O'Reilly Takes Hit for Kid-Liked-It Comment," "New York Daily News" (19 January 2007) p. 23.]
Harlem restaurant comments
September 19, 2007edition of " The Radio Factor", prior to having a discussion about racial stereotypes with fellow Fox News commentator and author Juan Williams, [ [http://billoreilly.com/blog;jsessionid=33ACA2334DD2726B8B743E9684498D29?action=viewBlog&blogID=-514007249730622364 Audio broadcast of Radio Factor 9/19/2007] ] O'Reilly mentioned a lunch he had with Rev. Al Sharptonat Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem. Before Williams joined the discussion, he said that he "couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." Later on the show, while discussing how white America feels that gangsta rappers dominate black culture, Williams stated, "Oh, and it’s just so awful. It’s just so awful because, I mean, it’s literally the sewer come to the surface, and now people take it that the sewer is the whole story", to which O'Reilly responded, "That’s right. That’s right. There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea". [ [http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/2007/09/oreilly_blacks_order_tea_without_cursing Transcript of Radio Factor with Juan Williams] ] [ [http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007Sep26/0,4670,TVOaposReillySylviaaposs,00.html FOXNews.com - Bill O'Reilly Says He's Being Smeared - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment ] ] [ [http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Black_radio_host_slams_OReilly_Harlem_0925.html Harlem dinner comments] ]
O'Reilly also said, "I think that black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves, getting away from the Sharptons and the Jacksons and people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They're just trying to figure it out. 'Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it.'" [ [http://mediamatters.org/items/200709270001?f=h_latest Media Matters - CNN's Roland Martin on O'Reilly comment: " [Last I checked, I didn't hand over my brain to Rev. Sharpton" ] ]
Roland S. Martinof CNNsaid that the notion that black people are just now starting to value education is "ridiculous" and that the notion that black people let Sharpton or Jackson think for them is "nuts". He suggested that O'Reilly's view was "based upon a stereotype" and called on O'Reilly and others who think like him to "wake up". [ [http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0709/25/ltm.01.html CNN.com - Transcripts ] ]
Karl Frisch, spokesman for Media Matters, said O'Reilly's comments were "ignorant and racially charged." O'Reilly responded in his "Talking Points Memo" that he believed that Media Matters took him out of context. He defended his comments by saying, "It was an attempt to tell the radio audience that there is no difference black, white, we’re all Americans. The stereotypes they see on television are not true." [ [http://insidecable.blogsome.com/2007/09/25/cnn-vs-oreilly-oreillys-turn Juan Williams and Bill O'Reiller defend comments] ] O'Reilly said, "Media Matters distorted the entire conversation and implied I was racist for condemning racism." [ [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,298120,00.html FOXNews.com - CNN Goes Over to the Dark Side - Bill O’Reilly | The O’Reilly Factor ] ]
In an interview with Keith Olbermann, Eugene Robinson of "The Washington Post" said that O'Reilly's initial remarks were "casually racist" and that O'Reilly's attempts to cast himself as the victim of a smear campaign were disingenuous. [ [http://mediamatters.org/items/200709270005?f=i_latest Media Matters - Wash. Post 's Robinson on O'Reilly: " [It was, at best, a casually racist remark" ] ] On "
Morning Joe", Willie Geistsaid that, contrary to O'Reilly's position, "The more context you hear, the worse it gets." Geist also said that O'Reilly might not understand the nature of his comments or why they would spark controversy. [ [http://mediamatters.org/items/200709270002 Media Matters - Scarborough: Fox's coverage of O'Reilly's comments suggests he "has nothing to do with" controversy ] ]
Huffington Postblog, author Earl Ofari Hutchinsonwrote that the comments "looked and sounded dumb and racist", but O'Reilly "didn't say anything that was earth shatteringly offensive" or anything that others might not say in private. [ [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/earl-ofari-hutchinson/in-defense-of-oreilly_b_66047.html In Defense of O'Reilly] ] Also on the Huffington Post, Eric Deggans, chairman of the Black Journalists Media Monitoring Committee, said that O'Reilly's history of using racially charged rhetoric suggests that he stereotyped black people as "either vocal protesters like Sharpton and Jesse Jackson or straight-up thugs like N.W.A." Deggans said that he found it unfortunate that it "took a lunch with Al Sharpton" for O'Reilly to realize otherwise. [ [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-deggans/judging-bill-oreilly-wh_b_65914.html Eric Deggans: Judging Bill O'Reilly: Why His Comments About Lunch in Harlem Matter - Media on The Huffington Post ] ] Juan Williamssaid the criticism of O'Reilly was “rank dishonesty” and that the original comments "had nothing to do with racist ranting by anybody except by these idiots at CNN." [ [http://newsbustersorg/blogs/noel-sheppard/2007/09/25/juan-williams-defends-bill-o-reilly-calls-cnn-idiots Juan Williams defends O'Reilly] ] Williams went on to say it was "frustrating" that the media try to criticize anyone who wanted to have an honest discussion about race. [ [http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007Sep26/0,4670,TVOaposReillySylviaaposs,00.html FOXNews.com - Bill O'Reilly Says He's Being Smeared - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment ] ]
On the "Today" show, host
Matt Lauersaid, "I thought Bill O'Reilly was saying that we should not be surprised." He said O'Reilly's point is that "the small group of people" who think that certain rappers represent all African Americans "need to get out and live life a little bit". Lauer later speculated that O'Reilly would want to get "a do-over" and phrase his comments differently. [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eizBFc-bss Today Show on O'Reilly/Media Matters] ]
Following the controversy, Jesse Jackson made his first appearance on the "O'Reilly Factor". [ [http://youtube.com/watch?v=iqIhPHQB8Xw Jesse Jackson on the O'Reilly factor] ] Jackson asked O'Reilly what he had intended by his comments and said that "to underestimate the civility of black people was offensive" but that the controversy over O'Reilly's remarks had obscured other, more important issues. [ [http://mediamatters.org/items/200709280007 Media Matters - Rev. Jackson to O'Reilly: " [To underestimate the civility of blacks was insulting to many people" ] ]
"Lynching Party" comment
February 19, 2008edition of " The Radio Factor", O'Reilly devoted his program to the sound biteof Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, who had said at a campaign rally,"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country.” O'Reilly questioned whether Mrs. Obama loved her country and, in response to a caller's response that she did not, said "I don't want to go on a lynchingparty against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence." [ [http://mediamatters.org/items/200802210008 Media Matters - O'Reilly attacked as "far-left loon" caller who asked if he would apologize for "lynching party" comment ] ] [cite episode|title=The Radio Factor|series= The Radio Factor|airdate=2008-02-19] [cite web|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/7325072|title=Michelle Obama Clarifies `proud' Remark] [cite web|url=http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2008/02/bill_oreilly_doesnt_want_to_ly.html|title=Bill O’Reilly Doesn’t Want to Lynch Michelle Obama Until He Is 100 Percent Positive She Hates America] Columnist Eugene Robinson of the "Washington Post" criticized O'Reilly for his remarks. "There's certainly nothing at all funny or remotely appropriate about the use of a lynching reference to talk about Michelle Obama," he said. "It's -- I'm almost speechless." [cite web|url=http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/departments/syndicates/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003713919|title=Columnist Slams Bill O'Reilly's 'Lynching' Comment] On his February 21 broadcast of "The O'Reilly Factor", O'Reilly said, "I'm sorry if my statement offended anybody." [cite web|url=http://mediamatters.org/items/200802210014|title=O'Reilly on his Michelle Obama remarks: "I'm sorry if my statement offended anybody" ]
O'Reilly was criticized from numerous quarters for his conduct during an October 2, 2008 interview with Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank. [http://www.radaronline.com/exclusives/2008/10/barney-frank-bill-oreilly-coward.php] [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-fiderer/fox-news-barney-frank-esc_b_132347.html] Frank appeared on the O'Reilly Factor to respond to O'Reilly's criticism of him for the ongoing financial crisis. O'Reilly had blamed Frank and others for the crisis, threatened to punch him and called him a "big fat toad." [http://www.usnews.com/blogs/sam-dealey/2008/09/10/barney-franks-fannie-and-freddie-muddle.html] [http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2008/10/04/baldwin-blames-financial-crisis-clinton-dems-barney-frank] When Frank began to explain his past actions regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, O'Reilly interrupted and started yelling at Frank and called him a "coward." Frank responded by asking O'Reilly to stop yelling, said O'Reilly's behavior was "boorish" and that his "stupidity" prevented rational discussion of the issue. [http://news.bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view/2008_10_04_Barney_Frank__Bill_O_Reilly_turn_nasty_in_on-air_battle/srvc=home&position=also] [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/03/bill-oreilly-and-barney-f_n_131569.html] Since the incident, O'Reilly has suggested that his yelling at Frank was an act of political theater to make the point that Frank was a "villain." [http://www.newshounds.us/2008/10/08/bill_oreilly_suggests_barney_frank_attack_was_political_theater.php#more]
Disputed claims involving the "War on Christmas"
Media Matters for America has criticized what O'Reilly calls the "
War on Christmas." Media Matters posted several reports on their website with links to news articles from Michigan’s WNEM-TV, the " Pittsburgh Post-Gazette", [cite news | first = Dennis B | last = Roddy | work = Pittsburgh Post-Gazette| url = http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05336/616063.stm | title = Religious stamps not outlawed after all | date = 2005-12-02| accessdate = 2007-01-19 ] and the " Washington Post", [cite news | first = Neely | last = Tucker | work = The Washington Post| url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/19/AR2005121901802.html | title = Have a Holly, Jolly Holiday | date = 2005-12-20| accessdate = 2007-01-19 ] as well as one retraction by O’Reilly himself [cite web
Media Matters for America| date = 2005-12-21| author = S.G. | url = http://mediamatters.org/items/200512210005 | title = O'Reilly admits he falsely accused Plano of banning red and green clothing] noting that several of O'Reilly’s allegations to support his theory were either false or inaccurate. [cite web | date = 2005-12-13| publisher = Media Matters for America| accessdate = 2007-01-19 | author = J.B. | url = http://mediamatters.org/items/200512130005 | title = O'Reilly falsely claimed that 'spiritual' Christmas stamps are no longer being offered ] cite news | year = 2005 | publisher = WNEM TV-5 | author = S.G. | url = http://www.wnem.com/Global/story.asp?S=4235657 | title = Saginaw Township on the "The O'Reilly Factor" Radio Program ]
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