O'Reilly's jihad against the L.A. Times

Fox News' finest calls for terrorists to behead the paper's editorial page editor.

Published May 25, 2005 4:49PM (EDT)

On the May 17 broadcast of his radio show, Bill O'Reilly took issue with the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times for criticizing U.S. treatment of detainees at the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He said that the paper wouldn't understand his objection to legal representation for detainees at Gitmo until terrorists "grab [editorial page editor] Michael Kinsley out of his little house and they cut off his head." He added: "And maybe when the blade sinks in, he'll go, 'Perhaps O'Reilly was right.'"

Apparently O'Reilly did not appreciate the Times' suggestion, in the wake of Newsweek's faulty Quran-abuse story, that Newsweek's reporting blunder was not the primary reason for an explosion of anti-Americanism abroad. (The Times wasn't the only publication to point out what else is responsible for that trend; War Room is thankful to thus far have been spared from O'Reilly's call for decapitation by terrorists.)

Perhaps the Fox News star unsheathed his saber out of confusion: He also said that allowing due process for detainees held by the U.S. (a number of whom have eventually been released without charges) is like saying "if we're nicer to the people who want to KILL US, then the other people who want to KILL US will like us more."

A week later, the L.A. Times' editorial board had a few words of clarification for O'Reilly as to how the U.S. might ultimately be able to declare mission accomplished in the war of ideas:

"It is legitimately maddening to Americans that people whom we have liberated from tyranny or the nearby threat of it, at a vast cost in American lives and dollars, should be so spectacularly ungrateful, and should misunderstand us so completely. Why don't they love us? It doesn't seem worthy of decapitation to suggest that ghastly stories (not all fabricated by Newsweek) about abuse of prisoners don't help. Or that American preaching about liberal democratic values might be enhanced by practicing them. For instance, by letting the Gitmo detainees (some totally innocent) have lawyers.

"Where did The Times' editorial page get the idea that winning the war on terrorism depends on persuading societies that breed terrorists that they should like us and adopt our values? Actually, this is not some wooly left-wing notion concocted over a joint during a lesbian wedding reception in Santa Monica. It is the cornerstone of the George Bush presidency, according to Bush himself.

"In his State of the Union address in January, for instance, Bush said, 'In the long term, the peace we seek will only be achieved by eliminating the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder. If whole regions of the world remain in despair and grow in hatred, they will be the recruiting grounds for terror, and that terror will stalk America...'"

"O'Reilly should be careful," the Times added. "Any further decapitation fantasies could get him in serious trouble with the Secret Service."

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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