Bill O'Reilly, Donald Trump (Credit: Fox News)

Bill O'Reilly defends violence at Trump rally: Those far-left agitators aren't "victims," they were asking for it

Even if his supporters were provoked, Trump should still "tone it down" — even though Bill knows he can't


Scott Eric Kaufman
March 15, 2016 3:45PM (UTC)

On "The O'Reilly Factor" Monday evening, host Bill O'Reilly defended both Donald Trump and his supporters, claiming that the potential for violence at Trump events is entirely the fault of left-wing operators like the faculty at the University of Illinois and MoveOn.org.

"Throughout the week, far-left people ramped up a campaign to deny Donald Trump the forum" at the University of Illinois, so it was "no surprise on Friday that disruptive protesters entered the pavilion to shut Trump down, and confront his supporters."

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"Far-left agitators who do not believe in freedom of speech drove a situation that could have become violent," O'Reilly continued, "but the national media spun the story, demonizing Mr. Trump and his supporters, blaming the incident on 'inflammatory rhetoric' and 'racist thought.'"

The host acknowledged that "some Trump supporters are angry, undisciplined people" but drew a quick equivalence, noting that "some supporters of Bernie Sanders are angry and undisciplined."

O'Reilly's defense is more cogent than the candidate's, who earlier told Fox News that "I guess maybe somebody got hit once, but there’s no violence" -- because "getting hit" isn't an act of "violence," as anyone who's ever been beaten knows.

"Opposition to Trump is not the issue here, true fascism is. We have seen some anti-Trump people use the fascist salute while taunting his supporters," he added, completely ignoring the fact that such taunts are a direct result of the front-runner's frequent request that his supporters pledge their loyalty to him by raising their right hands.

Still, despite that vigorous, albeit selectively edited defense of Trump, O'Reilly did urge him to "tone it down a bit, fully explain his positions, hire advisers who can articulate his vision, and conduct himself with restraint" -- in other words, become the very kind of candidate Donald Trump currently isn't, and most likely never can be.

Because, as he noted in an interview with Charles Krauthammer later in the program, "Trump speaks in an emotional manner and he doesn't have a filter -- he doesn't think sometimes before he speaks, [and] he doesn't understand that his words can carry threats."

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Watch the entire segment below via Fox News.


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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