Join 3,439 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Terry Gross vs. Bill O'Reilly
October 8, 2003 2:29 PM   Subscribe

O'Reilly "self-terminates" interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" In an apparent effort to balance having had Al Franken last week, NPR's "Fresh Air" asked Bill O' Reilly to appear on today's show. Apparently, O'Reilly eventually decided that it was too much of an "attack" interview, and left.
posted by LairBob (102 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Having listened to the entire audio recording, I've got to say that neither one comes off very well. Gross is much more antagonistic towards him than she was towards Franken, and O'Reilly is, once again, remarkably thin-skinned, for being such a public bully.
posted by LairBob at 2:30 PM on October 8, 2003


i just finished listening to it a few minutes ago...i didn't really feel like it was an attack interview. I actually found myself thinking he wasn't too bad...

but he slowly snapped into a defensive posture...even the timing of how he would say things would have made me back off from him--say, in a bar or something.

in the end, i think it turned out exactly how anyone would have thought, so easy for all the players to jump thru the right hoops, will someone from the real secret government please contact me with a job offer?
posted by th3ph17 at 2:33 PM on October 8, 2003


Final moments:

Bill O'Reilly: "Well of course the ladies should know my tongue has a spin and dry cycle. I'm a man."
Terry Gross: "That's it. I'm not going to dress you down anymore. Cut his mike."
posted by scarabic at 2:33 PM on October 8, 2003 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for him to let the interviewer finish a sentance.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:33 PM on October 8, 2003


Last five minutes of the interview were hysterical. My favorite of Terry's is when she went up against a very horny Gene Simmons of KISS fame.
posted by moonbird at 2:34 PM on October 8, 2003


hehe... fucking wuss.
posted by poopy at 2:34 PM on October 8, 2003


The double whammy! I have no respect for either BO Reilly or Terry 'ick' Gross. ;-P
posted by mischief at 2:35 PM on October 8, 2003


Gross is much more antagonistic towards him than she was towards Franken

Terry Gross is a woman? Holy cow! Is radio strange or what?
posted by billsaysthis at 2:41 PM on October 8, 2003


After listening to this, Bill, as ever, is an asshole. He plays the victim so well.

And he loves the word "defaming" doesn't he?
posted by mathowie at 2:41 PM on October 8, 2003


awesome. I guess Terry Gross didn't get to unleash her deadly arsenal of questions about one's most painful moments (which I swear she does in nearly every show). Maybe he left just in time.
posted by Busithoth at 2:43 PM on October 8, 2003


Did anyone listen to the interview with Grover Norquist a week or so ago? That dude is scaaaaary...
posted by ph00dz at 2:43 PM on October 8, 2003


For someone who listens to NPR just about 24 hours a day when I'm working from home, I've got to say Terry Gross is just about my least favorite element--I'll frequently switch to another show on AM or the Internet while she's on. Ironically, it's because I usually find her too obsequious. She's almost always in a gushy state of breathless adoration for her guests. Here, I found her uncharacteristically antagonistic and transparently ineffective at the same time.


O'Reilly, on the other hand, is a combat sophist par excellence. Here, and on his show, he uses an impressive array of rhetorical tricks to shade and evade. ("Hey, as long as you criticize my book, and not me, I don't care"...he doesn't mention that he apparently finds any criticism of the book a personal slur.) As a stereotypical bully, he has absolutely no idea how to take it like a man.
posted by LairBob at 2:48 PM on October 8, 2003


After listening to this, Bill, as ever, is an asshole. He plays the victim so well.

Matt, you had me scared on first reading of this sentence, coming so soon after my latest apparently not very fun comment.
posted by billsaysthis at 2:52 PM on October 8, 2003


I like how O'Reilly wants us to believe that Terri Gross is some ultrapolitical left-wing attack monkey. It's an interview show, no monologue, no nothin' else. She usually has guests who aren't in politics. That's like calling People Magazine part of the "political left" or something.

Also amusing is O'Reilly's continued insistence that Al Franken is not a comedian. His career began with Saturday Night Live. Was Farley a cultural critic? Will Chris Rock get appointed to the Supreme Court?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:59 PM on October 8, 2003


Bawk bawk bawk bawk bawk...
posted by rushmc at 3:01 PM on October 8, 2003


Wait, this is Bill "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT! UP! " O'Reilly we're talking about here, right? What a wee, cranky, pansy he is.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:04 PM on October 8, 2003


The best line from the interview (when asked about inflammatory talk shows):

"Nobody yells on my show, except me."
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:07 PM on October 8, 2003


Ehehe from the interview, about the Michael Moore book: "doubles as bumper sticker" and "populist". Do you think it's a favourable review ? :)

Btw Terry Gross is good :)
posted by elpapacito at 3:17 PM on October 8, 2003


I've been lucky enough to have never seen Mr O'Reilly's show, and if his histrionics during this interview are any indication, I haven't missed anything but bad theater. Based on the Fresh Air interview I heard today at lunch, my newly formed opinion of him is quite simple: Bill is a huge egotist, more than a little paranoid, and is extraordinarily easy to unhinge.

I also agree with LairBob. As someone doesn't bother to ever really turn the radio station from KQED, I make usually only one exception, and that is for Terry Gross.

She's almost always in a gushy state of breathless adoration for her guests.

I couldn't have put it any better. It's very off-putting.

The Gene Simmons interview, however, kicked ass. Especially the ending.
posted by bemmett at 3:20 PM on October 8, 2003


I have every letter written between Madison and Jefferson.

Well, ok. Me to, Bill. As does every freshman enrolled in American History this semester.

Nature always works. Sun comes up, Sun goes down. Always will.

I really hate to pull out the H.R. Diagram. . .
posted by the fire you left me at 3:24 PM on October 8, 2003


O'Reilly "self-terminates"

The headline could have ended right there and made me a happy, happy man.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:29 PM on October 8, 2003


Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!
I can listen to ten seconds - maybe fifteen, but no more! of anything like this from either side. Supercillious, righteous, and patronizing to those who disagree and disagree; incapable of even conceiving of personal fallibility, gah!

So, yeah. They can all die.
posted by kavasa at 3:29 PM on October 8, 2003


O'Reilly is just an entertainer and a very successful one. He gives his legions of neo-con fans that cathartic release that they so need; at the end of the drudgery of their workday and loveless marriages they can come home to the sanctity of their television and listen to O'Reilly yell at and stomp over people and go YEAH! and TELL 'EM BILL! and get off on it. He spits some majestic venom and acts like an angry caged animal, which (taking a wild guess here) is how most of his audience probably feels during their days.

That's conservative entertainment: beating up people. You see it all over Fox (O'Reilly, Hannity & The Weak Liberal, etc) and of course with Rush and the rest of the radio crew.
posted by xmutex at 3:34 PM on October 8, 2003


but, oh yeah, Terry Gross is still painful to listen to.
posted by xmutex at 3:35 PM on October 8, 2003


Tides goes in, tide goes out.

Bill O'Reilly, that big brilliant theologian.

What a crackhead,
posted by xmutex at 3:38 PM on October 8, 2003


I can listen to ten seconds - maybe fifteen, but no more! of anything like this from either side. Supercillious, righteous, and patronizing to those who disagree and disagree; incapable of even conceiving of personal fallibility, gah!

There's an audio version of Metafilter? ;)
posted by badstone at 3:40 PM on October 8, 2003


Just proves the right can dish it out, but can't take it.
posted by Bag Man at 3:41 PM on October 8, 2003


Wow, what an utterly incapable journalist this Terry Gross is. She never asked any reasonable follow-up question, she let O'Reilly get away with rhetorical questions ("Were you as unfair to Al Franken as you are to me") and in fact even answered with a perfect soundbite: "That was a different interview". O'Reilly (who said he "woulda put a bullet right between his head" about Al Franken) actually comes across fairly reasonable, and Gross didn't even manage to put together complete sentences, stuttering and stumbling, and not even finding the passages from the magazine article she referred to (there are these useful things called markers).

As was obvious from her voice, she was completely intimidated by O'Reilly. The interview was so incredibly flawed in so many ways that it could serve as useful material for college courses on how not to do an interview.

O'Reilly seized upon the opportunity, knowing full well that he could do whatever he wanted to that interviewer, and created a perfect example for his show as evidence for his persecution theory. O'Reilly isn't exactly the most brilliant debater, yet in comparison with Gross, he comes across as a professional orator. It's funny that he's the one talking about media "trapping" him -- he set up a trap for Gross, and she walked right into it. If this is what passes of as "journalism" in your country, you guys are sooo screwed.
posted by Eloquence at 3:46 PM on October 8, 2003 [1 favorite]


I had heard a few days ago that O'Reilly would be on the show--it struck me as odd, but I figured "well, they had Al Franken on. They need to be fair and balanced."

The interview went about as well as I had imagined, which is to say, badly. And not even in an entertaining way--it was just cringe-inducing.
posted by adamrice at 3:56 PM on October 8, 2003


< roughly paraphrasing> Nature is perfect. Nothing about man or that man does is perfect.

I'm missing the step where this leads to believing in God. So God didn't make Man, but made Nature? Ow.

And yeah, Terry Gross was not particularly effective.
posted by synapse at 4:02 PM on October 8, 2003


just checking, and i haven't listened to the interview yet, but if Bill was the master here, Eloq, why did he leave at all. He should have been able to keep the discussion pointed exactly where he wanted it to go and would have not left at all.
As for the Grover Norquist interview someone mentioned earlier, that was indeed scary. A man who can compare higher tax rates for the wealthy to persecution during the holocaust, AND has the ear of the president, well, i don't even know what to say..
posted by efalk at 4:06 PM on October 8, 2003


Bit of a derail:
So, I'm actually in the middle of Franken's new book right now. Part of me loves it - a lot. Part of me cringes a little bit at the whole concept of calling something "satire" on the one hand, while constantly bragging about your team of Harvard Kennedy School researchers on the other, and then going and saying nasty things about people (even if they're true.) It's like shooting someone in the face and saying "Just kidding!"

So, while I'm certainly not shedding any tears for O'Reilly over the way Franken rips him a new one, I can understand his frustration. How do you respond appropriately to someone that's "only a satirist" - meaning Terry Gross doesn't have to be as tough on him - when the satirist is pointing at well researched facts that appear to discredit or attack you?

Likewise - if Franken has the potential to be so damn good, why doesn't he have the balls to actually do it? The Left could really use him as a serious commentator or more. Hell, I'll nominate him for governor once the Schwarzenegger recall begins.
posted by badstone at 4:09 PM on October 8, 2003


O'Reilly is just an entertainer and a very successful one. He gives his legions of neo-con fans that cathartic release that they so need

Well said. Unfortunately, that feeling settles into some semblance of informed confidence, which they then take to the polls. I think if the CA recall has proved anything, it's that governance now IS equivalent to entertainment.
posted by scarabic at 4:09 PM on October 8, 2003


Franken is little better, IMO, but at least he doesn't gussy himself up in a suit & comb-over and make pretense to wisdom. He's a goofball, a humorist. It's amazing he gets any serious media attention as a pundit.
posted by scarabic at 4:11 PM on October 8, 2003


Terry Gross is the worst interviewer in the mainstream media. Bill O'Reilly is the second worst. Or vice versa. They deserve each other.
posted by twsf at 4:14 PM on October 8, 2003


Usually Terry asks her guests when they first realized they were gay.
posted by Durwood at 4:15 PM on October 8, 2003


Has Bill O'Reilly ever been on The Daily Show? THERE'S an interview I'd like to see.
posted by mkultra at 4:22 PM on October 8, 2003


Terry Gross is great! Name a better interviewer. This is a great interview and shows O'Reilly who he really is, which isn't such an awful guy, but someone who thinks that everybody is out to get him.
posted by destro at 4:29 PM on October 8, 2003


O'Reilly is such a fucker (and not in a sexual way).
posted by lasm at 4:33 PM on October 8, 2003


While Terry has her faults, and seems a bit flummoxed at points, no doubt about it, Bill O'Reilly comes off for exactly what he is: a thin-skinned major league asshole. Next time I'm on his show, I'm going to call him a whiny little bitch.
posted by irix at 4:34 PM on October 8, 2003


Has Bill O'Reilly ever been on The Daily Show? THERE'S an interview I'd like to see.

Yeah, he has been. It wasn't anything like this (although it was before the whole Al Franken book incident). O'Reilly came across as a reasonable person then, actually.
posted by DyRE at 4:37 PM on October 8, 2003


The Daily Show almost never hits their guests with anything hard, which is why they get guests, I imagine.
posted by The God Complex at 4:41 PM on October 8, 2003


O'Reilly rants against hyperbolic outrageous screeds by making a hyperbolic outrageous screed.

I have no problem with demagogues. I have problems with hypocrites.
posted by Argyle at 4:47 PM on October 8, 2003


Wow, what an utterly incapable journalist this Terry Gross is. She never asked any reasonable follow-up question, she let O'Reilly get away with rhetorical questions

Interviewers like Terry Gross and Larry King are the reason that Bill O'Reilly exists. As another poster said, there's a habit of being "in a gushy state of breathless adoration for her guests." This created a vacuum that people like O'Reilly, who are willing to openly criticize their guests, were able to fill-- the interviewer who's willing to call guests out on their (supposed) crap.

Of course, O'Reilly himself is full of it, but in an era in which questions are presented ahead of time and the entire TV interview process amounts to an opportunity for a guest to string together a few soundbites, I see where O'Reilly finds a market.

This is true despite the fact he's a thin-skinned, lying bully who picked a stupid, losing fight with Franken, who's better informed and more interesting to listen to than O'Reilly is.
posted by deanc at 4:50 PM on October 8, 2003


I think the proper term for "Mr." O'Reilly is bullying, lying, assclown...
posted by Windopaene at 4:51 PM on October 8, 2003


Terry Gross isn't exactly Mike Wallace, but she's not really trying to be. Still, she is better than most "TV journalists". TPM has a great excerpt from her interview with Grover Norquist (frighteningly influential right-wing loon and Bush II administration power behind the throne, discussed here), where he said that progressive taxation is equivalent to the Holocaust. (Further quotes here.) He usually gets away pretty cleanly with that sort of thing; not on Fresh Air.
posted by Zonker at 4:55 PM on October 8, 2003


If this is what passes of as "journalism" in your country, you guys are sooo screwed.

NPR's "On the Media" is pretty damn good. It'd be nice if we could import someone from the Beeb, though...
posted by badstone at 4:57 PM on October 8, 2003


Terry Gross is great! Name a better interviewer.

I don't hate her or anything, but Charlie Rose has her beat.
posted by scarabic at 4:58 PM on October 8, 2003


just FYI.... the oreilly factor will be showing the npr thingy tonite... i'm curious to see how he spins it.
posted by poopy at 5:01 PM on October 8, 2003


the preview showcases the word 'ambush'.
posted by poopy at 5:06 PM on October 8, 2003


"the preview showcases the word 'ambush'."

If Big Bad Bill is going to whine about being "ambushed" by Terry Gross, he ought to have the class to show up in a pinafore and heels, 'cause he's as good as admitting he's a giant sissy.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:10 PM on October 8, 2003


Durwood wrote Usually Terry asks her guests when they first realized they were gay.

I am reminded of the time Bil O'Reilly hit on Dan Savage...
I was having a nice enough chat with the combative Mr. O'Reilly, holding my own, defending pot smokers and sex educators and other sinners. And then... O'Reilly asked me what I thought about gay bathhouses. I made the mistake of telling O'Reilly the truth: I hate gay bathhouses and I think they should be closed ... O'Reilly pounced. "I want to go to a gay bathhouse!" he barked. "I want to go to a gay bathhouse!" I was stunned. There I was, sitting across the table from the darling of the American right, and... and... he was shouting at me about wanting to go to a gay bathhouse. "If I want to pursue happiness in a gay bathhouse, shouldn't I be free to do that, Mr. Savage?"

posted by meehawl at 5:28 PM on October 8, 2003


How do you not criticize Mr. Bill directly when you are reviewing a book written by him IN THE FIRST PERSON with stories and anecdotes from HIS LIFE and HIS VIEWS on things?

Just wonderin'.
posted by Espoo2 at 5:35 PM on October 8, 2003


actually this reminds me of when Sherrif Joe Arpaio of Phoenix (the slef-professed 'toughest cop in America') was attacked by a gay hairdresser and had to flee the scene (a bar). Not that there's anything wrong with that...

and if you're wondering, arpaio - roughly 5'9" 280ish, hairdresser - 5'7" 150ish and not muscular
posted by efalk at 5:36 PM on October 8, 2003


ack, spell checker next time ;)
posted by efalk at 5:37 PM on October 8, 2003


after listening to both the npr interview and oreilly's segment tonight...

npr interview, oreilly says (paraphrasing): 'took it out of context, defamatory allegations,'...'interview that runs 5 minutes and extrapolate into 60 seconds to make you look foolish'

the oreilly factor tonight: a very long interview shortened to about 60 seconds (all of which consists of bill verbally bashing terri gross) taken out of context to make npr look foolish. he then goes on to attack the governmental funding of npr, labelling it another fanatical left-wing organization that the majority of americans should be outraged about.
posted by poopy at 5:37 PM on October 8, 2003


poopy: haven't watched this night segment, but that sound very much o'reilly to me.
posted by elpapacito at 6:05 PM on October 8, 2003


O'Reilly is a world class douchebag. Terry Gross is an extremely engaging, capable interviewer when she isn't kissing ass. Whoever called her the "worst interviewer in the mainstream media" is weird.
Man, that was a funny interview. How consistently O'Reilly takes the bait and embarasses the hell out of himself. What a fucking pussy!
And here's an understatement: it is disturbing that O'Reilly is as influential as he is. Anyone else find that excrutiating and pathetic?
posted by ghastlyfop at 6:10 PM on October 8, 2003


I'd never heard of him until today, if that makes you feel any better. :)
posted by Hildegarde at 6:19 PM on October 8, 2003


Bag Man, Bill O'Reilly is in no way "the right". He's a bitter old man.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:42 PM on October 8, 2003


I have no problem with Terry Gross usually, but I was astonished at how ill-prepared she was for what someone must have told her could become a difficult interview. She let O'Reilly get away with every manner of sophistry and doubletalk and spent the whole middle of the interview on kiss-ass, softball questions - all of which made his outburst at the end - that she'd done nothing but attack him through the whole thing - so laughable.

But really, in addition to the stuff Eloquence so eloquently mentioned, come on, Terry! - The bastard lies to her point-blank "I never said we won a Peabody award" then spins it as "since I corrected it later, it was never said," and she watches that one roll by, saying nothing, even when he starts spewing condescension about his "no-spin" zone? And really, what did she expect, that O'Reilly would be just flummoxed by that penetrating "Your show is called a No-Spin Zone, and yet..." as though he'd never heard it before? Why didn't she have a follow-up ready?

The man started abusing logic the second he opened his mouth, saying he doesn't lie and trash people on his show, the proof being that it has a big following, and the American people would never stand for that - then less than a minute later he's talking about how there are so many Americans who want to hear people trashed and defamed, which explains Franken's popularity. Terry just smiled and nodded through it all, thinking, I guess, that she'd let him go until she could pull out this People quote to hit him with, but that strategy didn't work out very well.

At least the interview made the point that O'Reilly is one of the world's biggest crybaby hypocrites, complaining constantly about defamation while defaming others. But that only happened because he's so far off the deep end, not through any success on Terry's part.

Grrrrrr. Put me in, coach, I'll go interview him!
posted by soyjoy at 6:43 PM on October 8, 2003


Bill O'Reilly acts like an ass: Film at 11.
posted by Cerebus at 6:50 PM on October 8, 2003


And here's an understatement: it is disturbing that O'Reilly is as influential as he is. Anyone else find that excrutiating and pathetic?

Well ok, I disagre with O'Reilly about 80% of the time, but overall, there is really only one thing I dislike about him. He is a political pundit who quite frequently claims to be a fair and balanced investigative journalist. If he just cut the "No Spin Cycle" BS and started wearing his politics on his sleve rather than claiming to be the voice of balance, it would be a win-win situation for just about everyone involved.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:51 PM on October 8, 2003


Bag Man, Bill O'Reilly is in no way "the right". He's a bitter old man.

He doesn't represent all conservatives, to be sure, but to say that he's anything other than right-wing is laughable. Hint: anyone who considers themselves "at war" with "the secularists" is a right-winger.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 7:09 PM on October 8, 2003


I think if the CA recall has proved anything, it's that governance now IS equivalent to entertainment.

First comes the fiddling, then comes the burning.
posted by rushmc at 7:17 PM on October 8, 2003


Curtis White on Fresh Air: "It's a pornographic farce."
posted by eddydamascene at 7:19 PM on October 8, 2003


Actually, having listened to most of the interview, I thought it went quite well until the end. I found O'Reilly to be thin-skinned, but he did make very valid, intelligent points throughout the interview, even through his five minute tirade at the end. The let down was when he 'took his toys and went home.'

He was far more tolerable than on his own show.
posted by tgrundke at 7:31 PM on October 8, 2003


I really enjoyed the interview - like others I actually thought Gross played softball in that she didn't followup and let O'Reilly get away with some statements that needed questioning. But then I figured that she must be trying to let him have his say on the matter, as Franken had. I had the idea that the interview was just as much a chance for O'Reilly to get his chance to speak about the Franken book as much as plug his own book. Gross did seem kind of rattled in the last bit when she was trying to look up a quote.

Ok, now I admit that I don't like O'Reilly, but I was actually thinking that he was doing quite well in the interview, not yelling or interrupting, getting his point across, being clear what he thought about Gross' questions - but answering them. Not that I agreed with him, or liked him - but I was thinking "hey, this must be more of his human side." And then he goes and does the "you're being mean, I'm leaving" drama crap at the end. What was such a big deal about her reading out that he called a People reporter a pinhead on his show?

Then I thought "oh, now he's slipped back into character."

Very amusing.
posted by batgrlHG at 7:40 PM on October 8, 2003


Okay, I'd also like to add that truth be told, he does make comments that ultimately leave me scratching my head - but then again, I don't know of too many people who don't.
posted by tgrundke at 7:41 PM on October 8, 2003


The part that bothered me most was how, any time he was talking about his critics, he would project his ire at Gross and condescend to her. It was as if he was thinking to himself, "I'm mad and she's the only one in the room, so by GOD she's going to get it." So childish.
posted by samw at 7:50 PM on October 8, 2003


Wow, I just listened to the whole thing.

O'Reilly acts like a complete ass.

Like any bully when cornered on his own hypocrisy he takes his ball and goes home.

Pathetic.

How people can look at this man as a source of knowledge is astounding.
posted by Argyle at 7:52 PM on October 8, 2003


Soyjoy should be getting money for his/her media analysis. So should samw.
posted by GriffX at 8:12 PM on October 8, 2003


Mr. O'Reilly is attacking NPR on his show tonight, complaining that not only was he ambushed, but that, "[he] paid for it!".

"...Run the network responsibly or you're not gettin' a nickel."

That's what Mr. O'Reilly suggested Congress should tell NPR.
posted by jaronson at 8:35 PM on October 8, 2003


There's no point saying Terry should have "gone after him." She's not that kind of interviewer. When he said "I never said I won a Peabody," then gives a fifth-grade analysis of it never counting because he later took it back, I think she was just sitting back smiling. No need to nail him - he nailed himself. As an idiot.

And the way he kept saying "defamatory" -- just like when a baby learns a new word and says it over and over. What is it with right wing freaks and vocab? Rush Limbaugh does the same thing, except he would have been saying "calumnious." Rush tries a little harder to sound smart.

What a complete ass. I want to think he planned it all out, but really I think he got his feelings hurt. "Did you treat Franken like this?" he keeps sobbing. I kept wanting her to say, "No--he had a sense of humor." Oh well. Go back to your Foxhole, you little boy.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 9:49 PM on October 8, 2003


I'd never heard of either one of them before but completely agree with Eloquence's analysis. Ms Gross is an inept interviewer. She was ill-prepared, didn't have followups, misplaced documents, sounded intimidated, and, to me, it sounded very much like her agenda was to attack him. Like I say, I have no idea who the guy is so maybe she's trying to do to him what he does on his show. At the end, however, when he goes on his "rant," I do agree with what he says. (Again, perhaps what he said makes him a hypocrite--I don't know how he conducts himself out of this interview.)

Though indeed he walked out of the interview, it sounds very obvious to me that it is him that had unhinged her. She was the one who sounded on the run. Were I in his shoes, I would have walked also.

How do you not criticize Mr. Bill directly when you are reviewing a book written by him IN THE FIRST PERSON with stories and anecdotes from HIS LIFE and HIS VIEWS on things?

There is a world of difference between reviewing a person's work and reviewing the person him or herself. It's not only possible to review the work of someone who writes about themselves, it's the responsibility of the journalist to do so. Otherwise, what's the point?

Do you really listen/read/watch interviews so that the interviewer can give you their opinion of the interviewee--or read record/book reviews to find out the critic's pov of the artist/author?

For a reference point, the best interviews I've ever read are done by Lawrence Grobel
posted by dobbs at 10:47 PM on October 8, 2003


I'll agree with soyjoy on this one, but I think she had some good points early in the interview, and I don't think they were anything like an attack. He's Bill O'reilly, a guest like that kind of needs tough questions, right? That's what one would expect for a political commentator. I took the easy middle section as an effort to not make it seem like she just wanted to give the guy a hard time. If there was any time for him to freak out, it would have been about 10 minutes into the whole ordeal, and not at the end after a decent span of normal questions. The statement about whether or not she was was as "tough" on Franken and his flat statement that if she wasn't that he had no respect for her was totally out of place. It seem like he had decided to put it in there soely to intimidate her.
posted by Hackworth at 10:56 PM on October 8, 2003


Terry Gross did a great job. Any interviewer who could get Bill O'Reilly to let his hair down, talk about growing up, his Catholicism (which explained a lot), developing his political interests, seeing his friends come back from Vietnam shell-shocked, and revealing (what I didn't know) his opposition to the death penalty. It's a pity O'Reilly was so paranoid, believing Maslin's review of Dude, Where's My Country? to be favorable, Franken to be out to get him, and "left-wingers" going out of their way to remove Xmas as a school holiday. O'Reilly is more of a pathetic shell of a man than anything else. Sadder than that, he doesn't even realize how troubled he is.
posted by ed at 11:11 PM on October 8, 2003


gee, mr. o'reilly, persecution complex much?
posted by juv3nal at 11:15 PM on October 8, 2003


Those weird populist Republicrats, always playing the victim card. I thought he sounded defensive and sophistic. When he called her "lady" it was ridiculous. Of course he cherrypicked (the Peabody thing, and parsing "we" vs. "I" like a Clinton or Novak - while ignoring the dead-to-rights facts about, say, his political affiliation). The man is an insufferable toad, but I do look forward to reading his book, "Living with Herpes."
posted by xian at 11:18 PM on October 8, 2003


Any interviewer who could get Bill O'Reilly to let his hair down, talk about growing up, his Catholicism (which explained a lot), developing his political interests, seeing his friends come back from Vietnam shell-shocked, and revealing (what I didn't know) his opposition to the death penalty.

I got the impression that these things are the reason he was there to be interviewed. I haven't read his book, but several of the personal stories he reveals he proceeds with "in my book..." or "if you read the book...". He was there to talk about the book and he behaved very decently when the questions were on that topic. Gross displayed no skill in coaxing these confessions out of him--they're what he was expecting from the interview! Had Gross stayed on topic, the interview would have been worth listening to.
posted by dobbs at 11:23 PM on October 8, 2003


I thought the fact that it wasn't just a marketing gig for his book was what made it worth listening to.
posted by Hackworth at 11:38 PM on October 8, 2003


I would also like to recommend "On the Media". I can barely tear myself away when it's on.


The O'Reilly interview was fascinating the way that hissing cobras are fascinating- he's a master manipulator of his audience, and the word "demagogue" needs to be used more often when referring to him.


posted by halonine at 2:24 AM on October 9, 2003


Well said Ed.
posted by Dick Paris at 6:39 AM on October 9, 2003


Glad to see I wasn't the only one who was favorably impressed by much of what O'Reilly had to say. He came unhinged at the end, but I did feel Gross was goading him: "Hey, I'm going to read that People quote you hate now! No, don't try to stop me, I really want to read it!" Before that, it was an amazingly civilized and interesting talk; like Ed, I learned stuff I didn't know and found O'Reilly's views more nuanced than I had expected. None of which is to say I think he's a great guy or that I plan to start watching his show, which I'm sure is as pointless and annoying as 99% of what's on tv, just that it was by and large a good interview. Too bad she had to go into attack mode. But then, it is NPR; you don't expect equal treatment of warm cuddly lefties and vile nasty righties.
posted by languagehat at 8:05 AM on October 9, 2003


Unfortunately, I think Gross came to the interview uprepared for O'Reilly. She constantly allowed him to define the terms of debate, calling Franken a slanderer, and broadly defining any sort of criticism of him as ad hominem.

Fortunately, despite Gross's inability to control the interview, O'Reilly quite capably demonstrated all on his own that he is a thin-skinned, hypocritical asshole.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:07 AM on October 9, 2003


I'm really not seeing where you folks interpret her questioning as "attack." O'Reilly has never seemed shy about saying what he thinks - and he was responding to criticism quite well in the interview. He wasn't happy about it - but he was responding. That's the point - to speak up and challenge what others are saying about you. What was the big deal about responding to the quote from People? He'd already had his go at the NY Times and it didn't seem to rattle him. But then strangely he didn't want to get into why he called a People reporter a pinhead. Well, maybe the reporter was a pinhead - but since O'Reilly didn't respond and went off in a huff he's the one that comes off badly.

Look, if you don't listen to Gross maybe you don't know her style - it's generally low key. She doesn't pitch softballs as much as Larry King, but generally she doesn't do what I'd call an attack. Maybe it's just because I've watched enough 70-80s era 60 Minutes to know an aggressive interview, but Gross isn't aggressive in that way (which doesn't mean she doesn't ask tough questions). And that O'Reilly couldn't handle her "attack"? I've seen him on his show - before this interview I would have said he'd have had no problem with Gross.

Frankly, after the Franken interview, O'Reilly should have been allowed to get on there and respond to the things Franken said about him. But when Gross goes over some of the criticisms, O'Reilly suddenly says he only wanted to talk about his book? Which is about him and contains personal stories and observations? But then anything said about him is a personal attack?
I'm having problems understanding the logic here.

Unless maybe O'Reilly had planned in advance to walk out in order to do his next show on the subject of govt funding for NPR. I think he was prepared to take whatever happened in the interview as an attack, before he even showed up.
posted by batgrlHG at 12:23 PM on October 9, 2003


Unless maybe O'Reilly had planned in advance to walk out

I suspect you're right, which would have been an excellent reason for Terry to skip the "c'mon, let's hear your reaction to the People quote" and stick with the material that had produced such a good interview up till then; spoiling his plan to walk out would have been an added bonus. I have no problem with her attacking him, he's fair game and can certainly handle it, it just seemed kind of pointless. I can get the "Jane, you ignorant slut" byplay anywhere; I listen to Fresh Air for, well, fresher material. Who cares what his response to the People quote is? That stuff is boring and predictable.
posted by languagehat at 1:53 PM on October 9, 2003 [1 favorite]


I like Terry Gross, but she really dropped the ball on this one. She sounded flustered at times, and attack dogs like O'Reilly can smell the fear. She's not a confrontational interviewer, though, so why she talked with O'Reilly, who thrives on confrontation, I dunno. Fair and balanced.

Parts of the interview surprised me. I had no idea O'Reilly was for legalizing pot or was against the death penalty or for strict environmental controls. I don't watch his show enough to know if that comes across to his audience. That'd be pretty damn cool if he did. If he has the ears of so many people, why not use that bully pulpit? Why not counter the White House spin that the War on Drugs is working? Or that business knows what's best for the environment?

The last part of the interview, of course, showed what an amazing pussy he is. A wimp. A coward. A bully. Yelling like a baby, coming down on Gross, and then leaving. I'm glad she got the last word by reading that quote from People.

I decided that I should write to O'Reilly and tell him he's a pussy. However, the only people who can access the email and forum parts of his website are paying registered users. I'll be damned if I shell out just for the priviledge of telling O'Reilly that he's a pussy, so I'll have to figure out some better, cheaper, more effective way.
posted by RakDaddy at 4:21 PM on October 9, 2003


I'm really not seeing where you folks interpret her questioning as "attack."

Well, to me it sounded like she had already made up her mind about the guy (maybe that's a given, I don't know either one of them). It didn't sound like anything that he said would have convinced her of anything. In fact, that's pretty clear when you consider that many times he gave her an in and she seemed blind to take it. It seemed to me that she had so planned the things she wanted to say (she clearly had an agenda) that it wasn't so much a conversation as a it was a to do list for her.

By attack, I mean she seemed to have a clear agenda, which didn't include wanting to hear his answers as much as it did her wanting to say these things on the air in front of him. The end, with her almost giddily trying to read the People thing, was embarassing. When she reveals that she wasn't as hard on Franken (the most revealing answer to a question by either one of them), she's lost. Not because she's told the truth but because it's so damned obvious that she doesn't think there's anything wrong with her actions (to the extent that she'd alter them)--only to the extent that she doesn't want to admit to them (which is why she didn't answer the question till the fourth time he'd asked it). Certainly, it should occur to her that were she as hard on Franken, and were she able to answer that question, truthfully, "Yes!" then O'Reilly would have to shut up. But she couldn't answer it that way because she had come to the interview--and Franken's--with a formed, biased, opinion.

I think I'm a little sensitive to this topic. I don't trust "reporters" or whatever you call people like these two these days. I was interviewed last year and basically put in a similar situation. A "journalist" lured me to an interview under the pretext that we were going to discuss my writing and that that was what she was going to write about. Instead, she interviewed me for 3+ hours (about the writing) and then wrote about me as a person, which made no sense to me. Like Bill O'Reilly here, I honestly had no clue how it was relevant. Why does the reporter presume that "her readers" give a shit about their subject's personal life? The only reason the person is sitting across from you is because of their professional life (in the case of media personalities and artists), so wtf? Why not interview them about those things?

I'm not saying no one should ever be interviewed about their personal life, but if you tell someone you plan on doing A in an interview and you instead hit them with B, how do you expect them to react? (And, I think it comes out in this interview that O'Reilly was there because he'd been asked to come talk about his book. Had he been told "I want to see if you can defend yourself against these various allegations," then he either a) would have come prepared to do that or, more likely, b) declined the interview--neither of which would suit Gross' agenda.) Gross comes across as an amateur--not at all taking her profession seriously.
posted by dobbs at 1:35 AM on October 10, 2003


I've mentioned above how I thought Terry botched this opportunity, so I won't argue with that aspect, dobbs, but I can't let this continuing nonsense go by about "where you as hard on Al Franken as on me?"

This is not a valid question. Franken and O'Reilly are not equivalent public personalities. Franken is a satirist. Franken is a humorist. O'Reilly isn't. Franken has a track record of almost 20 years on the national stage creating and performing cutting-edge satire, and over the past ten years, political satire. O'Reilly has no such record (unless you take his whole shtick as some kind of meta-satire).

Franken has a funny public persona that has involved him acting as a separate character (Stuart Smalley, most famously) as well as "Me, Al Franken," saying things (such as his 1979 proposal that the 80s be named "The Al Franken Decade") that are obviously not to be taken literally but are intended as pointed humorous commentary on social trends and mores. No one would argue that when Franken titled a book "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot," he literally meant Rush was fundamentally lacking in basic intelligence: The term was used in a meta-context, to illustrate Rush's method of discourse used against him.

Franken's new book opens with a dialogue where God commands Franken to write the book. I haven't read O'Reilly's, but I assure you that if there is any such passage in his, it is intended to be read in an entirely different, in fact opposite, way from Franken's.

It should be obvious to anyone that an interview with a satirical comedian is going to have a different tone than one with a humorless authoritarian pundit who claims to speak literal truth on all occasions, and who has made a name for himself by snapping at people and bullying them from his position as a talk-show host. OF COURSE Gross wasn't as hard on Franken as on O'Reilly. Franken made her laugh. O'Reilly only made her snicker.

It's easy, in a monday-morning-quarterback way, to point this out, but I wish Gross had gotten into any of this rather than muttering "that was a different interview" and letting O'Reilly run with it.
posted by soyjoy at 8:59 AM on October 10, 2003


ARGH. "were you as hard on Al Franken," of course.
posted by soyjoy at 9:00 AM on October 10, 2003


After listening to this, Bill, as ever, is an asshole.

If it's true that one leads by example, then it's quite unfortunate that this is the example set by the owner of this website.

When listening to his radio show, I sometimes find myself wondering what point O'Reilly is trying to make, and he holds very many views which I would say are not conservative. His book "Who's Looking out For You?" is not about politics at all, but rather how to make effective choices in life and to associate with people who are real friends.

The interview with Terry Gross was not really about the book and its contents, but rather about O'Reilly himself as a manifestation of the right wing (which I find puzzling, as he hardly even seems right-wing at times). I don't blame him for terminating the interview, and all this embarrassing derision just proves that he got a lot of attention for his successful publicity stunt.

What I do find disturbing is that this interview was conducted in National Public Radio which I pay for with my taxes too, and I find the pandering and giggling to left-wing idealogues (or "satirists") disgusting.

If NPR wants to peddle leftiod nonsense, let them compete and fail in the open market, *not* on taxpayer dollars.

It's just a matter of time.
posted by hama7 at 9:03 AM on October 10, 2003


What I do find disturbing is that this interview was conducted in National Public Radio which I pay for with my taxes too, and I find the pandering and giggling to left-wing idealogues (or "satirists") disgusting.

If NPR wants to peddle leftiod nonsense, let them compete and fail in the open market, *not* on taxpayer dollars.


Oh, please. NPR is about as "leftiod" as my right butt cheek. Can you explain why you put "satirist" in quotes, hama7? What exactly disqualifies Franken from being a satirist? And if someone who's known for his attack-dog persona does a book about himself, why is it irrelevant to address that persona in the interview, along with huge stretches of softball questions about the book itself?

Care to cite anything from the transcript where O'Reilly is presented as "as a manifestation of the right wing"?
posted by soyjoy at 9:18 AM on October 10, 2003


hama -- do you realize that government funding for NPR only composes 2% of their overall revenue? That's what? $2.8 million of government spending out of $900 billion in income taxes? .003 cents on every dollar of the taxes you've paid? Are you really so disturbed about that? If we want to talk about competing and failing on the open market, you paid more taxes to bail out American Airlines.

If anything, hama, NPR is competing on the open market. Their strategy of appealing to corporate underwriters is just a different model of advertising, and their appeal of direct funding from their audience arguably reinforces the quality of their programming, because they have to create a product that people are willing to pay for, and not sensationalistic crap that will just get people to tune in.
posted by bl1nk at 9:39 AM on October 10, 2003


soyjoy, I understand the differences. I haven't heard the Franken interview so I don't know what he was asked. However, I simply don't agree that the difference is as relevant as you insist it is. I also don't think Gross thinks it is, or she would not have hesitated in answering the question when O'Reilly asked it. She wasn't dismissive of it ("he writes satire") until he continued to repeat the question.

O'Reilly's point, I think, is that Franken wrote a book that, among other things, criticizes people. I wrote a book that criticizes people/policies/whatever. You agree with his criticisms and he comes on here and you plug his book. You disagree with my policies, I come on here and rather than discuss my book, you take the opporturnity to read what other people have written about me. How is that interesting and why do you think I'm going to sit here for it?

What it comes down to is he was asked to be interviewed about his book and instead was forced to defend himself. Gross' agenda is clear right from the start: "Why did you sue Franken?" "I didn't." (pause) "Fox did!" Well, he's not Fox!

The interview reminded me of one I heard with Mel Gibson a few years back. He produced a film that Atom Egoyan directed and the first thing out of the interviewer's mouth was "We're here with Mel Gibson, who produced Atom's new film. So, were you involved with the making of the picture?" Gibson looked at her like she was an idiot and said, "Yes, I produced it." Like the Gross interview, it was downhill from there because the interviewer already had a firm opinion of what was going to be discussed, and how, and it wasn't interesting to anyone but herself.

Let me ask you, SJ, had O'Reilly not walked out of this interview, would any of us be discussing it? No, because it was interesting for no other reason. It seems that the majority of people in this thread who are saying, 'asshole', are people who already know who O'Reilly is and have an opinion on him. Without going back and re-reading the whole thread, it seems to me that the two people who don't have a clue who either personality is think it's clear that the "self-termination" was a given, considering how shoddy the interview was.

We all have our biases. The more professional an interviewer is, the less the bias will affect it (it's an interview, not a debate). For instance, I hate Bono and U2 ever since they sued Negativland. As a result, I can't stomach listening to him being interviewed as I keep thinking, "Hypocrite!" However, I'm adult enough to recognize how my bias affects my pov of him. Gross seemed oblivious to how her opinion was steering the interview.

I'd bet dollars to donuts that were one of O'Reilly's guests to walk out of an interview on his show, the same people who are calling him an asshole in this thread would be saying "about time! he's so unprofessional!" etc.

I'm not trying to comment on O'Reilly as a person (or even as a personality), as I know nothing about him. My only point is that, approached objectively (not having an opinion of either, prior), Gross is the asshole in this scenario. She's also the one who acted unprofessionally. To me, walking out was the dignified thing to do.
posted by dobbs at 10:18 AM on October 10, 2003


I never claimed O'Reilly doesn't hold political opinions. However, the fact remains that he's an asshole, for all the reasons mentioned (he lies, he's rude, he can dish out insults but can't take them) and many more -- but it would be an unsubstantiated attack to claim that any of these things are part of being a conservative; or, indeed, that they represent anything larger than O'Reilly himself. The biases and ignorance I've become most upset at him for I've seen the like of from all sides of the political spectrum and in no way reflect conservatism as a political ideology.
posted by dagnyscott at 11:56 AM on October 10, 2003


dobbs: I think Terry Gross went a lot easier on Al Franken in his interview [.rm file] because he had just been sued by Fox on a ridiculous pretense, thus making him a more sympathetic figure even for people (like me) who aren't that impressed with him normally. Plus, he had been on Fresh Air six times before; it's easier to be tough on someone you don't already know personally.

There's little sympathy in this thread for Bill O'Reilly claiming victim status mainly because the way he was treated by Gross is very much the kind of interviewing style he is known for. Except that O'Reilly is a lot better at it.

Let me ask you, SJ, had O'Reilly not walked out of this interview, would any of us be discussing it? No, because it was interesting for no other reason.

That I can completely agree with.

[off-topic] Re: Negativland and U2 - I don't know if you're aware of it, but Negativland actually ambush-interviewed U2's the Edge in Mondo 2000. You can read it and reach your own conclusions, but I think we can at least agree that The Edge comes off looking better than Bill O'Reilly did in the end.
posted by skoosh at 11:56 AM on October 10, 2003


skoosh, yes, i can see that O'Reilly's past (or present, i suppose) is playing a big part in people's analysis of the interview. that's completely understandable and natural and is really the thing that interests me about this thread.

i suppose my argument could have been summed up thusly: perhaps "going harder" on O'Reilly is natural because of his baggage--and softer on Franken for the same reason. however, when O'Reilly said "were you as hard...", what I heard was "were you as unprofessional?" that's what i inferred he meant. and, perhaps i'm wrong, but it would seem to me that, regardless of the two different streams the two personalities (O and F) operate in, they should have been treated with the same level of professionalism, which they clearly were not.

and yes, i'm aware of the M2000 interview and the events surrounding the legal battle. didn't know there was a link to it though. thanks. the most interesting thing about that interview--and the thing that separates it from the one this thread discusses--is that The Edge approached M2000 to be interviewed, which i find very bizarre.
posted by dobbs at 1:26 PM on October 10, 2003


"O'Reilly's point, I think, is that Franken wrote a book that, among other things, criticizes people. I wrote a book that criticizes people/policies/whatever. You agree with his criticisms and he comes on here and you plug his book. You disagree with my policies, I come on here and rather than discuss my book, you take the opporturnity to read what other people have written about me. How is that interesting and why do you think I'm going to sit here for it?"

But you see, that's exactly why O'Reilly needed to talk about himself and what other people had said about him. How can the listener know what other's have said specifically unless it's read to them? It's better than the vagueness of "well, some people say X and Y about you." Franken's interview consists of him saying things about O'Reilly, among other topics. So it's fair that O'Reilly - even if he hadn't written a book - be given equal time to discuss/refute Franken. And why is it that O'Reilly suddenly has a problem defending himself? He's always refuting what others are saying about him on his show - why not rail against them on Gross' show? Again, he wasn't having a problem putting up with it until the end.

And it's been bandied about in many places - not just by Franken - that O'Reilly was the one that urged Fox to sue Franken. And after hearing O'Reilly's statements to Gross I still think that's pretty likely. He was definitely in the cheering section - that's not under dispute!
posted by batgrlHG at 2:35 PM on October 10, 2003


Care to cite anything from the transcript where O'Reilly is presented as "as a manifestation of the right wing"?

He is constantly presented that way, but after having heard him, I think somebody has made a mistake.

If anything, hama, NPR is competing on the open market.

No, it's not. Unluess PBS is also "competing" in the "open market". Its primary funding comes from the government, and should steer clear of divisive political issues, or should no longer receive taxpayer cash.

O'Reilly has said that he repeatedly asked not to do the NPR show, but under pressure gave in. If his book were the subject of the interview, I doubt any of this would have happened.
posted by hama7 at 3:47 PM on October 10, 2003


How can the listener know what other's have said specifically unless it's read to them?

They don't. Other people's opinions of O'Reilly are not relevant to a discussion about his book. But, yes, it's better to read a quote than to paraphrase it, but what's the poiint of bringing it up in the first place?

He's always refuting what others are saying about him on his show - why not rail against them on Gross' show?

It's not relevant how he behaves on his own show. We're discussing Gross' show, no? Or are you suggesting that his behaviour on his show justifies her behaviour in this interview? If that's the point you're making, fine; it's just not a conversation I'm interested in having as I don't really see the point as it results in "Well, he started it!"

And it's been bandied about in many places - not just by Franken - that O'Reilly was the one that urged Fox to sue Franken.

But that's not what she said, was it? She said "Why did you sue Al Franken?" If he hadn't said "I didn't," then in the future people would have assumed that he did.

Again, he wasn't having a problem putting up with it until the end.

I thought he sounded annoyed about it at the start. In the middle, when she was actually on topic (him and his book, not other people's opinions about him or his book), I assume he thought that the "attack" portion of the interview was over. When she started up again, it was a final straw and he left. I don't understand what's surprising about that.

He was definitely in the cheering section - that's not under dispute!

Then why are you bringing it up? I certainly didn't dispute and either did O'Reilly. Are you saying you're surprised he was in the cheering section? If so, I find that a little odd. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, no? Of course he's going to be delighted if someone sues Franken. It wouldn't matter if it was Fox or anyone else. I think it's pretty common to think ill of people who think ill of you--especially when they write it in a book.
posted by dobbs at 3:50 PM on October 10, 2003


No, it's not. Unluess PBS is also "competing" in the "open market". Its primary funding comes from the government,
*sigh* how to put it mildly. Uh ... no. looks more like 14.5% of total revenues come from government grants. And even at $77 million, it's still a bargain compared to, say, a $3.3 billion bailout of California utilities.
and should steer clear of divisive political issues, or should no longer receive taxpayer cash.
if it helps, perhaps you could think of that $77 million being used to pay for Nova and various Ken Burns documentaries, and all the rest of the money for "divisive" programming like Frontline and Newshour as funded by those evil communist liberals who are paying for the service out of their own free will?
posted by bl1nk at 4:21 PM on October 10, 2003


« Older The Confluence Project aims to "visit each of the ...  |  But nudity is part of our cult... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments