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Bill O’Reilly’s Worst Quotes: The Hoodie, ACLU Terrorists and Victim-Blaming

Variety logo Variety 4/19/2017 Erin Nyren
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Bill O’Reilly was ousted from Fox News Wednesday after increased attention on sexual harassment allegations leveled at the television show host caused a nationwide outcry and resulted in dozens of advertisers pulling their ads from O’Reilly’s primetime slot.

The longtime host was known for his outspoken and incendiary comments. Here are some of his statements that came under fire for being in insensitive, racist, sexist, homophobic, or disrespectful.

ACLU Terrorists: In 2005, O’Reilly stated on an edition of his talk show “The Radio Factor,” that the ACLU was “the most dangerous organization in the United States of America right now,” second only to Al Qaeda.  O’Reilly had also referred to the ACLU as a “terrorist group” and “fascist organization” in the past and on a separate occasion said that Hitler, Stalin, Fidel Castro, and Mao Zedong would likely be members of the ACLU.

The Notorious Hoodie: In 2012, O’Reilly stated his explanation for why Trayvon Martin was shot: he was wearing a hoodie. “The reason Trayvon Martin died is because he looked a certain way. It wasn’t based on skin color, if Trayvon Martin had been wearing a jacket…and a tie…I don’t think George Zimmerman would have had any problem with him. And that way is how “gangstas” look and therefore he got attention.”

Birth Control Blunder: In 2012, Bill O’Reilly equated the use of birth control with sexual activity, asking Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who testified before Congress regarding mandated insurance coverage of contraceptives, “You want me to give you my hard-earned money so you can have sex?” He went on to say that Sandra Fluke “clearly wanted society to pay for her activities,” and equated the government mandating contraceptive coverage to the government purchasing football equipment for college football teams.

9/11 Disrespect: In 2003, O’Reilly interviewed Jeremy Glick, whose father had been killed in the 9/11 attacks. Their discussion became heated when Glick accused O’Reilly of capitalizing on the tragedy of 9/11 for his own gain.

“I’ve done more for the 9/11 families by their own admission,” O’Reilly stated. “I’ve done more for them than you will ever hope to do, so you keep your mouth shut.” Eventually, O’Reilly told him to shut up directly and said, “Cut his mic.” He also repeatedly implied that Glick’s father would take issue with Glick’s positions and that O’Reilly had more respect for Glick’s father than Glick himself.

“Interspecies Marriage”: For years in the early 2000s, O’Reilly claimed that legalizing gay marriage would lead to “poly-amorphous” marriage, including not only polygamous marriage, but also interspecies marriage. When expounding on this theory, he often seemed to select whatever animal came to mind as an example: he speculated that people would try to marry goats, dolphins, turtles, and ducks.

Black Lives Kills: In 2016, Bill O’Reilly opened one of his Talking Points segments with the statement that “Black Lives Matter is killing Americans.” O’Reilly directly linked recent rises in homicide rates in some large American cities over the previous year to a supposed diminished amount of aggressive policing due to the “Ferguson effect:” less aggressive policing due to the attention on excessive force. The theory was echoed by FBI director James Comey and termed the “viral video effect” — but it received little backing from law enforcement groups, criminologists, or the organizations that monitor homicide rate data. Many other major American cities saw decreases in homicide rates in the same period.

Victim-Blamer-in-Chief: In 2006, O’Reilly referred to Jennifer Moore, an 18-year-old rape and murder victim, as “moronic” for getting her car getting towed in New York City while she was drunk. He also insinuated that her inebriation and manner of dress were at least partially to blame for her death: “She was 5-foot-2, 105 pounds, wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff. Now, again, there you go. So every predator in the world is gonna pick that up at two in the morning.”

Tasteless Jokes: In 2005, O’Reilly stated on his radio show, possibly in jest but definitely in poor taste, that he wished “Katrina had only hit the United Nations building, nothing else, just had flooded them out,” adding that he wouldn’t have rescued them. He was talking about the United Nations in reference to President George W. Bush’s visit to the governmental body.

U.S. Disaster Area: During his Bold & Fresh Tour in 2010 with Glenn Beck, O’Reilly compared the South Side of Chicago to Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. “If you’ve ever been to the South Side of Chicago, I mean, it’s a disaster, all right? It’s like Haiti, it’s like — I’ve been to Haiti a couple of times. I support some charities there, but Haiti just never gets better, no matter how much money you put in there because they don’t have a system.”

White Power Player: In 2016, O’Reilly stated during a Talking Points memo that “the left wants power taken away from the white establishment,” causing some observers to liken his phrasing to that of proponents of apartheid in South Africa. He made similar phrasing choices in 2012, stating that Mitt Romney was an establishment candidate and that the “white establishment is now in the minority.”

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