Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar Walk out on O’Reilly’s Muslim-Baiting

The View stars Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walked out on Bill O’Reilly Thursday when the right wing pundit insisted on blaming all Muslims for the September 11 attacks. They pointed out that a small group of extremists carried them out, not “Muslims” as O’Reilly was insisting. When he kept repeating his smear of the whole religion (1.5 billion people), the two of them stood up and walked out.

Here is the blow-up:

Barbara Walters criticized her co-hosts for having departed but then took up their point and insisted to O’Reilly that he is wrong. She finally got him to back down and say he did not mean to blame all Muslims and to say that he had spoken ‘inartfully.’

Elizabeth Hasselback then intervened and blamed President Obama for the confusion, saying he had forbidden people to use the word “terrorst,” and and started talking about ‘Muslim extremists’ instead, and that it would have been better just to keep talking about terrorists because terrorists exist across all faiths.

Hasselback is right in the second part of her assertion, but is mistaken if she thinks that President Obama ever ‘forbade’ the use of the term “terrorism” or “terrorist” with reference to Muslim extremists.

See for instance his diction when he spoke about the attempted crotch-bombing over Detroit by a recruit from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Some of the confusion was deliberately sowed by O’Reilly, who used the phrase “Muslims attacked us.” If he had said “the Muslims attacked us,” it would have been clear that he meant all of them. By leaving off the definite article, he was able to imply that all Muslims attacked the US on September 11 but provided himself with plausible deniability.

I have have pointed out that the September 11 attacks contravened Islamic law in several important respects. So there was nothing ‘Muslim’ about it and indeed Usama Bin Laden appears to have admitted as much when he said that those young men had no ‘fiqh’ or Muslim law.

I am filled with admiration for Goldberg and Behar, who responded exactly as all decent human beings should when face to face with what is essentially a blood libel. Here I disagree with Barbara Walters. There is some discourse that is inappropriate for reasoned discussion on the mass media.

If Walters had had a guest on who insisted that “Jews attacked us” in the USS Liberty incident of 1967, instead of specifying that it was only some Israeli military personnel, would she really have sat there and listened to it and broadcast it to millions of viewers.

Television is a hot medium, and given the passions running high in the election season, O’Reilly was shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.

Moreover, O’Reilly is an artificial pundit who is where he is because media billionaire Rupert Murdoch put him on the air. He is nobody on his own and has never had an interesting or original thought. He is moreover, a prominent stalker of a female staff member, and it is shocking that Walters should have him on The View to talk to an audience of women.

It should not be lost sight of that O’Reilly’s true target was not “Muslims” but President Obama, and what O’Reilly was attempting to imply was that Obama was insufficiently sensitive to the need to act in bigoted ways toward Muslims (e.g. denying them their constitutional rights on grounds of non-Muslim ‘sensitivities.’) White people’s feelings were hurt in the South for decades at the attempt of African-Americans to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

There is still a gender gap, with women more favorable to Democrats and the president, and O’Reilly’s effort was to address that constituency with his Islamophobic message, which in turn was a Republican message.

Goldberg and Behar have restored some decency to the US mass media when it comes to Muslim-baiting. Bravo!

Joy Behar discussed the matter further with former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura on her own show, in which she said she walked out because what O’Reilly said was in her view hate speech. Ventura is a mixed bag. On the one hand he made the correct point that if people have a constitutional right, that is the end of the story. You can’t take it away from them. On the other, he unfortunately brought up a ‘truther’ perspective that exonerated even radical Muslims. The evidence that al-Qaeda carried out 9/11 is overwhelming and it is disturbing to me when people try to let them off the hook. Here is the Behar video:

Posted in Islamophobia | 18 Responses | Print |

18 Responses

  1. Does Bill remember that Christians killed at least 100,000 Iraqis over the past few years?What, that is a mischaracterization of what happened? Not by Bill’s way of thinking. Very unfortunate, even reprehensible, that he considers Christians killers.

  2. Juan, thanks for this article. Your words are especially appreciated !
    Regarding the 1st video, I got this message (since I am viewing from Morocco):
    “This video contains content from ABC Soapnet, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.”
    However, this one worked for me:
    link to youtube.com

  3. I would also point out that O’Reilly was extremely rude, interrupting to prevent the women from making their points. And it was almost every time. He even did it to Barbara Walters just after Goldberg and Behar walked out. There is no way you can have a reasonable conversation with someone who does this.

  4. “On the one hand he made the correct point that if people have a constitutional right, that is the end of the story. You can’t take it away from them. ”

    Actually the First Amendment prohibits Government interference with speech. Private interference with speech is covered by criminal and civil law. No one has a ‘right’ to say whatever they want, when ever and where ever they want. The studio is private property, O’Reilly was there as a guest, he can be told to leave, and if he does not comply, the police will help the property owner remove him. The owners and agents of the network are completely free to not broadcast the show, to edit it for content, and to bleep out what they don’t want broadcast. None of these actions involve government suppression of speech, as such, do not invoke any constitutional rights.

  5. I agree Behar and Goldberg should be applauded for their actions on The View but IMHO Behar’s opposition to hate speech is selective: she had the vicious islamophobe Pamela Geller as a panel guest on her show at least twice during the hysteria over the Park 51 centre. While Behar (gently, not with the outrage she reserves for Bill-O) opposed Geller’s position, she’s toxic enough that she shouldn’t be given a platform at all. It’s hate speech on steroids with Geller.

  6. I agree with Mr. Cole..Oreilly was after the Obama blame game..The women stood up for the rights of those who choose not to listen to ‘hate speech’ though the crazies have a right to say such idiot scare mongering..Walters was wrong…hasselback was the usual clueless looking for any port in the blame the Obama Admin!

    Hats off to Behar and Goldberg!
    As to Christians killing Iraqi’s—we are NOT a totally christian nation…The nation was taken to War [2] based on false information by leaders who proport to be christian! Big difference!

  7. “…in the USS Liberty incident of 1967, instead of specifying that it was only some Israeli military personnel.”
    While this incident shouldn’t be used to condemn Jews or even all Israelis it was hardly the work of a few rogue pilots, sailors, etc. Responsibility goes up the chain of command, including high government officials. Our own government’s coverup is reprehensible as well. With all of the attention being paid to the USS Cole and the lack of closure around it’s disastrous anniversary I couldn’t help but think of the Liberty and the deafening silence shrouding it.

  8. Juan, a few points:

    1. Last night on his show he went on to say “no one he knows” wants to insult Muslims and then in his next breath insulted Muslims by saying moderates have never condemned the 9/11 attacks which is patently false…and patently irrelevant – I’m not responsible for other people’s actions and reject the scheme to paint anyone that doesn’t speak out as guilty by association.

    2. Hasslebeck’s shifting the blame to Obama was very cynical on her part (no surprise). Hasslebeck and her right wing cohorts used to criticize Obama for not saying “muslim terrorist” or “Islamic terrorist” but no claim the opposite.

    3. All the MSM news stations tout the 70% poll as if it makes a difference to constitutionally protected rights. But when you have the most popular host on the most popular station saying “the mosque is being built on 9/11” (???) and the “Muslims killed us” it’s no wonder why so many Americans are opposed to it.

  9. Jesse is right to point out that free speech is free speech. But I think that Whoopi and Joy set a great example by walking out on O’Reilly (which in no way diminished his right to speak freely) .

    Considering the absolute nonsense we are hearing during this political season, I wish more public/media figures would pull a Whoopijoy (new word?). Actually the reverse is more common. when Christine O’Donnell opens her mouth, the mass media goes on super alert, powers down cell phones, and get set to turn whatever nonsense comes out into a lead story or news video. I don’t even know the name of her opponent but I doubt he’s a125 hitter too.

  10. O’Reilly appears to represents the Evengelical Christian fundametal extreme right, which includes the likes of Frank Graham, who says Islam, the religion of 1.5 billion Muslims is not a religion. Their thinking is no different than that of the Taliban. They are hate mongers against Islam, just as Taliban preach hatred against non Muslims

  11. O’Reilly is a hate monger. It is a position taken on the right to appeal to the right. Recently Ann Coulter, another right wing hate monger, made a similarly inflammatory statement to a group of country club women in the south that the ‘ground zero mosque’ “What if they built it in the shape of an extended middle finger?”. Her audience, which waited for Coulter when she was more than an hour and a half late CHEERED at this and other equally offensive comments.

    The speech to the Wake County Republican Women’s Club in Raleigh, per the New York Times.

    Coulter, Limbaugh, Rove, O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck, Gingrich, Palin, and far too many others are making money off of an artificially created “Moral Panic”. It is too pervasive and calculated to be an innocent error, too lucrative not to be intentional. The amount of money they make from their statements is too high to rule out greed as a motive, along with an appeal for power with their ignorant, low-information base of people looking for a scapegoat to blame. It is vile – good for Whoopi and Joy.

  12. There are some really perceptive/good responses here.

    FWIW: I now avoid getting into any sort of political discussion with someone who is not speaking out of at least good faith. If someone is a boor who insists on interrupting and talking over me, it is what it is and has to be worked through if you want to try to contribute and hope in some small way to make the world incrementally better.

    However, when someone “artfully” drops the definite article when referring to Muslims, in an obvious attempt to inflame the stay-at-home audience, it is time to walk-out AND pull the plug if you are a station owner with any integrity (guess we know why that didn’t and it wouldn’t happen…)

    It’s ALMOST off topic to re-litigate (as they say) the USS Liberty incident, but in this day and time, revisiting what happened over 40 years ago is NOT a bad idea. At the time, US citizens were far more (believe it or not) trusting of their govt in general, (even in Vietnam in 67, speaking of the general populace), and certainly when it came to giving Israel the benefit of the doubt.

    I took the time to look into what happened closely and objectively and it made me want to scream, as Chris S suggests. I think it sheds a great deal of light on what is a mindset that is now even stronger in Israel and represents, today, more of a national security threat to the US than Iran. Once we start dealing with the reality of things and stop being snowing by one incredibly effective and ongoing public relations campaign we will be on a better road.

  13. It’s my impression the State of Israel attacked the USS Liberty through Israeli pilots that were reluctant to follow their orders, but did it anyway. There were cockpit recordings.

    • Just working from the consensus wikipedia account, filter out the agreed-to absolute facts (dates, locations, etc) of events over the course of the war. Plot them on a map, follow the chronology. Develope alternative hypothesis; test objectively as possilble. This doesn’t lead to any absolute Truth (what does?), but it leads a reasonable person to a reasonably confident conclusion.

      That Israel pilots hesitated would be tough/irrelevant as an objective fact to incorporate. I once read Noam Choamsky citing a retired US Navy officer with the Sixth fleet, who said they’d dispatched NUCLEAR armed aircraft to the Liberty’s aid, only to be recalled by LBJ. There’s no need to waste our time with such stuff.

  14. Jesse Ventura tells it like it is. O’Lielly doesn’t. Christians “killed him” in Oklahoma City, but even he is not banishing Catholicism. “Spineless puke” is a pretty good description. Demagogue propagandist is another.

  15. trying to hold Israel accountable is not very realistic. America has protected Israeli actions through the years, especially at the UN. to read the Palestinians will protest the continuing settlement expansion to the UN was good for a laugh.

    security for Israel seems to override any other consideration of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Nothing has changed over the last 40 years in the West Bank except for the encroaching of Israelis on what is left of the West Bank.

    i won’t hold my breath waiting for the Arabs to defend the Palestinians, nor the Americans to hold Israelis accountable. lol. im getting too much older to believe otherwise

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