Raw Thought

by Aaron Swartz

The New McCarthy: Bill O’Reilly

Bill O'ReillyJoe McCarthy

I was reading an old transcript of a piece about Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist witchunt hearings and I was surprised to find that some of his comments sounded awfully familiar. I did a little googling, and I think I figured out why:

MCCARTHY: A few days ago I read that President Eisenhower expressed the hope that by election time in 1954 the subject of Communism would be a dead and forgotten issue. The raw, harsh unpleasant fact is that Communism is an issue and will be an issue in 1954.

TONY SNOW (sitting in for O’Reilly): This morning, the president pounced on a quote in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine where Senator Kerry called terrorists a nuisance. (October 10, 2004)

MCCARTHY: You know the [American] Civil Liberties Union has been listed as “a front for, and doing the work of,” the Communist Party?

OREILLY: [T]here is no question the ACLU and the judges who side with them are terror allies. (July 25, 2005)

MCCARTHY: Now, you wrote a book in 1932. I’m going to ask you again: at the time you wrote this book, did you feel that professors should be given the right to teach sophomores that marriage — and I quote — “should be cast out of our civilization as antiquated and stupid religious phenomena?” Was that your feeling at that time?

O’REILLY: You can understand how people like me and maybe a lot of people watching think you are a loony lefty when your book, Fanatics & Fools […] is endorsed by the following: Molly Ivins; Bill Maher, Bill Moyers; and Larry David. Why don’t you get Che Guevara on that, oh, he’s dead. How about Fidel Castro? Come on, they are the far left fringe. That’s who you’re hanging with … (April 20, 2004)

MCCARTHY: If a stupid, arrogant or witless man in a position of power appears before our Committee and is found aiding the Communist Party, he will be exposed. The fact that he might be a General places him in no special class as far as I am concerned.

OREILLY: The only thing we can do is hold people who raise and give money to the ACLU accountable. In the weeks to come, The Factor will tell you who these people and organizations are, so you can decide whether or not you want to do business with them. (August 5, 2005)

MCCARTHY: When the shouting and the tumult dies, the American people and the President will realize that this unprecedented mud slinging against the Committee by the extreme left wing elements of press and radio was caused solely because another Fifth Amendment Communist was finally dug out of the dark recesses and exposed to the public view.

O’REILLY: Enter Hillary Clinton, who wants to sit in the White House. In her Newsweek column this week, liberal Anna Quindlen gushes over Mrs. Clinton, describing her as a moderate. … That’s what I mean about the left-wing media. To them, social issues like unfettered abortion, pro-gay instruction in public schools … [are] tak[en] for granted. (May 10, 2005)

You should follow me on twitter here.

October 12, 2005


Aaron, by writing this blog entry you’ve committed a heinous act of treason. Repent now, evil traitor, or die!

posted by bi on October 12, 2005 #

Filthy terrorist!

posted by heh on October 12, 2005 #

I have here in my hand a list of 205 people ….

posted by Mark Bernstein on October 12, 2005 #

You’re even closer than you know.


In 1944, German troops stood American POWs in a field and machine-gunned them. In 1946 the perpetrators were caught, put on trial, and mostly sentenced to death (though no executions were ever carried out). In 1949, Sen. Joe McCarthy started pimping the line that the SS killers were innocent, it was a sham trial, they were tortured into confessing, and so on.

Last week Bill O’Reilly, in what can be most charitably described as a colossal brain-fart, claimed that the massacre was in fact committed by the U.S. Army, 82nd Airborne Division.

Since O’Reilly has written more sensibly about the Malmedy massacre elsewhere, I suspect that he simply forgot the details of the event and in his fervor just assumed that the U.S. Army was responsible for this war crime. His point was that since the U.S. military committed war crimes over and over in the past, it’s no big deal now. What would be interesting is to see Noam Chomsky debate Bill O’Reilly, with the topic: “Resolved: that the U.S. military constantly commits war crimes.” We might get them to agree! At which point, one by one, the stars would go out.

posted by Jamie McCarthy on October 12, 2005 #

Your point is….?

In what way do the paranoid rantings of a blowhard right wing tv commentator compare to the threat represented by a US senator with subpoena power?

As for Chomsky, his paranoid rantings are no less offensive than O’Reilly’s except that they are more interesting due to the magnitude of the intellectual resources he brings to the discussion. I wish he had stuck to generative grammar.

posted by davidwat on October 12, 2005 #

The harbinger of oppression has always been disinformation. O’Reilly (like McCarthy before him) shall pass.

posted by eugene costa on October 13, 2005 #

O’Reilly is a neo nazi just like McCarthy.

posted by big Dave from queens on October 14, 2005 #

I don’t see any similarities at all. Both of them used completely different words to smear their political enemies.

And McCarthy’s drapped flag attire did not have as many stars on it as OReilly’s 50 star flag.

posted by KEVIN SCHMIDT on October 14, 2005 #

Can I have a job like O’Reilly’s? I’ll kiss whatever ass is necessary! I’ll go insult nuns and call them communists (Ratzinger would forgive me in time). I’ll go lecture Katrina survivors on their personal responsibilities. I’ll go accuse troops of not paying their debts when wounded! I’ll, I’ll, I’ll call and sexually harrass… er… never mind.

posted by tom on October 14, 2005 #

What I want to know is: where is the new Edward R. Murrow to rid us of this abominable hypocrite!?

posted by on October 14, 2005 #

This is anti semitic

posted by crusader bunnypants on October 14, 2005 #

You useful idiots have such cute little McCarthy anecdotes, plucked directly from the dumpsters of COMMUNIST disinfo, distorted disinfo that so effectively marginalized him. If you took the time to research what McCarthy actually said, instead of relying on the brainwashing soundbites so carefully provided for your easy consumption, you would discover that most of what he claimed was actually true. That’s OK cause the chains being prepared for you will be custom fitted, so that you’ll hardly notice them at all.

posted by ben dover on October 14, 2005 #

Bill O’Reilly may not always be right. However to conpare his statement s to tha t of Sen. Joe McCarthy is a bit too much. Note: Joe McCarthy was right about looking under every bed and finding one (ie. a communist).

posted by Robert Provins on October 14, 2005 #

To davidwat in regards to Chomsky, the “intellectual resources” you refer to are called facts. So how is what he says paranoid rantings?

To crusader bunnypants: LOL!!!

posted by Jake on October 14, 2005 #

I find it sinister that you chose to lump these two fine Catholic priest-rape victims in the same dirty laundry bag. They were only acting out on their misguided resentments against the people in life who were not Catholic, as Catholics believe Communism to be a Sin, even if Jesus was one himself.

posted by AlphaScorp on October 14, 2005 #

O’Reilly’s rantings just get better and better. All we need to do is give that enormous ego enough rope and he’ll hang himself as did McCarthy.

I would suggest we all sit back and watch as the wheels come off of Oh’really (and Faux News’)”no Spin” little red wagon.

posted by Slurpin Bill on October 14, 2005 #

Robert Provins: I didn’t find any communist under my bed. I know, I know. Saddam sent people to move the communist over to Syria. Or maybe, as ben dover said, the Evil Communists(tm) have clouded my senses so that I perceive no communist under my bed even when there’s obviously one.

Jake: oh well, but Chomsky’s “guitar strings”^W^W”generative grammar” stuff isn’t really holding up itself.

Free speech is for free…

posted by bi on October 14, 2005 #

Hmmmmm look over joe’s right shoulder and lookie lookie why it’s Roy Cohn. Wonder what he was thinking? where’s gannon guckert?

posted by stephen on October 14, 2005 #

Chomsky speaks truth. Anyone who refuses to believe that is letting the veil of ignorance blind them.

O’Reilly is the modern day incarnation of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.

posted by S/E on October 14, 2005 #

Nice try.
The big difference between McCarthy and O’Reilly is that McCarthy was trying to save our country from Zionism and O’Reilly is one of Zionism’s biggest cheerleaders. Nice try Mr. Swartz

posted by michael Dowd on October 14, 2005 #

Exactly Mr. Dowd. The Zionist media has brilliantly demonized McCarthy, a true patriot, who tried (but failed) to wake the country up to the infestation and corruption of jews in our country. O’Reilly is one ot their shills. If McCarthy were around today, O’Reilly would call him a terrorist, aiding the enemy, blah blah. If you can’t see through the zionist media brainwashing, you don’t understand a thing.

posted by T. Taul on October 14, 2005 #

Hmm. What’s the relationship between the Zionist Media(tm) and the Liberal Media(tm)? Are they both trying to brainwash us? Are the two of them start trying to brinwash each other? And where do the Arabian horses fit in?

posted by bi on October 14, 2005 #

oh thats easy. The “Liberal Media” is what people say when their afraid to call the elephant out. And theres your relationship to Arabian horses. So clever(tm) you people are.

posted by T. Taul on October 14, 2005 #

Anyone who thinks McCarthy was an anti-communist HAS fallen for the communist disinformation. Trotsky’s red army was financed by J.P. Morgan. General Electric built the Soviet power grid from 1921-23. Ford Motor company technology established the Kama River truck plant that fabricated much of the hardware used against U.S. troops in Korea and Vietnam.

NONE of these organizations or the elites that ran them were ever fingered by McCarthy. His job was to convey a sense of fear and mistrust among the rank and file that was conducive as an excuse to expand government power over the people. The real purveyors of communism, the Fabian Socialists of the Council of Foreign Relations, they now practically OWN the government, media and industry in this country.

THAT is the legacy of Joe McCarthy. He distracted the people with a freakish sideshow while the real enemies crept in the back door and took over. He performed his job admirably for his collectivist, elitist masters.

posted by bleeding_fist_libertarian on October 14, 2005 #

to bleeding_fist_libertarian …

right on!

Oh’riled up is to McCarthy what oasis were to the beatles, not as, and never will be. But every so often, some of the songs are ok.

posted by Crampeed. on October 14, 2005 #

We know that McCarthy and O’Reilly share many of the same character traits. Both are/were bullies, liars and cowards. But O’Reilly seems to have a foot up in one respect, being a nationally recognized sex pervert (unless McCarthy had some skeletons in his closet that I’m not aware of).

posted by Canuck Guy on October 14, 2005 #

O’Reilly is another in a long line of loud-mouthed, Republican hypocrites. Ranting about “honor” and all that BS, meanwhile getting drunk at night and calling up a woman to compliment her on her boobs and saying he wants to rub a “falafel” sponge on her in the shower. And he was married with kids at the time. Just goes to show that these Christian, holier-than-thou, more-honorable-than-thou shills are just wolves in sheep’s clothing, and Christianity/Republicanism makes the pefect sheep’s clothing, so no wonder it attracts so many rabid wolves.

posted by The End on October 14, 2005 #

Here’s the crux of the thing: McCarthy was partly right, I think. His METHODS were the problem. True, Bill O’Reilly has no power of supena, but he holds a much higher chair in the ever-problematic “Court of Public Opinion” Which is much harder to sway out of it’s concrete boots.

These people, O’Reilly, McCarthy are what I call Fixers. People who think they are pulling the strings behind the scenes to “Fix” things to be the way they want them. They are partly right. They have power swinging around to the point of being dangerous. But, these fixers don’t realize the backswell that happens to gather behind them. Eventually, a levee breaks (with apologies to Louisiana) or an Edward R. Murrow comes along….. we just need it to happen now!

posted by Hunter Thompson on October 14, 2005 #


posted by MADDAD on October 15, 2005 #

No difference, both McCarthy and O’Reilly were/are fascists and both were/are drunks. The latter’s audience is .01 percent of the population.

posted by Don Phelps on October 15, 2005 #

[No difference, both McCarthy and O’Reilly were/are fascists and both were/are drunks. The latter’s audience is .01 percent of the population.]

True but never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. Look at the GOP.

posted by Mike Harrison on October 15, 2005 #

Along with freedom of speech come the libel laws. This fool, this abuser of fair minded thought goes unpunished - a blame lies there? I personally cannot watch fOx, it is drivel of the lowest form and would gladly sport the bumper sticker that says that - bumper stickers, is a medium not fully recognised - however it seems the primary source for much of fOx rhetoric. I would love an Indepentant media, is one avaiable, or even possible? Why can’t that fool be silenced?

posted by dick on October 16, 2005 #

Joe McCarthy is my hero! I grew up under communism, I know what swines they were and are.

Thak Heaven for Bill O’Reilly!

posted by G. Pasek on October 26, 2005 #

G. Pasek: Stop trying to hide your Communist sympathies. We know who you are.

posted by bi on October 26, 2005 #

Um, you do realize that McCarthy was pretty much proven correct by the Venona Project and the even more recent Mitrokhin Archives? While BOR is just a populist blowhard.

posted by PatrickG on December 15, 2005 #

At school John once said that he thought a bunch of people in the class were gay and gave their names although he could provide no evidence. Twenty years, later, some kids actually revealed that they were gay. Does this make John’s actions right?

posted by Aaron Swartz on December 15, 2005 #

I think Bill O’Reilly is a real plus for the nation. He’s so fair and so unbiased! He grieves over charges of bias and this should stop. We all know that the Factor Man is a factor in national matters—due to his clear thinking and his fair and evenhanded coverage of issues. Why Bill O’Reilly is my lover. Did you know that? I am a fag! That’s right, a sick faggotsexual! And Bill pounds my piles and slobbers on my back, saying, ah, oh, mama, oh daddy, ah yes, blow that gut oil out on my fur, you creep! Bill baby! Isn’t it sick?

posted by Meth "Dick" Cheney on September 9, 2006 #

T Taul—- You are just another useless dried up old hatemongering BIGOT. u AND o’reilly should get married. You’re probably just homophobes who hate yourselves like we do u!!! Liberal & Proud

posted by liberal @ proud on June 3, 2006 #

Chomsky & O’Reilly would arguably be the worst debate in history, and would probably culminate in Chomsky calmly and quietly laying out the basis of impending American imperialism while O’Reilly repeatedly yells “SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!!!” across the table, realising that he is simply wrong.

posted by Harriieee on September 16, 2006 #

I don’t think the McCarthy/O’Reilly comparison is a very accurate one.

All O’Reilly is, is a talking head entertainer in the guise of serious political commentator.

Time, events, and recent revelations (Venona Intercepts, released Russian documents) show that McCarthy was basically right about Moscow-loyal communists infiltrating the centers of power in this country. So he outted some Hollywood liberal commies, whose loyalty was not to this country, thereby ending their careers. Nothing wrong with that IMO.

posted by on January 16, 2007 #

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