The Raving Theist

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February 14, 2007 | 23 Comments

For the past two days, Bill O’Reilly of The O’Reilly Factor has devoted his Talking Points Memo and lead-off feature to John Edwards’ hiring of atheist blogger Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare’s Sister. Monday’s Memo is here, and O’Reilly’s interview on the subject with columnist/blogger Michelle Malkin and Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers is here. Below is a transcript of Tuesday night’s memo, followed by his interview with Jane Fleming of Young Democrats of America. Would you have taken Fleming’s approach in defending Edwards?

Talking Points Memo

John Edwards and his anti-Christian employees, that’s the subject of this evening’s Talking Point Memo.

Literally within minute of our report on The Factor last night, Amanda Marcotte, a viciously anti-Christian blogger, left the John Edwards campaign, and today her partner in crime, Melissa McEwan, was shown the door as well. Both women consistently delivered hate-filled diatribes on their internet sites, and Senator Edwards was foolish to hire them in the first place.

But the reason Edwards has pretty much taken himself out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is his arrogance. Even after the Catholic League point out to Edwards that his employees were attacking Christianity in the most offensive ways, using sexual images of Mary, the mother of Jesus, for example – even after that — Edwards refused to take action. It was only after critical mass was reached and millions of people around the world actually saw what these women were putting on the Net that Edwards came to his senses.

But it’s too late. It’s ironic that a joke gone wrong about U.S. troops in Iraq sunk Edwards’ running mate John Kerry, but that was not nearly as the Edwards Christian situation, and Kerry, to his credit, recognized his mistake. Edwards remains defiant. America needs leadership that is fair to all its people. Everyone knows that Edwards, or any other politician, would never employ an anti-Semite, a Klan member, or an anti-Muslim bigot, or a homophobe. But Edwards had no problem standing by two anti-Christian women even after he saw the vile things they had written.

John Edwards will test the waters in Iowa, and he may do OK in that small vote, but he will not go much further. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are strong candidates and are smarter than Edwards. Talking Points doesn’t feel good about the demise of John Edwards, but we did everything possible to hear his side of the story, to extend to him the benefit of any doubt. For our trouble, he gave us the middle digit. So know we all know about Senator Edwards. And as always, the folks will decide. And that’s The Memo.


And now for the top story tonight — reaction to the situation. Joining us from Washington, Jane Fleming, the Executive Director of the Young Democrats of America.

Bill O’Reilly: Okaaaaay . . . So what do you think here, Jane?

Jane Fleming: Well I think Edwards really showed his leadership when he handled the situation. He did not have a knee-jerk reaction when the extremist Bill Donohue really went after him – and let’s be honest, Donohue is standing alone on this. There are no other Catholic groups that are standing with him. Edwards waited until he got back to his campaign, spoke to the two women, and then he made his decision . . .

O’Reilly: No he didn’t. That’s not true.

Fleming: He was very clear. That is true.

O’Reilly: He didn’t make his decision until after we announced we were going to do this story, and he knew . . .

Fleming: That’s not true, Bill.

O’Reilly: Yes it is.

Fleming: As soon as he got back to campaign headquarters. . .

O’Reilly: We promoted this story all weekend long and told him Friday it was going to be on Monday, and minutes before airtime he made the decision. That’s the truth, Miss Fleming . . .

Fleming: That’s not the truth.

O’Reilly: . . . that is what happened.

Fleming: And the two women have resigned, that is correct, they’ve both decided after getting lots of hateful e-mails and threats that it was safer for . . .

O’Reilly: Oh, I see, so they’re victims now, they’re victims, aren’t they?

Fleming: No, that’s not what I’m saying. They need to take responsibility for their writings, as all bloggers and as all journalists do.

O’Reilly: That’s correct.

Fleming: But let’s talk about Donohue. He makes about two to three million dollars a year on getting on air and talking about these extreme things — again, standing alone, no other religious group or activist is standing with him. He makes about . . .

O’Reilly: Well, maybe that’s to his credit. Listen, I don’t want to get into a debate about the head of the Catholic League.

Fleming: He’s the one who . . .

O’Reilly: He brought the attention of John Edwards, John Edwards said quote – well, I can’t quote him — but John Edwards said I don’t agree with these women but I’m not going to fire them . . .

O’Reilly: He only got involved when . . .

Fleming: He stood by his staff.

O’Reilly: When we got involved. Now, let me ask you this question. Do you approve of these women? Do you, Jane Fleming, approve of these women working for John Edwards? Yes or no.

Fleming: When I heard what they had written about the Virgin Mary, as a Catholic, it definitely took me aback a little bit, but . . .

O’Reilly: Alright. So you . . . I’m saying that’s a “no,” you do not approve of them working for John Edwards.

Fleming: I didn’t approve of what they wrote. Now. I approve that John Edwards . . .

O’Reilly: Do you . . . Jane, this is a simple question. Do you approve of them working for John Edwards. If you were in charge of the Edwards campaign, would you have fired them.

Fleming: I would have probably talked with them, and had serious talks with them, about what’s best for the campaign.

O’Reilly: You’re dodging, alright, you’re dodging . . .

Fleming: I’m not dodging.

O’Reilly: Yes. It’s a “yes” or “no.” Would you have fired them or not based on what they wrote in the past. Yes or no.

Fleming: No. I would have stood by them.

O’Reilly: OK. Wouldn’t have fired them Would you have fired someone who said anti-black things in the past?

Fleming: Yes.

O’Reilly: Would you have fired someone who said anti-gay things in the past?

Fleming: You know, this is the thing with bloggers . . .

O’Reilly: Yes or no?

Fleming: No, Bill, let me just . . .

O’Reilly: Yes or no?

Fleming: Let’s just have a dialogue about this . .

O’Reilly: No, no, no .

Fleming: . . . because it’s OK for Bill Donohue to say anti-Semitic things . . .

O’Reilly: Here’s the deal. You just said you would fire someone who said anti-black things in the past.

Fleming: I understand what you’re doing, Bill. I clearly understand what you’re doing. That it’s OK to be anti-Semitic or anti-gay, but it’s not OK to be anti-Catholic.

O’Reilly:: That’s right. And that’s the double standard that you guys on the left have to deal with.

Fleming: That’s not what we’re saying. What’s I’m saying . . . and Donohue, first of all, is anti-Semitic, so it’s OK for him . . .

O’Reilly: No he is not, and that’s a slur, and knock it off . . .

Fleming: What are you talking about? He specifically said that.

O’Reilly: . . .and he’s not here to defend himself. Knock it off. Keep it on this.

Fleming: No, I won’t.

O’Reilly: Well, you will . . .

Fleming: I won’t, because he . . .

O’Reilly: . . . or you’re not going to be on the program anymore.

J; . . . because he is hypocritical. And you’re being hypocritical on this issue also.

O’Reilly: Oh, baloney I’m being hypocritical . . .

Fleming: . . . if you’re going to attack these staffers . . .

O’Reilly: These women attacked Christianity and Catholicism, and you know it. You come on this broadcast, Jane, and you say you would not have fired them, but you would fire somebody who did an anti-black diatribe. That’s hypocritical, not me. I’m holding John Edwards accountable for who he hires, that’s what I’m doing. And you know what? He’s done.

Fleming: Then I want you to hold John McCain accountable. He has also hired a blogger . . .

O’Reilly: No, no, look. You don’t justify bad behavior by point to other bad behavior. That’s a cheap rhetorical trick.

Fleming: How come you can attack a Democrat but you can’t attack a Republican? If you’re “fair and balanced,” and if you’re going to have a “No Spin Zone” . . .

O’Reilly: If John McCain or any other Republican hires somebody who does stuff like this, I’m on it.

Fleming: You know who he’s hired? He’s hired a senior staff person who’s involved in three Republican scandals: the Delay fundraising scandal, phone jamming in New Hampshire, and he’s also with the racist . . .

O’Reilly: We’ll take a look at it . . .

Fleming: OK.

O’Reilly: . . . but it doesn’t rise to this. Jane, you know, I’m telling you what. You need to take a deep breath and think about this. John Edwards has now eliminated himself as a serious candidate . . .

J; Absolutely not.

O’Reilly: . . . he won’t be able to raise money, and he’ll be out of the race early.

Fleming: Absolutely not.

O’Reilly: You know it and I know it. And the reason is, because this kind of hatred, whether it’s directed against blacks, or Jews, or Muslims, or gays, or Christians, is not tolerable to the American people. And that’s the truth.

Fleming: Edwards showed his leadership on this. Bill Donohue’s the one that’s racist.

O’Reilly: Alright, Bill Donohue. Jane, thanks very much, we appreciate it.


23 Responses to “Defense”

  1. Forrest Cavalier
    February 14th, 2007 @ 1:00 pm

    Typically bad O’Reilly…go through all the trouble to invite someone, and then learn nothing from them, because he doesn’t let her talk.

    All heat and no light.

    But isn’t that the problem that BOTH the left and the right have with Edwards on this soap opera?

    The right skewers him for rewarding hate speech (true or not, that’s the heat that got turned up.)

    The campaign (not Edwards exactly) removes the heat, but not with the enlightened rational response the left expected.

    Enough blame to go around.

    Since she still doesn’t get it, can someone please tell Amanda that tolerance isn’t that you let other people have their opinions and you write whatever the hell you want.

    True tolerance is that you find out what is true, good, and beautiful about their beliefs and opinions, AND you learn how to communicate yours to them in a respectful way.

    Amanda says she is a writer. Saying “I had no intention people would be offended” is either a lie or an admission you are a terrible writer lacking communications skill (or empathy.)

    Either way, Edwards can’t afford you. Your liabilities exceed your benefits to him. If you don’t like the rules, you can’t play in the big leagues.

  2. MagicSilence
    February 14th, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

    There’s no way I’d go on O’Reilly’s show unless I signed a deal with him prior to my appearance making him liable for interrupting me more than 5 times.

  3. Lily
    February 14th, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

    I can’t agree, I don’t think, Forrest. I cannot bear to watch O’Reilly and so have seen his Talking Points Memo only a few times. But it really seems that he tried to keep Fleming on point as she tried to pull the old “but mom, all the other kids are doing it!!!” dodge.

    She must be stick thin, if she dances, dodges and weaves this much in the rest of her life.

  4. "Q" the Enchanter
    February 14th, 2007 @ 9:38 pm

    What I would have done is point out that O’Reilly’s analogy between attacks on Christians and attacks on Jews, Blacks or gays is inapposite. The latter sort are (at least generally) about ethnic heritage and/or immutable traits, while the former are (again, generally) about ideology. There’s nothing remotely quasi-racist about attacking an ideology.

  5. "Q" the Enchanter
    February 14th, 2007 @ 9:38 pm

    What I would have done is point out that O’Reilly’s analogy between attacks on Christians and attacks on Jews, Blacks or gays is inapposite. The latter sort are (at least generally) about ethnic heritage and/or immutable traits, while the former are (again, generally) about ideology. There’s nothing remotely quasi-racist about attacking an ideology.

  6. Professor Chaos
    February 14th, 2007 @ 10:46 pm

    Lily, please tell me you’re joking.

  7. Scarface
    February 15th, 2007 @ 1:09 am

    Amanda is a snotty, misandropistic bitch who has no place in politics. Ditto for her cohort, who was also let go. Edwards made a good move here.

  8. severalspeciesof
    February 15th, 2007 @ 9:26 am

    RA asked: “Would you have taken Fleming’s approach in defending Edwards?”

    I’m not entirely sure Fleming was given a chance, given O’Reilly’s machine gun tactics. Also… can anyone say “Leading the witness”?

  9. MMO
    February 15th, 2007 @ 10:12 am

    Is there any defense of Edwards in this situation, much less an appropriate “approach”?

    He is ultimately responsible for his own campaign, and even if some underling recommended/hired these two bloggers, he should have researched them more thoroughly. For someone who wants to be the “internet candidate”, he sure isn’t too savvy about how all this interweb stuff works, is he? Someone was bound to out the extreme views and really awful commentary these women have published on their personal blog. You can’t really pin this on poor old raving mad, blinky, twitchy Bill Donohue. Of course he’s gonna run with it, and of course people like Bill O’Reilly and Michelle Malkin are going to report it.

    Edwards comes across as out of the loop and not in control. Not qualities I’d want in a president.

    Not that he had an ice cube’s chance in hell of winning.

  10. Thorngod
    February 15th, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

    Smart lawyer, dumb politician. He should also fire his staff people who made the recommendations or did the hiring–though it’s probably too late to matter.

    And if Marcotte and McEwan are actually admirers of Edwards, did it not occur to either of them that they would in effect be sabotaging his campaign by accepting the posts?

  11. Paradoxxxx
    February 15th, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

    I just notices that Pandagon is on the “Blogs That Have Banned Me” list. Why is that RA?

  12. The Raving Atheist
    February 15th, 2007 @ 5:35 pm


    She banned me because she disagreed with certain comments I made regarding the John Roberts nomination in the Fall of 2005 (see here). She has also expressed a polite distaste for some of my views on reproductive rights (see here, here, here, here and here. The other blogs on that list also banned me for those views (see discussion here).

  13. Lily
    February 16th, 2007 @ 7:31 am

    No Professor, I am not joking. I really can’t bear to watch O’Reilly!

  14. Professor Chaos
    February 16th, 2007 @ 8:13 am

    Very funny. :)

    But how is it not an important part of the conversation to talk about the person who brought this situation to the fore in the first place? Donahue is the only reason this is even a story, and his role isn’t a factor?

  15. Lily
    February 16th, 2007 @ 8:45 am

    No, I don’t think it is a factor that Donohue made the matter public. Everyone who is interested in the story already knows that. Moreover, it is beside the point. You may despise the messenger but that has nothing to do with whether or not the message is true.

    Ms Fleming was asked specific questions and did everything in her power to avoid giving a straight answer. The issue O’Reilly was trying to get at (the double standard in making hate speech about Catholics ok while hate speech aimed at others is not) was well worth talking about. Of course, since the inherent hypocrisy is glaringly apparent, Fleming could not admit it and so she danced and dodged.

    I wonder if I could become a Democrat “spokesperson”? I need to lose a few pounds and the exercise would do me good!

  16. Professor Chaos
    February 16th, 2007 @ 8:57 am

    Nonsense. Since Donahue was the only person offended, and the only one foolish enough to refer to anything Marcotte said as “hate speech,” he is central to the equation.

    You can always just take a job as a Republican spokesperson, Lily, should you prefer to avoid exercise, be it of the physical variety, or the mental.

  17. Kate B.
    February 16th, 2007 @ 9:24 am

    Professor Chaos–

    No, Donohue was not the only person offended, nor the only only one to refer to Marcotte’s comments as “hate speech.” The Catholic internet–some of whom (the ones I read, anyway) dislike Donohue and his methods–was deeply offended. Regardless of what John Edwards does from now on, those are votes he has lost–and some were rooting for him.

    Hey, RA–

    Keep us posted (I never watch O’Reilly) on whether he interviews Donohue. Thanks!

  18. Lily
    February 16th, 2007 @ 9:27 am

    Are you serious, PC? my stomach heaved when I read that comment originally. It was vile beyond belief. You can have no idea how sickening it is to every Christian (not just Catholics). I read Pandagon every couple of weeks or so and Marcotte is always angry and vulgar. I admit to feeling real Schadenfreude that she finally got a realistic idea of how normal people react to that kind of spew.

  19. HappyNat
    February 16th, 2007 @ 9:48 am

    Wow, I can’t even stand to read O’Reilly, I knew I couldn’t stand to listen to him, but even ijn print he is a pompous ass.

  20. Professor Chaos
    February 16th, 2007 @ 10:07 am

    So attacking Catholicism’s practices of hate is hateful?

  21. Professor Chaos
    February 16th, 2007 @ 10:10 am

    To be clear, can you specify the comment you’re referring to?

  22. Lily
    February 16th, 2007 @ 10:46 am

    If you are asking me, Professor, RA linked to an article that cites the bit that made me sick to my stomach, when I first read it months ago and then quite recently again. You will find it under the heading “on the Catholic Teachings on birth control” (scroll down a bit).

    Rational criticism of teachings or practices with which one does not agree is always legitimate. Pornographic spewing is not.

    While we all have freedom of speech, too many on the left think that means that there are no consequences. Well, mouth off to a police officer and get arrested; spew vitriol at your boss or a client and get fired; irritate your wife and get no … supper. This is real life and if you are going to leave the cyberwomb for the public square, it is the better part of wisdom to know the difference between them.

  23. madison
    March 14th, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

    Bill what an idiot i hate his show, hes a jack ass.

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