||[Nov. 11th, 2005|09:14 am]
Conservative talk-show host Bill O'Reilly is ready to scratch San Francisco off the map of the United States. Gone. Coit Tower? Terrorists can blow it up, and the rest of the country shouldn't care.
The Fox News talk-show host and one-man conservative media juggernaut has concluded that the United States and San Francisco just don't go together anymore. Voting to oppose military recruitment in public schools and to ban handgun ownership, as San Franciscans did Tuesday, means the city should be cut off from federal dollars. And then some.
"You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium and I say, 'Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds,' " O'Reilly said Tuesday on his radio show as San Franciscans were approving the two measures. Perhaps, he didn't realize that he'd be speaking mostly to foreign tourists and suburbanites if he were standing in Union Square.
"Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead," O'Reilly went on. "And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."
San Franciscans might be offended by this invitation, or perhaps even threatened, if more of them visited Coit Tower.
On a cool gray Thursday afternoon, the San Francisco landmark was filled, as usual, with tourists from Ohio, Texas and other states where TV's "The O'Reilly Factor" and its syndicated radio companion, "The Radio Factor," pull better ratings than in San Francisco.
When visitors were told of O'Reilly's remarks, several had the same question: "Why would he say that?"
The few locals found at the tower had another: "Who's Bill O'Reilly again?"
Those familiar with O'Reilly tried to put the comment in context.
"The man is a sensationalist fool," said Paul Hickey, a 76-year-old visiting from Texas.
"He's irritating," said his wife, Judy Hickey, 67.
Others interpreted the remark as O'Reilly's trademark brand of hyperbole. His mastery of this form of entertainment has made him a best-selling author and top-rated talk-show host.
"I just think he's blowing wind," said Jim Adelman, 64, visiting from Ohio.
Reaction came swiftly from City Hall, which has taken other arrows in the aftermath of Tuesday's election. Thursday on KNEW-AM -- O'Reilly's Bay Area radio home -- conservative talk-show host Jeff Katz ripped handgun-measure supporters on San Francisco's "Board of Stupidadvisors."
Board of, uh, Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, whose district includes Coit Tower, suggested that O'Reilly should get his head examined.
"It sounds like he's on the same medication Rush Limbaugh is addicted to, and he should go see a therapist,'' Peskin said.
Mayor Gavin Newsom said, "I've never been impressed with what he's had to say, and I'm not impressed now. Consider the source. Remember, this is the guy who wanted me arrested after (San Francisco sanctioned same-sex marriages last year). He never let his opinion get in the way of the facts."
Imagine if O'Reilly had read the plaque on the front of Coit Tower, which describes its benefactor and namesake, Lillie Hitchcock Coit, as a woman "who smoked cigars and often dressed as a man to gamble in North Beach saloons."
Then again, Coit Tower fans should not feel special about being singled out. This isn't the first time O'Reilly has discussed the destruction of a famous building on the air with an aural twinkle in his eye.
In September, a couple of weeks after Hurricane Katrina damaged the Gulf Coast, O'Reilly used the natural disaster to poke fun at one of his favorite targets, the United Nations.
"Bush addressed the U.N., says he wants to be steadfast in battling terrorism," O'Reilly said on his radio show. "I'm sure all the U.N. people fell asleep. They don't really care about anything over there at all. I just wish Katrina had only hit the United Nations building, nothing else. Just flooded them out. And I wouldn't have rescued them."
After United Nations Foundation President Timothy Wirth asked O'Reilly to apologize, the talk-show host replied with an on-the-air primer on the radio biz:
"Well, apparently Tim Wirth has never listened to talk radio," O'Reilly said. "So I will speak very slowly to him. It was a jest, sir. We exaggerate on the radio.
Efforts to reach O'Reilly through Fox News on Thursday were unsuccessful.
At least one liberal media watchdog group was offended by O'Reilly's Coit Tower remark. Media Matters for America President David Brock said, "He's encouraging terrorist attacks. It's over the top."
But isn't O'Reilly allowed the same type of latitude that liberals have said other entertainers should be afforded?
Shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, comedian Bill Maher was criticized by White House officials for saying, "We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly." Maher apologized, and his public hushing by the White House made him a favorite of Bush-bashers.
"Yes, there are people saying things like that, like Bill Maher and 'The Daily Show,' but if you look at O'Reilly, his show is presented as a 'no spin zone,' " Brock said. "People take it seriously."
Those people include Brock's group, which records every minute of O'Reilly's programs. Is that one of those entry-level jobs where you pay your dues?
"No," Brock said, "but maybe it should be."
How could anybody possibly support Fox news...this makes me angry...i didnt like bill o'reilly before and i deffinetly do not like him now...it is not okay to say "go ahead blow up san francisco"...thats my city u asshole...just because theyre not following ure conservative views doesnt mean we should be destroyed or disowned from the united states...even if hes being sarcastic or joking...that is still not okay...i could say "hey lets get rid of kansas cuz i dont like what theyre doing there"...but no...thats not how things work...when things dont go ure way...u dont just tell terrorists to come and get rid of it...that is not what american democracy is about...there isnt supposed to be one group controling everyone...special interests are supposed to be protected...if the people of san francisco dont want guns in their city or doesnt want the military to come in and recruit their kids....that is their decision...its not our fault that military enlistment has gone down...so lets see...they want more people to enlist...but then they go and refuse people...hmm...theyre real consistent...oh but wait...they think it will decrease military moral...but oh...what about zoe dunning...her troups respect her...and shes openly lesbian...hmm...way to go military...a+ in my book...