Bill O'Reilly Really Likes You
BY Michael Giltz
May 14 2009 12:00 AM ET
Later, while walking down the hall to his studio, O'Reilly greets another employee by name and then suddenly asks her, "Am I gay?"
"Are you gay?" she responds, looking both aghast and bewildered. "Who's saying that? That is ridiculous. Every single famous person gets that eventually."
O'Reilly quickly says, "But in my case, I am!"-jokingly-before turning away and striding toward the elevators.
"The problem with homosexuals is, there's a feeling among some leaders that they have to force people to accept them," O'Reilly says. "My thinking is, Why waste your time? There are millions of Americans who are never going to accept you, primarily on religious grounds. There are millions of Americans who fear you, primarily on psychological grounds-their neurosis. Why play into that? That's just going to bog you down. You're never going to cut through it. You're not going to convince the Holy Rollers that you're not an abomination, because they're going to quote the Old Testament."
That reference to Holy Rollers-a possibly pejorative term that certainly won't endear him to the religious right-is one reason O'Reilly can be such a fascinating figure to some gay activists. Surely his stance on gay adoption and comments like that don't play well with the typical conservative Fox News viewer.
"The only heat I take on the gay stuff is from very, very religious-driven people," he insists. "I don't take any heat from Republicans or Democrats. This is where you guys have it wrong: 90% percent of Americans don't care what you do; 10% are fanatics. They think you're going to hell, and they want you to go to hell. All right? Ignore them."
And what does he mean by religious fanatics? "I mean, people who think you are going to hell and are going to quote from Revelation that you're going there. I think that's a little ridiculous, don't you? Those are the people. The guys waving the [Bible] saying, 'God hates you.' How do they know? Let God sort it out. I have no idea whether God hates you or not."
So "religious fanatics" would include Falwell, Robertson, and the like? "Look, I'm not naming names because I don't know where they are-maybe they're evolving. I don't know. But anybody I see saying, 'This group is going to hell'? I mean, come on."
Still, O'Reilly is hardly a friend to gay activists. "I don't think I'm disrespectful to any gays on the air," O'Reilly says. "I treat everybody pretty much the same. We do a confrontational program and we get passionate about our arguments and it gets the juices flowing."
O'Reilly does play tough with all his guests. But it could be argued that he spends more time and energy criticizing gay activists than he does disagreeing with the people who condemn gays in a manner he considers un-American, illogical, and un-Christian. In part, it's because they have areas of agreement.