July 24, 2004 · Lessig
You have declared a “war” on the New York Times. That’s good for you, good for them, and good for our democracy: Strong opinions deserve strong spokesmen. Your battle will help sharpen a debate about matters important to the Republic.
But in waging this “war,” you are continuing to abuse a man whom you have wronged, and to whom you owe an apology.
On February 4, 2003, Jeremy Glick was your guest on THE FACTOR. Glick had lost his father in the attack of 9/11. He had also signed an ad criticizing the war in Iraq. You were “surprised” that one who had lost his father could oppose that war. And so you had him on your show, presumably to ask him why. (Here’s a clip from Outfoxed putting this story together.)
You might not remember precisely what you said on that interview, or more importantly, what Jeremy Glick said. So here’s a copy that you can watch. Nor may you remember precisely what the ad that Jeremy Glick signed said. Here’s a copy that you can read. And when you’ve watched what was actually said, and read what was actually written, I’m sure you will see that the statements you continue to make about Jeremy Glick are just plain false. Not Bill Clinton “depends upon what is is” false, but false the way most Americans learned growing up: just not true.
- in the February 4th interview, you said the ad “accused the USA itself of terrorism.” Read the ad, Mr. O’Reilly. It says no such thing.
- in the February 4th interview, you said the ad “equates the United States with the terrorists.” Read the ad, Mr. O’Reilly. It says no such thing.
- in the February 4th interview, you said the ad “absolutely says” that the United States is to be “equated” with the terrorists. Read the ad, Mr. O’Reilly. It says no such thing.
- on February 5th, you told your viewers that “Glick was out of control.” He may have been out of your control. But you and our government have got to learn that just because someone disagrees with you, he doesn’t become a security threat. Again, watch the interview, Mr. O’Reilly. He was not “out of control.”
- on February 5th, you told your viewers that Glick was “spewing hatred for this program.” Watch the interview, Mr. O’Reilly. He criticized you, not the program, for unethically using sympathy for the 9/11 victims for your own political ends. He was calling your behavior improper. You had not earned his hatred.
- on February 5th, you told your viewers that Glick was “spewing hatred for … his country.” Watch the interview, Mr. O’Reilly. He said no such thing. He specifically distinguished the people he was criticizing from “the people of America.” He, like the rest of us, loves our country, even if we disagree with its political leaders, or your political views.
- on February 5th, you accused him of using “vile propaganda.” What does “propaganda” mean to you, Mr. O’Reilly? He was disagreeing with your views. Why is that “propaganda”?
- six months later, you said that Glick said that the Bushes “were directly responsible for 9/11.” Again, watch the interview, Mr. O’Reilly. He said no such thing. Indeed, he twice denied it.
- eleven months later, you said Glick “came on this show and accused President Bush of knowing about 9/11 and murdering his own father.” This, Mr. O’Reilly, is a total, if not pathological, fabrication. Glick said nothing about Bush “knowing” about 9/11. He said nothing about Bush “murdering” his own father. Watch the interview, Mr. O’Reilly. Your statements characterizing what Glick said are absolutely false.
- just last week, you again repeated the claim that Glick said that President Bush was “responsible for his father’s death.” He said nothing of the sort.
- just last week, you repeated the claim that Glick “implied that the United States itself was a terrorist nation.” Glick said nothing of the sort.
- just last week, you said Glick said “America itself was responsible for the 9/11 attack.” Glick said nothing of the sort.
- And finally, and most extraordinarily, just last week you repeated the claim that “security actually had to take the guy out of the building, he was that out of control.” This, Mr. O’Reilly, you know to be absolutely false. Indeed, it was you who threatened physical violence against Mr. Glick after his interview, and your own staff that apologetically begged Mr. Glick to leave as quickly as he could, fearing that if you saw Glick again, as they said, you would “end up in jail.”
I understand how someone loses his temper, Mr. O’Reilly. I have done the same myself. But a decent man apologizes for his lack of control, and he certainly doesn’t continue to abuse someone he has wronged.
Mr. Glick is not the New York Times. He will not earn more money from higher ratings because you attack him so viciously. Neither he nor his widowed mother get any benefit at all from seeing Glick slandered by your show on a regular basis.
You are wrong about the facts, Mr. O’Reilly. And you are wrong to continue to do such harm. Have the courage to admit your error. Apologize to Mr. Glick, and let him go back to a life that has been made difficult enough by, as you said, the “barbarians” who killed his father. This family has suffered enough from barbaric behavior.