RE: Which talking head do you despise the most?
O'Reilly denied calling the pope "senile" -- but he did
In response to a caller on his radio show, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that he "never said the pope was senile." In fact, in 2002, O'Reilly called Pope John Paul II "too senile to know" about the damage Cardinal Bernard Law, former archbishop of the Boston Archdiocese, had caused by allegedly covering up incidents of sexual abuse of children by priests in the archdiocese.
O'Reilly blamed the caller's "propaganda" first on the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, then on Media Matters for America. To date, Media Matters has documented only one person calling the pope "senile" -- discredited Unfit for Command author Jerome R. Corsi.
From the April 8 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
[CALLER]: Thanks for takin' my call, Bill. Well, I think -- you know, you're doing a lot of really good work in terms of spirituality and protecting the young. But one of the things I had a question for you -- is about 12 to 18 months ago you were saying that the Pope was also autocratic and senile. And you didn't like him --
O'REILLY: And senile? Is that what you said?
[CALLER]: You did say that --
O'REILLY: No, I didn't.
[CALLER]: -- on some of your radio programs if you check the archives.
O'REILLY: Well, look, you're takin' the Catholic League -- you're taking their pronouncement, correct? Am I correct, [caller]?
[CALLER]: Now, I don't know anything about the Catholic League pronouncement.
O'REILLY: Whadda you takin' then, Media Matters?
[CALLER]: No, I'm not takin' that either.
O'REILLY: All right, well, you're takin' some kinda propaganda 'cause I never said the pope was senile. And you know, I criticized the pope when he shoulda been criticized, and that is for not being proactive enough in the pedophilia scandals here in the USA, and in failing to put off a cogent policy to fight terror. Now, I wrote a column -- this column's posted right now. And I have said that and been very consistent. I have not changed my mind. Now, you've got crazy left-wing nuts who distort what's said on this program every day.
And, they spit stuff out -- Catholic League picked it up. Attacked me this week. You know, the usual propaganda. So, you wanna buy into that, [caller], and live in that land, you go right ahead.
But anybody listening to me and watching The Factor knows I've been very consistent about the pope, and two areas I felt his pronouncements were wrong, and otherwise, I admired him as a very holy man who had a deep respect for life. And that's the truth of that matter.
From the December 12, 2002, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, in a segment with Philip Moran, general counsel for the political advocacy group Catholic Alliance:
O'REILLY: Well, wait a minute. Hear me out. We all know, everybody knows -- even Law knows. Everybody but the pope, who's too senile to know, and I say that with all due respect. I don't think the pope is lucid, I don't think he knows what's going on, and I say that because Law's been in Rome for five days, has not seen the pope, has not even talked to the pope, and this is the worst scandal in a century --
MORAN: He's going to meet with him --
O'REILLY: -- in the Catholic Church, and the pontiff can't talk to you, and you're there for five days. There's something going wrong there. But, anyway, everyone knows, including Cardinal Law, that because of his actions as leader of the dioceses of Boston, children -- children -- hundreds of them -- were damaged for the rest of their life. Now everyone knows that. You can hide -- you can say the legalisms, tort, depositions, civil. Everybody knows that.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address