October 18, 2003


Media Matters: Gross vs. O'Reilly: Culture Clash on NPR (Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, Ombudsman: National Public Radio, October 15, 2003)

On October 9, Terry Gross, longtime host of NPR's Fresh Air aired her interview with populist political talk show host Bill O'Reilly. The e-mails and phone calls of outrage are still arriving.

The interview was taped the day before on October 8. The ostensible reason was to talk about O'Reilly's latest book, Who's Looking Out For You? The book is about, among other things, the claim that America is in the midst of what O'Reilly calls a "cultural war between left and right." And he says the battle is being fought in bookstores by pitting sales of his book against those by liberals.

In the Fresh Air interview, the tone was intense from the beginning. By the end of the interview, O'Reilly said he found Gross' line of questioning objectionable and hostile. He walked out of the interview, but not before he accused Gross of conducting the interview "in attack mode" and "full of typical NPR liberal bias." He also told her to "find another line of work."

Knowing that the interview would air the next day, O'Reilly used his October 8 television program to alert his viewers about what would happen the next day on NPR

As Gross mentioned in the interview, Bill O'Reilly was invited on Fresh Air in part because of his new book. She began by asking O'Reilly to respond to accusations made against him in a book by Al Franken, the politically liberal comedian. Franken's book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, is devoted in part to going after O'Reilly's credibility and his conservative opinions. In his book and on Fresh Air, Franken accuses O'Reilly of mistakes, distortions and outright lies.

If you missed the show it's worth a listen. Ms Gross administers a pretty biased hatchet-job, repeatedly asking him to respond to other peoples' criticisms, rather than focusing on his book itself. On the other hand, it's nothing O'Reilly doesn't do on his own show too. The main difference is he had sense enough to walk away.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 18, 2003 5:50 PM

Hmmm.... I find O'Reilly to be humorous, entertaining, and generally permissive with his guests. He often allows those he disagrees with to speak rather freely. Except for his oft-broken promise to give his guest the "last word", I haven't seen much of the overbearing behavior that his critics point out.

Perhaps it's because I'm not a regular viewer.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 18, 2003 9:19 PM

I've never liked O'Reilly because I just can't get over him hosting "A Current Affair" in the early 1990's. However, I cannot stand Terry Gross and Fresh Air. Unfortunately, I have this sick fascination with Fresh Air and I listen to part of it almost every day. With a couple of exceptions, her show have either homosexuals or some other disaffected minority. I do enjoy the show when she talks to musicians.

I did listen to part of the O'Reilly episode and she was loaded for bear. It was a 180 degree difference from her interview with Al Franken.

Posted by: pchuck at October 19, 2003 12:10 AM


Heard her interview with Gene Simmons of Kiss?

Posted by: oj at October 19, 2003 5:29 AM

The other difference between the two, of course, is that O'Reilly doesn't pretend he's doing anything other than an opinion show.

Posted by: Chris at October 20, 2003 11:09 AM

Someone track down the transcript of Terri Gross
interviewing Grover Norquist (priceless!).

Posted by: J.H. at October 20, 2003 2:12 PM