Bill O’Reilly’s 5 Most (In)Famous On-Air Freak Outs, in (Dis)Honor of His Firing
Hosts and guests screaming at each other is perhaps O’Reilly’s truest legacy. It’s the sort of thing that used to be reserved for notorious daytime talk shows like Jerry Springer or Geraldo (who makes an appearance below), but O’Reilly’s genius was to bring that combative format to an (alleged) news program on an (alleged) news channel.
However, we will miss the not-so-occasional O’Reilly on-air FREAK-OUT — you know, those times when the Head Bloviator of Fox News (cable news has a lot of bloviators) would absolutely lose his sh**, on live television.
Typically this occurred while O’Reilly was interviewing a guest who had the nerve, the nerve, to disagree with him, though that is by no means the only thing that could set him off. It could be something as simple and innocuous as the phrase “to play us out”…
“WE’LL DO IT LIVE!”
You can think of this as the origin story of the Bill O’Reilly FREAK-OUT genre, from his time before The O’Reilly Factor when he was hosting Inside Edition. When this behind-the-scenes clip hit the web back in 2010, the phrase “WE’LL DO IT LIVE!” became an indelible part of the internet lexicon.
In it, O’Reilly completely melts down because of…a teleprompter problem? Does he not understand the script? Is it something some crew member is doing? Who really cares — what’s important is O’Reilly’s uncanny ability to go from smiling, genteel entertainment-show host to STARK RAVING MADMAN and back again almost instantaneously.
It’s a trait he would put to use for the rest of his career (which may now be over, unless CNN hires him).
“YOU WANT ANARCHY!”
Geraldo Rivera, often an ally of O’Reilly’s during their time together on Fox, became the enemy when O’Reilly went on an anti-immigrant tirade after a DUI incident in Virginia back in 2007. Rivera pointed out that O’Reilly was only mad about this case because the drunk driver was an undocumented immigrant (“HE SHOULD’VE BEEN DEPORTED!”), while Rivera offered that immigrants, whether here legally or not, commit fewer crimes than citizens and this would be a tragedy regardless of the driver’s immigration status.
The classic O’Reilly move here is when, after Rivera says he wants “fairness,” O’Reilly retorts with “FAIRNESS BULL!” We prefer to think of the Fairness Bull as a magical creature that watches over children’s playtime to make sure all the kids follow the rules and everyone gets a chance to play. It’s only fair.
“COME ON, YOU COWARD!”
Congressman Barney Frank appeared on O’Reilly’s show in October 2008, at the height of the financial collapse, to discuss his role in the crisis as the then-chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Now, we can certainly understand a person’s desire to yell at a politician, but in this case, it’s the politician who gets the better of the yeller.
After being called a coward (very loudly) for disagreeing with O’Reilly’s characterization of one of his statements, Frank neatly sums up the frequent dilemma of being a guest on The Factor: “Here’s the problem with going on your show. You start ranting, and the only way to respond is almost to look as boorish as you.”
Congressman Frank, you don’t get it — that’s the whole point.
“GIVE ME ONE PROGRAM!”
Liberal commentator Alan Colmes made a classic mistake on The O’Reilly Factor: he said something accurate that conflicted with his host’s point of view. In this case, the discussion involved former President Barack Obama’s spending proposals, with O’Reilly claiming repeatedly (“FOUR TIMES!”) that the president had never offered to cut any government programs.
Colmes pointed out, accurately, that Obama had offered to cut entitlements, which seemed to infuriate O’Reilly even more. Colmes even specifically mentions Medicare and Medicaid — which are definitely, positively government programs — but that doesn’t faze O’Reilly one bit, as he routinely, comfortably ignores all which doesn’t confirm his worldview.
Colmes at one point even asks, “Why are you yelling?”
Because that’s what the man does, Alan. That’s all he does.
“YOU’RE DOING A DERISIVE SNORT AND I WANT YOU TO KNOCK IT OFF!”
Yes, he really does accuse his guest, Kirsten Powers, of a “derisive snort” (she says it was a gasp), but that’s not even the best part. It might not even make the top 5 of this segment in which O’Reilly literally gives a “So what?” response to slavery. Yes, slavery. And he does it twice! That leads his derisively-snorting guest to ask him, “How many black friends do you have?” Believe it or not, O’Reilly chooses not to answer that particular question.
Powers here encapsulates another ironclad rule for guests on The O’Reilly Factor when she objects to her host’s description of race relations in America by saying, “Right, because unless I think just like you, I must not be paying attention.”
You are 100 percent correct, Kirsten.
It would be inappropriate not to include this alternative take on the Bill O’Reilly FREAK-OUT origin story, featuring Stewie Griffin. Keep in mind: this is word-for-word accurate.
Adios, Bill! You have left the world of primetime cable news a louder place than it was before.