You are hereCrooks & Liars: Bill O'Reilly gets called on the carpet by one of his smear victims

Crooks & Liars: Bill O'Reilly gets called on the carpet by one of his smear victims

March 26, 2011- Last week we observed -- especially after the arrest of a neo-Nazi in Spokane for a planned bombing of a parade the next day -- that Bill O'Reilly owed Mark Potok a big apology for smearing him after he offered the opinion that, as domestic-terrorism threats go, the extremist right remains a much more potent problem than homegrown Islamic radicals. (OReilly repeated the smear even after the Spokane arrest.)

Of course, we knew that wasn't gonna happen. But last night on The O'Reilly Factor, we got to see the next best thing: Potok pinning O'Reilly's ears to the wall for the smear.

O'REILLY: Now a few weeks ago, Mr. Potok, you said on CNN the biggest terrorist threat is coming from the radical right community. Do you still stand by that?

MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: That is false as I think you know. I said the biggest domestic threat to America was from domestic radical right not domestic jihadists, in other words, not home-grown American Muslims. That was twisted on your show by you.


O'REILLY: All right. So you -- it wasn't twisted by me -- no, no, it wasn't twisted because your statement is dubious. It wasn't well -- with all due respect because we like you as a guest -- your statement was not well put.

Let me read your exact statement ok. It's not our biggest -- this is talking about Muslim jihadists. "It's not our biggest domestic threat. I think that pretty clearly comes from the radical right in this country."

Now I'll dispute that. I think that Muslims jihadists are a much bigger threat than the radical right and the numbers back me up: Fort Hood and Fort Dick.

POTOK: Bill, can I just have one --

O'REILLY: Yes. Go ahead.

POTOK: One thing I want to say, immediately afterwards you said, Muslim terrorists or jihadists have killed tens of thousands of people all over the world. Well, that is true. I don't disagree with that at all. I certainly think that as an external matter, Al-Qaeda is far greater threat. I don't think there's much question about that. But that's not what I said.

O'REILLY: All right. I'm glad you are saying that.

In fact, it might be helpful to remember exactly what it was that Potok actually said on CNN:

MALVEAUX: If you can from your study of tracking radical groups, potentially hate groups, what do you think of this hearing? Is al Qaeda radicalizing Muslims? Is that our biggest homegrown terrorism threat right now?

POTOK: Well, I think it's not our biggest domestic terror threat. I think that pretty clearly comes from the radical right in this country. Although I would certainly not minimize the threat of jihadist terrorism in this country. Obviously, we have seen a fair amount of it.

Clearly, Potok was drawing a distinction between jihadist terrorism of the international kind and the (so far) quite limited threat of homegrown Islamic radicalism. But O'Reilly refuses to recognize the distinction.



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