Bill O’Reilly goes rogue on Sarah Palin, buffets her in testy exchanges

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Jon Ward
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      Jon Ward

      Jon Ward covers the White House and national politics for The Daily Caller. He covered the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency and the first year of Barack Obama's presidency for The Washington Times. Prior to moving to national politics, Jon worked for the Times' city desk and bureaus in Virginia and Maryland, covering local news and politics, including the D.C. sniper shootings and subsequent trial, before moving to state politics in Maryland. He and his wife have two children and live on Capitol Hill. || <a href="mailto:jw@dailycaller.com">Email Jon</a>

When former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin signed a contract in January to become a regular guest on Fox News, many of her critics said it was part of a strategy by the Republican to avoid tough or skeptical questions and engage only with friendly members of the media.

But Bill O’Reilly appears to have missed that memo.

The larger-than-life Fox News host with the top rated cable news show on TV has a history of challenging Palin. “You don’t have that much experience,” he told the former governor last fall, though he has also defended her performance as governor.

But Palin’s two most recent appearances on “The O’Reilly Factor” have drawn notice for the unusually testy exchanges between the TV titan and the most famous conservative political figure in America. This past Friday, O’Reilly interrupted Palin numerous times and pushed her to give an answer on how she would solve the nation’s immigration problem after securing the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Well, again, first let me go back to the importance of securing the border,” Palin said.

“No, no, but we got that, we got that governor,” O’Reilly interjected.

“Mm mm, no we don’t,” Palin countered.

“Yeah, the people watching this program have it. We have it. We assume that you as president would secure the border,” O’Reilly said. “But now you have to look inward, and you’ve got 12 million people staring at you. What are you going to have them do?”

Palin talked generally about not giving illegal immigrants a “free pass” and said, “We’re not going to reward the bad behavior.” She even, when asked what to do with immigrants who don’t register with the government, responded: “You deport ‘em.”

But when O’Reilly pressed her to outline what to do with those who do register for normalization, Palin was either unable or unwilling to answer the question: “Bill, it makes me uncomfortable that we’re even going down that path so far when—”

“You have to go,” O’Reilly interrupted. “You have to go down that path because it’s going to come up.”

“This is where it gets very complicated governor,” O’Reilly said to Palin, who wore an expression that could be described as irritated or bemused.


Jere Hester, a former New York Daily News City Desk Editor who now teaches at CUNY’s School of Journalism, called it “an extraordinary exchange.”

O’Reilly’s quizzing of Palin on how to plug the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, during a June 15 interview, was not as tense as the most recent appearance. But O’Reilly did express disbelief at Palin’s argument that Obama was not doing everything he could to stop the gusher.

“I kind of have a big beef with you too though, Bill, if you don’t acknowledge that President Obama is wrong on his call for a need for energy policy,” Palin said.

A spokesman for Palin’s political action committee, SarahPAC, declined to comment. But partisans on both sides of the Palin divide – those who love her and those who hate her – have taken notice.

  • wake up america

    Orielly has turned on Sarah ever since she told him not to interrupt her. Bill has a big ego thats why he can identify and more and more with Obama.

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  • LipoSkeeto

    I checked out the linked Newshounds.us site thinking it may be a Liberal version of Newsbusters.org. Boy was I wrong. It’s just a bunch of anonymous people calling everyone they disagree with names. DC, please try not to link to them again.

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  • Babylonandon

    One thing you have to realize – and it’s sad – Palin is starting to listen to the GOP bigwigs.

    Sarah was great when she was able to be Sarah. She got slammed when she listened to the GOP handlers.

    The whole Katie Couric thing happened because McSwine’s handlers convinced her to play nice and feel sorry for “poor Katie”. Sarah was a pretty nice person and somewhat innocent, used to the small town atmosphere on steroids that is Alaska and easily taken in by those who she thought were on her side.

    Now she is starting follow the path towards the ‘sell-your-soul-to-the-party-devils” that most politicians become to get to the top. Those devils don’t want immigration fixed. You get pinned down on actually doing something that might turn off the Hispanic voting block permanently or threaten the cheap labor market and the party boots you to the curb as far as higher office.

    O’reilly already got her to the “secure the border” thing which is popular with the public but not the devils. Anything else and she gets shoved out the door and Billy wanted her to say something he could either slam her on OR something he agrees with to make a big splash.

    Either way she was going to get into trouble – hence the dissembling. Sarah doesn’t dissemble well.

  • rone





  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Jones/1384303476 Chris Jones

    This most recent appearance was frustrating because Bill wouldn’t let her get a word in edge wise. We don’t know what she would do on immigration because Bill wouldn’t let her talk.

  • theprofessor

    What an absolutely bizarre discussion. O’Reilly builds this scenario in his head and expects the person he’s interviewing to go along with some make believe series of events that haven’t even happened, aren’t going to happen and there is no precedence to refer to. Then he goes off on a “Reagan blew it” tangent which is simply not true. Congress didn’t follow through in the several years after the ’86 amnesty with what the plan was. So, here is Palin, confronted by Mr. Ego himself who is proposing crap that isn’t going to happen and expects her to come up with an answer he approves of while constantly interrupting her. It’s just bizarre – first step is to seal the border. Second step should only be made once step one is complete. Why is that so hard for everybody to understand?

    • anniebanannie

      Well, it worked. Imagine that.

      What’s for dinner?