Bill O’Reilly may be the most fervent flag waver on cable—a patriot who believes in torturing terrorists and profiling all Muslims. But is that enough to get him targeted by Al Qaeda?
The loofah-loving Fox News host is raising plenty of eyebrows around the office after telling Barbara Walters in an interview with ABC’s 20/20 that, “the FBI came in and warned me and a few other people at Fox News that Al Qaeda had us on a death list.” O’Reilly describes the experience—as well as other violent threats he says he’s received from various “kooks”—as “disconcerting.”
But the reaction from some of his colleagues sounds more like disbelief. “I’ve never heard that before,” says a correspondent for Fox News, who added that neither he nor anyone he’s spoken to at the network has been warned by the FBI. “I do know the government has warned Fox about threats in the past, but I don’t think they involved specific people.”
A high-level exec at another cable news channel was less circumspect. “That sounds like absolute bullshit to me—it’s typical O’Reilly,” he says. “We’ve never received any similar warnings from the FBI or any other government agency, and we’ve done plenty of reporting to piss off Bin Laden.”
UPDATE: A skeptical federal law enforcement official told Radar this morning: “I’m not aware of any FBI agents warning anyone at Fox News of their presence on any list….For that matter, I’m not aware of any Al Qaeda hit list targeting journalists. Agents from the D.C. field office, FBI headquarters, and a hostage negotiator went to Fox’s offices in New York last month to advise them specifically on the Gaza kidnapping [of Fox employees Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig]. But they only talked to management, they didn’t talk to any individual journalists.”