Former television talk-show host Phil Donahue became involved in a heated shouting match last night with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly over continued U.S. involvement in Iraq.
However, much of America was not able to see the verbal wrestling match, as breaking news of the landing of a crippled JetBlue flight in Los Angeles pre-empted a portion of “The O’Reilly Factor” during its live feed.
During the program, Donahue, well-known for his liberal political stances, rallied behind Cindy Sheehan, the California woman who has become an activist against American involvement in Middle East wars after her son, Casey, was killed in Iraq.
“Cindy Sheehan is one tough mother and nothing you say or anyone else is gonna slow her down,” Donahue said.
The segment turned into a finger-pointing, shouting match when Donahue accused O’Reilly of backing a war to which he wouldn’t send his own children:
Donahue: “You wouldn’t send your children to this war, Bill.”
O’Reilly: “My nephew just enlisted in the Army. You don’t know what the hell you’re talkin’ about! He’s a patriot, so don’t denigrate his service or I’ll boot you right off the set. That boy made a decision to serve his country! Do not denigrate him or you’re outta here!” …
Donahue: “You are part of a loud group of people who want to prove they’re tough and send other people’s kids to war to make the case.”
O’Reilly: “You have no clue about how to fight a war on terror or how to defend your country. You are clueless, so is Ms. Sheehan. And for Ms. Sheehan to say the insurgents have a right to kill Americans, and you’re shaking her hand? You ought to just walk away.”
Donahue: “How many more men and women are you going to send to have their arms and legs blown off so that you can be tough and point at people in a kind of cowardly way?”
Donahue also stated Iraq was not a terrorist state with Saddam Hussein as dictator.
“Saddam was a bastard, but he was our bastard,” said Donahue.
O’Reilly insisted the U.S. is in a war on terror, and the cause was noble, loudly telling Donahue, “And if you don’t understand geopolitics, if you don’t understand Iraq would be a terrorist state if we pulled outta there, then you don’t know anything.”
“It’s a mistake,” responded Donahue. “It was poorly planned and poorly executed but Bill O’Reilly wants to send more kids to fight and die.”
Because the segment was not seen during its initial broadcast, “The O’Reilly Factor” plans on rebroadcasting it this evening.
Video of the exchange can be viewed here.
A complete transcript is available here.