comScore Bill O'Reilly | Al Qaeda | Scott Fenstermaker

Bill O’Reilly Measuredly Takes Down Guest’s Sympathy For Al-Qaeda

Perhaps the most unsettling thing about this clip is that, despite being a cable news moment where a guest basically calls the host clueless while the host argues that members of Al-Qaeda want to kill Americans, the average vocal volume is maintained at a stable low. On tonight’s Factor, Bill O’Reilly debated a lawsuit filed by the ACLU intended to defend the rights of Al-Qaeda suspects, and his guest didn’t mince words on what he thought of his opinion.

The guest was criminal defense attorney Scott Fenstermaker, who has experience with defending terror suspects. O’Reilly asked Fenstermaker what his problem with the drone attacks was, and he stated that said attacks on Pakistan and on suspects like Anwar Al-Awlaki were illegal. “It has not been ruled illegal by anybody but you, Mr. Fenstermaker,” O’Reilly replied, which Fenstermaker refuted.

Fenstermaker then argued that he did not believe that Al-Awlaki was the enemy, as there was no direct proof that he was part of Al-Qaeda, and that the entirety of the war was “problematic” because it was “waging war against civilians.” He then upped the ante by saying that “our battles on Al-Qaeda are not necessarily well-directed,” and that “I don’t think Al-Qaeda is posing any threat to us now.”

After being asked several times whether he believed that Al-Qaeda was interested in killing him simply because he was an American, Fenstermaker replied, “I’m a bad example; I’m probably a hero to Al-Qaeda” and, after some pressing, told O’Reilly, “you don’t have the first idea of what you’re talking about” because he had not spoken to any members of Al-Qaeda. Surprisingly, this sentence did not instantly trigger a shouting match, though O’Reilly was shocked and temperately angry at the accusation, and, in a much more measured way than would typically be expected, disassembled Fenstermaker’s argument.

Sometimes, surreal cable news moments come in unintelligible yelling. Other times, they’re much more subdued.

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