Fox News talking head Bill O'Reilly made waves last night for criticizing the arguments against gay marriage. Is he getting ready to come out in support of marriage equality?
"I didn't hear anything articulated that was particularly persuasive," Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly said on Tuesday's O'Reilly show. "I agree with you 100 percent," O'Reilly responded. The two anchors were discussing how they are unimpressed with the arguments from gay marriage opponents so far. And then it got interesting.
"I hate to say this, and next week I've got something that Kelly's really not going to like," O'Reilly said. "Wow, OK," Kelly responded. Here's O'Reilly on why he was so non-plussed by traditional marriage advocates:
"The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals,” O’Reilly said. "That’s where the compelling argument is. 'We're Americans. We just want to be treated like everybody else.' That’s a compelling argument, and to deny that, you have got to have a very strong argument on the other side. The argument on the other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible."
So, wait, what is O'Reilly going to announce next week? Saying you're going to announce something that a Fox News anchor won't like next week before launching into a mini-tirade about how the arguments against gay marriage are weak certainly sounds like you're setting yourself up to come out in support of gay marriage. Are we crazy for drawing that conclusion? Maybe? Is there something in our coffee this morning. O'Reilly went on to remind everyone he supports civil unions for gay couples. It's true, and he has for quite some time. Then he said this: "The gay marriage thing, I don’t feel that strongly about it one way or another. I think the states should do it... New York has it, I'm fine with it. I want all Americans to be happy, I do."
It's important to note O'Reilly never said he supports gay marriage at any point during the segment. He offered up the "it's a state issue" deflection which is favored among some Republicans who don't want to be seen as outright gay marriage opponents. Rand Paul used the same answer on Fox News Sunday last weekend, coincidentally enough.
And, while O'Reilly is a loyal soldier in the Fox News army, he's always been a bit of an odd duck in the conservative talking head movement. The Factor host, for instance, has consistently supported civil unions for gay couples and federal gun control. He told David Letterman he supports harsher sentences on gun crimes and a federal gun registry earlier this year. Those are not popular conservative ideas! But O'Reilly never comes outright and says, "I'm a big fan of gay marriage." He does, however, lay the ground work for maybe saying so in the future. He doesn't "feel that strongly about it," the arguments against it aren't very strong, he wants Americans to be happy. It sounds as if he's setting everyone up for his gay marriage support announcement, so it won't be such a shock. Hm, wonder when that will happen. Next week, maybe?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.