The NO SPIN ZONE - Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America by Bill O’Reilly, Broadway Books, New York, © 2001, ISBN: 0-7679-0848-1, 180 pp, $25. Random House Audio Tapes, five hours, $25.

Review by Del Meyer, MD

         "A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good." 
–  Thomas Watson, Jr.

Bill O’Reilly, MA (Masters in Public Administration, Harvard University, and Masters in Broadcast Journalism, Boston University), former ABC News National Correspondent and anchor of Inside Edition, author of the No.1 Best Seller, The O’Reilly Factor, contends that things have gone from bad to worse in politics, in Hollywood and in every social stratum of the nation. He records not only his opinions, but the documented attitudes of the country’s movers and shakers. In doing so, he has become one of the more controversial figures and a cultural hero in television news.

O’Reilly lives in the "No Spin Zone" which he set up over many years, where rationalizations are scorned, lies are rejected, equivocations are mocked, and smirks frequently turn to frowns. It’s a nightmare place for charlatans and deceivers. O’Reilly feels it’s a great place for those who believe in truth, common sense and decency. The Zone is a place where truth is sought without regret. It is comforting to those who live life with a sense of fairness.

O’Reilly tells us of his childhood, when he could roam the neighborhood and the nearby woods with his friends, scale 30-foot high trees, and all that was expected was to be home for dinner at six. Now, parents are worried about their children being abducted or abused, even in their own neighborhoods. The reason for this, O’Reilly contends, is the gradual contagion of nonjudgmental acceptance of behavior that would have been roundly condemned in his youth. Two college students who killed their newborn received hundreds of calls of sympathy and support. It was "understandable" that they panicked. The judge (only?) sentenced them to less than three years in prison. Drug addicted babies, who have been damaged physically and their learning ability limited, are routinely returned to the mothers who damaged them because the mother has a disease and, therefore, should not be deprived of raising her own child.

The welfare of a child means less today because of the promotion and acceptance of certain so-called special interests. The most notorious example, O’Reilly contends, is the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) which advocates the legalization of sex between men and boys as young as eight-years-old. This vile group alleges they do not engage in any activities that violate law. But NAMBLA was involved in funding orphanages in Thailand that allowed grown men to rape and molest the children who lived there. The Ohio Court of Appeals rules that NAMBLA literature, found in the possession of a child rapist, showed "preparation and purpose" in encouraging the rape. A rapist in Massachusetts, who also killed his boy victim and then dumped the body into a river, stated that he became obsessed with having sex with young boys after he joined NAMBLA.

The author recounts sixteen of his TV interviews with famous people who agreed to enter the "No Spin Zone." He agreed with some on the 16 selected issues and disagreed with others, some of which were surprising. George Bush agreed to appear, and O’Reilly disagreed with him on his support of capital punishment. O’Reilly’s stance was not that it was cruel, but not equally administered and that it was too easy a sentence. O’Reilly contends imprisonment with a life of leisure, replete with cable TV, free meals and sex with your cell mate, is not punishment enough. Felons who committed murder or rape should be sent to a Gulag in Alaska and placed at hard labor. Failure to cooperate should result in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. But does O’Reilly really think that the "leftists of the world," who take issue with Taliban prisoners in tropical Cuba receiving better treatment than they had as citizens of Afghanistan or their guards, wouldn’t raise a furor over such treatment in a Gulag in Alaska? Wouldn’t execution, if there was absolute DNA confirmation, promote a better society?

Bill Clinton declined, but his campaign manager, James Carville, was interviewed. Joycelyn Elders, former Surgeon General of the United States who Clinton fired for recommending that our schools teach masturbation, was actually an interesting subject. O’Reilly complimented her in going from abject poverty in Arkansas, through medical school, and then to Surgeon General. But he agreed with Clinton firing her for her inappropriate recommendations.

O’Reilly doesn’t understand America’s complacency with exorbitant taxes, where we work the first three hours of each day to pay the feds and an additional hour to pay the state and other taxes. He doesn’t understand why we are complacent about the filth and vulgarity and evil spewing forth, masquerading as music.

There is considerable editorializing about each topic, with the interview being a small part of each chapter. O’Reilly’s clear ideas about issues reflects his 27 years of investigative journalism. His interview with Dan Rather, his CBS boss19 years prior, was very elucidating. Rather felt that Bill Clinton was an honest man. When pushed by instances of Clinton’s lying, Rather stated, "I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things."

O’Reilly is really a bright spot in the vast media dominated by leftists, including a major network news anchor admitting he doesn’t think lying is dishonest. We may not agree with some of his tactics, characterized by some as too aggressive and insensitive, but O’Reilly’s efforts to place the issues of a just and moral society into proper perspective needs the understanding of more Americans. We need more men and women of courage to even raise the unpopular agenda.