Fame at Last

The Fox, Bill O’Reilly/John Doyle battle as reported April 25, 2004 by The New York Times:

When a Canadian Insults Fox News, Them’s [Expletive] Fighting Words!
Published: April 25, 2004

Correction Appended

TORONTO — American-Canadian relations have seen better days. Canada opposed the war in Iraq, and got a stern public lecture from the United States ambassador, Paul Cellucci, in return. The Bush administration does not like Canada’s liberal drug policies. Trade disputes involving beef and softwood lumber continue to fester. But such frictions rarely get much television coverage at a time when Washington has a barrage of international problems to worry about.

That may be changing. Two weeks ago, the Canadian cable industry filed an application with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission to begin including the Fox News Channel among its listings. That would bring the channel to a country with a very un-Foxian knack for legalizing same-sex marriage and teasing Yanks for burning down their own White House in the War of 1812. The cultural divide burst into raw insult when Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly recently got into a public brouhaha with John Doyle, the television critic for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s most influential newspaper.

American news junkies couldn’t help but get into the cross-border food fight, with many Fox News fans seeing red and, in response, other Americans feeling the need to apologize for their less-than-polite countrymen. The mess, without some of the more colorful language, is on display below.

It all started with Mr. Doyle’s column on Monday, which poked fun at both Fox News and Mr. O’Reilly.

The other day I read in this newspaper . . . that some honchos in the cable-TV racket are applying for permission to offer the Fox News Channel in Canada.

Beauty. Bring it on, I say. We’re all in need of a good laugh. The barking-mad Fox News Channel is something that most Canadians have only heard about. It’s time we saw it for ourselves, and made up our own minds about the phenomenon. We’ll find out if this Bill O’Reilly fella is as stupendously pompous and preening as he appears to be in the rare clips we see of Fox News.

That prompted Mr. O’Reilly to respond in kind on his evening program, “The O’Reilly Factor.” Noting that Canadians only occasionally get glimpses of Fox News, Mr. O’Reilly takes aim at the “far left” Globe and Mail.

So they see rare clips, but think we’re laughable. The Globe and Mail sounds like a real responsible enterprise, doesn’t it? Hey you pinheads up there, I may be pompous, but at least I’m honest.

It was a mild response, all things considered, but some American fans of Fox News apparently thought a gauntlet had been thrown. According to Mr. Doyle, hundreds of e-mail messages from south of the border began pouring into his Globe and Mail account – and continued to do so through the end of the week.

Some attacked Mr. Doyle personally:

To: Doyle, John

Subject: you are a [expletive]

Please don’t sleep on your side, because your tiny little brain will roll out your ear, you communist [expletive].

To: Doyle, John

Subject: Fox and your newspaper

. . . I imagine you are one of those middle-aged creeps sitting on your fat [expletive] drooling with envy at the success of others. From your photo it appears you have a receding hairline.


And several summarily withdrew their states’ welcome:

To: Doyle, John

Subject: Fox News

Your [expletive] attitude exists because you are Canadian. Canadians are worthless. Canadian equals coward. You don’t need just Fox News Channel. First you need to stop being Canadian.


In Texas. Stay Away.

To: Doyle, John

Subject: Your article

This article was written by an idiot. Canadians are far too dumb to appreciate Fox News anyway. Don’t confuse their little heads with the facts. . . . My husband has been forced to work in Canada for awhile this spring. He said most Canadians are [expletives].

Have a good day.

Ruth, from the wonderful state of Colorado.

(Don’t come for a visit.)

But most simply accused Mr. Doyle and his readership of being inferior, envious or worse . . . Canadian!

To: Doyle, John

Subject: what a joke – Fox

. . . Clearly you believe Americans must be stupid. But clearly not as dense as Canadians, who are spoon-fed their news by heavily tilted “non partial” partisans such as yourself.

Your problem, you creep, is that you are Canadian.



To: Doyle, John

Subject: nice try [EXPLETIVE!]

{hellip}True freedom of speech and diversity of opinion TERRIFIES you left-wing [expletives]. That is why your “1st Amendment” equivalent has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. You Canadians are really quite sad to us Americans. We generally feel sorry for you and your weak, dependent country.


Springfield, Va. ****USA****

To: Doyle, John

Subject: Your article

Why don’t you just shut your damn mouth. Your lucky we don’t attack Canada next. We hate communists here.

Mr. Doyle responded to the flood of e-mail – and to Mr. O’Reilly’s comments – in another column on Wednesday.

The very idea that The Globe and Mail is “far left” only proves my point that the Fox News Channel is the most hilarious thing on American TV since “Seinfeld.” . . .

The people who support Fox News must be the most uncivil and foul-mouthed creatures on the planet. This is an informed opinion. They’d give soccer hooligans a run for their money.

And so began a new flood of e-mail from Americans to Mr. Doyle, this time apologizing for the less-than-genteel tone of their compatriots. Most – though not all – were genteel themselves.

To: Doyle, John

Subject: May I apologize?

Dear Mr. Doyle,

. . . Whenever I hear of something like this happening, I feel compelled to apologize on behalf of civilized Americans throughout the United States. Most of the people who live in this country are neither extreme liberals or extreme right-wingers. Most of the people who live in this country do not believe the political or social dialogue is advanced by name-calling. Most of the people who live in this country are friendly folks who would invite you – a complete stranger – into their homes for dinner or, at least, a cup of coffee. . . .


To: Doyle, John

Subject: Your Article regarding Americans

. . . There are [expletives] on both sides of the border. But we’re not all automatically jerks just because of our country. . . .

I do apologize for the anti-Canadian comments you received, you’ll never hear one from this American.


Jami – Omaha, Neb.

To: Doyle, John

Subject: Fox news viewers

I saw your column on the Internet and I want to apologize for the rudeness of O’Reilly and his viewers. In TV terms, I think most of these people live in parts of the country that “C.S.I.” couldn’t use for their story lines because all the DNA is the same and there are no dental records.

To: Doyle, John

Subject: Fox News Channel

. . . It has been my observation that the people who trust Fox News are the religiously insane, the rabid conservatives and those with the attention span of a cocker spaniel being shown a card trick.

Warmest regards,


For all the apologizing, however, it was Mr. O’Reilly who, by week’s end, was clinging to the last laugh. Responding to Mr. Doyle’s Wednesday column, Mr. O’Reilly produced a letter writer of his own for his TV audience.

Earlier this week we told you that many Canadians want the Fox News Channel, that so far the government up there has blocked. . . .

Now I receive scores of letters like this one from Donna in Toronto:

“We need fair and balanced news from Fox because The Globe and Mail and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation are so far left. The CBC is called by many the Communist Broadcasting Corporation. Please don’t use my last name because I don’t want the government to know that I’m illegally watching Fox on the satellite. You see, we’re allowed to hear only what they want us to hear.”

So Doyle, spin that. You’re clueless.

Correction: May 2, 2004, Sunday

Because of an editing error, an article last Sunday about reaction to the arrival of the Fox News Channel in Canada referred incorrectly to an incident in the War of 1812 about which Canadians sometimes tease Americans. The White House was burned by British troops – not by Americans – partly to retaliate for an American offensive in Canada.

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