Former Fox News giant Bill O'Reilly says that while President Trump broke the first rule in discussing Nazis by equating them with another group, he was definitely not trying to pander to white nationalists in his response to Charlottesville.
O'Reilly's comments came during a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter in which the former O'Reilly Factor host discussed the "nasty" atmosphere leading up to his firing by Fox News, his future plans, and his opinion on Trump's handling of the tragic and racially explosive events in Charlottesville.
Asked by the interviewer what he thought about Trump's "statements blaming the violence in Charlottesville on 'both sides,'" O'Reilly, who noted that he's known Trump "for 30 years," said Trump's big mistake was his violation of a "simple" rule.
"[Y]ou can never under any circumstances equate Nazis with anyone else. It's a very simple thing, OK?" he said. "So if you understand history — and I think Trump does to some extent, but not perhaps to the extent that is needed in this day and age — when you understand the evil that happened in the '30s and '40s in Germany, in Europe and even in Japan, really, truly understand it, you can't make comments about it in any other context other than, this is pure evil."
O'Reilly added that criticizing the violent Antifa radicals would have been fine if Trump had simply waited to do it.
"Now, if you want to make a point the next day that the Antifa movement is destructive, you can do that, but it has to be the next day," he said.
Pressed by the interviewer about the need to set the bar higher for a president's "grasp of history," O'Reilly partly defended Trump by suggesting he speaks "emotionally" rather than strategically.
"He acts and he speaks emotionally, OK? Always," said O'Reilly, adding, "And that's why he got elected. People rallied to that because they're tired of the automaton politicians."
Trump's characteristic emotional response was on full display in his Charlottesville statements, he said.
"He wasn't thinking about Nazis and what they did in World War II and the Holocaust," O'Reilly continued. "He was thinking, 'I saw on television bad people, Nazis, neo-Nazis, but I also saw antifa people bring weapons to the park and look for trouble.' He saw it, so he said it without stepping back and saying, 'You know what? I got to put perspective in play here. I'm the president.' So he didn't do that. And that's why he got hammered."
The interviewer responded by citing the allegation that Trump was attempting to pander to his white supremacist supporters, saying, "But there is an interpretation that he said those things because he does not want to alienate his white nationalist supporters."
O'Reilly emphatically shot down the assertion.
"No, no, no, no. It's not his style. He doesn't think that way," said O'Reilly. "What he thinks about is, who's attacking me unfairly? Who's giving me a hard time?"
He then noted that he tells Trump "all the time" that he needs to stop worrying about who's attacking him. "But is Trump going to listen to me?" he said. "No, he's not."
As for the "nasty" situation that led to his firing, O'Reilly wouldn't say much specifically, but did note the "vicious" and "disgusting" attacks against him and suggested that people were gunning for his "chair."
"The business got really nasty," he said. "What people don't realize is that I was under attack constantly for 16 years. Once I became No. 1, once we passed Larry King, it was every single day. And then, as social media grew and got wildly out of control, the attacks got more vicious, more disgusting. Then you have the business, you have the competition. I mean, you don't think those people are sad that I'm not sitting in that chair anymore, do you?"
The former number 1 also said he was not actively seeking to partner with anyone yet, citing his "extremely lucrative" BillO'Reilly.com, but did say that there were some potential "projects" that have been pitched to him that he believes he'll have made more decisions on by early October.