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Clooney, O’Reilly Face Off Over Telethons

Jan 10, 2005  •  Post A Comment

In a letter addressed to Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly and released to the press Monday, actor George Clooney accused Mr. O’Reilly of making a “pre-emptive strike” and creating more controversy for his personal gain with his Jan. 6 “Talking Points Memo.” In that on-air “Memo” segment Mr. O’Reilly warned celebrities associated with a tsunami telethon to be vigilant that the funds raised get to the victims.

In the past Mr. O’Reilly railed regularly on “The O’Reilly Factor” about what he said were distribution problems with celebrity 9/11 fund-raising that Mr. Clooney and many other stars were associated with. He started his Jan. 6 “Memo” by saying, “It is déjà vu all over again.”

Mr. Clooney’s grievances about the recent commentary included accusations that Mr. O’Reilly misidentified the 9/11 charity with which the actor had been associated, insinuated incorrectly that the fund-raising was a “fraud” and cast stones from the sidelines.

“So all right, Mr. Journalist … come on in,” Mr. Clooney wrote to Mr. O’Reilly in his letter. “I’m booking the talent for the tsunami event … and you, Mr. O’Reilly, are now officially invited to be a presenter.

“This way, you can personally follow up on our fund-raising. … Either you ante up and help out and be that watchdog that you feel we clearly need,” Mr. Clooney said, “or you simply stand on the sidelines and cast stones. We do the show this Saturday. It’s across the street from where you shoot ‘The Factor.'”

Mr. O’Reilly did not address Mr. Clooney’s accusations of inaccuracies when he responded on-air Monday night during the “Factor” segment he calls “the most ridiculous item of the day.”

But he thanked Mr. Clooney for the invitation and said, “I have to wait and see what the format is. … Whether I make a pitch or not depends on how organized things are.”