November 6, 2001
On the evening of October 31st you ran a story that has no basis in truth. What is not important is your attack of the performers who gave their time to raise money during the telethon for the September 11th fund. What is important is your accusation that the fund is being mishandled and misused. That sir, as you know, is nothing short of a lie.
The fund is intact and has already handed out some 36 million dollars to victims’ families (fifteen thousand checks), with over $230 million more to be allocated as The United Way sorts through the complicated process of who is in the most need. To have given out all of the money only six weeks after it was raised, would truly be irresponsible. If you were a journalist you would have known that.
If you were doing your job you would have also known that the person put in place to run the September 11 Fund is a man named Frank Thomas. Now that’s not the baseball player Bill, but rather the man who headed the Ford Foundation for several years. The Ford Foundation, Mr. O’Reilly, is one of the greatest charitable organizations in the world….. (Not a car dealership…. but I’m sure you knew that). Mr. Thomas is a man respected worldwide and I would enjoy watching you question his character publicly.
…..No Mr. O’Reilly, even you wouldn’t do that.
So, let’s re-cap.
The fund is not only the most successful single fundraiser ever (over 260 million dollars); it is also doing exactly what it is designed to do. Responsibly. The money is going out to the right people and to make certain of this, the United Way is taking some time.
It took one phone call to find this information. One phone call you did not make. But hey, it’s the first week of sweeps and you need to run a hard-hitting expose’ of irresponsible, pampered performers and try to bait them on your show with inflammatory statements. I’m sure it must have been frustrating for you that not one person took the bait. Hell Bill, even McCarthy got a few people to show up.
Here’s the problem, and why I’m forced to respond: People are coming up to me and asking if it's true that the telethon was a fraud. That means the next time we try to raise money, like when the CD from the telethon comes out this month, fewer people will participate. Because of your unsubstantiated, untrue statements about the September 11 Fund, You, Mr. O’Reilly will be taking money away from people who need it….and all because it’s the first week of sweeps.
I will say this; you were right about one thing. You accused all of the performers of lying. You named them one by one and read each of their excuses for not responding to you.
Tom Cruise, "Too busy".
Brad Pitt, "Too busy to respond".
Tom Hanks…..you get the idea.
You’re right, Mr. O’Reilly, we lied…all of us. Of course we weren’t too busy. And if you were Peter Jennings, or Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Charlie Rose, The Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times, or pretty much anybody else, we would have dropped everything and explained what we know. You see Bill, these are journalists. So, yes we lied when we said we were too busy to do your "entertainment show". We were just trying to not hurt your feelings.
I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the February sweeps.
Your biggest fan,