Bill O Reilly
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/

In a surprising move for the conventional Fox News pundit, Bill O’Reilly came to the rescue of Ellen DeGeneres, who is currently facing heat from conservative groups over her recent partnership with J.C. Penney.

On a segment on last night’s The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly took issue with One Million Moms, the group organizing a boycott against the retailer in an effort to force DeGeneres to step down as spokeswoman. Fox News contributor and One Million Moms supporter Sandy Rios explained, “It isn’t about Ellen DeGeneres, but it’s about mainstreaming something that is not acceptable to Christian and traditional family people.”

“But it is about Ellen DeGeneres, and this is where we run into a problem,” said O’Reilly, coming to the defense of the openly gay talk show host, who has responded to the controversy herself. “If you remember with the McCarthy era of the 1950s, they were trying to hunt down communist sympathizers and not let them work and put them on a blacklist… What is the difference between the McCarthy era communist blacklist in the ‘50s and the Million Moms saying, ‘Hey, J.C. Penney and all you other stores, don’t you hire any gay people. Don’t you dare.’ What is the difference?”

Rios asserted that the problem lies with DeGeneres’ personal choice to “act out her lesbian lifestyle and marry her partner, and what that represents.”

O’Reilly, an unlikely champion for DeGeneres, responded, “The essential question is that a conservative group in this country is asking a private company to fire an American citizen based upon her lifestyle. I don’t think that’s correct.”

He added: “I don’t have any problem with you, Sandy, or any of the Million Moms not shopping at J.C. Penney. You don’t want to shop there because you don’t believe the message that they’re sending by hiring Ellen is a good message, more power to you. That is your decision and your right as an American. But to come out and demand the woman be fired, that’s wrong.”

While Rios countered with her right to express an opinion, O’Reilly drew a comparison to his own precarious position, referring to liberal Fox News viewers who constantly demand he relinquish his job because of his differing values: “They have a right, but they’re wrong to do it.”

O’Reilly concluded that despite the right to opinion and choice in where Americans want to take their business, the demand that J.C. Penney “fire a spokesperson who has done nothing legally wrong” was against the “spirit of America.”

“This J.C. Penney thing is a witchhunt and it shouldn’t happen.”

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