October 3, 2013
Robert G. Anderson
Producer, 60 Minutes
Dear Mr. Anderson:
We were troubled to learn that a crucial section of your interview with Bill O’Reilly on 60 Minutes -- in which he made clear that the Romans, not the Jews, killed Jesus -- was edited out of the final broadcast.
According to a transcript of the full interview provided to us by Mr. O’Reilly’s office, at one point he was asked by Nora O’Donnell, “Was it the Romans or was it the Jews (who killed Jesus)? According to the transcript, Mr. O’Reilly responded, “The Romans killed him. The Jews had no power to kill him.”
Unfortunately, this remark was omitted from Sunday’s broadcast.
Instead, the viewer hears from Mr. O’Reilly that “he (Jesus) was personally insulted that the temple was being used as a place of commerce,” and that he was upset that “the Jews were taxing, over-taxing and extorting the folks, the Jews were stealing from the Jews,” and that this is the crux of the “Killing Jesus” theme.
We wanted you to know that have heard from many viewers concerned about Mr. O’Reilly’s description of the events surrounding the crucifixion, and we share their concern that the interview, as aired, could reinforce the notion that the Jewish people were to blame. That concept of Jewish guilt in the death of Jesus, as you may know, has been is the source of 2,000 years of church-based anti-Semitism. We have worked extremely hard in dialogue with the Catholic Church over the last 50 years to undo the damage of this enduring anti-Semitic myth.
We hope that the omission was unintentional, but we are saddened and troubled at the decision not to include in the final broadcast Mr. O’Reilly’s clear and unequivocal statement that the Romans, not Jews, were responsible. We believe it is important that in your next opportunity you make clear to your viewers that you failed to attribute this important part of Mr. O’Reilly’s comments.
Abraham H. Foxman