Ellen DeGeneres has already spoken up on her own behalf about the effort by a conservative group to have her fired as a spokeswoman for JCPenney. She’s also gained a defender in another prominent media figure — albeit from a somewhat unlikely place.
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly defended both DeGeneres and JCPenney on his show Tuesday (Feb. 7), comparing the effort by One Million Moms, a group affiliated with the conserative American Family Association, to have DeGeneres fired to McCarthyism and calling the campaign a “witch hunt.”
“This is a business deal,” O’Reilly says in a fairly one-sided debate with conservative activist and Fox News contributor Sandy Rios (who’s not formally affiliated with One Million Moms; O’Reilly says at the start of the video below that no one from the group agreed to appear on camera). “Ms. DeGeneres is hired as a spokesperson by JCPenney. JCPenney has an absolutely perfect right to do that, as you have in your belief system. …
“Then the Million Moms say, ‘Hey, because we feel a certain way about Ms. DeGeneres’ lifestyle, you need to fire her.’ I don’t think that’s the spirit of America.”
Rios then responds, “The problem is Ellen DeGeneres has chosen to act out her lesbian lifestyle, marry her partner. It’s what that represents, and the fact that JCPenney is supposed to be middle America, the place where families shop.”
O’Reilly doesn’t buy it: “You’re dodging the essential question. 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.”
O’Reilly is basically making a free-market argument: JCPenney can hire whomever it wants as a spokesperson, and people who disagree with it are free not to shop there. He never really says anything about gay rights, but he ends up in more or less the same place as DeGeneres on the subject. Here’s the video: