Bill O’Reilly: Radio Should Play the Dixie Chicks

Conservative Commentator Says, "Natalie Maines Has Paid the Price"

Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, has thrown his support behind the Dixie Chicks by encouraging radio stations to play their new song, “Not Ready to Make Nice.”

In an essay posted on the Fox News Web site, the conservative commentator writes, “It’s a pretty good song. There is no reason not to play it.”

He also describes a chance meeting with Maines at a Time magazine event Tuesday night (May 9) in New York where he told her that her “primary mistake” was criticizing Bush on foreign soil, referring to her infamous comment at a London concert in 2003. The Chicks are included in the magazine’s recent feature, Time 100: People Who Shape Our World. They also performed “Not Ready to Make Nice” at the event.

In his essay, O’Reilly, who did not make the Time list, writes, “Natalie Maines has paid the price for her remarks. Her life has been threatened, and she remains under siege. That is wrong as well. The woman has a right to believe what she wants to believe. You have a right to reject her beliefs and not to buy her stuff. But to punish her further is not in the spirit of America.”

According to New York Post gossip columnist Liz Smith, Maines had the last word. After O’Reilly praised her performance at the event, he commented that he wished she would have made her critical comments in the U.S. instead. According to Smith, Maines “kept her expression free of surprise, (and) remarked, ’Oh, I’d say it in the U.S.'”

In 2003, Maines told a London audience that she was “ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas,” an impromptu comment that turned into a major controversy among fans and country radio programmers. The duo’s new album, Taking the Long Way, will be released May 23 in North America and June 12 throughout the remainder of the world. The Chicks will return to London for a concert on June 15.