Rush Limbaugh, During a 2013 Fox News segment with fellow network host Megyn Kelly, Bill O’Reilly stated that when it came to the debate over same-sex marriage, “the compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals” compared to that of the religious right, whose only opposition, as he saw it, was to “thump the Bible.” In response, Limbaugh blasted O’Reilly on his radio broadcast. “Well. So how many of you who watch Fox are Bible thumpers? Do you think there are any Bible thumpers, quote/unquote, that watch Fox?” Limbaugh said. “Because last night you were marginalized on The Factor as not having a compelling argument and just being a bunch of Bible thumpers.”
Limbaugh had taken previous swipes, too, comparing O’Reilly in 2010 to Ted Baxter, a fictional character onThe Mary Tyler Moore Show “who was portrayed as a vain, shallow, buffoonish TV newsman” (via The Hill). But it was O’Reilly who drew first blood, according to Fox insider Joe Muto’s book An Atheist in the FOXhole. Muto details how, in 2008, O’Reilly was poised to take a serious Limbaugh to diss on the air. Still, network chief Roger Ailes got him to relent and “reluctantly [agree] to toe the party line,” leaving O’Reilly furious.
However, at the time of Limbaugh’s death, O’Reilly had nothing but praise for his former rival. “The legacy of Rush Limbaugh is clear: the most successful radio broadcaster in history. Mr. Limbaugh provided a conservative balance against the dangerous left-wing corporate media machine,” he tweeted.