Saloon Songs (EXCERPTS)

Saloon Songs (EXCERPTS)

From Toots Shor to Sirio Maccioni

(Originally Published in 1999 in

AirWAVES,’ Fordham University Press)

I have always found great wisdom in saloons. As a young man I first knew the beguiling haze of an evening in Bernard “Toots” Shor’s glorious establishment on 52nd Street in Manhattan. Toots had his “kids” back then. Frank Gifford and Kyle Rote were his favorites. But he also had a soft spot for an Irish radio time salesman from Westchester.

At the Toots Shor bar one could learn many valuable lessons about times you never lived. The drinks were strong and the talk was of DiMaggio, Hemingway, Mark Hellinger, Runyon, Bill Corum, Eddie Arcaro and Grantland Rice.

The conversation was vivid and dazzling. And on a good night you would encounter Howard Cosell, William Pierce Rogers, who had a day job as a secretary of state, Bob Considine, James A. Farley and his tall, attractive son Jim, Paul Screvane, Jimmy Breslin, Jock Whitney, Walter Thayer, Hugh Carey, Howard Samuels, James Brady, John Lindsay, Sonny Werblin, Jack Whittaker, Jack O’Brien, Jackie Gleason, Edward Bennett Williams and Ford Frick, who would stop in on his way home to Bronxville. Also the great Hearst sportswriter Jimmy Cannon. I idolized him. And everyone who ever had to approach a typewriter for a living has tried to copy him. One night Omar Bradley, a general of the armies, walked in with a circular cluster of five stars on the epaulets of his dress blues.

You would see the legendary John “Shipwreck” Kelly eating apple pie on a barstool while Toots ate kosher pickles washed down with diet coke. On one such occasion, Toots paid Ship Kelly an extravagant compliment by identifying the two toughest guys he ever met … the ones you want next to you if you’re “trapped in an alley!” Shipwreck Kelly “with his bare fists” … or Sinatra “with a broken beer bottle in his right hand.”

Other barroom philosophers included classy Bruce Snyder, an enduring and endearing presence at the invincible “21” Club. Bruce is keeper of the flame for “21” and guards the heritage and tradition of this grand old Lorelei of a saloon with a fierce devotion. He understands about generations and in-laws and always has a marvelous story to divert you when you are hurting or just plain exhausted.

And surely there are no more endearing souls than one encounters at Mario’s of Arthur Avenue in the Little Italy-Belmont section of the Bronx. No matter how fast your world is spinning out of control … the Migliuccis – Mama Rose and her son Joseph – will restore your balance and equilibrium. The ingredient dispensed along with their drinks and Neapolitan food is called Love. Here you will see Lee Iacocca, Mario Biaggi, Bill Fugazy, some Yankees and, maybe, Steinbrenner. Also a lot of Fordham professors and their students … plus a group of Westchester high rollers in Jaguars, BMW’s and Range Rovers.

Maestro Sirio

But the greatest of all barroom poets is Sirio Maccioni. Now when I recently encountered Billy Cunningham, the Times’ brilliant lensman, on his favorite corner, 57th and Fifth, the great society photographer who is Manhattan’s pre-eminent chronicler of the rich, the famous and stylish, advised me against comparing Toots Shor and Sirio Maccioni or even putting them in the same breath. Cunningham is a beloved icon of New York … and it may be a far stretch … but I still believe a saloon is a saloon, no matter the trappings or neighborhood. Thus Sirio.

Sitting on a barstool with Maestro Sirio at the Le Cirque restaurant is a thrilling adventure. Maccioni is a wise man, provocative, charming and absolutely accurate in his marvelous commentary about life and people. Here then are some late-night pronouncements from the Magnificent Maccioni … who is America’s greatest restaurateur. And barkeep. They were flung out into an empty dining room … late at night … when all the swells had gone home. Here then, retrieved from my notebook, are mementos of delightful evenings spent with the greatest of all contemporary saloonkeepers …


The Gospel According to Sirio

“I think there should be a moment in life when you do what you want to do.”

“You should show that you respect people … but also show you can do without them.”

“I resent stupidity. One must have rules. I have rules. One must always be ‘correct’.”

“90% of the people are nice … too nice. If I would follow my instinct, I would be sued … I would open a restaurant for only attractive people … make that nice people.”

“Donald Trump is a very nice person. I call him and within one minute he calls me back. I don’t care about his problems with other people …”

“When you ask someone to build you a $3 million-dollar kitchen … they ask are you sure you need it. I never did all this to prove I am better than the other people in my business. We did it because it was something we had to do. We are working people. Physical work. Mental work. And not to be intrusive. That is what we are about.”

“If something happens to me … just say: ‘Sirio has said it all.’ One life is not enough to prove yourself.”

“I like women who are fun … who don’t try to save the world … and men who are ‘correct’.”

“There is an Italian saying: If you wake up in the morning and have no pain … you’re dead!”

“When anybody can criticize a king or a president … then they are not a king. Or a president.”

“In my short life, I have seen a fellow open a bottle of Dom Perignon when they killed Kennedy. Stupidity … just stupid.”

“They say I put pressure on my sons to achieve. But I would never force anybody to be great in life.”

“They ask me if I’m religious. Of course I am. But I hate people who only pray when they need something.”

“When I was maitre’d at the Colony … people didn’t understand why I gave Warren Avis and Yanna the best table. They’re attractive.”

“My wife Egidiana tells me when she came here she didn’t know anybody. The only thing that mattered is she wanted to be with me.”

“When I hear today that only 12 civilians were killed in the bombing in Iraq I got sick. I remember the bombs falling on us in my town. I have been under the bombs. My father, a civilian, died on his bicycle under the bombs. My grandfather saw it. He said let’s go to church. He had unlimited respect for authority and uniforms. When he saw a uniform of any kind, he would bend. 27% had the courage to say we should not bomb. The Moroccans and the English ‘liberated’ us. They only raped 1500. The Germans no one. They might shoot you!”

“My wife always says: If everybody takes care of their own little spot … everything would be O.K.”

“I’m always scared. But for me to be scared is a point of strength. I don’t believe in luck. If someone shoots you … you’re unlucky.”

“I tell my sons: Concentrate on the people. Don’t spend time talking to the coat check girl or the bartender. Don’t look outside on a day like this to see if it’s raining or snowing. I tell them to look inside. The time you spend talking to the coat check girl is wasted forever.”

“I’m reading a book Europa Vivente.” It means Europe is still alive. A Florentine wrote it … a Florentine with a German father. He is trying to show the stupidity of Democracy. The only problem with Mussolini is he was trying to please everybody. The greatness of Italy was in the Medici, the Borgias. They were assassins! But they alone created and encouraged Art. But they were against the Italians. You put two Italians together and they can destroy anything!”

“The Italians always seem to need a tyrant to become great.”

“The other night I was with the Cardinal at the Knights of Malta dinner. I did not wear my sword and certainly not the cape because I look like Dracula. I was the only one at my table who was not Irish. They sang Danny Boy. I said you are discriminating at this table. What about O, Solo Mio? I hate that song! I didn’t tell them that the first gift to me in America was given by Morton Downey. It was a record of Danny Boy.

“My sons lecture to me. You are in America, they say. You have to adjust. What is going to be with the next generation? There is no class, no style.”

“Clinton is not the exception. There are so many stupid men.”

“I am going to be one of the three voting judges of the Miss Universe Contest in Martinique the first week of May. Donald Trump asked me to take his place because he is so busy. He is also so smart. The first thing he did was ask my wife. She said it was very nice. It would be good for Sirio. And then she went off to Atlantic City with her Uncle Renato for the day and came home after midnight and woke me up to show me the 300 quarters she won!”

“I blame the basketball season on the players. My wife agrees. She went after Patrick Ewing at the restaurant. He is very nice, but she told him he was wrong and she will never to go another game. And she never will.”

“New York has been very good to us … the press … Donald Trump … Mayor Giuliani … everybody. I never did all this to say I’m better than the others. It’s something we had to do. We’re working people. There is no such thing to be an artist. We work … the thing happens. It is about having an understanding of what people want when they come to your restaurant.”

“When we fed the Pope there were 16 cardinals at the table. It was on 72nd Street at the Papal Nuncio’s house. The Pope is a good eater. He likes fish, he likes rice, he likes pasta. Archbishop Martino, a great, intelligent man, is the Pope’s ambassador and so he can only be intelligent, was the host. We

went, we cooked … with security from the United States, from Italy, from the Vatican. He is a good eater, the Holy Father. He ate risotto with porcini and he ate fish. My pastry chef Jacques Torres made a replica of the Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Basilica. The Pope asked me if it was true we had a three month wait list for a reservation. I said, ‘Holy Father … why don’t you come tonight.’ The Pope laughed and said tonight he was not going to have such a good dinner. Since the Holy Father was talking about ‘reservations,’ I asked Archbishop Martino what about a ‘reservation’ up in Heaven. So the Archbishop asked the Holy Father … don’t you think it would be very nice to have a great restaurant in Heaven? And the Holy Father looked at me and Cardinal O’Connor and said: ‘Are we sure … are we sure we go up there?’ The Pope is amazing. He spoke to me in Italian, to my son in English, to the pastry chef in French and to my executive chef Sottha Kuhnn in Thai. Then the Holy Father asked me if I was a good Christian … or just another Italian who only gets religious when he gets sick? You know in Italy we think because we have the Pope … and it’s a local call, we sometimes get a little casual and complacent.”

“The philosophy of a restaurant is to make a place pleasant. Sometimes it is the people who create the problems. I think people should look correct. I’m not talking black tie. But in the middle of summer these people go out in a t-shirt that looks like they have come out of a shower … and then it is not right that they come to Le Cirque and want to sit next to a lady. New Yorkers are elegant people. We should teach the rest of the people. We should teach the world.”

“I don’t know why I have been chosen as one of the 30 most important men in New York. It is ridiculous. I just sell soup. I’m glad I’m well known in my country because everybody has to be what he is. You never talk bad about your country, your mother, your brother, your family. Here, I’m a guest. But in Italy I can have my say. Most of the political group there is a disgrace. A Communist could be good, but it’s bad when applied in the wrong way. Communism was bad in Eastern Europe, so why try it in Italy? Thank God the Italians are not with anybody. They’re against everybody!”

“They say I feed their egos as well as their stomach. But why do you buy a Versace suit instead of one that costs 60% less? It’s a question of ego. Why do you go to your hairdresser who knows you? It’s ego. It’s also quality of life.”

“Everybody should be equal when we start, when we are born. But then I don’t believe in egalitarian any more. Everybody should start and go up. I tell my three sons if one gets up at eight and one at 10 and one at 12 … the first one up should do better. It’s a simple philosophy.”

“People can’t eat caviar and foie gras all the time. Sometimes they need hamburger … vulgar food … the things we grew up with … pig feet, tripe, boiled beef, lamb chop cooked with potato – lamb stew – roast chicken. And especially me … I’m not easy to please in a restaurant. But I will go when they have those dishes. We invented pasta primavera. In 1975. We were invited by the Canadian government to try new recipes for pigeon, lobster and wild boar. But after three days, all this got boring. So it came my turn to cook. And I took everything I could find in the kitchen … all the vegetables … and we created pasta primavera.”

“I notice that man is looking at your wife … but don’t worry. He has had a lot of wine. But he is a gentleman and he is always correct. He has manners. But he can’t help himself from looking.”

“You’re a man and automatically you’re stupid. As a young boy in Italy I was crazy. I have always been stupid.”

Q: But your greatness, a part of it, is that you’re Italian.

A: Yes, but I’m alone!

More “Saloon Songs …”

(An Update)



JULIAN NICCOLINI and his courtly, taciturn partner ALEX VON BIDDER have relinquished the iconic and timeless space which once housed the FOUR SEASONS restaurant in the Seagram Building. And all New York now hopefully awaits the Four Seasons’ new incarnation a few blocks south at 280 Park Avenue.

And speaking of “legends” in the culinary firmament: admirers and aficionados of the stately “21” rejoice in its recent rebirth and renewal. The ageless “Numbers” has been restored to its former glory by general manager TEDDY SURIC and all is once again quite right with the world at “21” … thanks to Suric, a brilliant young restaurateur who brings his own great respect for the traditions of the hallowed New York landmark to our beloved “21.”

PRIMOLA, a very agreeable place on the East Side, is presided over by GIULIANO ZULIANI, whose spectacular food and warm personality attracts A-listers night after night.


I should also acknowledge that I’ve discovered quite late in life, a marvelous place in what locals call the “outer” borough of Queens. We’ve had a lot of really wonderful evenings in the care and keeping of TONY FEDERICI at PARKSIDE in Corona. Its interior and customers are right out of the mind of Scorsese or Mario Puzo. And Tony’s charisma and magic is always applauded and appreciated by a room full of good fellows, attractive ladies and assorted “Goodfellas.” You gotta love it … if ya know what I mean. It’s a favorite of GIANNI RUSSO, MATTHEW MARI, ABRAMO DeSPIRITO and RALPH CAMPAGNONE. Also yours truly.


HARRY CIPRIANI, in the stately old Sherry Netherland at Fifth and 59th, traces its lineage right back to ARRIGO CIPRIANI’s original HARRY’s BAR on the Venice waterfront near San Marco Square. The New York version is a magnet for society dames and an upscale Euro crowd. I go for late lunches or an occasional nightcap after black tie charity dinners. No matter the hour, maitre’d SERGIO VACCA, who moves around the dining room like a Nijinsky or a Nureyev, makes sure all is right with your world as he escorts you to the care and keeping of star waiter Fernando or primo barman LUCA. And occasionally you’re also greeted by Maestro Arrigo’s attractive grandsons MAGGIO and IGNAZIO. Cipriani is great fun at any hour and in any season.

At CIRCO, Le CIRQUE’s West Side sibling, you’ll be greeted and dazzled by BRUNO DUSSIN, the diminutive and graceful long-time compadre of the MACCIONI family. The Tuscan food and European service is as good as the Sicilian wines on offer. And the pasta primavera is even better than at the Mother Ship, but don’t tell SIRIO.

Le CIRQUE (today)

When you’re putting together an evening for a client or a “friend” and it’s just gotta be right, I still head for the mighty Le CIRQUE in the courtyard of the Bloomberg building off 58th Street between Lex and Third. The incomparable and ageless MARIO WAINER “Your Excellency … welcome back!” (Is he talking to me …? Yes, and what’s not to like!) still runs the dining room for SIRIO and his attractive sons MAURO and MARCO. And the legendary chef TOM VALENTI now presides in the kitchen as well. PRESIDENT TRUMP and billionaire RON PERELMAN are regulars. And so is ANDREA BOCELLLI and his wife VERONICA BERTI, friends of Sirio’s.




“VOX POPULI” – Comments from “The Deplorables” 


Comments from “The Deplorables 

Compiled by William O’Shaughnessy

Early morning notes and jottings taken in a coffee shop up in the country (Connecticut) over a three-month period in the summer and early fall of 2017.  There was actually very little criticism of the President to be heard … except from occasional disgruntled folks who predictably called him “crazy, Hitler-like” etc. But these direct comments reflect the vast body of sentiment and approval that exists among ordinary citizens for the President. Everybody knows I’m a fan … but even I was surprised!  Again, I ask the Question: Is it possible they know something we don’t … ?


  • “The Dems pick on everything he does … They just hate the guy.  I think it’s jealousy.”
  • “Sometimes his mouth gets him in trouble.  But I think he’s of good heart and trying to do the right thing.  He’s trying, damn it!”
  • “Ya know, I think I understand what they mean about that ‘Deep State’ stuff.  It’s just another word for the Washington Establishment.  They’re all against him and protecting their asses. They ain’t foolin’ anybody.” 
  • “He ought to think a little before he speaks – or tweets – but he’s done more down there than any other president.”
  • “The Congress shouldn’t just be opposing him.  They should try to make it easy for him to do what he’s gotta do.”
  • “I can’t watch MSNBC anymore.  Rush calls it ‘PMSNBC.’  Even Chris Matthews has signed on the Bash Trump Bandwagon.  He used to be an O.K. guy.  Now … forget it!”
  • “Every time I think the New York Times will run out of ways to attack and say bad things about Trump … they prove me wrong.  I mean, I know the Times is important and a big f—cking deal.  But they’re not being fair to this President at all.”
  • “Every one of my friends is for the guy.  Is it possible the People, the ‘normal,’ human people, know more about this than the elite, know-it-alls.  I always say:  Trust the People.  Doesn’t that make sense to you?”
  • “He’s shaking things up … and it’s about time.  It had gone too far with Obama, although he was not a bad guy.  Just not such a dynamic president.”
  • “You got CNN, MSNBC, the mighty New York Times and, I guess, the Washington Post, saying shitty things about the President. They should ask every cop, every soldier, every plumber, every fireman, every electrician … the normal, regular people.  They ‘get it.’  They like him.  The big muckey mucks are missing something.”
  • “The guy is shaking up both the Republicans and the Democrats … and who can blame him. They both stink.”
  • “I can’t really explain it.  I just like the President.  What he said about North Korea is so true.  We’ve been slipping them money and kisses behind the scenes for years.”
  • “What they say about him is really disgusting. I mean, c’mon … gimme a break!  Give him a break!”
  • “It’s a tough job.  You couldn’t pay me to take the job.  But I’ll tell you what:  they ought to just shut the fuck up … and let him do his job.”
  • “I like the Mara family.  But I’m very much with Trump on the NFL.  The Dallas Cowboys guy got it right.  These players are spoiled rotten!”
  • “He’s reaching out to the Democrats. If you recall, Obama had no time for the Republicans.  Proves that Trump is smart.  You’ll see …”
  • “There are too many yahoos in the Republican Party.  Donald is right to chart his own course.  Who needs this sorry bunch of Republicans!”
  • “Look at the markets, the economy.  The “Smart Money” knows. The Trumpster or somebody around him must be doin’ somethin’ right.”
  • “If they are dumb enough to try to impeach or indict this guy … there will be rioting in the streets.  Mark my words!”
  • “They’re wasting my money – and yours – with this Russia crap. Who cares? He didn’t beat Hillary because of Putin!”
  • “And I’ll tell you somethin’ else, Mr. O … the guy Mark Simone on WOR (oops, sometimes I listen to them) calls the Clintons a ‘Criminal Enterprise’ … a very big one … I mean international.  Donald called them to task on that.  Damn straight he did!  And he’s right on.”

Statement re: Corporate Censorship

William O’Shaughnessy


Corporate Censorship

May 25, 2017

Organized coercion and intimidation of corporations, networks, news media, and educational institutions which is often clandestinely and stealthily subsidized is just as dangerous and chilling to Free Speech as censorship by government fiat, directive, decree, mandate or dictum.

And it matters not if it’s directed at Bill O’Reilly, Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh, Opie & Anthony, Howard Stern, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Billy Bush … or Donald J. Trump, president of the United States.

WO Interview with Chris Ruddy, Chairman, Newsmax, re: Roger Ailes, President Trump, the Media and Cable News …

William O’Shaughnessy

Interview with

Chris Ruddy

Chairman, Newsmax

Re:  Roger Ailes, President Trump, the Media and Cable News …

May 18, 2017


William O’Shaughnessy:

The world of news and network television lost a luminous figure this morning with the announcement that Roger Ailes, formerly of FOX News, has gone to another and, we are sure, a better world.  As he departs, let’s go now to Palm Beach to one of his neighbors, also a network president, he’s the founder of NEWSMAX. Can I accurately describe that as somewhat “conservative?”  His name is Christopher Ruddy. Chris … Roger Ailes … did you know him?


Chris Ruddy:

Bill … I knew him very well.  I’ve known him for about 20 years. He was a genius on television, an incredible giant in the news business. We once had a cover of Roger Ailes we did for our magazines. Most people know us for our network and website.  The cover said: “The Most Powerful Man in News!”  Roger told me a few weeks later he met Obama … and Obama said to him “Oh, the man Newsmax says is the most powerful man in news!” He was a giant. He changed the landscape of news and cable news forever. He changed the country. I don’t think Donald Trump would ever have been elected if it wasn’t for Roger. 



Chris Ruddy …  what’s going to happen now to FOX News?  Are there opportunities for you, for Newsmax?



Well, Bill, we’ve already been out there on Newsmax TV.  We’re now on Verizon FIOS channel 615.  We expect to be in another 30 million homes over this summer.  People can call their call their cable operators and ask for Newsmax TV.  We’re building a very powerful lineup.  We think we’re, in some ways, better than FOX.  We give opportunities for people to call in, to become part of the programming.  And we have a lot of good newsmakers coming on all the time.  Alan Dershowitz was on yesterday, for example.  FOX opened the door for networks like Newsmax. Roger was a pathfinder and broke the media monopoly. For years, you know, the media was largely liberal and left-wing. 



And now …?



And now the media, I think, is more open to other points of view.  I think CNN, for example, has become more centrist because of FOX.  It used to be very left wing in the day.  I know Donald Trump doesn’t like the media … but if they didn’t have FOX as the counterweight, Donald Trump would have gotten very little airtime on the major networks.  I think the country benefits from multiple voices. This idea that we should only have one point of view – back in the day when there were three networks led by Cronkite, let’s say as the preeminent anchor, there was generally an Establishment view on things.  Now we have multiple views.  Even MSNBC … I watch that too. I don’t agree with most of their programming, but I think it’s good, interesting stuff.  I think Ailes would applaud that.  That said, I think the guy was … you know in this business … the difference between genius and insanity is a very thin line!  Roger had a lot of quirks.  There’s been a lot of allegations about him and FOX News and sexual harassment issues … it’s not my job to judge that, other than to say that the situation there seems pretty darn messy.  As you may know in the ratings, MSNBC is beating FOX in a lot of the key demos now.  It’s not good for FOX.  And I think with Roger not being there, they don’t really have an organizing principle any more.



Christopher Ruddy … another network said that Roger sold his home up the road apiece in Garrison.  And another place he had in Creskill, New Jersey and moved to Palm Beach where you are, at the moment.  What is it about Palm Beach that all you network chiefs repair to the damn place?



Well, it’s Shangri-La down here.  It’s an incredibly beautiful area.  It’s got a lot of people from New York and New Jersey so there’s a cultural mix that’s pretty accommodating, let’s put it that way.  A lot of amenities.  The tax environment … we have no state income tax, so a lot of people love that. Roger was also facing a lot of litigation, and a lot of people think the reason he bought a $36 million dollar home on the ocean very quickly was that he was hoping to shield assets in some of the litigation he’s going through.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it is a smart idea for a lot of people.  I love New York. Newsmax has an office in New York.  I think New York is still the epicenter of the media world, for instance, and in business and commerce.  But Florida is a great state.  C’mon down if you haven’t been down here yet.



Christopher Ruddy … Roger Ailes, in recent years, took a lot of shots.  But he happened to have been a very generous man.  There’s a group called the Broadcasters Foundation of America, and at the risk of embarrassing you, you also are very generous to that national charity.  Is there a side to Roger Ailes that maybe people didn’t know about?  You know a lot about a lot of things …



Well, I think he would not have risen to the success he did if there wasn’t a lot of good attributes.  I think he was intensely loyal to his friends.  I’m sure he had a charitable side as you point out.  I think he had a lot of empathy for people.  We’re hearing a lot of dark stuff about what happened there. Again, I don’t know if it’s true.  But I think there was probably a lot of good stuff there.  I think he deeply loved America.  He really strongly believed in a secure nation.  I would talk to him often about the sovereignty of the United States. Before Donald Trump was talking about these issues in any serious way, Roger Ailes was.  He was the guy that got everybody worried about the border.  Ten years ago, nobody was talking about the border. Now, it’s a major issue. And Roger started that.   Donald Trump carried the flag.  And has done a good job raising that flag.



While we have you live this morning from Palm Beach, I want to beg another minute to ask you about your friend, and you were accused in the New York Times of being a very good friend of the president. I understand there’s a photo going around that shows you sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office and he’s standing there with his hand on your shoulder. What the hell do you talk about?  Chris Ruddy and Donald John Trump?  What do you guys schmooze about?



Bill, I think that somebody photoshopped that photo! (laughter) I don’t think it’s an accurate photo. 



I don’t believe it …



I think the CIA or the Russians or Putin or somebody did that and I’m going to need to launch a full investigation.  I will appoint a special counsel to find out why my photo with the president was photoshopped!  (laughter)



But you do go to Mar-a-Lago, Chris Ruddy, and you do know the guy.



I’ve known him for 20 years.  I’ve known him well, I’d say, for 10 years.  I am a member of Mar-a-Lago, although I knew him before I was a member.  I’ve known him from the media. I’ve been with him in Scotland, at the opening of his Scottish club. So I’ve gotten to really know the president.  On his personal side, he’s a great guy.  He’s not what the media is depicting him as.  I think he’s a businessman, Bill. He’s not a politician.  And there’s good attributes to that and there’s bad attributes to that. So we’re finding out he doesn’t know that you can’t tell the FBI director: I think you’re pushing too hard on my guy.  Donald Trump would talk very candidly and openly to people.  Nobody told him that’s obstruction of justice if you mention this to the FBI.  And I don’t think he intended that, if he said it at all.  So I think they’re out to get him.  They don’t like him.



Christopher Ruddy … can he survive, President Trump? Tell us.



I think he can. There’s a book I’ve been recommending to everyone.  It’s called Big Agenda by David Horowitz. David has sort of a game plan. He wrote it before Trump became president and then so much of it became true:  the Big Agenda. He sort of lays out a way for Trump to survive all this. David predicted a likely impeachment hearing.  They were talking about this before he even took the oath of office.  I think he can.  But I do think he needs a strong team of advisors around him that are experienced and better in political matters.  I think what we’re seeing with the firing of the director of the FBI is that he did not have an experienced team. The very fact that they thought that  it would be widely accepted as a good idea and that the way they did it would be accepted as a good idea … it was a very strange situation which has led to this catastrophic situation he potentially faces now. 



Can Mueller hurt the president?



Immensely.  But it also will take time.  He doesn’t have time.



Summer has come to New York, Chris. You’re not the only one with good weather today.  Thank you Mr. founder of Newsmax. We’re glad we can get you now in Westchester on FIOS. 



Thank you, Bill.  You are a legend and a beacon of hope for all of us in the media world. 



Chris Ruddy, wonderful stuff …


William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, the national charitable organization.  He is also a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent stations in the New York area, for 56 years as president and editorial director.


He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, another anthology. He has also completed “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo which has just been published. 

Re: Billy Bush: He Deserves A Second Chance

Re:  Billy Bush
He Deserves A Second Chance
A WVOX Commentary
by William O’Shaughnessy
May 24, 2017


Billy Bush is an absolutely wonderful young man … a graceful fellow with sterling manners. But for one unfortunate and memorable lapse, he’s always been a perfect gentleman. 

He started as an intern with our suburban Westchester stations WVOX right out of Colby College in 1994.

Despite the Access Hollywood incident, Billy Bush has been a class act in every season of his life. 

He brings to everything he does – on and off the air – a generous helping of born–and-bred bonhomie, gregarious ebullience, joie de vivre and effervescence. He has always been accompanied by a lot of pep and gracious enthusiasm in everything he does. 

He’s also a fine journalist with good instincts who lights up a television studio. And as we’ve observed him over the years … there’s not a mean damn bone in his body. 

As the world knows, he is also a nephew of a former president of the United States (George H.W. Bush) … a cousin of another (George W. Bush) … and grandson of a United States Senator (Prescott Bush.) Interesting that he’s never “played” or bragged on any of that.

His father is the estimable Jonathan Bush, who Mario Cuomo once described as “the Bush all the others would like to be.”

In an era of vapid, vacuous, boring, tedious, unexciting talking heads, bimbos and poseurs glued to Teleprompters, we still think Billy Bush is a bright, shining star with great potential and a great future.  Because he’s real

And it is our hope that the elders of the television networks will not hold the temporary vulgarity of his frat boy episode with Donald Trump against him.

William “Billy” Bush has clearly done a lot of sincere, quality time, soul-searching with respect to the feelings of women. And he remains the gentleman he was brought up to be.    

To choke off this young man’s career would be unfortunate … nay, inexcusable. 

He deserves a second chance.


# # #

As I recalled in my new book Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man, even the former Governor of New York was greatly taken with the young Mr. Bush and the way he carried himself years ago.  Here’s an excerpt:


The governor had considerable admiration for the Bush family. And Vice versa. I vividly recall a summer meeting of the New York State Broadcasters Association at the fabled Gideon Putnam, an historic old lorelei of a hotel in Saratoga Springs. William “Billy” Bush, who spent the summer with us as a news intern at our Westchester community stations, “covered” the upstate confab, with broadcasters from all over the state, at which the governor was the featured speaker. After Mario’s formal remarks, he opened it up for a Q & A session.

The very first question came from the attractive young man in the back of the room: “Mr. Governor, my name is William ‘Billy’ Bush. I am an associate of your friend Mr. O’Shaughnessy. I’d like to ask you why must it always be ‘us’ against ‘them’ in the public discourse?”

The room hushed and waited for Mario’s response to the excellent philosophical question, which was right over the heart of the plate for Mario Cuomo. “Well, I can tell from the elegance of your question that you are indeed a Bush …” And then Mario hit it out of the park with a beautiful ten-minute reply.

After the conference was over, I received a call in my car going down the Hudson River Valley. “Who was that attractive young man; is he really a Bush?”  Mario asked.  When I explained that Billy was the son of Jonathan Bush, Mario said, “Oh, I like his father very much.  He’s the one with the great personality, the one all the other Bushes wish they were like.”


# # #


William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, the national charitable organization.  He is also a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent stations in the New York area, for 56 years as president and editorial director.


He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, another anthology. He has also completed “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo which has just been published. 




Cindy Gallagher
Whitney Media

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Eulogy for Jimmy Breslin

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Eulogy for

Jimmy Breslin

Church of the Blessed Sacrament

New York, NY

March 22, 2017


The Cuomo and the Breslin families grew up together in Queens. Mr. Breslin and my father had bonded over the Corona 69 homeowners versus Mayor John Lindsay conflict. Obviously, they were with the homeowners. Together they were fighting City Hall — literally and metaphorically — and they would all their lives.

I was 12 at the time and to me Mr. Breslin was just plain scary. Mr. Breslin smoked a cigar and he smelled like it. He had a gruff air and apparently had no time or love for little children.

With his broad chest, open collar and full head of curly black hair, he looked like a lion with a flowing mane. Although I was frightened by Mr. Breslin, I couldn’t help taunting him occasionally, the way a mouse would run through the paws of a lion.

I was too small to really engender his wrath. He would call the house multiple times at night and I would imitate the way my father answered the phone with a simple, deep throated “Yup.”

That’s all Mr. Breslin needed to start a diatribe. He would normally begin by cursing some politician and then continue for several minutes stringing together profanities and comments on parts of the human anatomy that I had never heard before.

He would pause for a breath and I would say, “Oh Mr. Breslin, you must want to talk to my father.” This would incite the lion’s rage and he would say, “You little blank-blank,” and just hang up.

He would come to the house and sit with my father at the kitchen table — a round, blue Formica table that was designed to look like marble. They only have blue marble in Queens. I would sit down the hall and listen. They would have a drink — and talk for hours, railing against the injustices in life and the failures of the system.

My father was a lion too — a different species without the mane or the colorful language — but a strong, aggressive lion nonetheless. And together they would roar.

They were great crusaders for justice. Always on the side of the little guy. Dismissing the liberal elites and professional agitators, their True North was the common man. They were always looking to step into a fight against the bully. And they loved each other.

As they were two tough Queens guys, I’m sure they never actually said they loved each other. Queens men didn’t say that to each other then.  But they did.  And they knew it.

There was a softer side to their relationship. Mr. Breslin in the quieter moments, would talk about his family, and his face would change. His first wife Rosemary, and how she was a saint — his daughters: Rosemary the superstar, the writer, my sister Maria’s best friend.  And Kelly, the enchantress. His boys, his sons — Kevin, James, Patrick and Christopher. He talked with great pride and love in his voice.  And listening to him speak I hoped that my father had that same love for me.

My mother and Jimmy had a sweet, caring relationship. There was a vulnerability to Jimmy and my mother, always the nurturer, was naturally drawn to him.

Jimmy met Ronnie Eldridge, a strong, brilliant woman, and a political force in her own right and the two married. I can only imagine being married to Mr. Breslin was more than a full-time job.  And God bless Ronnie for all of the support and love. My mother believes Ronnie literally kept Jimmy alive for years.  And with Ronnie came a bonus — Daniel, Emily, and Lucy. And they all brought him much joy.

If my father were here today, he would say Jimmy was an artist and his pen was to paper what Picasso’s brush was to canvas. He would say Jimmy was never a Newsday reporter or Daily News employee — he was just “Breslin,” anywhere and everywhere. He would speak of his superb God-given gifts and selflessness in using them to do good. He would say Jimmy faced many hardships in life. That he came from a family of hardships and suffered much pain, early and later in life, losing both Rosemary and then Kelly.

But my father would say while a lesser man would have grown angry and bitter from the loss, Jimmy grew more empathetic and compassionate.

I hear Mr. Breslin’s voice often. I hear his voice as governor. I recently commuted the sentence of a woman in Bedford Correctional after 35 years of imprisonment. It was clear she committed a terrible crime. But after visiting her it was also clear to me she was a different person now. It was a hard, political decision. I spoke to Ronnie, her fierce advocate, about it many times. I could hear Jimmy’s voice saying, “She made a mistake — we all do. She learned, she paid the price, she spent her life in a cage, and she is now different. Jesus would pardon her. Who the hell made you better than Jesus?”

Mr. Breslin’s life was a life well-lived. We mourn today not for him, but for ourselves — for his family’s loss and our loss — because, in truth, in today’s world we need his voice more than ever. A voice with power and credibility, who wrote stories from the street not from a laptop. Who believed there was no truth worth telling that could be told in a tweet. Whose voice was authentic because he was authentic.  He was New York — hardscrabble, brilliant, difficult, gifted, complicated, argumentative, accepting … and loving.

But as the spirit lives … his voice lives in all of us.  And if we listen we can hear him saying today, “What do they mean they are going to cut the taxes for the richest Americans and tell the poorest we can’t afford to give you health care? Who do they think they are — who made their lives more important than the rest of us?”

It’s not over. Mr. Breslin’s quest for social justice and integrity goes on. He is here today with his good friend Mario and they are reading the papers — the hard copies — and railing at the outrage, disgusted by the political cowards, and ready to fight the good fight.

I say “Roar, gentlemen, roar! Let it echo down from the heavens! And we will hear you!”

Bill O’Reilly and FOX News

William O’Shaughnessy



Bill O’Reilly and FOX News

“Character Assassination”

April 20, 2017


Some have called it a “firing,” others a “resignation” and Politico elegantly and accurately referred to his downfall as a “defenestration,” which means an assassination by act of throwing someone out a window or in more polite discourse: “dismissing someone from a position of power.” 

We’d call it a “lynching.” Granted that leverage may now be The New American Way. But the O’Reilly ouster also reeks of Censorship by organized corporate intimidation.

“The old order shatters.  We slayed the dragon.  Never forget this is what we’re capable of” bragged Lisa Bloom, attorney for a woman who launched a sexual harassment allegation.

“He was a mouthpiece for Trump … and we got him” said another attacker, a U.S. congresswoman!

Marc E. Kasowitz, an O’Reilly lawyer properly called it: “A brutal campaign of character assassination unprecedented in post-McCarthy America. The smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons.”  Bingo.

The Murdochs, pere et fils, brought in Paul, Weiss, Rifkin, Wharton and Garrison to “investigate and report.”  But the atmosphere at white-shoe law firms is altogether different from a television network where sharks swim and poseurs parade – behind and in front of the camera.

We can’t shake the notion that ultimately this is a Free Speech issue, although my friend Judge Jeffrey Bernbach cautions:  “Sexual harassment is illegal.  That’s not free speech.”

But who is to blame for the atmosphere, the milieu, the culture where most of the on camera stars display pulchritude, low cut décolletage and display fine legs abetted by rising hemlines.

Most performers on TV these days are talking air-heads who if the teleprompter froze … would also instantly become immobile.  Most are not serious journalists.

There is something in the jargon of the law profession known as a BFOQ (Bona Fide Occupational Qualification) which means a woman or man can be hired and retained by a television network if they are comely or attractive. Thus there is no question that women performers in this field are looking to get “noticed.”  

Those prowling the corridors and posing in front of the cameras in this day and age are not exactly Mother Theresas.  Or Janet Renos.  Nor are they naive.

When you look at some of O’Reilly’s female accusers and detractors, one wonders just Who is the Real Predator?

Bill O’Reilly is a performer, a social commentator no different than Howard Stern or Don Imus or Rush Limbaugh all of whom we defended when the roof fell in.

He was clearly done in by pressure groups and hostile public relations campaigns eagerly embraced by his envious competitors in the public press.

Although there appeared to be multiple allegations of mis-conduct, there are no reports that O’Reilly ever touched anybody.  He just said stuff.  Another interesting player in all this is  Megyn Kelly who turned on O’Reilly to facilitate her own highly orchestrated and well-publicized exit and she has been called “That cyborg-like individual who wants to be the next Oprah” by the marvelous, contrarian commentator Michael “Lionel” Lebron. 

Suspicion exists abroad in the land that O’Reilly was accused by women who would do anything to get ahead in the Fox News milieu. But quality, educated, well brought-up women know how to handle and deflect offensive moves and untoward and awkward, even predacious compliments in most workplaces or social situations, which is not to say vulgar behavior is acceptable.

On the current Fox on-air roster of comely females is one Jeanine Pirro, well-known to all of us and her neighbors here in Westchester.  Few of her Fox female colleagues can match Her Honor Judge Jeanine in displaying pulchritude.  And, as her former colleagues on the Westchester bench will readily – and admiringly – confirm:  she can also swear like a trooper through those puffed-up, reconstructed lips.  Certainly none wear shorter skirts.  But could you see any guy taking a verbal shot at “Judge Jeanine.”  At their own peril.  Forget about it!

In the O’Reilly Affair, the allegations against him did not seem to involve violent or even “non-consensual” physical activity.

Example, the New York Times cited this juicy vignette and ribald conversation: “O’Reilly stepped aside and let her off the elevator first (like a gentleman) and said: “Lookin’ good, gal!”  How altogether terrible! How insulting!  How abusive!  How sexist!  How ribald!  How injurious!  How disgusting!

Many/most of the cant-filled attacks on O’Reilly were dripping with hypocritical or sanctimonious blather. The commentator Lionel also said this week: “This isn’t about sexual harassment.  This is about sponsors and money.” We agree that the fault also resides among many holier-than-thou (spineless) sponsors who abandoned O’Reilly and collapsed in the face of organized, politically-correct pressure fueled by envy and by contrary political (anti-Trump) views.  That, we’re afraid, is really what’s behind this contretemps.  And everyone knows it.

Despite any “findings” of the mighty Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison white-shoe law firm, O’Reilly should not have been fired or denied his podium.

To be sure, in this whole dreary matter, we’re confronted by a civility issue which is valid, necessary and altogether appropriate, even in a charged-up, behind-the-scenes office setting populated by bimbos – male and female – lacking in any solid journalistic credentials.

The organized opposition to O’Reilly – and thus to FOX News –  and ultimately to President Trump – have, for the most part, used salacious accusations as weapons to knock him off the air and further drive their own agenda.

There are thousands of show biz types and feminist lawyers just waiting to cash in on sexual discrimination and sexual harassment suits.  But much of this resembles a witch hunt replete with character assassination. Among which was a 10-year-old allegation from an anonymous individual … part of a campaign orchestrated by activist lawyers and Trump haters to destroy O’Reilly.

I’ve discovered, just this morning, a humorless woman named Letitia James, the “Public Advocate” for New York City, who took to the MSNBC airwaves to attack Bill O’Reilly in harsh, unforgiving tones and a voice dripping with venom that even made Andrea Mitchell and some of her other guests uncomfortable.  I’d love to see a debate between this Letitia James and Elizabeth Warren.

Judge Bernbach doesn’t see this as a Free Speech issue.  But censorship from corporate intimidation in the face of politically-driven economic boycotts is just as dangerous as the stifling of creative and artistic expression by government fiat, decree, sanction or regulation.

That’s just as treacherous as any racism, misogyny, sexism or bigotry.

We agree with the President of the United States: “He should not have “resigned.”  He did nothing wrong.”

We agree and we also wonder if some of Bill O’Reilly’s opponents aren’t kith and kin to the mob that ganged up on our protégé and former colleague William “Billy” Bush.


William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, the national charitable organization.  He is also a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent stations in the New York area, for 56 years as president and editorial director.

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, another anthology. He has also completed “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo which has just been published.