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November 29, 2004

O'Reilly aims for new shark-jumping record

Wizbang rightly rags on O'Reilly for defending Dan Rather. Kevin suggests O'Reilly is afraid to throw stones because of his own sex-scandal glass house. I don't think so; I seem to recall he was already defending Rather before his own situation blew up in his face. And I don't see the situations as analogous at all. O'Reilly's scandal was based on a personal peccadillo, and a fairly tame one at that, even if you believe his accuser was an innocent victim (which I don't). Rather brazenly used fraudulent evidence to peddle lies about a sitting President, with the aim of taking down his presidency. And he continues to stonewall unrepentantly. If he had a single atom of self-respect, he would have fallen on his sword in September, crying out a mea culpa to the President and the entire country.

I've always been a desultory watcher of O'Reilly, if I watched at all. But he's developed a kind of weirdness-charisma for me. It's as if there's some kind of slow, interminable trainwreck going on in the man's mind. He's started to behave so strangely — recommending Bill Clinton for Secretary of State? — and yet, I believe he thinks there's some method to his madness. He seems to be angling for something; what is it? After helping to pioneer one of the most influential arms of "new media," why regress to aligning himself with extinction-bound dinosaurs like CBS and Rather? Who knows? Maybe now that he's clawed his way to the top, he doesn't know where to go from here. At this rate, he's going to claw himself to the bottom again.

This new "I'll say one loony-left thing, and one rabble-rousing right-wing thing, and this way both sides will love me" schtick seems transparent and ultimately self-destructive to me. And it's not the first self-destructive bender O'Reilly's been on lately, as we know. But then they say each man hurts the one he loves most.


You always hurt the one you love...
the one you shouldn't hurt at all...


Update: Ace agrees with Wizbang that O'Reilly defends the indefensible because he's got some indefensible baggage of his own:

I would suggest that he began this campaign against "smear merchants" in order to insulate himself against his own coming scandal, one he knew about but which his audience did not.

I don't know; I suppose it's plausible, but I seem to recall that things went from hunky-dory to legal death struggle very quickly with his producer. I don't think the situation was brewing long enough for him to have concocted a left turn as self-defense.

My suspicion is that, along with whatever grand scheme he has in mind, there are a few specific reasons he started attacking the "smear merchants," especially during the campaign. First, I suspect he was hedging his bets in case Kerry won. Second, he appears to have believed, delusionally, that he had a shot at interviewing Kerry. (Though that may have been a publicity stunt so he could claim Kerry feared his tough, take-no-prisoners style. Predictably, after the election, he claimed one of the reasons Kerry lost was because he'd refused to appear on the Factor.)

Third — and I'm just guessing here — he had a special reason to attack the Swift Boat Vets and defend Kerry. Vietnam has got to be a sore spot for any male of a certain age who didn't serve. Especially for a very high-profile hawk like O'Reilly. Anything short of "how dare these liars attack a Vietnam hero" would have opened him up to accusations of draft-dodging. That's no excuse; I can't admire someone for tailoring their commentary so it best covers their own ass, as if news has value only in how much it can aggrandize or undermine them personally. But I believe that was the rationale behind O'Reilly's attacks on the Swifties.

Now he can claim that he doesn't have to discuss his scandal, because he won't give the "smear merchants" time on his show, and that's a principled position he's strongly believed in for, oh, three or four months or so.

No need to make this claim; the terms of his legal settlement with his ex-producer appear to forbid either one from ever speaking publicly of the matter. That's a pretty airtight excuse for avoiding the topic.

O'Reilly occasionally he does ask tough questions of those who need asking, and he's pretty good about animating America about important issues. I don't get his "Guards on the border" fetish, but I'm thankful for his promotion of the boycott-France movement.

I do agree with Ace on this. The big O certainly isn't all bad, and I don't wish any ill on him. What I wish, in fact, is that he'd snap the hell out of whatever bizarro midlife crisis he's going through, and rejoin the rest of us on planet Earth, where he can do some good.

Update: Democracy Project has proposed a new name for incidents like O'Reilly's defense of Rather.

Posted by EtherPundit at November 29, 2004 08:28 PM   Category: Media


I think O'Reilly is simply confused and frightened by the emergence of this mysterious "blogosphere" he keeps hearing about.

He _was_ the new media a few years ago, and now he is facing the same kind of fire under his feet that the networks were getting from Fox News. FNC didn't seem like it had much of a chance against the entrenched big three when it started out. But we know now how Fox is eating their lunch.

Maybe Bill knows he is no longer at the back of the media conga line, and is wary of somebody coming up from behind.

To throw around the silly claims that bloggers are not held accountable for fairness or accuracy ignores the obvious facts. The media held least accountable has been the "trusted" and "responsible," thus unassailable authority, and how dare you smear Rather's good name, and besmirch the NY Times!

The blogs are self-regulating, and unlike CBS and Newsweek and BBC and NPR, bloggers don't get away with anything. Your very existence out here is based on reputation, something the networks, and I guess O'Reilly, don't really value much these days.

Time for another Laura Ingraham intervention, perhaps?

Posted by: Jim O at December 1, 2004 12:13 AM

If Laura Ingraham is doing interventions, she's probably doing more harm than good. She's a beautiful female. Her getting in Bill's face is probably no punishment for him.

Instead of Laura Ingraham "punishing" him for tacking left, perhaps he needs Madeleine Albright "rewarding" him. That'll teach him.

Posted by: EtherPundit at December 1, 2004 11:32 PM

Your's is the intellignet approach to this issue.

Posted by: Gertie at September 29, 2012 02:23 AM