Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Reality of O'Really

David Kline was a guest on FoxNews' O'Really Factor last night, ostensibly invited on to talk about the transformative power of political blogs. Guess what--that was just the bait. Instead, it turned into a big bash against Media Matters for America, the web site created by David Brock (author of The Republican Noise Machine) to refute smears, lies, and falsehoods uttered not only by conservative sources but also the mainstream media at large. Here are a few tidbits from Kline's account of the sneak attack:

Then I got a second call -- this time from Monaco's boss, Ron Mitchell. He said he was concerned that the segment might not be "juicy" enough as presently conceived, and would I be willing to talk about some of the loony ideas being circulated by some of the more conspiratorial-minded bloggers. No names, he assured me. Just mention some of the unreliable political comments you can find online.

That still seemed fine with me -- I mean, the O'Reilly Factor isn't the only show that depends upon controversy and polemic for its ratings -- so I said sure.

But I told Mitchell: "Look, if you're hoping I'm going to trash political blogs as harmful to the country, forget it. Because I think they're the best thing to happen to American politics since ... well, since the advent of the TV talk show. They encourage public participation in the democratic process."

"Perfect," said Mitchell. "That's exactly what we want."

And then they did the old bait-and-switch.

There I was, sitting in the remote studio location, and as our segment goes on, I hear the following over my earpiece:
O'Reilly: "Tonight: political smear sites! They operate on both sides of the political spectrum. There are no rules. These people will do and say pretty much anything to harm people with whom they disagree politically."
Whereupon O'Reilly and the other guest, conservative commentator Jed Babbin, begin complaining about the so-called smear attacks each claims to have received from Media Matters. The whole segment, as it turned out, was devoted to slamming Media Matters for having published material critical of the two.
Anyway, I have two regrets about my appearance. First, not being familiar with Media Matters, I could not defend them or refute O'Reilly's and Babbin's accusations. And second, I wish I had managed to tell O'Reilly that, given his national forum and his audience of millions, he was just being a baby for whining about being criticized by bloggers.

You can catch the full transcript (as far as I can tell) over at Media Matters, which includes such paranoid statements as:

O'REILLY: But here's the dangerous thing. They also have access to the major newspapers like The New York Times, the L.A. Times, the New York Daily News, Newsday, Washington Post. They have certain columnists that they are friendly with, and they spit this stuff right into those columnists, Mr. Babbin, do they not?
O'REILLY: They can make stuff up -- look, they make stuff about me -- up stuff about me every day.


O'REILLY: Every day of my life. And believe me, I've got to have bodyguards. I've got to have security wherever I go. And it's because of them. I don't fear them; I loathe them.


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