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Friday, September 05, 2003


He Distorts; We Abide
I was listening to the Bill O’Reilly’s Radio Factor today and O’Reilly was ranting against the smear culture that he claimed was typified by Michael Kinsley’s supposedly libelous column about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s admitted gangbanging. When I heard this, I was paralyzed—not because I couldn’t respond to it but because I didn’t know where to start. First, a smear is when you lie about someone to hurt that person’s reputation. Kinsley’s column doesn’t fit into the category of smear because, of course, Schwarzenegger admitted in the Oui interview that he engaged in the revolting behavior in question (I’m very open-minded about consensual sex, but this is disgusting and Schwarzenegger’s bragging about it raises additional legitimate questions about his fitness for office; I don’t think I’m alone).

Also, I’m glad that O’Reilly is speaking out against smear culture but I find it odd that he brought up a column that is not libelous—or even unfair. O’Reilly and his fair and balanced colleagues engage in real smears on a regular basis. I don’t have time to do an exhaustive analysis of the various smears of the Fox News gang but go to my new sidebar and check out my prank phone calls to O’Reilly in which I attempted to confront him about his boss Roger Ailes who pedaled hateful conspiracy theories (Note: they’re not really prank calls but I had only a short space to write in the sidebar). I tried to call into the show to talk to O’Reilly about this but the lines were jammed.

What I also found particularly ironic about today’s Radio Factor show was O’Reilly’s characterization of the judge who clubbed him and Ailes like baby seals in the Al Franken “fair and balanced” lawsuit. Apparently, O’Reilly is still smarting about Judge Denny Chin’s dismissal of Fox’s suit as “wholly without merit, both factually and legally.” O’Reilly was bellyaching that had the case been tried in a red state, Fox News would have prevailed. He gave as proof of Judge Chin’s alleged bias a decision he made in the “Candyman” child pornography case—which he characterized as a case in which law enforcement used information from people who joined a kiddie porn web site in order to obtain search and arrest warrants against these people. O’Reilly falsely claimed that Chin threw out convictions in the case because the kiddie porn web site in question constituted “ protected activity under the First Amendment issue.” Mr. No Spin went on to claim that Chin said that the kiddie porn web site was “disgusting but protected.”

Under none of the stories about the matter is what O’Reilly claimed about the case fair and balanced. Actually, it wasn’t a kiddie porn web site in question but more than one internet discussion groups. Judge Chin didn’t address the issue of the legality of child pornography on the web; instead, he addressed defense motions regarding faulty warrants (a news story states that “the FBI and prosecutors have acknowledged making errors”). I don’t have Judge’s Chin’s 59-page ruling in which, according to the news story, "Chin acknowledged that law enforcement needs some latitude to catch those who break child pornography laws on the Internet and sexually exploit and abuse children.” A caller tried to clarify the matter with O’Reilly on the show but he cut her off—go figure. (click here for another story on the case).

In O’Reilly’s world, addressing the issue of Arnold’s admitted group sex in a public place is a smear. On the other hand, settling a score by falsely accusing someone of being soft on child porn is fair and balanced reporting. Someone let me out of the No Spin Zone; I’m dizzy.


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