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Krugman v O'Reilly

Reported by Nancy - August 7, 2004 -

Tim Russert's guests tonight (Sat 8/7, 7:00pm EDT) were Paul Krugman & Bill O'Reilly. For those of you keeping score ...

... it was sanity 100, O'Reilly 0 (zero). Russert tried to mediate at first, but soon gave up & interrupted only to ask an occasional question & to announce commercial breaks.

Krugman scored a verbal TKO within the first couple of minutes, when O'Reilly made one of his usual wild claims about something Krugman had said about tax cuts. Krugman pointed out that he had never said it, O'Reilly blustered & yelled & repeated himself (his usual method of "winning" arguments) & Krugman simply said "That's a lie" & challenged O'Reilly to show him where, exactly, in a column or his book, he had said it -- which, of course, O'Reilly couldn't do.

O'Reilly tried to calm down & said he wasn't there to defend the Bush administration. When Russert asked about Iraq, O'Reilly said he thought it was wrong for a couple of reasons (e.g., no WMD). Of course he couldn't resist saying that Hans Blix had been on his program saying that Saddam Hussein wasn't cooperating with inspectors; when Krugman pressed him about exactly when that interview had taken place, O'Reilly muttered "a couple of months" before the war started. Krugman said he thought starting a war in Iraq had been a major mistake, a gift to Al Qaeda & a distraction from more serious problems like North Korea. So far, so good, considering who the guests are. But then Russert made the mistake of asking about "Fahrenheit 9/11" & "Outfoxed", & O'Reilly imploded.

He couldn't even bring himself to say the name "Outfoxed", instead calling it "that thing" & repeating the mantra of how fair Fox is, asserting that Fox's prime-time hosts (he listed himself, Hume, Hannity, Colmes, van Susteren, Smith) are not right-wing, & making the astonishing claim that Fox puts more liberals than conservatives on the air. Eventually, O'Reilly was reduced to repeating his usual litany, louder & louder: "lying", "slander", "defamation", calling Krugman "Mr Entitlement" & himself "Mr Self-Reliant". When he called Krugman a "quasi-socialist", Krugman objected; when O'Reilly brushed off the complaint & said it was a figure of speech, Krugman said "then you're a quasi-murderer". Of course O'Reilly was immensely offended by THAT.

He called Stuart Smalley the "biggest assassin" [comment: I guess he just can't bear to say Al Franken's name -- or maybe he doesn't realize that Smalley is a SNL character? Remember how worked up Dan Quayle got over Murphy Brown?] & was outraged that Krugman would attend a function with him. He labelled someone a "friend of Fidel Castro" & of Hezbollah [comment: I believe it was Michael Moore, but by this point O'Reilly was ranting so hysterically it was hard to keep track of who he was smearing]. He eventually resorted to the "drag in the Nazis" ploy, claiming that "Fahrenheit 9/11" was the equivalent of "Triumph of the Will".

General comment: Methinks the Billster doth protest too much.