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Phil Donahue Shows How To Do It

Reported by Ellen - December 21, 2004

Progressives, liberals and Democrats who might be considering an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor simply MUST study a video tape of Phil Donahue's appearance last night as an example of how it can and should be done.

You'd think that a segment on O'Reilly in which a noted liberal asks George Bush to apologize to the world for the chaos in Iraq would infuriate O'Reilly worse than poor Jeremy Glick (as shown in Outfoxed). In fact, Donahue's segment ended with O'Reilly offering to buy Donahue "the biggest dinner in New York" if he could prove O'Reilly called Tim Robbins a traitor.

Donahue did it with kindness, diplomacy and a refusal to be talked down. He started out by praising Bush as a man of faith and strength who is to be admired for having kicked his alcohol problem (not exactly a position I agree with but I can see the wisdom of finding SOMETHING good to say about Bush). Donahue then said that Bush should say to the world that, "We invaded Iraq because we sincerely thought Saddam Hussein was a threat but we did not envision the chaos that would ensue and for that we apologize."

Not surprisingly, O'Reilly didn't agree and started to rib Donahue and interrupt him. Donahue said loudly but without anger, "Give me a chance here... Let's reduce the heat here." O'Reilly relented and let Donahue complete his thought that an apology from Bush would help heal the rifts between the US and Europe and between US and the Islamic world.

O'Reilly complained that the "looney left" will say "See, we told you so."

Donahue answered, almost affectionately, "So what do you care?"

O'Reilly said, "I don't care at all." But obviously he did, or why bring it up? This was his second capitulation.

When Donahue said, "We're dropping bombs on crowded cities at night where old people and children are sleeping," O'Reilly countered with "This is the most politically correct war ever fought by this country." The statement is so obviously untrue as to be laughable (What about Abu Ghraib, e.g.?) but Donahue stuck close to his original point without butting heads with O'Reilly.

Donahue: "We're not bombing Fallujah?" (Notice it's a question, not an argumentative statement)

O'Reilly: "Fallujah had three weeks for everybody to get out."

This is another falsehood (young men were not allowed to leave) but Donahue wisely dropped the subject. "All I'm suggesting is that this president has an opportunity now to show the world that the US is not arrogant and that we are interested in healing the breach that has developed."

While Donahue used kindness, he never conceded a single point nor did he hop to show that he is in agreement with O'Reilly or Bush on anything, as we have seen way too many Democrats do with no success.

"It's not gonna happen," O'Reilly said. He looked a bit peeved with the whole idea but overall, he just shut up.

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