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The source of O'Reilly's anger at the Washington Post

Reported by Chrish - March 25, 2008 -

Last night O'Reilly unleashed accusations of "smears" and threats of retaliatory exposes against the Washington Post and specifically its editor, Leonard Downie Jr. When Juan Williams confronted him and asked what "Post employees significant personal situations" he was alleging O'Reilly ranted about the Post using it's pages to attack personalitites. Thanks to Michael at blatherWatch, now we know that indeed BillO was mentioned; we already knew that he is so thinskinned (not a good combo with narcissism) that every mention of him in print or on air must be answered with indignation and raging.

The Washington Post ran an article in its (3/23/08) Sunday Magazine, "Cruel and Usual Punishment:
One man with more courage than brains sacrifices himself on the altar of punditry, and, in so doing, fails to redeem us all." It's a snarky piece about media oversaturation, very funny. But at the bottom of page 3, author Gene Weingarten writes

"AT THE START OF HOUR SIX, I realize I am doing something no one else likely has ever done before, something no one should ever do again. I am listening to both Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly simultaneously, on two radios."

Now he's in trouble. He continues

"Both Rush and Bill start out by disclosing that, earlier that day, Jane Fonda had used the c-word live on NBC's "Today" show; it went unbleeped and at least initially unapologized for.

Somehow, I'd missed it. Fortunately, the gaffe is all over the Web in streaming video, and, yes indeed, here she is, Hanoi Jane herself, the bete noire of right wing radio, flagrantly uttering the unutterable. Clearly, Rush and Bill are courageously willing to address this shocking and distasteful subject even at the risk of driving their audiences into multi-orgasmic rapture.

Limbaugh joyfully eviscerates Fonda and moves quickly on to other things, but O'Reilly is in high dudgeon and is all over this reprehensible event. He's morally outraged, and seems to want to wring all he can get out of it, as though it were, say, a luffa sponge.

As someone in the broadcasting business, he says, he doesn't want to become "the scold police," but he wonders just the same if someone ought to call the FCC and demand punishment. (Later at night, on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor," he will devote an entire segment to the issue, practically sputtering in exasperation when he can't persuade his guest, lawyer Anita Kay, to agree with him that heads must roll. Kay will point out, reasonably, that Fonda wasn't using the word in a hostile manner; she was simply stating the actual title of one of the monologues from the play "The Vagina Monologues," which is, ironically, about how the word should be destigmatized.) B-b-but "this is the most vile word in the lexicon of obscenity!" O'Reilly protests. Laughing, Kay basically tells him to calm down and grow up, that the average 12-year-old girl has heard this word, and it's no big deal. It's my favorite moment of the day. (Anita Kay, the cure for the common scold.)

The peril of listening to Limbaugh and O'Reilly at the same time is that you tend to compare them, and these are dangerous waters for an unapologetic, unreconstructed New Deal liberal like me. The comparison makes you actually like Rush. He's funny; O'Reilly is not. Limbaugh teases and baits his political adversaries; O'Reilly sneers and snarls at them. Limbaugh is mock-heroic; O'Reilly is self-righteous. So, when Limbaugh speculates that the Democrats in the House committee went after Roger Clemens because liberals hate cherished American institutions such as churches, the Boy Scouts and baseball, you know he's sorta kidding. When O'Reilly says liberals who oppose torture of prisoners just don't care how many people will die in a terrorist attack, you know he's as serious as an aneurysm."

That last explains O'Reilly's comment that he is "serious as a heart attack" last night. So, mystery solved. The Washington Post is not a smear factory, they merely printed something about Bill O'Reilly, ironically pointing out that he's all about the indignation , and he proved them right.