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O'Reilly holds forth on free speech and free markets

Reported by Chrish - April 11, 2007 -

Hearing Bill O'Reilly lecture other people about the responsibility associated with free speech, and the care people on TV and radio should exercise in choosing their words, is somewhat surreal. Tonight's Talking Point Memo 4/10/07 was broadcast directly from The Twilight Zone.

O'Reilly expressed disgust with the words of Don Imus (though someone needs to explain the difference between "ho" and prostitute to O'Reilly). Rather than call for the firing of Imus himself, O'Reilly played a clip of Al Sharpton saying politicians should boycott Imus' show; better yet, maybe there'll be no more show to boycott.

O'Reilly pontificated about the troubles facing Viacom/CBS and GE/NBC over Don Imus' racist comments (especially GE, he said, recalling William Arkin's use of the word "mercenaries"), and he commented that MSNBC has veered sharply to the left over the past several years. ABC/Disney "also has problems in the speech area" (Rosie O'Donnell's comments). He noted that Rosie O'Donnell (returning from vacation) did not address her cprevious omments but instead "defended Imus," and played a clip of her saying that there's free speech in this country and we can say anything we want, but to think you can be penalized for it by a corporation is kind of strange...

That's a pretty big leap to "defending Imus." Defending his rights is not the same as defending his comments, a difference O'Reilly was willing to blur.

BOR speculated that it's possible she was talking about herself, but it's impossible to know for sure. But, broadcasters "have a responsibility to not spout crackpot theories and to not injure college girls." Words can hurt, and influence ignorant people abroad. Then he did an impersonation of an ignorant foreigner (who apparently learned their current events from Rosie on The View) saying "'See, we told you Al Queda had nothing to do with 9/11. America attacked itself!' That kind of stupid stuff."

In the end, he said, the market will sort it out; it always does. But on the road to resolution, damage has been done.

It is burning him up that Rosie O'Donnell didn't come back to work a basket case with both barrels blazing at him. Our pugnacious popinjay was probably looking forward to it - not for the exchange of ideas, but for the ratings.