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Democrat Dennis Kucinich Followed Bill O'Reilly's Playbook, Forgot to Bring His Own

Reported by Julie - January 23, 2010 -

On last night's O'Reilly Factor (1/22/10), Bill O'Reilly hosted Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich to stir the pot and crow about – what else – America's careening move to the right, “. . . This week, the radical turn in the country.” Sure, Republican Scott Brown's was elected as a senator in Massachusetts – he's got big shoes, Ted Kennedy's shoes, to be exact, to fill in that seat. (I don't expect it to go all that well for Brown, frankly.) Sure, the Supreme Court reversed settled law and, without legal precedent, just jumped in bed with big business and gave the green light to corporations to purchase candidates and buy elections. (I expect the strength of that to be diluted by legislation.) These things, while clearly lending to a not-so-great week for Dems, aren't exactly bellweathers for the political climate of the entire country. I don't expect President Obama to “pull a Palin” and resign, after just a year in office, so as not to be a lame duck – so the “radical turn” in the country may veer sharply left, depending on what happens. But Kucinich . . . ay yai yai. Would it be too much to ask for a little push-back, maybe? With video.

The most striking thing about this segment was not really what O'Reilly said, or what Kucinich said. No, the most striking thing about this interview was that O'Reilly started out with a premise – the country is veering right, the left is in deep doo-doo – and, by failing to strenuously push back, remaining on the defensive and never firmly returning the dialogue to his own agenda, Kucinich allowed O'Reilly, and viewers, to believe that he tacitly agreed – or, at least, didn't disagree.

“How you feeling tonight, Congressman?” O'Reilly asked jovially.

“You have to remember,” Kucinich quickly responded, “I didn't vote for the healthcare bill or the cap and trade bill . . . .” Wait, he is a Democrat, right? Sounded almost like a Republican right there, glowing with pride over “no.”

While Kucinich made some valid points, and pointed out that the Brown victory shouldn't be interpreted as a “victory for the right or a loss for the left,” he nevertheless conceded that Massachusetts was indicating its dissatisfaction with Washington. He failed to point out that the failure of the healthcare reform bill – as well as other progressive agendas – was almost entirely the fault of the right, the “Party of No,” which failed to either support it or propose viable alternatives.

O'Reilly blustered that the liberal media is getting “hammered,” and Kucinich argued that they're getting “misrepresented.” Kucinich went on to say that liberals want to help people rise up, and that the proposed bills aren't sufficient to do that. Kucinich brought up the subject of war, and its role in the expansion of government, which O'Reilly, predictably, pooh-poohed as “different.” Kucinich let the opportunity to show the hypocrisy of the right pass, and gave O'Reilly a pass as well.

Kucinich attempted a weak push-back, cautioning O'Reilly, “Fox and its success, fine, but you don't have to be defensive about it.”

“I'm not defensive, I'm celebratory!” O'Reilly gloated.

“ . . . if you're really being successful you don't have to . . . degrade the other people,” Kuchinic scolded.

It was clear O'Reilly knew he didn't have to waste much energy on arguing with Kucinich, and went on to say that all of the liberal media, “the whole gamut” – NBC News, Air America – is all going down the tubes.

Kucinich stated, correctly, “We need diversity of expression in the Democratic society . . . .”

O'Reilly then made the outlandish claim that, “We have that on Fox . . . you know how much diversity of opinion we have on Fox because you're on it all the time.”

And Kucinich, absolutely and, in my opinion, deliberately, chose not to dispute this ludicrous statement, saying instead, “I appreciate . . . I'm here, I'm not arguing with that obviously, here I am – but . . . be careful about . . . crowing . . . people are gonna start calling for the Fairness Doctrine to come back . . . .”

Are you serious? The Fairness Doctrine? Is that really what we're worried about here? I'd love to do a re-take on that whole last exchange, because Kucinich, when he finished gasping for breath after his five minutes of belly laughter, should have mentioned to O'Reilly that Fox has no liberal hosts or anchors (as opposed to MSNBC, who can claim conservative Morning Joe Scarborough) . . . has three conservatives whose names have been bandied about as presidential hopefuls in 2012 working as Fox News contributors . . . practically threw a party on the air after Scott Brown won in Massachusetts . . . has allowed ridiculous misinformation like death panels and reeducation camps to take root on its network . . . has systematically taken on members of the Obama Administration (such as Van Jones and Kevin Jennings) and liberal organizations that pose a threat to the right (ACORN, anybody?) . . . and has made itself literally filibuster-proof by stacking up right-wing talking heads, and paying lip service to “fair and balanced” by largely bringing on only Dems like Kucinich – whose idea of a push-back against the unbelievably bold Fox News right-wing bias consists of invoking the friggin' Fairness Doctrine.

I think the key to this whole thing is O'Reilly's statement to Kucinich that “you're on it [Fox] all the time.” Clearly, Kucinich wants to keep the gig. Clearly, Kucinich has a nice little fence set up in Fox News studios that he likes to ride. And clearly, Kucinich doesn't view his appearances on Fox as an opportunity to aid his party, the Obama Administration, or the left-wing faction that Fox is trying to take down. If there's such a thing as “situational integrity,” Kucinich nailed it.