Ted Koppel visited The O’Reilly Factor last night where he discussed the reasons he thinks opinionated cable news is not good for the country. Koppel gently but firmly confronted Bill O’Reilly on his own tactics that Koppel acknowledged were good for business but, he seemed to think, not much else. As the segment ended, O’Reilly said, “I still think I’m doing something noble.” And Koppel declined to respond.
The interview arose out of an editorial that Koppel wrote in the Washington Post in which he criticized cable news and, apparently, Bill O’Reilly, in particular. O’Reilly introduced the segment by saying, “The big mistake Mr. Koppel is making is putting me, your humble correspondent, in that category of speaking to the choir. I don’t. You know it. I had to convince Mr. Koppel of that.”
Let’s just say I don’t think Koppel was convinced. He said he didn’t have “a beef” with O’Reilly. But, Koppel added, he did find him “Sometimes a little too bold, sometimes a little too fresh, sometimes a little too intolerant of allowing people to complete an answer… It offends me when you’re rude, when you ride over people, as you have a tendency to do.”
O’Reilly said he only does it when someone “filibuster(s) or when they lie,” and doesn’t do it when somebody is “sincerely trying to answer my question.” Well, unless you’re Jeremy Glick. Or Jehmu Greene. And I’d love to see O’Reilly explain to Koppel his over-the-top attacks on abortion doctor George Tiller.
O’Reilly put forth the Fox News canard that most of Fox is unbiased reporting. “This is a news agency here,” he said, supposedly distinguishing it from MSNBC.
Koppel made it clear he wasn’t buying that. But rather than wade into the weeds, he said the overall partisanship on cable has “made it difficult, if not impossible, for decent men and women in Congress, on Capitol Hill, to reach across the aisle and find compromise. And if we can’t do that, Bill, we’re gonna be – and we have been, I think, for the last few years – in a terrible situation in this country where, politically, we can’t make deals any more.”
O’Reilly seemed more interested in defending himself and Fox than in considering its effects on American society. He said it’s “impossible” for a news network to be “on top” for so long if they have an "inferior product." He continued, “So therefore, I want you to re-evaluate our network, watch it a little bit more, and we’ll talk in about a year.”
Koppel did not indicate he’d agree to that. He ended by saying,“It’s a business and it’s operating as a business and once upon a time, you and I actually thought journalism was a calling.”
“But I still think that I’m doing something noble,” O’Reilly insisted.
Koppel didn’t say anything further.
Then they both laughed at that implication.
And it can get you killed in Mafia circles … not that I believe for a moment that Koppel is in any way connected with that lot … oh dear, it’s so hard to block foxy holes towards wilful mis-understanding.
I would be very interested to see the Koppel interview of O’Reilly, in case anything else fell out there.
At the same time, there was one very interesting O’Reilly moment this week that I don’t think has gotten any coverage anywhere. On Wednesday night, he had Dick Morris on and seemed to be genuinely angry with him. Morris kept trying to bloviate his points about the GOP somehow being on the verge of convincingly winning the presidency and the Senate and O’Reilly kept cutting him off. The first time, he snapped “Wait a second, or I’ll kick your coverage.” The second time he flat out yelled at Morris, something like “Can it, Morris!” And at the end, he mentioned that Morris had disagreed with his Talking Points and gave him 30 seconds to say why. Now, all of this was done while O’Reilly was continuing to let Morris plug his book, but there was something else going on. I strongly doubt the animus was just from Morris disagreeing with him – but you never know with O’Reilly’s ego.
It’s becoming clearer and clearer that even the wags like Morris are unable to talk away the serious trouble in which the Romney campaign finds itself now. Both Morris and Priebus are now starting to admit that it doesn’t look rosy for their guy. Rove is now trying to use the card about the 1980 Carter/Reagan race – without noting that the current situation is quite different. In 1980, most people only knew of Reagan as an actor (not counting the Californians who knew him as a governor) and hadn’t really seen him up close until the debates. And Carter was a pretty stiff speaker while Reagan was more at ease. In the current situation, Obama is the better speaker, and the country has seen plenty of Romney in the umpteen debates and appearances over the past year. I have to wonder where they think this sudden massive surge for him is going to erupt from.
Koppel was devastatingly ironic and all of it passed right over Bill’s head. I particularly liked the part where Koppel he said he’d have preferred criticism from Bill “because your compliments are more damaging”.
Koppel provided a little detail on FNC’s supposed popularity: FNC’s (supposedly) news programs are aired when most people are at work (9 to 5). It’s the evening programmes that get the millions and that’s when the RW bullshit becomes fast and furious.
For the foxies, “making deals” is a sign of weakness, like “apologising” for being in the wrong.
I looked up Mr. Koppel’s bio and found yet another example of a real journalist (one for whom “journalism is a calling”) at risk of accused of being leftist (Bill came very clear to saying that but was clearly afraid of the reaction). It’s not because they always were leftist or even that they evolved in that direction.
Rather, it’s because right-wingers are rushing headlong away from the centre. Journalists who continue to report the facts full stop only appear to be tilting left because that arm on the right is getting longer and longer (like Pinnochio’s nose).
From Part 3 of Adam Curtis’ “The Trap”
10 – clip of Kenneth Clark BBC “Civilization”
‘Oh freedom, Freedom, come to us again’
“They suffered from the most terrible of delusions. They believed themselves to be virtuous and in the end were destroyed by the evil beings they had brought into existence.”
Billdo should cash in before he has another peron murdered.
He didn’t say what he was thinking – just the kiss.
Lying out of his teeth again. Nobody believes that Megyn Kelly, McCallum, Brier, Cameron, etc., are unbiased “journalists”. Just listen to them for a couple of minutes. Was O’Loofah smirking like Willard when he dropped that canard????
Noble, Bill? I donât mean to sound cornball here, but that word belongs as a description to our soldiers, police, fire, and teachers who put the greater good of others over personal wealth. We need more Ted Koppelâs and less OâReillyâs who only pretend in their minds that theyâre seriously taken as a journalist.