Former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration and current economics professor Robert Reich, was demeaned and denigrated by Bill O’Reilly on The Factor earlier this week. In response, Reich has asked O’Reilly to have “a civil debate.” But don’t hold your breath.
Here’s the backstory: Last week, Reich wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in which he told an anecdote about someone calling him a “commie dirtbag” (supposedly the cleaned-up version) as the result of seeing Bill O’Reilly label Reich a “communist” on Fox News. Reich went on to point out in his piece that he’s not only not a communist but a rather mainstream guy:
A year or so ago Bill O’Reilly did say on his Fox News show that I was a Communist. I couldn’t imagine what I’d done to provoke his ire except to appear on several TV shows arguing for higher taxes on the wealthy, which hardly qualified me as a Communist. Nor am I exactly a revolutionary. I served in Bill Clinton’s cabinet. My first full-time job in Washington was in the Ford administration, working for Robert H. Bork at the Justice Department.
Well, that was grounds for sneering and jeering on The O’Reilly Factor in response. Even though the point of Reich's anecdote was not about O’Reilly at all but the deep and angry divisions in this country - which Reich subsequently linked to income inequality.
But earlier this week, in his regular discussion with media critic Bernard Goldberg, O’Reilly went after Reich. First, O’Reilly demeaned Reich’s accomplishments by describing him as “a far-left economics guy who teaches at U Cal, Berkeley.” On B-roll footage, he was merely labeled, “liberal economist.” O’Reilly added, “We used to have him on The Factor once in a while, way back, until he started cheap shotting us. Then, we didn’t have him on.”
Although Reich’s O’Reilly anecdote had almost nothing to do with O’Reilly, he laughably complained, “Reich can’t let it go,” Then, O’Reilly and Goldberg spent the next several minutes attacking and making fun of Reich – and entirely ignoring the point of his comments. “Pot, kettle black, here, you know what I’m talking about?” O’Reilly said scornfully. Yes, I think we do, Bill, but not in the way you had in mind.
O’Reilly later complained that the media these days is “gotcha, gotcha, gotcha” and “slime, slime, slime, slam, slam, slam.” I believe he was referring to MSNBC but he might as well have been talking about Fox. Just ask Sandra Fluke or, more distressingly, the now-murdered Dr. George Tiller.
Yesterday, on Huff Post Live, Reich said that O’Reilly’s brand of commentary has “contributed to an atmosphere in this country in which people on the right demonize people on the left and a lot of people on the left demonize a lot of people on the right.” Reich said that he has wanted to go on The Factor and debate O’Reilly. “Instead of calling me names… let’s have a civil discussion.”
Regular readers know I vehemently believe that liberals should go on Fox News and debate. But they need to understand the territory and be prepared to navigate it before they walk into it. O’Reilly is probably better than most at Fox at having a fair debate but he is all about ratings, image and political theater, not civil discussions. Plus, considering how O’Reilly has already displayed a disturbing lack of respect for Reich and his accomplishments, there’s no reason to expect more civility one-on-one.
Reich suggested, as an alternative, that O’Reilly “be a man,” “have the courage,” and debate there on Huff Post Live. I’d say that’s a much more desirable venue for the kind of discussion Reich seems to want, but I’d be very surprised if O’Reilly accepted.
“POS borally doesn’t want to look like a fool in front of his mindless viewers……..”
AMEN TO THAT! He certainly looked like a BIG one when Sen. Al Franken TOTALLY CLEANED HIS CLOCK in their C-SPAN televised debate (correct me if I’m wrong on this, but I believe it took place about ten years ago).
We want the masses to write to all newspapers, blogs, radio and tv blogs nationwide and notify them of Billy’s fear of debating Robert.
Use this sample:
“Why is Fox News host Bill O’Reilly AFRAID of Debating Robert Reich?”
NOTE TO BILLY
Coward, coward. You act like a big man on television, but you are afraid to debate people smarter than you. Your colleague foe is laughing at you.
My life’s an effin’ mess and, let’s face it, I’m no Fess Parker. So I’m dedicating the remainder of my life slinging as much shit as I can at people who have more money n smarts than me!!!
All this windbag wants is whoever he thinks will be easiest to push. The end.
Otherwise, he’s a tired old wimp who couldn’t last 2 rounds against the first week’s castoff of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” (And I’m NOT talking about dressing in drag. I mean real, honest-to-goodness fisticuffs.)
While there are many things that BOR does that makes him look like a fool, this example is the type of behavior that just makes me laugh out loud every time (and then shake my head in disbelief). Reich can’t let it go?! Take a look in the mirror, Billy boy, because, as you’ve shown us time and time again, YOU can’t let it go. You could have just let this pass but, noooo, you and your uber-ego are too thin-skinned to allow that to happen. Hey, why let it go when you can design bashing/mocking segments (almost exclusively directed at liberals, of course) around a person/media outlet who dares to offer up what you perceive to be a “slime” or a “slam” against you (except in the case of OLBERMANN who definitely had your number). BOR has a classic case of pot, kettle, black and is hardly the “fair & balanced” analyst he claims to be considering that he doesn’t have the guts to call out his own FOX “news” colleagues by name when they (like him) engage in “gotcha, slime and slam”.
While it’s always kinda funny to see BOR throw one of his hypocritical fits, the main take away from this segment should probably be that BOR could not be bothered to discuss the substance of Reich’s column. Nah, instead of behaving like an actual analyst who is interested in breaking down the issues that face this country (and Reich’s coulmn was a perfect jumping off point to do that), BOR disintegrated the segment into a rant that validated the very point that Reich was making on HuffPo Live yesterday. Even John Stossel had to point out to BOR the other night that he (BOR) runs an uncivil show. If BOR really thinks that uncivil behavior is harming this country and that the fathers of America should set the examples for their children, then BOR needs to clean up his own rude/name calling/attack mode behavior or get the hell off the teevee. His brand of discourse and disrespect does nothing to advance America.
America needs more people like Robert Reich (the grown-ups in the room) who are actually interested in working for our country and less people like BOR (the juveniles on the playground) who are more interested in getting name recognition, ratings and the big $.
Several years ago one of Bills stalkers went after Bill Moyers only to have Mr. Moyers turn the tables by telling him, “Tell your boss Bill O’Reilly that he is welcomed to come on my program and discuss and debate any wide range of issues” live with no commercial interruptions since he was on PBS.
There was never a reply from Bill O to Bill M on his challenge, but I’m sure Mr. Moyers would oblige if O’Reilly was open to it today. But, you know what the answer to that is.