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Daily Howler: O'Reilly says that he'll defend Hill! Will Big Famous Libs meet his challenge?
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THE HILLARY FACTOR! O’Reilly says that he’ll defend Hill! Will Big Famous Libs meet his challenge? // link // print // previous // next //

THE HILLARY FACTOR: It’s too bad O’Reilly is kooky so often because, if he weren’t, he could be all the rage. On Tuesday night, Mr. O discussed Ed Klein’s coming book—his well-pimped attack book on Hillary Clinton. And let us say this: Three cheers for O’Reilly! We need many more public figures who are willing to say things like this:
O’REILLY (4/12/05): If Mr. Klein's book, which will be released next fall, is well-sourced—that is, if there are names attached to the allegations and the statements in the book are verifiable—then [this show] will analyze what's being put out there. But if anonymous sources rule the day, then we won't consider the book...

Now there is no question that Hillary Clinton is running for president. She is making speeches, raising money, so she is fair game for legitimate criticism. But defamation is not legitimate, and I will protect Mrs. Clinton from unfounded charges, and I will challenge any defamation directed at any political candidate, no matter what their ideology. America doesn't need slash-and-burn politics. We don't need loony ideologues spreading vicious rumors and unsubstantiated charges. That hurts the country, and those people should be scorned, not celebrated.

The smearing on both sides is out of control and promises to reach new lows if Hillary Clinton gains traction in her campaign...Ripping the woman to shreds is wrong, and may even help her. The majority of Americans are fair-minded and reject the politics of hate.

Yes, kids—that was Bill O’Reilly, who was, in fact, much fairer to Gore in Campaign 2000 than almost anyone else on cable. (He also was tough on the Swift Boat Vets, though not as tough as he should have been.) By contrast, Chris Matthews slandered Gore from stem to stern—but liberals luvv to bash Mr. O and never say squat about Chris! (Translation: Your “spokesmen” want to be guests on his show. And they want to attend “centrist” dinner parties.) Liberals and Democrats must decide now if they plan to keep accepting this weak-willed behavior. Meanwhile, it’s too bad O’Reilly is kooky so often. His outlook and attitude on these matters could be all the rage if he weren’t.

By the way, it’s quite instructive that it takes Mr. O to get out in front on this matter. Yes, the trashing of Clinton will start at some point, and it will employ the same gong-show techniques that were used against her husband, then Gore. And yes, we’ll see kooky-con, best-selling books—just like the Swift Boat book which the press corps largely hid from last year, and just like the current best-seller by Mark Levin which the press corps is now ignoring. (All hail Dahlia Lithwick for noting the oddness of that press corps behavior—although she didn’t seem to know that the behavior is totally typical. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/8/05.) Liberals and Democrats need to decide if they plan to let this conduct continue—if they plan to let their “liberal spokesmen” stare into air and pretend they don’t notice when the slash-and-burn, kooky-con, best-selling books start taking down their next White House hopeful (whoever that turns out to be). Let’s be more specific—liberals and Democrats need to insist that the press corps do better than it’s done in the past. And if we plan to make that demand, we need to start making it now.

Mr. O is already on it. But uh-oh! Your “liberal spokesmen” are dozing at fine dinner parties, swilling wine and staring off into air.

Last year, the mainstream press made little attempt to analyze Unfit for Command, the nut-case, kooky-con Swift Boat book which did so much damage to Kerry. Liberals and Democrats must tell pundits now that this won’t be accepted again. They need to tell major “liberal” pundits (names below) that they have to stand and fight like grown men, even if it entails some risk to cherished dinner party invitations. And liberals need to tell mainstream newspapers that they can no longer hide behind their desks when crackpot books climb the best-seller list—that they actually have to stand and report when crackpot books deceive the public and make a screaming joke of our discourse. The press has enabled kooky-con culture for decades. Liberals must insist that this stop.

But you know those weak-minded “liberal spokesmen” and their self-serving milquetoast behaviors! Mr. O had the right idea with those comments on Tuesday night. But forget about Mr. O for now—will liberals “protect” their next White House hopeful from the “unfounded charges” that surely will come? Will liberals “challenge any defamation?” Their track record is amazingly poor. Liberals and Democrats must ask themselves now: Do we plan to stand around and stare while our White House hopefuls get slashed up again? And what will we do when our “liberal spokesmen” start to take their familiar sweet swan dives?

UPDATE: Mr. O continued exploring this issue on last night’s Factor. In his lead segment, he chatted with Fred Kuhr of In News Weekly (“New England's largest gay newspaper”); the pair examined the record of Arthur Finkelstein, the slash-and-burn conservative hit man who has vowed to raise millions of dollars for an ad campaign against Hillary Clinton. O’Reilly dismissed Finkelstein as “really a ruthless kind of guy” who “raises big money” and “operates in the shadows.” And he described how Finkelstein would work against Hill:

O’REILLY (4/13/05): We think he’s going to raise tens of millions of dollars and he's going to use that money in the Swift Boat-style advertising where, you know, they scorch and burn, find something about her, flood the airwaves with it, make it a news item, put her on the defensive, and just basically every time she turns around whacking her in the head with something else.

KUHR: I'm sure that's the plan. I have no doubt. Finkelstein has a reputation for getting down and dirty on behalf of his candidates and what he believes. He did it, you know, for Jesse Helms

We’ll offer only one correction. Often, the Finkelsteins don’t “find something” about Dem hopefuls; instead, they just make something up, as they did for two solid years with Gore. Later, Mr. O explained what he’d do in response to the Finkelstein ads:
O’REILLY: All right, we wanted to give everybody a heads-up that this advertising campaign, I guess, is going to start pretty soon...Well, we will cover it and we'll do exactly what we did with the Swift Boats. If it's fair, it's fair. If it isn't.

KUHR: And if it isn't—

O'REILLY: We'll let everybody know, Mr. Kuhr. Fair enough? Thank you, sir. I appreciate the time.

But why is O’Reilly saying these things instead of your brave “liberal spokesmen?” Oh wait, we forgot—the answer is obvious. Your brave “liberal spokesmen” are comfortable milquetoasts. Liberals and Democrats have to insist that these weak-willed fops finally stand up and fight. Bill O’Reilly is prepared for what’s coming. But where are your brave “liberal spokesmen?”

WHAT THE PRESS SIMPLY HAS TO ADDRESS: Here’s an example of what we mean. Courtesy of yesterday’s Atrios, here’s the consummate crackpot, Rush Limbaugh, on his kooky-con radio program:

LIMBAUGH (4/13/05): When does [Gore] start up this stupid little network? August? Yip yip yip yahoo. You know what Gore said about this? It's going to be liberal. It's going to reflect the point of view of young people.

What the hell is that, Al? What the hell is the point of view of young people? Blow jobs, that's what they're doing out there. They're out there getting oral sex all day long, that's what they're talking about. That's the point of view they can't wait that your boss, Al made sure that's become the number one sport in high school today. So, I guess you're going to have a BJ network out there, Al, is that what you're going to do? You're going to call your network the “Oral Sex Channel” out there, start competing with MTV?

No, it's not going to have any of this stuff out there, folks, it's going to be talking about liberalism, no, no, no, that's not what we're about. Classic—cannot even admit who he is.

Atrios said you should write the FCC. We’ll suggest you write to E. J. Dionne, Mark Shields and Al Hunt—and tell them it’s time to stop the pretending. Gutless cowards of the highest order, these perfumed poodles have stood by for years while the Rushes and Seans made a joke of your discourse. It’s time we told them they have to speak up or they will be the ones we devour. It’s their names we’ll drag all through the mud, as we should have done long, long ago.

Average Americans deserve to be told that Mark Levin’s book is a fake and a fraud—just as they deserved to be told about the depth of last year’s Swift Boat buffoonism. And average Americans deserve to be told that Rush Limbaugh plays them for fools every day—treats them like rubes, marks, tools, suckers. Meanwhile, libs and Dems deserve real spokesmen, men and women who will stand up and fight. If E. J., Mark and Al won’t hunt, they need to retire, to get off the stage. They need to take their gathered millions and go off and spend it in Florida.

By the way: E. J. and Al will never fight unless they’re forced to fight from below. So here’s our question: Do you think that well-mannered fellows like Josh and Kevin are willing to make them do it? And while we’re at it, how about David Brock? Will he call their names? How about John Podesta? Here at THE HOWLER, we’re sick of calling the names of these lazy “spokesmen” while so many others seem to play it so safe. We’re tired of these people’s skilled silence. So how about it, Kevin, Josh, David? Will you make E. J. fight?

TOMORROW—A SPECIAL SMILE-A-WHILE FEATURE: Yes, we plan to continue our reports on the modern press corps’ deep religiosity. In particular, we plan to report on Newsweek’s Parson Meacham, the official, presentable, chin-pulling spokesman for mainstream press corps piety.

But that report will have to wait! Tomorrow, we present a special “smile-a-while” feature about Tim Russert’s reaction to Pope John Paul’s recent death. As you know, it’s Hard Press Corps Law: All events must be used to promote the glory of All Things Tim Russert, and the death of John Paul was no exception. From Meet the Press right through The Tonight Show, Russert made the predictable rounds, talking up his own special tie to the popular pope. You live in an age when self-pimping “journalists” love to promote their own private bands. Stop by tomorrow to share a good laugh as we watch The Great Russert in action.