After Bill O'Reilly was criticized by Media Matters and The Women's Media Center for his sexist and ageist attacks on veteran journalist Helen Thomas, he invited WMC's Courtney Martin on his show where he barely let her speak and refused to apologize.
Bill O'Reilly Blames Liberals (and Media Matters in Particular) for His Refusal to Apologize to Helen Thomas
Not surprisingly, there has been some media fallout after the mean-spirited attacks on Helen Thomas earlier in the week on The O'Reilly Factor.
But instead of just admitting he had been a pinhead for making a boorish imitation of Thomas as the Wicked Witch of the East, O'Reilly blamed liberal groups and liberal hypocrisy for his refusal to apologize. O'Reilly obsessed about Thomas throughout his show last night (2/11/09). He also obsessed about Media Matters whom he blamed for the entire backlash (overlooking my own role, I'm sorry to say). O'Reilly wanted to send them a cake with "something inside." Bernard Goldberg, who had also made a mean-spirited joke about Thomas, suggested sending black, dead roses. With video.
I hate to be an armchair psychologist but it was pretty clear O'Reilly knew he was wrong but didn't want to admit it because he didn't want to give Media Matters (and moi, I'm sure) the satisfaction.
O'Reilly devoted his Talking Points Memo to the burning issue of Thomas and Media Matters. O'Reilly described Media Matters as "guttersnipes," and said the organization "routinely assassinates the characters of conservatives and Republicans... hoping to harm people with whom they disagree."
"I poked a little fun at Helen," O'Reilly said, by way of characterizing his cawing imitation of a witch and the suggestion that Barack Obama should have poured water on the 88-year-old veteran correspondent.
O'Reilly complained that after Media Matters publicized his "little fun," it was "picked up by the far left fringe." That's presumably me, since I also posted about the incident and my post was cited by Bonnie Erbe, in her blog for US News & World Report. Erbe's bio is right on her blog. She's a contributing editor at US News & World Report, she hosts a weekly PBS television show and she's a syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. That's pretty mainstream.
But Erbe had the clarity to call O'Reilly's remarks hateful so, apparently, that was reason enough to categorize her, along with Adam Moss of New York Magazine as the "far left fringe" of society that was somehow in cahoots with Media Matters.
Enter The Women's Media Center which found O'Reilly's comments sexist and ageist and sent out a press release urging people to send an official complaint to FOX News. After his Talking Points Memo, O'Reilly's first guest last night was Courtney Martin, of The Women's Media Center. FOX News called their video of the discussion (below) "Liberal Lunacy."
O'Reilly was obviously hoping that Martin would soothe his sore ego. In his mind, The Women's Media Center had been somehow hoodwinked by Media Matters (or was it Erbe? Or both?) into believing that O'Reilly had done anything objectionable. He said, "Now, I could have attacked Helen Thomas, called her a pin head, said that she shouldn't be there, said she was past her game. I could have been serious about it and really demeaned the woman and I would have been in my rights because Helen Thomas uses her platform, as a columnist for Hearst, to just brutalize anybody she disagrees with. Now, I could have done that and I chose not to. So I think I'm a nice guy."
But Martin was there to have a serious discussion, not to schmooze. "This woman deserves our respect," she told O'Reilly.
"Why? She just accused the United States of murdering innocent people. Why should I respect her?" O'Reilly asked, "She's 88, right? Does that mean I can't make fun of her, cause she's 88?"
Then, when he realized Martin was neither going to assuage his conscience nor collapse under his debating prowess, O'Reilly began to lose his temper and accused Martin of being part of some left-wing conspiracy. "Where were YOU when Sarah Palin was getting the hell kicked out of her? You didn't say a word."
O'Reilly started yelling and pointing his finger: "You guys are hypocrites. You guys are phonies. You guys are being used by the left to do this nonsense... If you had defended Sarah Palin, then I would respect you and I would say, 'You know, you were right. Maybe I should apologize.' But you didn't! This is a left-wing play. That's what this is."