Update: Thanks to commenter jimmylove for pointing out that The O’Reilly Factor has, in fact, done segments targeting Wall Street Executives. We regret the error.
Last night Jon Stewart brilliantly lampooned Bill O’Reilly for hisambush on Columbia Journalism Review editor Mike Hoyt, who wasfollowed onto a bus by an O’Reilly Factor minion because CJR ran a pieceby someone who once wrote for–gasp!–The Nation. Here’s the video:
Stewart makes a good point, that O’Reilly is so hypocritical about theright to privacy it could make your head spin. But what the incidentreally shows is just how fast Fox News and the right are sinking, andhow rudderless they are in this time of great crisis. Years ago 60Minutes popularized this type of guerilla journalism in reports thatexposed corporate crime, greedy CEOs and financialmalfeasance. Apparently not interested in investigating the financialcrisis or abuses on Wall Street, O’Reilly instead chased a journalistonto a bus over something far more shocking: palling around with TheNation.
Over at Columbia Journalism Review, Hoyt responded:
I wish I had pointed out that The Nation is a fine magazine of thepolitical left, just as magazines like The Weekly Standard are finepolitical journals of the right (perhaps noting that CJR praised theStandard for its excellent cover story on Detroit just last week). And that, anyway, [Michael] Massing has written just oncefor The Nation since 2003, and writes all over the place for the bestpublications in America. Or that among his best work is a book onAmerican drug policy that credits Richard Nixon; or that isblockbuster critique of the press coverage of the run-up to the war inIraq irritated the New York Times a lot more than it irritated Fox; orthat he’s working on a history of the Protestant Reformation. And etc.
Hoyt is right–Massing has been published across the politicalspectrum. But even if he hadn’t, since when is it a crime to write forThe Nation? As with the stimulus debate, when the right reached back tothe 1990s for lines of attack about arts funding and contraception,O’Reilly is so intellectually bankrupt that he needs to create a targetout of publications like The Nation. In fact, The Nation has a long history of publishing writers of varying ideologies, many of whom wouldbe more at home with O’Reilly than at a Nation editorial meeting. PatBuchanan has written for us; so has Mickey Edwards, former Chair of theAmerican Conservative Union and a founding trustee of the HeritageFoundation. We’ve published such questionable figures as AlbertEinstein, Martin Luther King Jr., H.L. Mencken and Robert Frost. We evenpublished a letter to the editor from Adolph Hitler in 1927, but I bestnot go there.
The reality is that with conservative principles in tatters, his owninfluence sinking and a new generation of ideas taking hold, BillO’Reilly attacks the messenger (an occasional contributor to The Nation)instead of the message (O’Reilly’s segment gave no substantive critiqueof Massing’s interesting piece, about the right-wing use of the”un-American” meme.) He’s got nothing left. When simply writing for apublication with a differing ideology is an offense worthy of beingambushed at a bus stop, perhaps it’s O’Reilly who is closer to erodingfreedoms and liberties than the scurrilous liberals he deplores.