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Town square for the online Left. The Daily Kos. Huge traffic. The comments section can be highly informative. One of the most successful communities on the Net.

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Digests & Round-ups:

Memeorandum: Single best way I know of to keep track of both the news and the political blogosphere. Top news stories and posts that people are blogging about, automatically updated.

Daily Briefing: A categorized digest of press news from the Project on Excellence in Journalism.

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Richard Prince does a link-rich thrice-weekly digest called "Journalisms" (plural), sponsored by the Maynard Institute, which believes in pluralism in the press.

Newsblog is a daily digest from Online Journalism Review.

E-Media Tidbits from the Poynter Institute is group blog by some of the sharper writers about online journalism and publishing. A good way to keep up

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October 21, 2003

Bill O'Reilly and the Paranoid Style in News

The Fox News host is a new type in the press, but an old type in politics. And O'Reilly's style--resentment news--is gaining.

“We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.” — Historian Richard Hofstadter, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” (1964).

Score another one for Fox and Bill O’Reilly in the grim war of attrition going on over terms of legitimacy in broadcast news. Fox is trying to de-legitimate others. Others are trying to de-legitimate Fox. No one quite says so publicly but you know it’s going on, which makes things grimmer.

Some striking results in the latest de-certification battle: NPR’s ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin, has pronounced NPR’s Terry Gross guilty of unfairness and a disservice to listeners during her confrontational interview with O’Reilly on Oct. 8, which ended when he walked out on her. (I wrote about how it happened here.) Dvorkin comes down hard on his network, but he is genuinely puzzled about what went down in the studio that day between Terry Gross and Bill O’Reilly:

I believe the listeners were not well served by this interview. It may have illustrated the “cultural wars” that seem to be flaring in the country. Unfortunately, the interview only served to confirm the belief, held by some, in NPR’s liberal media bias. It left the impression that there was something not quite right about the reasons behind this program: Bill O’Reilly often loves to use NPR as his own personal political piñata; and NPR keeps helping him by inviting him to appear.

I’d start with a weird fact: an interview that winds up “illustrating the cultural wars” through struggle, tension and walk-out (which you can hear in the tape) is thought by NPR to be a bad thing, worthy of self-censure. The same result is thought by Bill O’Reilly to be a good thing, worthy of self-celebration.

O’Reilly and his public profile do not fit any known category in network journalism— the journalism of the Dupont Awards, let us say. He’s a confusing figure to confront in an interview setting like Fresh Air, but not because his methods are obscure. It’s the opposite. He brings forcefully to the surface and makes explicit what had been buried for so long in the journalist’s presentation of self: a political identity in the one who brings us the news— proudly so.

Proudly political, you say? Yeah, and it’s no insult. Whatever else may be said about him, O’Reilly is someone who speaks his mind, and takes positions. A guy who, as a commentator himself and questioner of others, stands up for certain values in American life that (he thinks) don’t get defended enough. O’Reilly is the anti-anchorman because he dispenses with the broadcast professional’s cool demeaner, something Jennings, Brokaw, Rather, Bernard Shaw, Jim Lehrer, Judy Woodruff and countless others have never done.

On the whole, we don’t have political anchormen and women, if we mean by “political” the understanding of yourself as an actor engaged in the general struggle for what’s just, what’s fair, and in “our” interests as a society. Take four figures for comparison. Dan Rather (CBS), Peter Jennings (ABC), Tom Brokaw (NBC) and Jim Lehrer (PBS) have all been on the best seller list, and they have a kind of cultural weight extending beyond their broadcasts— like O’Reilly does. Let’s call it power. But what have the anchorman with their cultural power tried to say? Can anyone paraphrase the arguments in their books?

Each one is a consummate and intelligent broadcast pro, with that elusive television thing, a gravitas that filters through the dots, combined with a lighter and more fluid on-air command, which becomes grace under pressure in emergencies. But which one of them ever employed these gifts upon a career in social commentary? Which of our anchorman even tried to cut a political figure? They simply couldn’t within the press think of the era when they were crowned. O’Reilly has done that, cut a political figure, and he’s the public face of Fox News Channel, just as Jennings is the face of ABC News and Lehrer the embodiment of PBS.

Network journalism had long ago decided it didn’t need that kind of tension—anchormen who join the national argument—and so it promoted to the top spot only masters of the “cooler” style, which became the standard. O’Reilly (who can do cool when called for) does not anchor the evening newscast on Fox, but he is its leading figure. The face of the brand is a talker with a booming public voice, a thinking person who has convictions, and whose convictions are part of his news persona. O’Reilly is both a news person doing a commentary program on Fox, and an protagonist in the public arena in constant struggle with Fox’s political enemies.

There’s never been a face-of-the-brand in network news who is deliberately styled hot (in McLuhan’s terms.) O’Reilly blows up a lot. He is wired for argument and controversy because he is willing to fight the spin of others with righteous spin of his own. And he has another advantage, for which he does not get enough notice. He’s willing to make fans by having active enemies. Indeed, making enemies is basic to his appeal, and that’s where Terry Gross and the rest of the establishment press factor themselves in. They supply what O’Reilly’s genre—resentment news—demands.

In 1989, Bill O’Reilly quit ABC and became host of Inside Edition, a syndicated news-derived program sold to local stations. In the Establishment’s view, this is like moving to the trailer park. Thus, it took an outsider—in fact, an outcast— to make the imaginative leap from cool to hot in evening news. Not that there weren’t models. One obvious reference point for O’Reilly’s success is Sidney Lumet’s Network, the movie classic, (1976) that projected so brilliantly what angry populism would look like if it one day seized hold of TV news.

O’Reilly feeds off his own resentments—the establishment sneering at Inside Edition—and like Howard Beale, the “mad prophet of the airwaves,” his resentments are enlarged by the medium into public grievances among a mass of Americans unfairly denied voice by the elite. These are boiling points. But O’Reilly is himself a consummate pro in the forms and rhythms of broadcast news. He cools the mix down just enough for living rooms, and winds up way hotter than everyone else.

So you can watch his show, buy his books, root for him against his oppressors in the rest of the press— and get some news in the bargain. Can we imagine Larry King writing op-eds and giving interviews about his political “enemies?” On the other hand, can we imagine Peter Jennings reading letters from viewers disagreeing with his stance, as O’Reilly does most nights?

Here’s Bill O’Reilly’s latest statement on those who are out to get him, an anxious elite whose authority over the news is eroding. They want to put down the Rebellion For Fairness initiated by Fox: “I’ve learned the hard way that liberal bias is a way of life at many media organizations,” he wrote in the NY Daily News. “They” are now hitting back at him:

Over the past few months I’ve been smeared and pilloried, primarily by leftists who do not approve of my commentary. I’m not whining, I’m reporting. To put things into perspective, what actors Mel Gibson and Arnold Schwarzenegger recently have suffered at the hands of the left-wing press makes my situation look like an episode of “Happy Days.” These guys have been viciously attacked; even their fathers have been used against them. In my case, the attacks are personal but designed to advance the far-left agenda.

Dvorkin of NPR was right when he said there was “something not quite right” about inviting O’Reilly to come on NPR and speak his mind, only to hear him say he’s being squelched by NPR, due to the liberal bias he both expects and provokes by being himself. What have we gained from all this? Dvorkin asks. But what if NPR decided never to have O’Reilly on, despite his best selling books? He would have them on liberal bias for that.

Suppose—to move to another front—the New York Times reviewed his latest, chart-topping book, Who’s Looking Out for You? If the Times is true to itself, the review would almost certainly be negative, and O’Reilly could scream liberal bias. “But somehow the Times has not gotten around to reviewing any of my books, while tomes by the liberal ‘satirists’ are given major exposure,” he writes. Which is another example of liberal bias. Either way he gets the W.

Those in big league journalism trying to get “tough” with O’Reilly are going to lose the encounter until they realize that his press think outdoes theirs. His has a political imaginary built into it and theirs is: we don’t do politics. So he has many more ways to win. O’Reilly blew up Fresh Air, got an exciting show out of it that night, and then he won the ombudsman’s verdict at his rival’s shop. Game, set, match (culture, politics, ratings) to the Factor.

Terry Gross went into battle with some outdated press thinking. She assumed that the interview, for all its obvious tensions, took place in the general domain of information gathering, and that good information flows to us from holding a public figure’s feet to the fire, asking the tough questions. You can almost hear the Fresh Air producers discussing it, “Yeah, but no one’s ever pinned him down on….” Or something like that. It probably never crossed Terry Gross’s mind that the interview would be about making enemies more obvious— and the enemies are the information. O’Reilly thought so going in. This is from the O’Reilly Factor, Oct. 8, 2003:

BILL O‘REILLY, HOST: In the Impact segment tonight, I’ve been telling you for months that there are powerful people and institutions behind these smear merchants currently running around the USA. The culture war’s very, very intense.

Now I’ve got mail saying “O’Reilly, you’re paranoid,” things like that. But here is the absolute truth. Broadway books, which is published my new effort, Who’s Looking Out for You? wanted me to go on National Public Radio to talk about the book.

I told them that NPR would try to smash me because along with some other major newspapers in this country, it has championed the defamation books [by Al Franken and others]. But I agreed to do the program called Fresh Air, hosted by a woman named Terry Gross.

I would guess that Terry Gross and her team prepared hard for this interview by absorbing the relevant journalism— all of O’Reilly’s press clippings, news and commentary about his public battles, profiles of him, interviews, his books, plus watching his show. But they should have been reading historian Richard Hofstadter on the paranoid style in American politics, for that is where O’Reilly comes from, by way of Network, by way of Fox, by way of talk radio, by way of syndication, by way of political re-alignment and culture war, by way of the trailer park, by way of the absolute truth.

Wanna understand the Bill O’Reilly factor? Go read this, followed by that and it will be easier.

Here’s a taste of Hofstadter’s classic depiction of a political style:

But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.

And prime time makes it even more so.

After Matter: Notes, reactions and links…

Pssssst… this post wants you to read The Paranoid Style in American Politics by Richard Hoftstadter, from Harper’s Magazine, Nov. 1964. It will make you smarter.

O’Reilly and Gross both comment on the ombudsman report here.

Jeff Jarvis comments on this post and adds to the discussion. Doc Searles is convinced. “She fit his frame perfectly, and he punched her — and the rest of public broadcasting — right through the canvas.”

Posted by Jay Rosen at October 21, 2003 6:10 PM   Print


Would you say that the 'paranoid style' could be a factor in the popularity of bloggers versus conventional journalism?

Posted by: Taran at October 21, 2003 6:34 PM | Permalink

Taran: the paranoid style is the rocket fuel of blogging, because people with no access to the "whole story" because they're sitting at a computer keyboard are obliged to fill in the blanks themselves.

Posted by: tom mangan at October 21, 2003 6:53 PM | Permalink

Tom, why do you assume someone with a weblog has no access to the "whole story" -- I assume the opposite. Over time, certainly, people who are insiders, or experts, will be able to write publicly without going through a middleman.

Posted by: Dave Winer at October 21, 2003 7:40 PM | Permalink

I heard this interview and it was tough. But, tough in the way Fresh Air is tough to many guests, even cultural figures, by confronting them with their words and contradictions. Her show varies between tough interviews and humorous interviews. Although Terry Gross never said it directly, her questions pointed out that what O'Reilly's detractors do is no different than what he was doing himself; he exagerates their criticism and tries to turn criticism into slander and libel.

Franken's book may not be completely fair and balanced, but it is as fair as O'Reilly's show and a lot funnier. (I do watch the show occassionally.) O'Reilly loves to challenge public figures and politician's opposed to him, but when he and his allies are challenged he cries, "Bias!"

Posted by: Rick McDonald at October 21, 2003 8:25 PM | Permalink

While some bloggers may have access to the whole story, they are few and far in between. The signal to noise ratio in the blogging world is grotesque, to say the least. (Just because everyone has a pulpit doesn't mean that everyone has a sermon.)

Posted by: Sean at October 21, 2003 8:33 PM | Permalink

Most bloggers don't take the time (for whatever reason) to get the whole story. I would never _assume_ that a blogger has done research to back what there talking about. It seems silly to do so. The other thing I've learned abouth bloggers is it's tough take things seriously when it's so easy to change what's been written. Imagine if O'Reily had a blog, You'd never know what to trust.

Posted by: Ryan Schroeder at October 21, 2003 8:46 PM | Permalink

David: While I agree that a blogger must make assumptions, I offer that these are often the same assumptions a pro journalist would have to make as well - or omit. Even people in a situation may not truly appreciate how the situation looks - or how the situation actually *is*. Perspective is an eerily accurate thing. Fact is that many people can be right (or wrong) in different ways. What's more, hyperlinking and trackbacks allow a means of a reader going and 'finding their own truth'.

Sean: Most definitely.

Ryan: True, most bloggers don't take the time to get the whole story - and many bloggers (I won't say the majority) are a bit irresponsible when it comes to clarifying a point, or a story. But that's what the *comments* and *trackbacks* are for. Keep your blogger honest, or find another blogger. ;-)

Posted by: Taran at October 21, 2003 10:58 PM | Permalink

I'll bet Terry and her staff never watched his whole show. I think they may have glanced for a few minutes.

The problem wasn't that Terry was so tough on Bill, but rather that she'd had her head so far up Al Franken's ass. She simpered thru that interview like she was 14 and he was Justin Timberlake. That bothered me more.

Posted by: Kate at October 22, 2003 11:04 AM | Permalink

If O'Reill hadn't flounced out, the story would have been "Terry Gross kicks O'Reilly's Ass". O'Reilly effectively changed the channel on that header, slapped his own label on what went down, and generated filler for his own show. Nobody discusses the actual statements of that 40 minutes.

I heard the Terry Gross interview and thought that she did a tough but excellent job. Was it "fair"? Since when is O'Reilly fair with his guests? Was it unfair? No.

She uses different tones in different interviews. Just like the vastly over-rated and rarely criticized Tim Russert -- when he scrunches up his eyebrows, that's his serious face. I can't believe the unprofessional bias that guy gets away with, particularly when moderating political debates.

O'Reilly prides himself on being strong and provactive, and Gross was strong and provocative too but without the showbiz bluster. O'Reilly's counterpunches weren't as effective but he had ample time and space to convey his views and perspective pretty forcefully.

He did his typical bombastic act and she didn't fold. Russert would. Howard Kurtz would. He's not used to that. Why the negative People magazine article was so horrific that he'd flounce out is strange -- but classic O'Reilly and, in retrospect, probably calculated. Look at all the press Gene Simmons was able to generate by being a little vulgar and outrageous on Fresh Air.

The wimpy NPR Ombudsman took a dive to blunt the anti-Federal funding rant that O'Reilly and his emailers. There was a weird underlying tone that Miz Terry wasn't polite to a guest. Like she was heading NPR's Ladies Sodality and not a journalist and their best interviewer.

I believe Alterman calls this "working the refs" and it worked to a degree. Terry Gross's "Gee, O'Reilly's thin-skined...and all the discussion of this is exciting" is just right

All of O'Reilly's right-wing whining about Bush-hatred, and liberals beating up on them -- while the pundit press are actually lazy lapdogs of the corporate establishment -- is more of the same press behavior modification. You can laugh at it, but it sure seems to work.

RE: Good article by Jay Rozen but he was pretty condescending about Gross and her staff. His "paranoid news" and "hot" anchorman observations certainly ring true. O'Reilly is a parody of the Howard Beal parody, yet some respond strongly to the emotion and anger he projects -- even folks who don't agree with him.

RE: Bloggers... I think most of the folks writing the major blogs are well-informed in their area of interest. What I find fascinating
are the response comments, and the back and forth, from readers.

Most just impulse out -- like I'm doing -- but you get folks unfiltered reactions on the spot. Sometimes that's a bad thing, but I've been impressed and entertained time and time again. Sometimes the whole "whole story" takes a while to evolve.

Posted by: Snapdragon at October 22, 2003 11:57 AM | Permalink

This is an interesting and provocative analysis of what might be called "The O'Reilly Wars", and I think there's a lot of truth to it. But, I also think a simple left-right analysis goes a long way to explaining the establishment press's hysteria regarding Fox News. Just think of it, a left-of-center viewpoint, which is falsely trumpeted as "objectivity", prevails on the newscasts of ABC, CBS, NBC,CNN, the NYT, LAT, and WaPO, and is publicly funded on PBS and NPR. There is one right-of-center news channel, which falsely calls itself "Fair and Balanced", and there is a right of center viewpoint on talk radio, and in smaller circulation news dailies like the New York Sun, and Washington Times. Despite the fact that the left-of-center viewpoint still prevails in all of the network news, all publicly funded media, all major news dailies (except for the Wall Street Journal) To some establishment liberals this is unacceptable. Al Gore, in fact, thinks we need even more left-of-center news programming. It seems as if some establishment liberals and Big Media types do not even want conservatives to exist, or certainly to speak. Despite the fact that Fox is trouncing CNN in the ratings, O'Reilly's ratings must be a tiny fraction of those of Peter Jennings, and an even tinier fraction of all those who watch all three of the liberal network newscasts combined plus McNeil Leherer. Yet, this is so irksome to some people that they impute superhuman power to Fox and to O'Reilly, and waste an icredible amount of energy trying to take him down, which only strengthens his power and appeal, as you say.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at October 22, 2003 12:40 PM | Permalink

Eric -- just what is the center point by which you judge all of the outlets you mentioned to be "left of center"? I suspect you would consider Bill Clinton a leftist, which means your perception of the center and my own are very different....

As for the notion that "some people...impute superhuman power to Fox and to O'Reilly, and waste an icredible amount of energy trying to take him down, which only strengthens his power and appeal" -- isn't this an O'Reilly talking point rather than a real-world one?

Posted by: Steve at October 22, 2003 2:34 PM | Permalink

So what you're saying is that the traditional news can't respond to O'Reilly and they can't ignore him, because either way he trashes them. So how should the news respond?

One option would be to become like him. That seems to be the route Al Franken has taken and Al Gore is taking with his television network.

Is that what we should want? I don't want to have to make a choice between getting my news from a source that tells me anyone who disagrees with me is wrong or a source that tells me that everything I think is wrong. I see the world as a nuanced place, but O'Reilly doesn't believe in nuance.

If there's a way for traditional news to respond to O'Reilly while remaining traditional, I'd like to hear it. Otherwise, what are we left with?

Posted by: Matthew Morse at October 22, 2003 2:36 PM | Permalink

"The other thing I've learned abouth bloggers is it's tough take things seriously when it's so easy to change what's been written. Imagine if O'Reily had a blog, You'd never know what to trust."

Actually, what I find so interesting about is the lack of transcripts for their shows -- things slide down the memory hole there quite quickly. Compare this to the documentation on and

Posted by: Steve at October 22, 2003 2:37 PM | Permalink

Oooh Steve, ya got me, I'm not a conventional liberal, therfore I get talking points from O'Reily at a morning meeting, therefore anything I say can be dismissed. How boring.

Bill Clinton was, potlicilally, a centrist, I agree, and I have no particular liking for O'Reilly, in fact I listed him as one of the 10 most annoying "conservatives" on my blog. In reality, I don't think he has any sort of ideology, and I find all of these labels and categories to be rather boring. I was just using them as shorthand. But, please tell me, which is it? Is O'Reilly not at all important and not at all the object of ire among many people who style themselves "liberals", or are He and Fox News cancers upon the American body politic that much be combatted with Al Franken books etc.? It's undeniable that the guy's a fixation among some people. That's all I'm saying. I don't particularly care about him one way or the other.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at October 22, 2003 2:54 PM | Permalink

Eric -- you lost me at "Oooh Steve." Self-styled free-thinking iconoclasts always lose boring, dimwitted party liners like me. Uh, yeah. There, we've both planted a straw man. Welcome to the world of Faux News.

The main fixation his critics have with O'Reilly is the fact that he isn't who he says he is, yet he promotes this great ideology of truth sans spin. Were he in the ratings sewer with, say, Chris Matthews it wouldn't be a big deal, but O'Reilly's popularity makes him far from a marginal character. And hence, subject to some scrutiny, especially in light of his made-up background. (Forget about Terry Gross -- the interviewer who could really discredit O'Reilly in front of America would be April Grace's character from Magnolia.)

My point re: the conclusion of your post about Bill is that it was full of the same hyperbole he himself spouts, rather than the typical person's reaction to books like Franken's -- which devouts perhaps 10 percent of its pages to Big Bill. O'Reilly is just one of many contemporary snakeoil salesmen that many leftists harp on.

I await your definition of centrism, and how mainstream (or, in your vernacular, "left of center") news outlets like ABC, CBS, NBC,CNN, the NYT, LAT, WaPO, PBS and NPR have earned this label. Or would that be too boring for you?

PS -- Perhaps your sense that O'Reilly doesn't have "any sort of ideology" drives your perception of where the center is. If you run through, say, 10 standard-item right v. left issues, the bias meter is gonna read at least 70 percent rightward on Bill. As a counter-example, Bill Maher -- despite his self-proclaimed libertarian ideals -- would come out around 70 percent lefty.

Posted by: Steve at October 22, 2003 3:46 PM | Permalink

When I say that O'Reilly has no ideology, I mean that he is, in my view, primarily an entertainer. He is not, I think, a serious intellectual with serious policy positions. He has to come up with something to be outraged by 5 days a week and that's naturally not going to lead to a lot of ideological consistency or depth. This is based on what little I've seen of his show. He is a figure of little interest for me. Fox News as personified most specifically through O'Reilly, however, is a phenomenon of great interest however to oh, I don't know, Paul Krugman, Joe Conason, Al Franken, Eric Alterman, Slate, and obviously, NPR, as well as, obviously, Al Gore, who thinks he needs to start his own network to counter Fox. This is an undeiniable fact. Part of the point of Jay Rosen's original post was, I believe, to make an analysis as to why all these people feel so threatened by O'Reilly and by Fox. His analysis was through the prism of media theory and I think was quite accurate. I was posing a perhaps somewhat more reductive theory based based on the bias of various media outlets. For people who share the bias of these media outlets this woud not seem to exist, and would be called "objectivity". For those that don't happen to it wouldn't. I made a mistake in placing an outdated label on that bias (It's actually much more complicated what the prevailing world view of Big Media is) which you've since pounced on. Simce you apparently fancy yourself the leader of some kind of ideological inquistion, I'll answer your question indirectly. Regardless of what our obviously divergent definitions of "the center" are, I'm not really talking about centrism, but about "objectivity", which I believe is an impossible fiction. Every journalist has some kind of bias. If Fox admitted and all the big boys admitted that this was the case and wore their biases proudly, I think that would be a much better and much more honest system. I would prefer a more British system than the system of false "objectivity" that everyone: O'Reilly, Gross, everyone follows now.

PS-As far as O'Reilly making up things about his background, I don't know what you're talking about. I'm not a fan, and know very little about him. Again, I'm bemused at how much time and energy some people put into scrutizing him, when he's not that major a figure. He's a cable talk host for cripe's sake. Sure, he gets better ratings than Chris Matthews, but again it's a fraction of the ratings of the Network News Anchors.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at October 22, 2003 4:26 PM | Permalink

No journalist strives for or advocates "objectivity" so where does that come from Eric? Responsible news outlets strive to achieve balance in their coverage but know they can never be objective. It is a huge straw man you've created calling the mainstream news outlets left-of-center in bias and then another with the unnamed group that trumpets a left-of-center bias as objective.

Posted by: Wes Rand at October 22, 2003 6:02 PM | Permalink

O'Reilley is the fourth estate equivalent of the carnival "geek" who eats the heads off of live chickens. But he lacks the good manners of Ozzie Osborne -- who ate the heads off of live bats.

He is to be studiously ignored by any serious-minded person, be they a journalist, a blogger or anything else.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at October 22, 2003 7:58 PM | Permalink

I think Franken's views are being distorted a bit here. He doesn't really promote the left/right media argument.


How are the plans going for a liberal talk radio network?

I hope we will be a lot like Clear Channel. We will be so popular that we will just own half the radio stations in the country.

So, Rush says that he balances out all other media. What's your take?

It's all bullshit. The media have other biases that include sensationalism instead of covering the issues. It's cheaper to do it to get ratings. OJ, Condit, things that have pictures, laziness, pack mentality. Asking if there is liberal or conservative bias in the media is like asking if al Qaeda uses too much oil in the hummus. There is a bias in the right-wing media. The right wing media is FOX, Washington Times, Ann Coulter, Wall St. Journal ed page and talk radio. They will lie and cheat in talk radio to pursue. There is no equivalency.

Why haven't liberals been as successful in getting their message out?

I think there might be a different type of psychology between liberals and conservatives. There is some work being done on that. There are rabid Hannitys, Norquists, Bill O'Reilly personalities. Then there are liberal fighters like me. I'm not like them. They will intimidate. They will do what the FOX complaint did. They said I'm shrill, unstable, not funny, deranged and a parasite. The press that it came from is the Washington They say on their site that if you are an amateur writer you will get published. That's how desperate the right-wing is. I wrote in the Rush book: Fair mean vs. Unfair mean. I think it's fair to be mean to bullies to show where they are lying. O'Reilly writes about me but he has never actually said I said anything that wasn't true.

Posted by: gogger at October 22, 2003 9:31 PM | Permalink

Gogger, don't look in the wrong place. Karl Rove and Sean Hannity aren't pulling people to a more conservative position. The Democrats are pushing them away. The Democrats have failed to marginalized groups like ISM or ANSWER and are pissing people off because of it.

Union members are traditionally Democrats but they are far right of where the Democratic party is on most social issues. As such Democrats such as those are moving farther right in party, though they're not moving anywhere in their own beliefs.

The Democratic Party will have to bank right if it plans to one day represent the little guy. It has gone so far left that it has alienated those who are moderates while the Republican Party has drifted closer to the center and has begun to appeal to those voters.

The way they're going now, the Democrats will lose more former Democrats, such as myself (and the electricians, landfill workers, welders and millwrights I hang with), to the Republican party.


Posted by: Kalroy at October 23, 2003 9:33 PM | Permalink

It's important to separate deserved contempt for O'Reilly's methods from the platform he is pushing.

Popular distrust of the media *is* growing and this trust needs to be regained. The term "populist" is somewhat misleading though, as it basically means "non-aligned, or left *and* right". What O'Reilly is just starting to do, Chomsky has been doing for years (though Chomsky, IMO, is fairly respectable in his methods).

If we are to excuse "paranoid" from its real medical meaning, we cannot let the object of the paranoia remain purely imagined. There *is* real bias in the media. The large media deserve to be criticized for not cutting into politics deeply enough, for being too financially involved with those interested in political outcomes.

The proper response *is* what NPR did. That they lost is nothing. It's no reason to stop doing the right thing. The only way to get trust is to earn it. Keep O'Reilly coming until it's clear his claims have been fairly dealt with. Given him an open pass. Give him an anchorship. Just hold him to the same rules, and it will all come out in the wash.

Also, it doesn't serve your point to label the populist distrust paranoid when you use the term "trailer park", presumably to refer to lower classes. Eliminate your political/class interests before you criticize those of others.

Posted by: Pablo Mayrgundter at October 24, 2003 2:09 PM | Permalink

WOW!! I'd have to say O'Reilly really got under the skin of alot people out there. Maybe the point is that you must have "ears" to hear and "eyes" that see otherwise you're blind to all sides. Maybe that's what applies to gogger...when you can't be fair, call others names and hurl accusations.

Posted by: sue harris at October 25, 2003 2:12 PM | Permalink

I haven't read Hofstedler's "Paranoid Sytle" but even a slight reference toward this medical condition is illuminating. Whether we claim "... a vast right wing conspiracy" or a "left wing media bias" we are certainly standing on quaking ground. These kinds of generalizations stir the blood of all ideologs, left and right, but in the end, all "paranoia" is based on illusion and illusion is a lie.

Posted by: Tom Love at October 27, 2003 8:22 PM | Permalink

Bill O'Reilly is a bullying paranoid nutcase who hides his racism towards blacks & other minorities by "I'm only looking out for the kids." There were people in the south in the 50's who would lynch a black man just for LOOKING at a white woman. They too used the excuse "I'm just looking out for the kids."

O'Reilly is a COWARD who can dish it out but CANT TAKE IT- much like Rush Limbaugh. The reason the 2 were treated so differently is that Franken is a COMEDIAN & O'Reilly is a bullying ranting lunatic with the ego the size of the Titanic.

Posted by: Tony Carson at March 17, 2004 4:57 PM | Permalink

From the Intro