Thursday, November 12, 2009

An O'Reilly Blast from the Past

Someone sent me a comment regarding an old blog I posted about my old friend Bill O'Reilly. I wrote the piece three years ago while still employed as a columnist with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The blast from the past brought back fun memories I thought I'd share with you here. Just for the record, O'Reilly never honored his wager.

Monday, March 20, 2006
Leave O'Reilly Alone ... He's Just Crazy

I remember a drunken, seemingly deranged bum in my old neighborhood who walked around with soiled pants, talking to himself and cursing anybody and everybody who crossed his path.

If my mother caught her kids laughing at the bum, she'd scold us, "Leave that man alone. Can't you see he's crazy?"

Fox's million-dollar blabbermouth, Bill O'Reilly, reminds me of that neighborhood lush. Perhaps we "liberals" ought to leave him alone, too. After all ... he's just crazy.

There's no better explanation for the man's behavior. Last year in January, as a guest on his program, "The O'Reilly Factor," I told the host that the "liberal" media commentators he criticizes, rarely resort to the type of name-calling and insults he does on his show.

"That's not true," O'Reilly countered, adding that he never calls people names.

I had just heard O'Reilly call California Senator Barbara Boxer a "nut" and her constituents "loons" on his radio show days before our interview. So, there I sat, in front of millions of his viewers, trying to convince a soggy alcoholic that he'd again peed his pants.

After labeling me a "fraud," O'Reilly promised to check his transcripts. He wagered a dinner at Tony's, a posh restaurant here in St. Louis, if my accusations about Boxer turned out to be true.

The next day, Media Matters for America posted several of O'Reilly's personal attacks (mediamatters.).

"Brown was right and I was wrong ..." O'Reilly begrudgingly admitted on his program that night. Of course, he reneged on the dinner bet by changing the focus of our debate.

I was still a "fraud," O'Reilly maintained because I use "Media Matters' stuff all the time ... they just feed it to him, and he prints it."

Whatever, Bill.

After pointing out in my column that O'Reilly was "spinning" his way out of his own wager, I let the matter go. I held on to a naive notion that the huge slice of humble pie O'Reilly was forced to swallow might help him come to grips with his long history of casting disparaging zingers.

Silly me.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I listened to O'Reilly's debate with former M.A.S.H. star and activist Mike Farrell late last month. Farrell commented that O'Reilly had gained credibility due to his style of "personal attacks."

"No, I don't do personal attacks here, mister," O'Reilly responded authoritatively (mediamatters).

Media Matters busted O'Reilly again, this time with a video montage of his greatest put-downs. On the tape, O'Reilly described Media Matters as "vile, despicable ankle-biters" who use his words "out of context" then "feeds stuff to the mainstream media to discredit" him.

I then wrote in my column that O'Reilly, other conservative pundits and even the president tend to blame the media when things aren't going their way. During his March 17 television show, O'Reilly lashed out at actors Susan Sarandon, George Clooney, Senator Russ Feingold and other "ultra-liberal" members of the "Kool-Aid left." I was among those included in the "personal attack:"

"Fanatical, progressive columnist Sylvester Brown," who writes for the "liberal St. Louis Post-Dispatch," took "information from a far-left smear website, which routinely distorts comments from anyone the site doesn't like."

The fact that I print "dishonest garbage" says "a lot about" me and the Post-Dispatch, O'Reilly continued. The "tens of millions of people" who watch or listen to his shows, know I'm "distorting the truth," he claimed. "Just as they know the far-left smear websites are in business to injure rather than inform." (mediamatters)

Whatever, Bill.

It used to be fun catching O'Reilly in his own lies. But now ... well, it's just sad. I mean, he must see himself on video or read his own transcripts that clearly prove he routinely engages in personal attacks.

I just don't get it. It's not a sin to publicly diss your opponents. I'd be a fool to deny calling O'Reilly "crazy," knowing darn well the statement is right here with my name attached.

Why doesn't O'Reilly just fess up? He could say it's part of his schtick, a byproduct of his passionate positions, or he could blame it on his birthplace, New York. "Hey, we New Yorkers insult people -- fughedaboutit!"

But, no. Like the soiled, cantankerous drunk who blames the bottle for his condition, O'Reilly invites ridicule when he denies, dodges and responds with paranoid proclamations that the "liberal" media and "smear web sites" are out to get him.

It used to be fun exposing Fox's biggest windbag but now, after realizing O'Reilly is stuck in the permanent spin zone of manic denial and manufactured enemies, well, it's just sorta sad.

* The article above wasn't included in my 2006 post. I just added it here to further illustrate the schizophrenic nature of my old friend, Bill. -- SB