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November 29, 2004

Bill O'Reilly Just Won't Shut Up About the "Smear Merchants"

Here's a bit of, ahem, no spin zone apologism on behalf of Dan Rather:

The ordeal of Dan Rather goes far beyond the man himself. It speaks to the presumption of guilt that now rules the day in America. Because of a ruthless and callow media, no citizen, much less one who achieves fame, is given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to allegations or personal attacks. The smearing of America is in full bloom.
That [Kitty Kelly "smear" on George Bush] came on the heels of the Swift Boat Veterans' attacks on John Kerry [related, bio], an ordeal that may have cost him the election. While some of the Vietnam vets had valid points, more than a few of the accusations against Kerry were simply untrue.
Right-wing talk radio, in particular, pounded Kerry and also bludgeoned Dan Rather for his role in another smear incident - the charges against George W. Bush vis-a-vis his National Guard service. Again, Rather was found guilty without a fair hearing. Charges that he intentionally approved bogus documents that made President Bush [related, bio] look bad were leveled and widely believed. It was chilling.

O'Reilly goes on to say he's known Rather for "20 years," and vouches for his integrity.

Well, may be.

But is it just me, or did Bill O'Reilly's jihad against the so-called "smear merchants" seem to begin, coincidentally enough, at about the same time he was being informed of the sexual harassment lawsuit against him?

Several months prior to the infamous loofah dirty talk incidents -- alleged, I suppose I should say-- I noticed that O'Reilly seemed personally invested in the notion that "smear merchants" were peddling "lies" and "slanders" against all the good, unimpeachable folks in the US media. He seemed to be spending an awful lot of time discussing "Stuart Smalley" (his not really cute or funny put-down of Al Franken) and making asinine and self-serving sermons to Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham, branding them "rightwingers" and "smear merchants" who were more interested in sensationalism and partisanship than truth and fairness.

Perhaps I'm just too cynical, but I rather doubt O'Reilly's newfound crusade is entirely principled. I would suggest that he began this campaign against "smear merchants" in order to insulate himself against his own coming scandal, one he knew about but which his audience did not. Now he can claim that he doesn't have to discuss his scandal, because he won't give the "smear merchants" time on his show, and that's a principled position he's strongly believed in for, oh, three or four months or so.

O'Reilly occasionally he does ask tough questions of those who need asking, and he's pretty good about animating America about important issues. I don't get his "Guards on the border" fetish, but I'm thankful for his promotion of the boycott-France movement.

And yeah, it's sorta fun to watch him engage in shameless puffery night after night, opining how this guy and that guy won't talk to them because they're "afraid to take the heat" from no-spin O'Reilly.

But he seems to be tailoring some of his positions to his best personal advantage. I can't take the attacks on Coulter or the defense of Rather, myself.

KerrySpot Agrees: So I'm not the only one.

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posted by Ace at 12:03 AM

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