Re: Joan Walsh On Bill O’Reilly: I Told You So!

Earlier today I warned Salon editor Joan Walsh against appearing on the O’Reilly Factor to discuss the controversy surrounding the murdered abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller. I argued that there was no possible upside because Bill O’Reilly would just turn the interview into a shoutfest wherein O’Reilly would seek only to harangue and ridicule.

Guess what?

This was a pathetic display of bullying by an ignorant, dishonest, and obsessed man. O’Reilly deftly validated my long-held position that no Democrat or progressive should EVER appear on Fox News. O’Reilly loaded the segment with quotes and video clips to which Walsh had no prior access and could not reasonably respond with any authority. She, however, had no opportunity to do likewise, or even to respond to his questions. When he wasn’t hollering at her, saying that “You have blood on your hands,” he was bellowing at her to “Stop talking!” That is the natural state of an O’Reilly interview. It is a format in which he excels, but others can be made to look foolish. So even though Walsh has been an effective and articulate presence on other TV programs, it was easily predictable that she would be jostled and beaten here. Walsh herself seems to agree with me after the fact:

“If I’m sorry I did the show — and I’m not yet sure I am — it’s only because of one thing: He used me to try Dr. Tiller again, postmortem.” […] “I’m a little embarrassed because they make me look like a liberal Pollyanna, a lamb ready to lie down with the lion — to be eaten! Live and learn.” […] “Epic fail! What was I thinking?”

You ought to be sorry, Joan. But you’re right, he did use you. He used you to attack everyone who believes that private, personal medical decisions should be between the patient and the doctor. He used you to bash everyone with liberal values that are rooted in free choice and freedom from groups or governments that seek to impose their moral standards on you. He used you to validate himself and to reinforce the falsehood that he and Fox News are “fair and balanced.”

You should be embarrassed, too. And I hope that you have learned. I hope others can learn from your unfortunate experience. The deck is stacked against anyone who wanders into that lair. It has nothing to do with your debating skills or subject knowledge. It is fixed from the outset. O’Reilly is, as you said, “driven by demons.”

I simply cannot say this enough: Stay the HELL off of Fox News. The only thing they care about is ginning up the rage and hyping the resultant conflict. Just take a look at how they are already promoting the Walsh episode just hours after it was taped:

Notice they proudly plug the flaring tempers in part one. And, worse, part two is pitched as “O’Reilly’s Dr. Tiller shoot-out.” Remember, this is about a man who was just shot to death. This is all you need to know about Fox News and how they will gleefully exploit you in the most repulsive manner imaginable.

[Update – 6/21/09] Joan Walsh wrote another followup to her O’Reilly misadventure. She seems to have learned her lesson.

“I didn’t expect to go into a debate on late-term abortion, or the details of Dr. Tiller’s practice. I was asked to discuss my reasons for criticizing O’Reilly’s crusade against Tiller, and why I hoped he would turn down his rhetoric. I was sandbagged, but that’s the O’Reilly game plan.” […] “I should have been prepared for him to hit me again Monday, when I couldn’t defend myself, with selective re-editing that took out my criticism of him and made me look evasive and/or stupid.”

I can’t imagine why she didn’t expect to be sandbagged and ridiculed. She should have read what I wrote before her appearance. I predicted precisely what would take place. I just hope that others will learn from her mistake. When you go on Fox News you are abandoning the world of responsible media and volunteering to be victimized by unscrupulous practitioners of self-righteousness and deceit. Just say no!


31 thoughts on “Re: Joan Walsh On Bill O’Reilly: I Told You So!

  1. I will never understand why Blacks and Democrats go on Fox News, the only thing that ever happens is that they are ambushed. Fox News has the highest ratings because they cater to white extremists and to people that feel Blacks have no place in America other than doing menial labor. I refuse to watch any Fox news show because they are blatant about how they feel there is NO use for minorities in this country.

    • After the campaign last year, I don’t know how anyone can give Fox any credibility.

      At one point Nas delivered petitions with 600,000 signatures protesting Fox’s racism, particularly O’Reilly. He said that “Everybody has a marketing plan; his marketing plan is racism.”

    • But they keep going on because they have the mistaken notion that ideas and logic can win in a debate!!! The problem is that the tools of debate at its most simple are a law unto themselves and it wouldn’t matter if you were debating whether Goofy or Mickey were better Christians once you are in that format. These formats are all about PUNCH and JUDY .. and the host is not going to be the one getting socked! Also… Liberty University has the top debate program in the country because mastering those skills is an end unto itself where right and wrong is concerned and who would know that better than Jerry Falwell. Lastly.. I don’t even remember the name of the author I want to cite… but guys like Frank Luntz, Roger Ailes, Lee Atwater, and Karl Rove.. they are masters of language and communication. Until the left takes seriously what these men have mastered, we will continue to see our side slaughtered.. for years figuratively.. but now it is quite literal!

  2. I’ve just posted in Joan’s blog comment section, where I sent her a link to your “Starve the Beast” column and noted that while she warrants no sympathy, the next time she will get “the mother of all lectures.” Upon reflection, I am formulating the theory that Joan’s episode is analogous to the woman who marries the “bad boy” believing she’ll eventually tame him. No, she will not, and she’ll come to hate him for her own failure. In this case, Joan thought she’d be the one – finally, after all the other liberals, fake and genuine – to appeal to O’Reilly’s sense of reason. To some gentle, thoughtful fairness deep within. Only to learn there are no such qualities within him, that his egotism is so severe as to preclude sensitivity, to approach pathological. Scratch that – it is a pathological egotism. And you can quote me on that.

  3. Joan claims to be a practicing Catholic so she must on day believe she will stand before a living God. I am sure George Tiller can testify to this fact postmortem, in fact I believe he also had some since of a Living God as he was in Church. Their hands are covered in the blood of the unborn as Oreilly stated. Their assertion that an unborn fetus, with a heart beat has no rights, well lets say 37 other states don’t feel that way. Noticed this blog has not received many hits on last nights interview. well i can see why, all Joan could muster up is the comeback “its the mother’s right to abort the fetus”. Its the mother’s right to kill, regardless of the reason. thats all you pro-choice people cling to.

    • I am happy to stand before your G-d or any other, and say that women have the right to decide to terminate fetuses. I’ve been pregnant. Have you? I’ve been pregnant with a very much wanted fetus who turned out to have severe physical and mental abnormalities. It was unlikely she would have lived through the gestation period, and more unlikely she would have survived the birth process. But if she did, she was destined for a short, painful life including surgery and early death. As her mother, and as the mother of other children, who should protect her from this pain but me?

      I cried, I suffered, I went through emotional agonies, and 36 hours of labor, and I aborted her in the 23rd week.

      I know that God applauds my bravery and my ability to exercise my God-given free will. I know that my God is a loving God. Is yours?

      • Thank you for sharing that. In the midst of all of the rancor in this debate, people lose track of the real, human tragedies that that some of us face. Your experience illuminates the reasons we must honor the choices of women who are the most affected, and who have the greatest motivation to care.

        My condolences for your loss. Stay strong, as I can see you are.

      • If you had taken time to read my blog. I stated, aborting a fetus for any reason, not a fetus that was expected to die or jeopardise the life of the mother. Yes my God is loving but He is also our Father that holds us accountable for our actions, sometimes in life and sometimes afterwards. My wife had complications with our first child, her health and life were in jeopardy before and after the birth. Her main concern was doing everything possible to give that unborn child a chance. If George Tiller was such a hero why isn’t the the 60,000 women that he performed the abortion procedure on singing his praises loudly? Why are they not standing up for the man that they claim to be a hero for the health of women. Are they ashamed they had an abortion or is that their life was negatively impacted pyhsically, mentally and spriritually forever? Whatever the reason they have not come to his rescue. The liberal media on the other hand has paraded the pro-choice advocates and their leaders in front of America to rebuke Bill O Reilly. I ask again were are these 60,000 women?

        • That’s nonsense. It is patently absurd to ask women who went through a gut-wrenching and traumatizing personal experience like that to come out publicly as if it were something to celebrate. You seem to believe that the decision to have an abortion is a joyous occasion. No one is for abortion. They are just for the right to make their own decisions about their own bodies at a difficult time.

          Also, please stop disseminating O’Reilly’s lie about 60,000 abortions done by Dr. Tiller. For that to be true, he would have had to do 6 a day – 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with no time off, no weekends, no holidays – for 35 years. Get real.

        • John: Please go to a very new website already filling with the courageous (and heartbreaking) stories of women and men who work in this field or who have been through late-term abortions:

          We are coming out to tell our stories. We are numerous. Many women you know have had abortions, for lots of reasons.

          Why don’t they tell you? They know what you’ll say.

          By the way, Rosebud is the name I gave the baby girl I wanted to have. I hope she is resting in God’s loving arms. I am so very glad that someone like you didn’t get a chance to tell me what I had to do in this very difficult and painful situation.

          I am very happy that you and your wife had an apparently healthy baby.

          The idea that women do this on a whim is hateful nonsense, spun only by people who want to make… what? MONEY. Has anyone considered how much O’Reilly makes every time he gets on the air and encourages murder?

        • Rosebud,
          This is the last time i will communicate to you on this website. Again, you haven’t carefully read my blog or you would know I have not condemned your reason for your abortion nor would I want to have been there to advise you since you were under a doctors care. All I asked were questions in my last blog and I do not think women make this decision lightly. I do however believe that men have a parental right concerning an unborn child, please do not try mininmize my right as a father. The chain doctor Tiller has forged in this life will have many links of aborted viable babies on it. I am sorry that his soul will have to carry that chain thru eternity and the crys of the unborn will torment him forever. I am truly sorry for your lose and also sorry that you had to make a difficult decision. I can tell you are bitter towards me because of my questions and views and feel our communications can no longer be productive. I hope the grace of God finds you.

        • John

          Thanks again for proving that religion makes you stupid. You give Christopher Hitchens more credibility than he deserves.

    • YOU GO, with your self righteous claptrap, john. You know who is REALLY going to face hell… those “Christian” fundie nuts who look at the benefit of modern medicine.. it’s extreme cost.. and think not one second about the hardship it can bring about. Families are faced with millions of dollars of medical expenses and a crushingly difficult set of life issues to manage with not a thought given to helping them if it means “money out of my pocket!” Maybe if more time was spent actually considering the difficulties others face in life instead of doing everything possible to weigh them down, you wouldn’t have so many of other people’s medical decisions to butt your nose into. Meanwhile.. thousands of soldiers and veterans are now dealing with loss of limbs and life altering brain injury because, where your vigilance and thirst for justice and REFUSAL to abide wrong COULD have saved the deay, you were only too happy to roll over and bark the national anthem whenever Bush wanly smiled in your general direction. And I shouldn’t even blame Bush cuz it certainly goes back to all those nuts around Reagan who are still operating in the leadership of the GOP.

    • and when was the last time you gave birth John?

  4. Whether you like it or not, she lost when she gave Bill what he wanted: “Yes, I think Teller is a hero”. Game over.

    • She lost when she gave Bill what he wanted: “Yes, I’ll come on your show.”

    • Oh, and John? It’s not a GAME to any woman who’s been through this. Maybe it is to the men who like to debate about how to control women’s bodies.

  5. Odd. I thought she made him look like a fool.

    • Well…He always looks like a fool to me.

      But that isn’t the point. Appearing on his program plays into his hands. He doesn’t care if he wins or loses. He just wants to whip up some controversy to hype his show. Walsh, unfortunately, helped him do that.

      Even if you think she won, she also legitimized him by granting the interview. Would she have gone on the National Enquirer Channel or The David Duke Show? Who cares if we can beat Duke in a debate? We shouldn’t be debating him in the first place. He still wins because you bring him more attention. His audience will always think that he won.

      We should treat Fox News the same way. They are no better. In fact, they are far worse.

    • I agree. I’ve read her blog post since then and know she thinks she was a failure, but to me, she came off much better. Walsh was calm and collected; meanwhile, BOR went completely off the rails.

      If he wants to go bat-shit crazy like that each time there is a perceived political enemy, then I say let them go on, because youtube clips highlighting his nuttiness live forever.

  6. I hate to say it, but Walsh got pawned.

    O’Reilly won’t let anybody spin in the “NO SPIN ZONE”.

    Trying to “spin” gun control and abortion was stupid on her part.

    She should have answered his question truthfully and moved on to the next question. Instead she danced around it. (Not a good move in O’Reilly’s play-pen!)

    • While my position is that no one should EVER go on his show (or any Fox show), if someone absolutely must, the way to handle it is by ignoring EVERY question.

      You go there with your own agenda and you hit the points you came to make. You turn the tables on O’Reilly. Have questions prepared to badger him with. And always…ALWAYS…mock him. When he says something stupid, tell him bluntly that it was stupid. When he hollers at you, laugh and tell him that such anxiety can lead to strokes. Then quickly ask him again why he supports people who murder law-abiding doctors.

      • In other words, address the subtext. Never take the question at face value but perceive the motivation for the question (to make me look foolish, to pretend you are not complicit in the murder), point it out clearly, and respond to that. I’m afraid Joan is no psychologist nor did any of her many advisers pound the ATS approach into her.

  7. He never supported his murder. Nice try though. He had a problem with a man who kills babies for reasons like: headaches, stress, and wanting to play sports.

    • 2nd least effective debating technique after arguing by distraction: minimizing or trivializing the adversary’s motives/behavior. Coulter used it – infamously – when she said of soldiers complaining about faulty combat vests they don’t want to get their hair mussed. Yes,she demeaned a good conservative’s heroic warriors. If Coulter was lousy at minimizing, at least she made up her own specifics, while you’re just quoting rightwing messagers. So you’re no Coulter.

      And lest you accuse this post of changing the subject – arguing by distraction -no, my Coulter citation is an example of your debating technique. A mighty obscene one, might I add.

      • It’s nice you hold life of a baby at such low standards.

        • Chaser at 14:37 (in case this doesn’t nest): ah, now we come across faulty premises, challenges based on assumptions stipulated by only one side.

  8. This was posted over at TVNewser, but it is worth mentioning over here.

    Joan Walsh did elicit an interesting nugget from BOR, which I think was overlooked in all the hullabaloo..

    6:57: “I didn’t crusade anything”

    8:33: Joan: “You crusaded against him.” Bill: “YOU BET!”

    The times listed here coincide with the time listed on the youtube clip posted on TVNewser.

    Mark, won’t you come back to TVN and be a voice of reason over there? It’s me and three others against the world in the comments section.

    • That’s a good one. He contradicted himself in less than 2 minutes.

      Here’s an example where he contradicted himself immediately:

      O’Reilly: “My Constitutional right says I can say what I say, you say what you say. As vile as you say it, you can say it. And I would never condemn you for saying it.”

      Followed immediately by him condemning her:

      O’Reilly: “You are misguided. You have blood on your hands.”

      I also liked this exchange where O’Reilly admits that you don’t get to answer his questions:

      Walsh: “Am I going to get to talk here, or will I always have to talk over you?”
      O’Reilly: “No. I ask you the question, you don’t answer it.”

      That’s just the way it goes on his show.

    • I find TVNewser’s comments area to be a total waste of time. I appreciate the effort you make, but I just haven’t been able to abide it myself.

      It was my hope when I first went there that it would be a site that has comments by people actually engaged in TV news. But it is just a bitterly partisan (and largely ignorant and juvenile) right-wing community, and there are plenty of those that are much better, if I were looking for that.

      I may reconsider after they replace Steve Krakauer (former Foxian) whose departure was recently announced. We’ll see if the site improves any.

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