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Bill O'Reilly -- The Most Gutless Man in the Media
Mike Hersh (c) 2002

The Bob Fertik vs. Bill O'Reilly contest will never rank with Ali vs. Frazier, thanks to O'Reilly's utterly gutless performance. Facing a fresh faced newcomer to television, Bill "Tough Guy" O'Reilly folded like a cheap table and ran away like a little boy.

Fertik, a driving force behind Democrats.com ( http://www.democrats.com/ ) opened with a reasonable assertion, that the media has continued their petty vendetta against Al Gore. The evidence supporting Fertik's position is nearly endless. I refer readers to the peerless archives at the Daily Howler ( http://www.dailyhowler.com/ ). O'Reilly arrogantly attempted to wave away this point, and restated it into some vintage double talk -- some might say spin.

Maybe we should take a look at Mr. O'Reilly. He lied about his "working class roots," claimed credit for an award won by a show he worked on while he wasn't working on the show, and otherwise deceives the public about his scant accomplishments.

O'Reilly is a slick media creation. A professional sly-tongued fast-talker who learned his chops hawking celebrity rumors on trash TV. Who got a face lift? Whose marriage is on the rocks? Who wore a silly looking dress to the Oscars. That sort of schlock. O'Reilly, light weight personified, probably had to stuff rocks in his shoes to keep from floating away like a circus balloon.

FOX "news" recreated this helium heft non-newsman as the master of a "No Spin Zone." That's like calling a parakeet a fearsome bird of prey. When Fertik pressed his points -- that Gore won more votes than Bush, that Bush won a crooked lawsuit not an election -- O'Reilly went from waving off the truth to his second cheap trick: childish abuse.

Faced with Fertik's facts, O'Reilly called his guest "a geek." This is a direct quote. Kind of makes "get over it" seem like lofty oratory. I guess we're lucky Mr. No Spin didn't try to give Fertik a wedgie?

When silly taunting failed to cow Fertik, who insisted correctly most Americans support Al Gore's position, O'Reilly went to his third trick -- the ambush "quote." I've seen O'Reilly lift a quote or statistic out of context, read it in a solemn tone, and watch his opponent flounder.

Fertik didn't fall for it when O'Reilly read a quote from last Winter and tried to claim Al Gore contradicted himself. As Fertik explained, Gore identified Iraq as a danger but outlined a sensible, considered approach to dealing with Saddam Hussein while not undermining our efforts against Al Qaeda.

I can attest to this. I've heard Gore make these points in at least three public speeches during the past year. Each time, Gore outlined a sensible policy on Iraq far ahead of the curve. Most people don't know this is because --as O'Reilly himself gave as the reason Fertik was on his show in the first place -- the media refuses to respect or even cover Al Gore. Clearly having lost this point as well, O'Reilly tried to change the topic, back to mocking Gore.

Fertik stated the plain facts, that most Americans support the Gore position on Iraq. O'Reilly pulled out his last trick: outright lying. O'Reilly claimed that the latest CBS News poll showed Americans supported Bush's "go it alone" attack Iraq position about two to one.

Most of his guests take O'Reilly at his word, and trust him to tell the truth. He doesn't. Most O'Reilly guests fall for his deceit. Fertik didn't. He stood up to O'Reilly's petty insults, the dismissive arrogance, and presented the facts to refute O'Reilly's lies.

Fertik attempted to make a slightly nuanced point -- "it matters how you ask the question." Anyone who knows anything about public polling knows this is always true. O'Reilly doesn't know this or doesn't mind lying about it. Look at the polling data which supports Fertik and exposes O'Reilly as a liar:

52% US should follow recommendations of the UN
37% US should decide what to do on its own

57% US should wait and give the UN more time to get weapons inspectors back into Iraq
37% US should take military action against Iraq fairly soon

61% US needs to wait for its allies before taking any action against Iraq
31% Iraq presents such a clear danger to American interests that the US needs to act now, even without the support of its allies

Source: CBS News Polls at: https://publish.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/09/24/opinion/polls/main523130.shtml

Stunned, humiliated on his own program, O'Reilly pouted, whined, and accused Fertik of "spinning." Then he threw Fertik off his program. The media are rotten with weasels and mealy-mouthed blowhards. It's no mean feat to attain the pinnacle. Bill O'Reilly managed to climb to the top of the bottom feeders tonight.