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What Fertik vs. O'Reilly Says About The Media
Mike Hersh (c)2002

The Bob Fertik vs. Bill O'Reilly contest -- in which a relative rookie bested the top "Tough Guy" of the right wing -- exposes not just O'Reilly, not just FOX (aka FAUX) News, but most of the mass media as an uncritical arm of the right wing propaganda machine.

Most moderate and liberal guests on "news" shows run into a buzzsaw of right wing bias and bullying. Here's the solution to right wing dominated mass media discourse, as demonstrated by Bob Fertik of Democrats.com.

Bob Fertik, a mild mannered moderate devastated Bill O'Reilly, a leading right wing bully. How did he do that? He refused to back down, he stood toe to toe with one of the self-proclaimed heavy weights, and blew him off the stage. Fertik knew his facts, and stayed "on message."

Silly taunting failed to cow Fertik, who anticipated and refuted the Republican press releases almost before O'Reilly could parrot them. Fertik didn't fall for the right wing lies. He stood up to O'Reilly's petty insults and dismissive arrogance, so he was still standing when he presented the facts to refute O'Reilly's lies.

Any moderate or liberal can use the techniques Fertik employed to defeat any right winger in any debate. The reason is simple: The facts simply do not support right wing positions. Some right wingers know this and cleverly, intentionally twist the facts. Others don't know the facts, but energetically and loudly repeat the clever lies smarter right wingers concoct.

Generally, right wingers are bullies who cheat and lie to "win" at all costs. Like all bullies, they fold up and usually whimper pathetically if confronted. Consider how G.W. Bush backed down immediately when Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle took exception to his partisan attacks against Democrats.

The more polished right wing operatives -- Ari Fleischer is one -- lie calmly and back down artfully when caught in a lie. Case in point, his calls for "everyone" to "take a deep breath" after Senator Daschle -- as calmly as possible -- demanded an apology from Bush.

Bush and his political hatchet-men viciously attack Congressional Democrats -- often by name -- every time they question Bush on anything. This after Bush swore to the American people he would change the partisan tone and avoid the politics of personal destruction and character assassination his own party raised to an art form, or more accurately lowered to the depths of despite.

As an AWOL coward who shirked service and essentially deserted in time of war, George W. Bush is the least qualified person to attack anyone's patriotism. Still, Bush demeans the dedication of Democratic war veterans like Senators Cleland and Inouye. It's hard to imagine, but this gets even worse.

Following a partisan political blue print designed by Karl Rove last January -- if not earlier -- Bush wantonly politicizes 9/11 and terrorism. Bush kept the election close enough to steal in large part because he claimed he was compassionate and would govern from the middle.

Yet, this illegitimate "misleader" of the free world recklessly, fecklessly exploits our fear and manipulates our concerns about our national security to fundraise for other Republicans. Meanwhile he claims he's charting bipartisan national policy.

In short, Bush helps the terrorists terrorize us for his own narrow partisan purposes. It falls to Fleischer to navigate this maelstrom of GOPocrisy on a daily basis, and he's quite good at it.

Fleischer tried to deflect Democrats' righteous outrage claiming that AWOL Bush is not insulting real war veterans about Iraq, he is questioning their patriotism on an entirely different matter.

Of course Daschle and others note that it doesn't matter why Bush -- the one who used family connections to evade the draft and then went AWOL for a year or more -- is insulting war veterans who risked their lives so he could stay drunk and happy back home. The point is that Bush, the coward of the country, is questioning the courage of the real vets. And the vets aren't going to stand for it anymore.

Fleischer's deftness is rare among right wingers. Right wingers cannot and do not debate the issues. They pile lie upon lie and -- when contradicted -- pout childishly that the other person is unfairly using facts and accurate data. If that fails to elicit enough sympathy to derail the dialogue, the right winger starts screaming -- increasing the volume of their tantrum until the other side gives in.

"Hardball" host Chris Matthews is a typical right winger well known for lying and screaming at moderates and liberals. His take on politics defines sophomoric. To him, Democrats' indignation at an AWOL brat like W. Bush impugning their patriotism is "intramural" jealousy because Al Gore got some attention demanding sober consideration before committing our nation to war!

Republican consultant David Gergen -- one of the few on the right who relies on greater articulation rather than louder amplification -- dismissed Matthews' silly school boy clucking out of hand.

Matthews' is a very sad tale. In one of the most pathetic chameleon acts of our times, he devolved from an aide to House Speaker Tip O'Neill into one of the most deceitfully biased blowhards on television. Rather than demonstrate any knowledge he might have learned from one of the all-time grandmasters, Chris Matthews masks his right wing bias behind his now sullied resume.

Did I mention superficial? Matthews regularly sinks his incisors into a sit-com sense of reality and won't let go. Watch for this amusing example: Every time anyone mentions the Washington Post matron Katherine Graham, Matthews chirps in about how he pictured her as "Mrs. Pinchon" -- a character from the old "Lou Grant Show." I liked that show too, but come on Chris! People wash their contact lenses in greater depths than this.

Matthews is like a multiple personality mental patient. He's a hyper pit bull growling at high volume about Democrats one moment, then groveling at the feet of right wingers the next. Last night, [9/25/02] Matthews was a goofy St. Bernard puppy slobbering all over bigot lunatic Dick Armey. It was nauseating. Unfortunately Matthews is the right wing rule, not the exception.

On CNN's Crossfire, Tucker Carlson and Bob Novak scream over anyone who disagrees with them. Ann Coulter is only the most infamous and reckless of the bevy of blonde right wing hired liars. Earlier this week, Laura Ingraham barked a series of non sequitur sound bites at Nation Magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel who was trying gamely to explain how Al Gore's remarks about Iraq opened up this crucial debate in a constructive way.

News junkies know well the vast stable of right wing "foundation" sponsored pundits who boldly lie then scream when called on their lies. This almost always "works" as no moderate or liberal can match a right winger for peevishness, childishness or shameless mendacity.

On the rare exceptions when the other person still refuses to back down, the right winger will shut down the exchange by any means necessary. What else can they do? Rely on facts and logic? Please!

Rush Limbaugh -- the right wing icon and community college drop-out -- holds his finger on the drop button to prevent a cogent moderate or liberal point from getting on the air. There are entire websites dedicated to correcting the torrent of lies and propaganda Limbaugh spews before hiding behind his drop button.

The answer? Trust in your own knowledge of the facts. Do not take at face value right wing talking points, spin and propaganda. When a right winger makes a claim or pretends to offer proof, assume they're lying this time like they were the last time. Right wingers either intentionally lie or simply don't know the facts. They prove this repeatedly.

Remember how O'Reilly claimed the CBS poll said the opposite of what it really said? Remember how many times right wingers lied about Bill Clinton and Al Gore? They blew their credibility. If right wingers say something that contradicts what you've read elsewhere, you can count on this: you're right and they're wrong. Harry S. Truman said it and proved it decades ago. James Carville wrote a book on it. You count on it.

Never forget, when a determined foe confronts a right winger, the right winger starts screaming. be ready for that, and don't back down. If you hold your ground, the right winger will run away. That's what "mighty" Bill O'Reilly did against the more intelligent, more articulate and more reasonable Bob Fertik. That's what Limbaugh, Matthews, Coutler and the rest of the right wing bullies do every time.

We can anticipate right wing tricky tactics and frustrate their "DDT" efforts -- to Distort (the record), Distract (from the facts) and Trash (those of us who know and tell the truth). Stand up to right wing bullies. Then try not to gloat too much when they humiliate themselves by lying, crying, and flying.

Mike Hersch provides political commentary and analysis at www.mikehersh.com