Tuned In

In Which I Admit That Bill O'Reilly Is Right

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In my column about Fox News last week, I referenced a controversy last month in which “Bill O’Reilly caught flak for using the phrase ‘lynching party’ in a critique of Michelle Obama.” A producer for The O’Reilly Factor wrote to complain that my wording—specifically, the word “critique”—misrepresented O’Reilly, because he wasn’t critiquing her when he said it.

After the jump–a member of the elitist mainstream media acknowledges that O’Reilly is right!

O’Reilly’s comment came up in a critique of Michelle Obama, not by O’Reilly, but by a caller to his radio show, who called her an “angry” woman because of her remark, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” O’Reilly responded:

You know, I have a lot of sympathy for Michelle Obama, for Bill Clinton, for all of these people. Bill Clinton, I have sympathy for him, because they’re thrown into a hopper where everybody is waiting for them to make a mistake, so that they can just go and bludgeon them. And, you know, Bill Clinton and I don’t agree on a lot of things, and I think I’ve made that clear over the years, but he’s trying to stick up for his wife, and every time the guy turns around, there’s another demagogue or another ideologue in his face trying to humiliate him because they’re rooting for Obama.

That’s wrong. And I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that’s how she really feels — that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever — then that’s legit. We’ll track it down.

O’Reilly did catch flak for using the phrase—and issued an apology later—but it was in the context of his caller’s critique of Michelle Obama, not his own. Ironically, the whole reason I cited the controversy was as an example of the difficulties a talk host can encounter when commenting in a new political environment: in this case, the emergence of a leading African American presidential candidate (and potential First Lady) for whom the term “lynching party” takes on an entirely new, loaded connotation. Well, poor word choice cuts both ways, and likewise I’m sorry for mine.

If you’re keeping score at home, I have now commented on an O’Reilly producer’s comments on my comments about O’Reilly’s comments about Michelle Obama’s comments. Anybody care to comment?