The cancellation of a book and companion TV event that was to feature O.J. Simpson talking about how he would have killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and a friend of hers, Ron Goldman, had he actually done the deed (wink, wink), has been a bigger bummer for the folks at the Fox network than the results of the recent election. Nevertheless, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly emerged from the wreckage looking pretty spiffy. Rather than zipping his busy lips to avoid offending corporate master Rupert Murdoch, he was highly critical of the Simpson package early on, and announced that he wouldn't personally patronize any of the advertisers sponsoring the program in question.
Nevertheless, O'Reilly didn't crow victoriously during a phone call last night to Laura Ingraham, the Ann Coulter wannabe who served as guest host of Monday's O'Reilly Factor. Instead, he sounded pissed off at the thought that critics would be able to use the incident to bash Fox -- and among those he fulminated against was an unnamed Denver journalist. "One creep out in the Rocky Mountain News goes, well, maybe the Fox News channel shouldn't have said anything [about the Simpson case]," he blustered. "You know, these people are the worst."
So... who's the creep in question? One of the least likely targets of rage imaginable: veteran Rocky media scribe Dusty Saunders.
O'Reilly's vitriol seems even more out of proportion after you read the "offending" Saunderscolumn
, published on November 20. In the piece, Saunders (pictured) notes that several Fox News personalities had tried to distance themselves from the decision to air the O.J. spectacular, including O'Reilly, who announced on the November 16Factor
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that, "for the record, Fox Broadcasting has nothing to do with the Fox News Channel." Saunders quoted FNC head man Roger Ailes saying much the same thing before offering this timorous comment: "Perhaps Fox News Channel personalities should simply not comment on the sleazy program."
No, it's not a very good suggestion. Indeed, O'Reilly and company deserve credit for slapping around their parent company in this instance, even if their these-guys-aren't-on-my-team claims are more than a bit dubious. But name-calling was wholly unjustified, and not just because O'Reilly insists that he doesn't engage in such childish behavior. (Pause for uproarious laughter.) If a line that benign could make O'Reilly spitting mad, what wouldn't push him over the edge? I mean, does he go off on grocery store employees when they ask if he'd prefer paper or plastic?
Then again, newspaper scribes should be grateful that O'Reilly pays so much attention to them. Getting bashed by O'Reilly is good publicity for an industry desperately in need of same, as well as a badge of honor for the person on the receiving end. So congrats, Dusty. You're finally a member of a not-so-exclusive club. -- Michael Roberts