Thursday, March 20, 2008

The O'Reilly Fiction

When I first saw Bill O'Reilly's show several years ago, I thought he was a pompous ass, but I respected the fact that he aired negative feedback from his viewers. That was about all I knew of the guy. Of course, once I watched enough episodes, I found his personality abrasive enough to be disinterested whether I agreed with him or not.

Since then, I've gone on to lose interest in Fox News completely because of both bias (keep in mind, I'm conservative to an extreme) and incompetence. However, with the Obama/Wright issue recently, I started watching again because other networks were sanitizing the debate by playing less offensive videos.

One show I caught was an O'Reilly Factor episode where one of the other topics was The Huffington Post and offensive comments O'Reilly staff had found there. O'Reilly distorted the issue by noting Arianna Huffington as the editor and hence responsible for all text on the site. In this case, he was referring to the anonymous comments found in discussion of articles on the site.

Tonight, he's at it again. He sent one of his paparazzi-like camera crews after Huffington to interview (harass) her over the issue. Huffington responded here in far too respectful a manner.

What bothers me about this is that O'Reilly is deliberately misleading his viewers. He knows comments sections are open forums, not articles, editorials, or even letters to the editor. This isn't content sanctioned by Huffington. It's content created by users interested in discussing the issues raised in the article. And, the Internet is a tough place sometimes. People exercise their free speech rights there more than anywhere, and I would think sites should celebrate that speech in our country, not hide it like Huffington is doing and O'Reilly expects all of us to do. Let people speak their mind. If they say something offensive, they can deal with the fallout. Leave the site owners alone.

So who's less American...really?

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