Bill O'Reilly tried to make a "liberal media" punching bag out of Ted Koppel last night on his Fox News show, and found out that sometimes the punching bag can punch back hard.
O'REILLY: You think that we have corrupted the sanctity of fair news coverage.
KOPPEL: I think --
O'REILLY: That's what I think.
KOPPEL: I think that ideological coverage of the news, be it of the right or be it of the left, has created a political reality in this country which is bad for America. I think it's made it difficult if not impossible for decent men and women in Congress, on Capitol Hill to reach across the aisle and find compromise.
And if we can't -- and if we can't do that, Bill, we're going to be in -- and -- and we have been, I think, for the last few years, in a terrible situation in this country where politically we can't make deals anymore.
Now, you know that one hurt, because O'Reilly really can't deny that what Fox does is propaganda (well, he can try, and does, but it's empty blather) -- and that is has effectively altered the fabric of reality for a whole nation of right-wingers. And that the public discourse is worse off for it, because so much of it is now predicated on Fox-generated falsehoods.
After all, it's difficult to have a reasonable discourse when one side insists on believing laughable fabrications and clings to them as the starting point of the conversation.
So instead he resorted to pointing to Fox's popularity as proof of its worthiness:
O'REILLY: So you're blaming me and the Fox News Channel for the deterioration of Congress. If they don't have enough guts to do what's best for the country by compromising, all right, they don't deserve to be there. You can't be on top for as long as the Fox News Channel has been on top and sell a product that's inferior or dishonest. It's impossible in this country.
Comedy gold. As though Fox News weren't living proof that you can lie through your teeth 24/7 and make a killing from it, so long as you market everything you do to resentful and angry white people. P.T. Barnum's theorem and all that.
But that wasn't the end of it. Near the end of the conversation, O'Reilly turned pious on us:
KOPPEL: The millions -- the millions of people are watching those of you with a particular point of view.
O'REILLY: That's the way the country works. That's the free marketplace.
KOPPEL: That's the free marketplace and I'm perfectly content to leave it on that -- on that note. It's a business. And it's operating as a business. And once upon a time, you and I actually thought journalism was a calling.
O'REILLY: But I still think that I'm doing something noble.
Yeah, destroying public discourse in America -- how noble. It's as noble as Mitt Romney.
[H/t Media Matters]