Hmmm. Someone must have hit a nerve. Bill O'Reilly spent the bulk of The O'Reilly Factor last night puling loudly over being called out for having compared Helen Thomas -- a far more accomplished journalist who's forgotten more about politics than Bill O'Reilly has ever learned -- to "the wicked witch of the east."
He even entertained Courtney Martin of the Women's Media Center, whose blog earlier featured a post demanding O'Reilly apologize. O'Reilly is smug enough to assume he can bat aside liberal arguments with ease, but when he found he couldn't do so with Martin, he just looked her in the eye and lied:
Courtney Martin: I think we both know that Helen Thomas is fine with being criticized for her work, for her actual journalism. But to take a tack at her appearance is just disrespectful.
O'Reilly: Where was the appearance attack?
Martin: When was the last time you complimented someone by calling her a witch?
O'Reilly: I didn't call her a witch. I said her voice sounded like -- and I did the voice. That was clear.
Martin: Bill, come on. We all know the physical connotations of what a witch looks like.
O'Reilly: OK, so you think, sitting there, that I wanted to call Helen Thomas a witch.
Martin: You did call her -- I don't need to think anything, you did!
O'Reilly: No I didn't. I absolutely didn't. The transcript will show that it was a voice deal.
Better yet, Bill, we can roll the tape:
O'Reilly: The White House press corps looked intimidated to me... Except for that, what's her name? The old lady, Helen Thomas. [squawking sound]
Colmes: Is that your Helen Thomas impression?
O'Reilly: Yea! [squawking sound]
Colmes: I didn't know you did impersonations.
O'Reilly: It's like the wicked witch of the east! If I were Obama, I would've poured water on her, and she would dissolve!
I don't know about you, but that sure sounds to my ears like he's calling her a witch. Or is saying that she's just like a witch different than calling her a witch by something more than a degree of flimsy rationalization?
As usual, the rest of the segment devolves into more blustering until O'Reilly reaches one of his bullying-host apotheoses. You knew he couldn't resist trying to cow Martin, even in a segment devoted to demonstrating his supposed non-sexism.
For those who have sturdy gag reflexes, O'Reilly's mewling "Talking Points Memo" segment, which immediately preceded this segment and largely set it up -- is below the fold.