Lawrence O'Donnell To Bill O'Reilly: Put Up Or Shut Up

In one of the finest commentaries I've seen, Lawrence O'Donnell lays the gauntlet gently, quietly and firmly at Bill O'Reilly's feet over O'Reilly's claim that MSNBC has "anti-American" tendencies. Not once did O'Donnell raise his voice. Not
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In one of the finest commentaries I've seen, Lawrence O'Donnell lays the gauntlet gently, quietly and firmly at Bill O'Reilly's feet over O'Reilly's claim that MSNBC has "anti-American" tendencies. Not once did O'Donnell raise his voice. Not once did he say or do anything that was bombastic or angry, but underneath the quiet voice there was mockery and anger. Quite well done.

He also makes a great point. While we all focus on Glenn Beck's wingnuttery, BillO is in the background making stuff up, saying whatever he wants, and getting away with it. Here's his lead:

Time for tonight's rewrite. Do you ever get the feeling that Glenn Beck's job is to be a smoke screen for Bill O'Reilly? Beck is busy saying so many utterly insane things that get him so much attention that it's easy to miss O'Reilly's lower voltage lies. Here is O'Reilly talking with renowned prostitute patron Dick Morris about the thing O'Reilly can never stop talking about, his interview with President Obama.

And yes, that thought has occurred to me. Glenn Beck is a distraction, attractive only to the whackos who put on their tinfoil hats and wait for the second coming of the Messiah on a rocket. But Bill O'Reilly, now that guy looks credible, especially when sandwiched next to Beck.

O'Donnell's observation that O'Reilly has learned that he can lie to viewers and get away with it is what drives all of us here to make sure he doesn't get away with it. And now Lawrence O'Donnell issues a challenge to BillO (love the way he spits out the name "Billy"):

Now, I have a homework assignment for your underworked staff. Since they finished explaining the tides and the moon to you, put them to work trying to find what this network has done or what I have done that is anti-American. Take as long as you want. Find it and show it to your audience. and if you're as afraid to accept my challenge as I think you are, if you don't even try to provide fact to back up what you said about me, no one watching this show is going to be surprised, Billy, because they will know that you will have proved everything that I just said.

Full transcript follows (as taken from their real-time transcript attached to the video):

Time for tonight's rewrite. Do you ever get the feeling that Glenn Beck's job is to be a smoke screen for Bill O'Reilly? Beck is busy saying so many utterly insane things that get him so much attention that it's easy to miss O'Reilly's lower voltage lies. Here is O'Reilly talking with renowned prostitute patron Dick Morris about the thing O'Reilly can never stop talking about, his interview with President Obama.

OREILLY: The president wouldn't basically define how he sees the Muslim Brotherhood. He would not do it. He said they are strains of Anti-American in it, but that sounds like MSNBC, there are strains of anti-americanism over there.

Sure.

So O'Reilly tells the lie that MSNBC is anti-american and gets a desperate guy whose public record with prostitutes makes him unemployable anywhere else to agree with him. And his devoted audience thinks they just learned something, which explains why a University of Maryland study found that Fox News viewers are misinformed more than any other news network viewers. A study that was not the first to reach that conclusion.

Now, when I say O'Reilly is lying about this, I'm giving him credit for sometimes being smarter than what he actually says. And on this one, O'Reilly knows better. He knows there's nothing anti-American going on at this network. But he's seen the studies about how, shall we say, impressionable his audience is, and he knows everyone on the fox payroll that appears as a guest on the show will say exactly what he wants them to say. He has figured out exactly what his audience wants to hear, and that's what he delivers. And when that requires lying, O'Reilly can do it without blinking because he discovered there's a lot of money to be made in those lies. Here is what i see when i look at Bill O'Reilly. A very, very, very rich man who has grown phenomenally rich by playing on TV something that america falls for. When i look at O'Reilly, i see dozens of guys i grew up with who were just like him. Overbearing, argumentative, Irish guys who think they know everything and can back up nothing. Those guys have always been a joke to me, which is why O'Reilly almost never has the capacity to outrage me, because he is just a joke to me. Most of the time. But when he blairs homicidal -- he deserved what he has received. Most of what O'Reilly does day-in and day-out deserves nothing more than to be laughed at, which is how saturday night live treated him, what else can you do with someone who says he knows of no other explanation of why the tides go in and out. Then when told it has a little something to do with the moon thinks he can stump you with this question.

How did the moon get there? How'd it get there, how'd the sun get there? How'd it get here? How did it get there? Who put it there.

He believes he can ask an utterly idiotic question like that and intimidate you, simply by using his faux Irish tough guy style. Billy boy, i know real Irish tough guys. They don't look and sound like you. And none of them come from Long Island like you. And none of them go to work in makeup like you. Anybody who knows real tough isn't fooled by your act, Bill.

Now, I have a homework assignment for your underworked staff. Since they finished explaining the tides and the moon to you, put them to work trying to find what this network has done or what I have done that is anti-American. Take as long as you want. Find it and show it to your audience. and if you're as afraid to accept my challenge as I think you are, if you don't even try to provide fact to back up what you said about me, no one watching this show is going to be surprised, Billy, because they will know that you will have proved everything that I just said.

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