We knew that Bill O'Reilly had done a nasty segment on Rick Perlstein -- including running his picture -- tonight on Fox News because Perlstein called me shortly afterward and asked:
"Hey, did Bill O'Reilly or someone on Fox do something with me in it tonight?"
"I dunno. I'm recording but not watching. Why?"
"My inbox just started getting deluged with hate mail a little bit ago."
"What time did it start?"
"About 7:30 [Chicago time]."
"Yep, that would be O'Reilly."
"I think they ran my picture. A lot of the mail is about how ugly I am."
I pulled my recording and yep, sure enough, there was a segment attacking Perlstein for his Newsweek op-ed column this week. He invited on his frequent guest, Bernard Goldberg, to talk about it.
As you can see, what set O'Reilly off was Perlstein's characterization of O'Reilly's audience as working-class whites whose more unstable elements sometimes act out violently:
O'Reilly: The most recent Newsweek contains a nasty piece on Sarah Palin that implies she is an intellectual moron supported by poorly educated conservative idiots.
[Hmmmm. Read the piece for yourself. As you can see, it certainly does not use language like that, and in fact discusses to working-class whites in largely respectful tones -- but points out that they don't get much respect among Republican elites. O'Reilly's caricature of the column is actually rather self-revealing.]
O'Reilly: The article goes on to say that these stupid conservatives are influenced by extremist commentators. Quote:
Now [William F.] Buckley is gone, and the most prominent spokesmen -- the Limbaughs and O'Reillys and Becks—can be heard mouthing attitudes once confined to the violent fringe. ... Fox heavily promoted anti-administration "tea party" events this past Fourth of July -- rallies in praise of secession ...
Well, obviously, that paragraph is pure propaganda.
Actually, let's read the whole passage, and you can judge for yourselves. Again, what O'Reilly omits is telling:
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