The Gadflyer: Last night I appeared on Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, debating Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center (he’s the one with red hair
August 22, 2004

The Gadflyer: Last night I appeared on Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, debating Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center (he’s the one with red hair and a beard; you may have seen him). If you're not familiar with the MRC, they're one of a number of well-funded conservative groups established to complain about liberal media bias.

Bozell and I were there to discuss the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I've been on O'Reilly four times now, and the format is always the same: I'm the sacrificial liberal, there to be tag-teamed by the host (in this case guest host John Gibson) and the conservative guest. We'll get to what happened on the air in a moment, but what is of more interest is what happened afterward.After we finished, both of us returned to the green room to remove our makeup. Upon my arrival there, my feeling – as it usually is in this kind of situation – was that it wouldn't do much good for either of us to continue our argument off the air. I feel as passionately about politics as anyone, but let's face it, Brent Bozell and I are not going to convince each other of anything. In person, I try to be polite to everyone, even those whose political views I find repellent. Perhaps a little naïvely, I thought Bozell would feel the same way; we'd wipe our faces, wish each other good evening, and be on our separate ways.

But alas, it was not to be. The moment I walked in, Bozell looked at me angrily and said, "That was horseshit, what you said!" I reconstruct here the rest of the discussion as best I can recall. Although I wrote it down on the way home, a word here or there may be less than precise. Rest assured, though, the nasty parts from Bozell are verbatim:

WALDMAN: What part of it?

BOZELL: You're a liar!

WALDMAN: What are you talking about?

BOZELL: That stuff about Kerry!

WALDMAN: What, about atrocities?

BOZELL: He called them war criminals!

WALDMAN: He didn't accuse any individuals of anything.

BOZELL: You're a liar!

WALDMAN: He never accused those guys of anything.

BOZELL: John Kerry is a liar, and you're a liar!

WALDMAN: What are you talking about?

BOZELL: Fuck you!

At that, Bozell stormed out. I should note that throughout this little argument, I remained calm, partly in an attempt to diffuse Bozell's boiling rage, but also because I was genuinely having a hard time figuring out what he was trying to get across. Bozell, in contrast, looked as though his head was about to explode, his voice growing louder and his face redder. I would say that I was afraid he was going to take a swing at me, but I don't think "afraid" is quite the right word. I'm quite a few years younger than Bozell, and though I suspect he fights dirty, I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, so I'm pretty sure I could take him. Fortunately, it didn't come to that.

Read the transcript

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