Let’s start this discussion with a qualifier: Bill O’Reilly makes my butt hurt.
I don’t like him.
I don’t like the way he projects himself, I think he thinks way too much of himself. Being a former broadcaster, I know the trade attracts that kind of person and sometimes that kind of personality is needed to pull of a particular kind of show. I know the Primadonna broadcaster, and he certainly has all the tags on him. I’ve had occasion to fire people like that. On other occasions, I’ve kept them on staff, because the numbers being generated exceeded the other, more personal considerations. I understand all of that, and were that my only problem with the man, I’d suck it up and move on.
Thing is, I also I think he’s way off base when it comes to many things, bloggers being among them. His own spin regards them is legend. In my well-considered opinion, Fox news would do very well indeed to get rid of him before the next sun rises, and let him rot in the liberal video wasteland that CNN and MSNBC have become.
That said, I must give O’Reilly some credit; it was he and he alone on Network TV, who actually had the testicular fortitude to get Rony Abovitz on the air , to tell his story, regarding Eason Jordan, the disgraced CNN news head. Of course he COULD and SHOULD have had him on earlier, but I digress. At least he was better than CNN, who NEVER did. And I doin’t know if MS-NBC did, though I have a vauge memory of therebeing some chatter about Matthews having him on. (I’m unsure there.)
I say all of this because in going over my notes this morning, looking for a BIT subject for this week’s column, I found a copy of the transcript of that O’Reilly interview, and was struck by Abovitz’ comments. Rony Abovitz, you may not know, is the guy who runs a blog called Fix The World. 
As the name of his blog implies, Abovitz is hardly a right winger. Says he, in his own blog, recently:
I’m quite far from being a right wing conservative – unless conservative means liberal. I have a right and left hand, and right and left halves to my brain (I hope I have a brain- some will dispute if I have a brain, perhaps even Stewart).
Why can’t I consider both the right and the left? A right and left wing would let you fly. I love flying – airplanes are very cool, as are gliders. U.S. Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd, but especially Frank, would fall out of their chairs, convulsing from laughter, if they were ever accused of being right wing conservatives. Both are Democrats, openly liberal, and Frank is quite possibly one of the most liberal and is from one of the most liberal states in the U.S. But of course, Stewart knows something that all of us have missed: Dodd and Frank are both double top secret Republican operatives, planted by Bush and designed to confuse us all. I have also been planted by the evil Right, a vegetarian (been faking it for 20 years!) technogeek given an undercover mission to take out the top ranking leaders of the liberal media -using the new secret weapon invented by the Republicans, for the sole use of the Republicans, and with the purpose of causing the entire world to eat steak and enjoy huntin’ and fishin’: the internet.
We must be free to openly criticize the government, the military, and all of our leaders without the fear of repercussions.
It’s after all of this, that he’s finding out just how that works in the real world, now, and watching the educational process is, well, interesting. Abovitz’ new disdain for the wild garbage on the left that’s been tossed his way is the kind of response I’d expect from a leftist who has just been exposed to how vitriolic those dogs of his own political persuasion can be when they get their noses rubbed in the carpet soaked in their own pee.
(Interestingly; as Abovitz points out, once prompted, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd also challanged Jordan… but not until someone else took the lead. Ponder the reasons behind that for a bit. I may address that point in a future column. For the moment it’s enough to know that they were each in damage control mode, where they have remained. In short, they noticed the lie as well, but didn’t say anything for fear of being singled out as Abovitz has.)
Abovitz, being that rarest of the rare… an fairly honest leftist, challanged the lies he saw, and is in the process of getting slapped down by his fellows for his honesty. Honesty, apparently, is not a quality the left likes. He’s learning that free speech has consequences. He’s now learning (Or should be) that the constitution was never intended to remove all of those consequences; that the message it sent was that we had no consequences from GOVERNMENT for speaking out. Consequences from our fellow citizens, the Constitution did not address.
(IE: your freedom to speak doesn’t limit MY right to respond.)
That’s a crucial point in all of this, as we do a cut-fade to the White House….
….where we see Mr. Guckert of the little upstart News Service… one without the typical leftist leaning reporters… asking a question of the President. Oops. A lot of the Bush- hating press in the room doesn’t like the questions being asked. Their reponse is to blame the government… specificly, the White House, for allowing someone not in their club to speak up and ask questions of a sitting President. They want more restrictions on who can ask such questions.
Why? Why would they want that? So that the unwashed masses… even the leftist ones, like Abovitz… aren’t loose cannons on deck.
Remember; Guckert had been with Talon and had been attending White House press conferences for some years. Says Guckert:
For the last two years, the Old Media figures at the White House thought of me as a gadfly, a right-winger with an agenda, harmless, someone to be ignored. From time to time there were grumbles among some of the reporters and one or two confrontations, but there was never a serious attempt to remove me from their midst. During my tenure I developed some good friends there who welcomed the refreshing perspective I brought to the briefings and respected my courage for asking the questions that I did.
So what changed? Simple; With Jordan’s head still bouncing down the halls of CNN, the MSM was starting to see alternative information types like Guckert and Abovitz as a serious threat to their position as sole arbitor of what was news, and they knee-jerked themselves into reaction. Says Guckert:
It wasn’t until I asked “The Question” that everything abruptly changed. Initially, my colleagues had no reaction to the query posed to President Bush. It wasn’t until Rush Limbaugh drew attention to it that there was any interest at all. But that was enough to get a liberal group dedicated to attacking conservatives in the media to mobilize. It was horrified that the relentless string of hostile and a few downright disrespectful questions had been broken. My greater sin in their eyes, however was that I dared to suggest that two Senate Democratic leaders held an illogical view of the economy’s weakness and the strength of Social Security.
Now remember, this Guckert thing happened AFTER the Jordan ousting. Prior to that event, as Guckert says, things were pretty much fine. The reason for the difference in the reaction: Jordan was the MSM’s wake-up call. It was a blogger, Abovitz who originally brought up the questions about Jordan, and it was bloggers who kept at the story until the MSM was forced to regognize and react to it. It was what was essentially a blogger (OK, online news service) that they now saw as questioning if the Democrats had a realistic stance’.
Under those conditions… heck, ANYONE bringing serious challange to the left’s mantra of lies was going to get stopped by any means needed. (Including “Yeah, well, he’s a homosexual!”… a charge which would have brought screams from the left… if the left were not the ones bringing it.)
The fear of the MSM, really, is twofold, I should point out. There is the ‘exclusive realm’ bit as I mentioned, but it seems to me that’s a cover for the other half of this; their bias. In proof of the bias aspect, consider this in your own mind; Postulate a John Kerry Administration (Shudder) with Left Side Bloggers asking Gannon-like questions of Mr. Kerry. Think for a second this wouldn’t be hailed as a GOOD thing by the MSM? An opening of the informational avenues which could only be considered good? Kerry would be taking credit for being so open… an openness the left has been screaming the Bush administration does NOT have.
At the very least, do you think for one hot second they’d be raising this much stink over Gannon being there?
The bottom line here… and the connection between these two cases… is that the leftist press sees themselves as being threatened. Which led the White House to ask… correctly… ‘Well, what IS a “journalist” anwyay’?
The answer that comes out of the next year or two, I think, will affect us all… Bloggers, mainstream press and citizens, because the question more correctly stated is nothing less than “Who controls our information?”