If it’s true that, according to the Rove-Breitbart playbook, when your side is on defense you are losing, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly is losing the debate with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow about his network’s use of racism to inflame and agitate its predominantly elderly white Republican viewers.
Maddow apparently got under O’Reilly’s skin last week when she did a story about race baiting on Fox that documented the network’s on-air personalities’ lies about Van Jones, ACORN, Shirley Sherrod, the New Black Panthers Party, illegal immigration and other racially charged stories.
The next night O’Reilly took to the airways in defense of his network. He rebutted the video evidence of his colleagues’ racially inflammatory comments with a succinct, “Nuh-UHH” — Fox can’t be racist, he suggested, because his ratings were higher than MSNBC’s, and everybody knows that highly rated shows can’t possibly feature racism.
This defense was the subject of much well-deserved derision the next day, which prompted O’Reilly to return to the air and resort to name-calling — Maddow is a “far left loon,” he said. He then repeated the much-derided defense that his network’s high ratings are irrefutably prima facie evidence that Fox is free of racism.
Maddow responded last night by noting that sharks must be more even less racist than Fox because “Shark Week” beat Fox in the ratings last week.
She followed up with a video retrospective of O’Reilly’s own on-air racist comments — which she offered as irrefutable proof that race baiting is what Fox does.
Here’s a rough transcript of Maddow’s report — this was provided by MSNBC:
>>> when you argue against someone by calling that person names or by saying that the person you’re arguing with is a bad person, that’s called arguing ad hominum. it is to cast judgment on a person’s argument by casting judgment on the person making the argument. here’s a perfect example. it is a fallacy. it’s avoiding the point to be insulting instead. here’s a different type of logical fallacy.
>> it’s not new. it’s actually not even interesting about this scandal. fox does what fox does.
>> which is kick your network’s butt every single night, madam.
>> when i responded to that on the air, i put up a graphic that said argument ad hominum. i got a really nice note from a ph.d. in the english department at tulane, saying i was wrong because more people watch his show, that was an argumentum ad populum. isn’t that awesome?
instead of avoiding the point by insulting me directly, it’s avoiding the point by saying his position must be correct because more people believe it to be correct. if many believe so, it is so. argumentum ad populum. classical logical fallacy. sorry for mislabeling before.
now mr. o’reilly is eliminating the need for precision because he is still going after me but is now calling me names and saying he’s right because of his ratings again. so he’s both all at once.
this time, the case against me is in his nationally syndicated column which i’m sure is read by millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of people. the headline is quote, only far left loons scared of fox news. guess who the loon is? yes.
talking about me on david letterman’s show this week, mr. o’reilly says speaking with far left commentator rachel maddow, dave listened as she put forth the theory that fox news wants to frighten white americans by reporting about black americans. in the past, rants like that would have been dismissed as fringe speak but not anymore. without a shred of evidence, a guest on letterman’s late show, which by the way, gets trounced in the ratings by fox news channel every night, defines an entire news organization as a racist enterprise and letterman goes along. mr. o’reilly’s repeated insistence that fox news must be right because fox has high ratings is a many splendored thing particularly because this week if you believe mr. o’reilly, this week means we’re all wrong and only shark sploitaition is right.
there is something else going on that isn’t just a fallacy about ratings or collateral swipe at the lovely creature that is the loon. it is something stupid, something stupid enough that it doesn’t even get dressed up in latin phrasing. it’s him saying there’s no evidence to back up my claim that fox news consistently runs stories it says are news, but that nobody else really covers.
stories that are exaggerated, in some cases flat-out made up scare stories designed to make white people feel afraid of black people. designed to make it seem like black people or in some cases immigrants are threatening white people and taking what is rightfully theirs. you may not like that diagnosis of what fox has been up to, but to say there’s no evidence, not a shred of evidence, as he said, that’s bull pucky.
>> speaking at an naacp event in march, department of agriculture official shirley sherrod was caught on tape saying something very disturbing. seems a white farmer in georgia had requested government assistance from miss sherrod. wow. well, that is simply unacceptable and miss sherrod must resign immediately.
>> of course, the shirley sherrod story ended up being exposed as total bull pucky. manufactured by nifty video editing. mr. o’reilly had to apologize for that statement but it’s not like the shirley sherrod story stands alone.
>> the collapse of a.c.o.r.n. is the subject of this evening’s talking points memo. here’s the latest scandal. you’re not going to believe it. because federal authorities have not done much policing of a.c.o.r.n., two private citizens launch an undercover sting investigation themselves. the two pose as a prostitute and a pimp and asked a number of officials to help them get housing for a prostitution enterprise. the latest sting was in california, where an a.c.o.r.n. employee engaged the young woman posing as a prostitute. a.c.o.r.n. is a tax-exempt organization that should immediately lose that status and attorney general holder should begin an intense investigation.
>> of course, the a.c.o.r.n. story ended up being exposed as total bull pucky, too, also manufactured by nifty video editing. remember after the california attorney general looked into the full tapes and then arrested all those a.c.o.r.n. folks for those crimes that bill o’reilly showed them committing on tape? yeah, you don’t remember that? me, neither, because it never happened. bull pucky again. but still, very scary.
>> a guy like van jones who is a friend of the president, and he comes in and he’s a hardcore marxist. he admits it.
>> all i keep hearing is from people like eugene robinson who traffics in racism every time you turn around. white americans don’t like the huge expansion of the federal government. they also oppose the big spending increases that the president has imposed. it’s simple. white americans fear government control. they don’t want the feds telling them what to do and they don’t want a bankrupt nation. for decades, african-americans have supported a bigger federal government so it can impose social justice. the vast majority of blacks want money spent to level the playing field, to redistribute income from the white establishment to their precincts.
>> black people want white people’s money. they want to redistribute income from the white establishment to their precincts. but remember, mr. o’reilly says there is not a shred of evidence that fox news hypes stories about scary black people taking white people’s stuff. i am not interested in playing cable news insult ping-pong with mr. o’reilly, but as much as he keeps insisting that i’m no one worth arguing with, that i’m an uber-leftist, he called me that in his column, and a loon twice now and a slightly larger percentage of 1% of the population watches his show than the proportion of 1% of the population that watches my show, for all he complains about how unimportant i am, my criticism that fox news scares white people on purpose to politically benefit conservatives, damn the consequences for the country, that criticism appears to have struck a nerve over at fox. it appears to have gotten under mr. o’reilly’s skin.