The latest round of the O’Reilly/Franken feud features an interview with Franken and Janet Maslin taking pot shots at O’Reilly in the New York Times. O’Reilly, of course, responds in his typical “no spin” rhetoric by accusing the Times of “journalist terrorism.” All this three ring circus needs now is an appearance by Mike Tyson.
O’Reilly doesn’t bother to respond to Maslin/Franken’s best point — that he is a complete hypocrite for his campaign against Ludacris’ sexually explicit lyrics given the tawdry sex scenes contained in a novel that O’Reilly wrote a few years ago.
O’Reilly claims that many of the supposed inaccuracies that Franken’s book “documents” are themselves erroneous. Most of this stuff is so minor that it’s not worth finding out whose right, except to note that Franken and O’Reilly are clearly cut from the same cloth (Franken was on NPR recently pushing the hilarious line that liberals are more intelligent than conservatives, which is why there’s now liberal version of Rush Limbaugh. Apparently he’s never watched James Carville or Paul Begala on Crossfire).
Maslin notes, for example, that Franken has chosen to follow Rush Limbaugh’s lead in sourcing his book,
Mr. Franken and his Harvard elves fuel future arguments by barely annotating much of this book’s data and skipping a closing index entirely.
Apparently liberals are very smart . . . but they’re just too busy to be bothered with minor things like footnotes and references.
The truly disturbing item in this whole mess, however, is the revelation, affirmed by Maslin, that Franken had at his disposal 14 researchers from Harvard. I’m assuming that means he had student runners going to the library and online for him to pull books, magazine articles and transcripts.
Did Franken pay those assistants out of his own funds, or did he receive them as a perk during his brief stay at the university? If the latter, does Harvard plan to provide this sort of level of support for all comedians who plan to write non-scholarly, partisan books? If Chris Rock decides he wants to write a book-length attack against Gretta Van Susteren, is Harvard going to open its doors to him? When Chevy Chase gets around to drafting his opus about Shepard Smith, will Harvard be there to hold his hand?
As for O’Reilly, the man needs to get a grip. He’s complained that Franken is deranged, but stuff like this indicates that O’Reilly might be losing it, too,
I knew that once I took on The New York Times the paper’s character assassins would take dead aim on me. That is why few journalists will ever criticize The Times — they know the paper will come after them in a very personal way. Therefore there is no check on the power of The New York Times — it prints what it wants with impunity.
Ohmigod — a newspaper printing whatever it wants with “impunity.” What is the world coming, too? I guess that explains why you’d never see the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz criticize the New York Times. Nope, they’re just quaking in their boots in fear of the New York Times in journo-world.
Franken Retorts, You Decide. Janet Maslin, New York Times, September 1, 2003.
The Culture War Heats Up. Bill O’Reilly, Fox News, September 3, 2003.