So Wrong Dot Com

Should a failing internet magazine launch a holy war because of personal pique?

Last week we exposed's recent hit-piece against Fox News as a tendentious, error-prone slab of agit-prop. But Salon has been riding FNC for years. Just one example: in a Salon discussion with "conservative" Tucker Carlson, who graciously describes Bill O'Reilly as a "humorless phony", we find interviewer Kerry Lauerman posing this "question":
A lot of the Fox stars, for example, come from right-wing radio, where a blowhard, black-and-white approach that strictly follows a partisan line works really well.

Mr Carlson, of course, eagerly accepts the premise of that "question" without cavil. But it turns out to be another case of Salon sophistry. Who are the "Fox stars"? Let's check the line-up:

Neil Cavuto - does he come from "right-wing radio"? Err, no.
John Gibson - negatory.
Brit Hume - don't be absurd.
Shepard Smith - not here.
Bill O'Reilly - negative.
Sean Hannity - Bingo! Salon finally scored a hit. Hannity does come from "right-wing radio".
Alan Colmes - Oh wait, he comes from "left-wing radio". Hmm.
Greta van Susteren - puh-leeze.

We could go on to mention the Fox & Friends team and the daytime anchors, and we would still be left looking for all those emigres from right-wing radio. Indeed, using Salon Logic, one might just as easily say that a lot of the Fox stars come from left-wing radio.

Salon tosses off preposterous lies like this one and nobody raises an eyebrow. It's as if they are above criticism (they're certainly above responding to it). Of course, the solons at Salon save their big guns for Mr Bill O'Reilly. Just do a search at their site, and prepare to click. And click. And click. So why the monomaniacal obsession against all things Fox, and particularly Mr Bill? Perhaps the explanation lies in the events of seven years ago.

In September of 1998, when the impeachment brouhaha was raging, Salon editor David Talbot published a tabloid-style smear about Congressman Henry Hyde. We won't go into the details, but it basically dredged up personal matters in the Congressman's past. Was it sleazy journalism? Don't take our word for it; let Mr Talbot explain:
Aren't we fighting fire with fire, descending to the gutter tactics of those we deplore? Frankly, yes.

A few days after his salacious expose, Mr Talbot got an invite to appear on The O'Reilly Factor. There followed an exchange that for generations will be spoken of in reverent tones as a milestone in the annals of disastrous interviews.

Talbot attempted to defend the piece to O'Reilly on the grounds that Henry Hyde was intensely partisan, and had a history of attacking President Clinton on moral issues. Then Mr Bill moved in for the kill. He told Talbot that he did a Nexis search and it revealed not one instance of Henry Hyde attacking Bill Clinton on anything. Ever.

Talbot turned all shades of green, and started stammering incomprehensibly. Jackie Gleason couldn't have done a better "Hummina, hummina, hummina..." After several seconds of catatonic shock, his weak retort was that Hyde was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. But O'Reilly had drawn blood, and hammered his point again and again, while Talbot flailed at the air.

The interview was as humiliating a defeat as anyone has suffered at the hands of Mr Bill, and it was an easy choice for rebroadcast in a best-of-the-year special. If Mr Talbot ever made another appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, we didn't see it. And Salon's jihad against FNC, undeterred by any concern for factual accuracy, has continued ever since.

posted: Fri - January 14, 2005 at 06:51 PM       j$p  send