Dana Milbank and Bill O'Reilly have entered a war of words with each other after Milbank criticized Fox News' election coverage, and O'Reilly responded by joking about having him beheaded.
Milbank's column last week about Fox News' coverage of the midterm elections sparked outrage at the network. Milbank essentially accused Fox News of cheering for the Republican takeover of the House -- not a very new complaint. But he also wrote that, "to be fair and balanced, Fox brought in a nominal Democrat, pollster Doug Schoen. 'This is a complete repudiation of the Democratic Party,' he proclaimed. "
This really set O'Reilly off. On last Wednesday's "O'Reilly Factor," he said that the channel had also brought on Juan Williams and Joe Trippi as Democratic voices, and branded Milbank a liar.
The next night, O'Reilly brought on his Fox News colleague Megyn Kelly, and raised the Milbank column, since Kelly had been mentioned in it. Referring to a newly passed initiative in Oklahoma that banned sharia law, he joked, "does sharia law say we can behead Dana Milbank?"Watch (Milbank comments begin at 1:55):
This did not sit well with Milbank, and in his last column, published on Wednesday, he said that O'Reilly's joke was in very poor taste:
Hilarious! Decapitation jokes just slay me, and this one had all the more hilarity because the topic of journalist beheadings brings to mind my late friend and colleague Danny Pearl, who replaced me in the Wall Street Journal's London bureau and later was murdered in Pakistan by people who thought sharia justified it.
He did acknowledge that there were other Democrats on Fox News during the election coverage, but said that all they did was criticize their own party.
Milbank also said that O'Reilly's comments made him worry for his safety:
O'Reilly has every right to quarrel with my opinion or question my accuracy. But why resort to intimidation and violent imagery? I don't believe O'Reilly really wants to sever my head, but if only one of his millions of viewers interprets his message otherwise, that's still a problem for me...let's drop the thuggish tactics - before more people get hurt.
Milbank later told Yahoo's Michael Calderone that he was willing to go on "The O'Reilly Factor" to debate O'Reilly in person.