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Media Drunk Tank: Officer O'Reilly

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Bill O'Reilly now has a "Policing the Net" segment on his Fox News show. Seriously. This is coming from a guy who has roughly the sexual impulse control of Tommy Lee on Spanish fly. But Sir Spanks-a-Lot has made himself judge and jury over what is appropriate for the World Wide Web. Last week's edition featured this:

"In the policing the Net segment tonight, two controversial happenings: Saturday Night Live lampoons Ann Coulter, and another little kid is used -- and that's the correct word -- used to bash President Bush."

Let's start with the latter item. Bill showed a Web video of a 3-year-old girl playfully saying, "Goodbye, George Bush. I'm going to miss you. You taught me grammar (shows clip of Bush fumbling words), you taught me the meaning of pre-emptive strike (shows girl hitting her doll)." Then the little girl is shown kissing a magazine cover of Barack Obama. The clip ends with the girl saying, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

The piece was edited down from this original video on Momlogic.com. Compared to the Will Ferrell "Landlady" video, it was pretty tame. O'Reilly didn't think so. "I hate to see little kids used like that," he said. "I think it's wrong."

Amanda Carpenter, national political reporter for conservative Web site Townhall.com, was even more upset and made a desperate attempt to show that this is in fact child abuse:

"Who knows what it's going to do for her future, quite frankly. Because she doesn't know what she's saying. But when she's 12, 13, 14, 15 and she wants to get a job, maybe this will be dug up."

So is Carpenter really saying that in nine years, when this child is 12 and needs to skirt existing child labor laws to find some off-the-books work at a sweatshop, the sweatshop owners, who will naturally be looking back at the Bush II years as the golden age of sweatshop management, will consult their database of blacklisted toddlers from 2009 and/or scour YouTube video by video to see if any of their applicants ever anonymously said anything disrespectful about George W. Bush when they were 3? And this alone will scuttle said 12-year-old's entrée into dangerous, low-paid factory labor? Or is she saying she'll lose babysitting jobs hand over fist to the girls who, as preschoolers, had the good decency and foresight to hold the most unpopular president in generations in high esteem?

Is this the sort of airtight logic that makes Townhall.com so revered in conservative circles?

Seriously, what career path would a 12-year-old be on that this video would destroy? It's not like she played the robot on Small Wonder. Unfortunately, that will follow that poor girl forever.

Still, Bill and Amanda were incensed and further pointed out that Telepictures is the parent company of the Momlogic.com, which, O'Reilly noted, produces Ellen. We smell a boycott.

But a protracted, ineffective boycott of the most lovable lesbian on daytime TV will have to wait. Bill had more policing to do.

Next was Web video of an Ann Coulter skit from SNL. Again, considering the subject matter, it's pretty tame. Even O'Reilly declared, "I don't see anything wrong with that."

But it was clear that O'Reilly was playing moderate to his far-right guest. Amanda argued that the skit went way over the line. "They kind of demean Ann Coulter into becoming this unwomanlike thing." Unfortunately for Amanda's argument, "Unwomanlike Thing" is what's printed under Coulter's name on her business cards.

Seriously, this is the same person who referred to the Jersey Girls -- four 9/11 widows who had criticized the Bush administration -- as "harpies" who were enjoying their husbands' deaths. Going after SNL on this is like arguing that a skit poking fun at Pol Pot went too far.

Carpenter wasn't finished: "They say that she's gonna become, I think it was a manlike serpent who will inherit the Earth and outlive anyone because she's like this subhuman alien figure. I mean, it's really insulting."

Ms. Carpenter is confusing "insulting" with "foreshadowing."

O'Reilly Protects the Ticketless

O'Reilly brought on Anne Schroeder, the gossip columnist for Politico.com, last Wednesday and asked her what was the most bizarre thing she had seen at the inauguration. We were sure she'd say something about a black guy being sworn in as president. Instead she gave us this gem:

"Well, this inaugural is known as the people's inaugural. It's the most accessible inaugural. That's certainly what the Obama administration wanted to put out there. And yet I was at the Capitol Tuesday morning early in the morning and there were thousands of people who did not get into the inaugural to see Obama take his swearing in. And they came from Alaska; they came 14 by car. And they were left sort of stranded outside, crying from disorganization."

No one explained to Anne that they had tried to move the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool to make more room but ran into some union issues. Anne's tone became more thickly sarcastic:

"However, I saw Oprah. I saw Beyoncé. I saw P. Diddy. I saw Mohammad Ali. I saw Ashley Judd. I saw Tim Robbins. And they certainly had no problems getting into the inaugural. And they certainly weren't out there at 5 in the morning."

O'Reilly: "Well, how does that work, though. How does that work?"

Schroeder: "People have various ticket levels. And obviously a celebrity can walk into the front of any line and get in. People recognize them ..."

Anne, were you dropped on your head before they started this segment? Are you seriously trying to put forth the idea that celebrities elbowed their way in after carpooling 14 in a vehicle from Malibu in a desperate, long-shot bid to find tickets or that the inauguration was like a 2 million person version of Studio 54 where the glitterati just showed up and cut in front of the undesirables? Surely even O'Reilly wouldn't buy this absurd interpretation of the seating arrangement.

O'Reilly: "Well, wait a minute, I would never do that. I mean I'm not gonna cut ahead of people and do that."

What is he talking about? Is O'Reilly claiming that he would have stood out among the throng at sunrise hoping to get a glimpse of the event rather than accept a reserved seat? Do his viewers really buy this faux populism shtick anymore?

O'Reilly tried to wrap his head around the crazy system of reserved seating: "What I understand, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that if you gave a lot of money to the Obama campaign then you got a special pass, a VIP pass, and tickets and this, that, and the other thing. You were told where to go and who to see. Is that correct?"

Anne feigned wonderment: "That's the impression I'm under."

O'Reilly concluded, "I think that's what it was. That if you were at a level if you kicked in thousands of dollars or bundled money for the Obama campaign, there was a certain avenue of information that you got that nobody else got. All right, let's assume that's true."

So let's get this straight. Apparently, O'Reilly and Schroeder are implying that Obama's wealthy contributors and high-profile celebrity supporters somehow obtained better seats than the guy who waves the "Free Crazy Bread" sign outside of Little Caesars and the kid who played Raj on What's Happening! What an outrageous departure from time-honored Washington tradition.

Yes, apparently these two dazzling intellects believe that all previous inaugurations were first-come, first-served general setting -- no savesies.

O'Reilly Protects the Skies

Bill O'Reilly and Politico's Anne Schroeder are the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers of false-outrage-inspiring news stories. Let's watch them dance:

O'Reilly led: "... at Dulles airport, was it true that they closed down a runway to let the private planes ..."

Anne didn't miss a step: "That's certainly what the news reports are saying. Yes. To accommodate everyone's private planes."

O'Reilly's fake rage was now fueled: "Now that's outrageous. If they did that at Dulles Airport, and we'll look at that. If they stopped the plane traffic there to get these private planes on the ground. That's outrageous. That should never happen."

Yes, it is true that Dulles did shut down a runway to accommodate the 500 planes that were expected for the inauguration. O'Reilly and his hack from Politico didn't mention (or bother to find out) that the runway that was shut down was just completed on November 20. So yes, Dulles International Airport went back to using the three runways it had used up until two months ago with no delays to commercial traffic. Outrageous!