Thursday, January 05, 2006

O'Reilly vs. Letterman

The Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, home to “The Late Show with David Letterman”, has a reputation for keeping the studio temperature rather cool.

With the guest appearance of Bill O’Reilly on “The Late Show” Tuesday night, things definitely heated up.

I can’t say whether Letterman had disdain for O’Reilly prior to the visit. However, as the interview progressed, it was quite clear that Letterman became agitated by a few of O’Reilly’s remarks.

If you’ve ever heard or seen O’Reilly, he is a self-described “Traditionalist”, which means he will often fall on the more conservative side on most social issues.

The interview started with O’Reilly wishing Letterman a Happy “Winter Solstice”. Of course, O’Reilly was playfully alluding to selective groups in the United States who feel the uttering of “Merry Christmas” or references to Jesus Christ are suddenly taboo. He even referenced a few different scenarios where lyrics to Christmas carols were revised, a manger could not contain the baby Jesus et al, and green and red napkins being banned. Letterman seemed to think that all the anti-Christmas rhetoric was being overblown and that the cases O’Reilly stated were merely isolated incidents.

Where things really got tense was in the discussion of the Iraq war. O’Reilly has been on record as saying he resented Cindy Sheehan’s claim that insurgents in Iraq were actually “freedom fighters”. Mrs. Sheehan has been in the news for the past several months for her militant anti-war stance after the loss of her son, Casey, in combat. At the moment O’Reilly invoked Cindy Sheehan’s name on Letterman’s program, it became very apparent that Letterman sympathized with Sheehan.

O’Reilly: “This is important, this is important. Cindy Sheehan lost a son, a professional soldier in Iraq, correct? She has a right to grieve any way she wants, she has a right to say whatever she wants. When she says to the public that the insurgents and terrorists are 'freedom fighters,’ how do you think, David Letterman, that makes people who lost loved ones, by these people blowing the Hell out of them, how do you think they feel, what about their feelings, sir?”

Letterman: “What about, why are we there in the first place? The President himself, less than a month ago said we are there because of a mistake made in intelligence. Well, whose intelligence? It was just somebody just get off a bus and handed it to him?
……..See, I’m very concerned about people like yourself who don’t have nothing but endless sympathy for a woman like Cindy Sheehan.”

I know people personally who have had to bury a child. No question, they have my endless sympathy. Cindy Sheehan, whom I do not know, has my endless sympathy in the loss of her child. But does that mean Mrs. Sheehan is the ultimate authority on all things related to combat? If we adamantly disagree with her claim that people who deliberately destroy women and children are “freedom fighters” that automatically makes us unsympathetic to her loss?

I can’t pretend to completely outraged by Letterman’s comments. After all, this is a guy who has created wealth by, among other things, dropping water melons off a 10-story building and having animals on his show that can open refrigerators (Nice work if you can get it). I don’t take him at all seriously when he claims that 60% of what O’Reilly says is crap.

O’Reilly: “Our analysis is based on the best evidence we can get.”

Letterman: “Yeah, but I think there’s something, this fair and balanced. I'm not sure that it's, I don't think that you represent an objective viewpoint.”

O’Reilly: “Well, you’re going to have to give me an example if you're going to make those claims.”

Letterman: “Well I don’t watch your show so that would be impossible.”

O’Reilly: “Then why would you come to that conclusion if you don't watch the program?”

Letterman: “Because of things that I’ve read, things that I know.”

A wise man once said “It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you. It’s what you do know that isn’t true.”

After Letterman's pathetic display Tuesday evening, I once again long for the days of just "Stupid Pet Tricks" and Larry "Bud" Melman.

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