Tell me some more about those blogger ethics:
An open letter to Bill O’Reilly:
I just watched a clip from Monday’s “Factor” featuring Eric Burns, the host of your network’s media criticism show, News Watch. During the segment, you implored Eric to fire one of his panelists, Neal Gabler, whom you called a “rabid dog” and described as “cowardly” for declining an invitation to appear on your show. Since not a word was said in Neal’s defense, I would appreciate an opportunity to do so as a guest on the “Factor.”
As you know, I was the producer of “News Watch” from its inception in 1997 until I left FNC six years later. (By the way, thank you for complimenting “News Watch.” I’m sure I speak for all of us responsible for making it exactly what it is today, the best show in FNC’s weekend lineup.) Neal joined us in 2002, replacing Jeff Cohen in the panel’s “liberal” chair. Like Jeff, he took seriously management’s implicit “hands-off” pledge to News Watch, and he clearly has felt free to criticize Fox during debates on the show. For the most part, Fox has made good on its pledge, and I would hate to think that Neal’s job is in jeopardy now just because he offended the network’s highest-rated personality.
Bill, I know that you don’t engage in personal attacks, so I’m sure the “rabid dog” thing was merely a bit of hyperbole – nothing more serious than, say, calling a harmless blowhard a “demagogue.” But it was disappointing to see your characterization of Neal as a coward go unchallenged. As you know, people of all stripes often refuse to appear on programs for reasons other than cowardice – for instance, when they consider the show or its host or other guests beneath their dignity. A case in point: Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center won’t appear on any show alongside Jeff Cohen. At least, that’s what Bozell told us when we invited him to fill the “News Watch” panel’s “conservative” seat one week and he turned us down flat.
There are many other examples we can discuss. And I’m not even including cases in which hosts declare topics taboo after they’ve had their say on them. If you invite me, I promise not to raise any subject you may have vowed never to speak of again. I would, though, like to discuss – in general terms, of course — other acts that happen in and around television newsrooms which might be considered cowardly. For instance, a physically-imposing on-air personality publicly humiliating a staffer so cruelly that she can no longer return to work. Or a network public relations department so depraved that it sets out, behind the scenes, on a campaign to destroy the career of another channel’s rising on-air star. Or a network executive who feels free to embarrass a vulnerable young anchorwoman by ogling her legs on a public escalator as others watch.
Anyway, Bill, I think we could have a really eye-opening discussion. Properly promoted, it could raise your already-astronomical numbers a notch. And it might even do me some good. Remember when I agreed to have you on “News Watch” so you could promote one of your novels? If you return the favor, the book I’m writing could wind up a best-seller.
All the best.