To my friends on the Left who see in Bill O’Reilly’s troubles a chance to deal a blow to the Fox News Right: you do not defeat an ethos by the immolation of a single herald. Whatever happens to O’Reilly, it will have a minimal effect on the current state of play in the American far right. O’Reilly has proven himself a hubristic wing-nut and his downfall will be easily contained.
To my friends on the Right who see Bill O’Reilly as a martyr: he is not. Mother Jones may well be a radical rag and the charges overblown, but O’Reilly has mounted a self defense that is pathetic and, in many ways, disturbing. The more credibility and political capital we invest in defending him on this issue, the more we demonstrate support for journalistic vanity and prevarication, and our disregard for truth and humility.
Let Bill work his own way out of this. We all have bigger fish to fry, and The O’Reilly Frackup is a meaningless distraction that casts no credit on any of the participants.