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O'Reilly 1, Letterman 0


I don't watch Letterman as often as I'd like. It's not easy to watch a show that begins at 1130pm, when you want to get up early the next day. But once in a while I check it out.

So imagine my surpise the other night when I saw Bill O'Reilly on Letterman. For my small but appreciated band of overseas readers, Bill O'Reilly is a news commentator on the Fox News Channel. For liberals, right-leaning Fox is the devil, and pugnacious Bill O'Reilly is the devil's chief lieutenant.

The hatred they have for Fox is amusing. Before the arrival of Fox News Channel in October 1996, all the major news venues--ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, NY Times, taxpayer-subsidized NPR - tilted liberal. There were no conservative commenators I could think of on network tv. So Fox came in with a different perspective, one that resonated strongly with Middle America, and it very quickly dethroned CNN as America's top-rated news network. The left still is recovering from the shock of Fox's arrival, and is still blind to the bias from NPR, the NY Times etc.

But anyway, O'Reilly showed up on Letterman the other night.

Before O'Reilly even came out, Letterman stirred O'Reilly's coffee with the eraser end of a pencil. Nice.

The confrontational tone was fine; it was nasty, which is also fine-Letterman can be at his best when he is nasty.

But what disappoints me is that Letterman was so completely unprepared. He claimed that O'Reilly " made things up ", but when O'Reilly asked for an example, he couldn't come up with even one. He said that he didn't watch O'Reillys show.

Read this exerpt from the end of the interview:

LETTERMAN: I'm not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling, I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap. [audience laughter] But I don't know that for a fact. [more audience applause]
Paul Shafer: 60 percent.
LETTERMAN: 60 percent. I'm just spit-balling here.
O'REILLY: Listen, I respect your opinion. You should respect mine.
LETTERMAN: Well, ah, I, okay. But I think you're...
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 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.


O'Reilly kept his cool, while Letterman lost his , and spoke in an emotional way without facts to back up anything that he said.

Letterman's still my favorite late-night guy, but his performance with O'Reilly was pathetic.

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