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O'Reilly's Sneak Attack on Bloggers!

Last night I appeared on the conservative TV talk show The O'Reilly Factor, ostensibly to talk about political blogs and the impact they are having on the American political process.

Or so I was told by the two producers for the show who spent over an hour pre-interviewing me. Unbeknownst to me, however, the show turned out to be a total set-up job in which host Bill O'Reilly and guest Jed Babbin spent the entire time attacking the web site Media Matters for having posted commentary in the past critical of them both.

If you're interested in how shows like the O'Reilly Factor work, then let me explain how the ambush against Media Matters -- and against political blogs in general -- came about.

I got a call yesterday morning from Rob Manaco, a producer with the O'Reilly Factor. He said they were interested in having me appear on a segment they were preparing on political blogs -- what makes some of them credible and influential and others not, and how they were changing the political process, here. Monaco told me that I didn't need to mention any non-credible or "loony" political blogs by name, since neither the show nor the producers were interested in slandering anyone.

Fine, I said. For one thing, it seemed like a good opportunity to showcase my new book and discuss the important ways that blogging is already transforming politics. Having seen the O'Reilly Factor once or twice in the past, I assumed that O'Reilly would try to spin the dicussion to imply that conservative blogs were more reliable and influential, but I could deal with that. I was actually eager to discuss how blogging was going to be as transformative of political campiagning as the advent of television was 50 years ago.

Then I got a second call -- this time from Monaco's boss, Ron Mitchell. He said he was concerned that the segment might not be "juicy" enough as presently conceived, and would I be willing to talk about some of the loony ideas being circulated by some of the more conspiratorial-minded bloggers. No names, he assured me. Just mention some of the unreliable political comments you can find online.

That still seemed fine with me -- I mean, the O'Reilly Factor isn't the only show that depends upon controversy and polemic for its ratings -- so I said sure.

But I told Mitchell: "Look, if you're hoping I'm going to trash political blogs as harmful to the country, forget it. Because I think they're the best thing to happen to American politics since ... well, since the advent of the TV talk show. They encourage public participation in the democratic process."

"Perfect," said Mitchell. "That's exactly what we want."

And then they did the old bait-and-switch.

There I was, sitting in the remote studio location, and as our segment goes on, I hear the following over my earpiece:

O'Reilly: "Tonight: political smear sites! They operate on both sides of the political spectrum. There are no rules. These people will do and say pretty much anything to harm people with whom they disagree politically."

Whereupon O'Reilly and the other guest, conservative commentator Jed Babbin, begin complaining about the so-called smear attacks each claims to have received from Media Matters. The whole segment, as it turned out, was devoted to slamming Media Matters for having published material critical of the two.

Nonetheless, I did manage to get one half-way smart comment in:

KLINE: "Let's not be babies about the partisanship. The kind of partisanship that you're seeing on the Web with these blogs, yes, some of it is vicious, some of it is just loony. But it's not all that different than what used to go on in the media before the advent of corporate media. I mean, most people before World War II grew up with 10, 15, 20 newspapers, all with different points of view. And what's interesting about those times, and I think we're going back to those times with a very partisan media, is that the electorate was much more engaged, and people were much more involved in the democratic process."

To which O'Reilly replied thusly:

O'REILLY: "Absolutely valid, excellent point. But here's the problem: these people are so vicious, and they -- the media is so corrupt in taking their uncorroborated, as Mr. Babbin pointed out -- defamation that most people now won't run for office, sir. They won't do television and radio commentary. They won't put the -- when we had to book this segment, I couldn't get people to come on and say what you guys are saying, because they were afraid that Media Matters would go after them. They -- I couldn't -- I had people turn down this segment -- a bunch of them -- what are you, crazy? I'm going to criticize these assassins? They'll come after me. And that's a chilling effect."

Which, as I found out today, is not exactly true.

According to this report, conservative Powerline blogger John Hinderaker (”Hindrocket”) told readers that his partner Paul Mirengoff would be appearing on last night’s O’Reilly segment about bloggers:

Paul will be interviewed on the O’Reilly Factor tonight. It should be a fun conversation, and I’d encourage our readers to tune in.

But later in the day, Mirengoff posted an update, saying that O’Reilly had chosen to go with someone else:

I won’t be appearing on the Factor after all. They’ve decided to take the segment in a different direction.

Anyway, I have two regrets about my appearance. First, not being familiar with Media Matters, I could not defend them or refute O'Reilly's and Babbin's accusations. And second, I wish I had managed to tell O'Reilly that, given his national forum and his audience of millions, he was just being a baby for whining about being criticized by bloggers.

Postcript: When I got back to my office after the show, I had a voice mail from O'Reilly Factor producer Rob Monaco:

MONACO: "We just wanted to thank you for appearing on the show. I realize the segment didn't turn out exactly the way we had discussed, but we think you did a great job. And Bill was very pleased."

I'll bet.

UPDATE:
To all those who have taken me out to the woodshed for a good whacking, thanks for your comments. You're right, of course, that I should have known about Media Matters and should have done a better job on the O'Reilly show.

By way of context (not excuse), I want to point out that my research on this book over the last year has been focused on the ways in which blogs are changing politics. When I interviewed Markos at DailyKos, or former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, or one of the earliest online democracy activists Jon Lebkowsky, or other left and conservative bloggers, my focus was NOT on their respective messages or viewpoints but rather on the ways in which they have been able to achieve political influence, mobilize citizens, organize grassroots activists, raise funds for campaigns, and reshape the way campaigning is conducted.

I looked at their strengths -- e.g., their ability to cement the all-important activist core. And I looked at the weaknesses of political blogs -- e.g., their inability to date to reach across the red state-blue state divide and decisively influence the undecided middle voters.

So it was much less important to me to follow closely the specific political messages and back-and-forth debates between left and right media and/or bloggers. I was more concerned with the overall effects of blogging on the political process itself.

And I certainly never claimed to be an expert on blogging. I only claim to have written a book that offers a snapshot look at an evolving phenomenon and that hopefully provides some interesting food for thought about where it all may be heading. (More on that in a second.)

In retrospect, of course, I should have assumed that O'Reilly would use his show to attack particular opponents, and then spent an hour or two researching who those bloggers might be so I could be better prepared for whatever came my way.

One point about O'Reilly that I want to reiterate (again!): Of course I know who he is and what his shtick is. Like most thoughtful Americans, though, I simply can't stand to watch his show. I am in awe of those of you who have the stomach to watch him regularly.

In any event, that's my self-criticism. If I were pleading in a court of law about not being prepared to defend Media Matters, I would plead "guilty -- with an explanation, your honor."

If any of you feel my performance on the O'Reilly Factor disqualifies me as anyone worth reading, I understand and thank you for dropping by.

Meanwhile, I invite the rest of you to join in a discussion of where political blogging may be heading and what larger effects it may have on the democratic process.

To kick-start that discussion, I offer the following "6 Predictions for the Future of Political Blogging."

I look forward to a (ahem) lively discussion.

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Comments

I'm puzzled (and I'll have to say, just a bit suspicious) about your unfamiliarity with Media Matters For America, especially since "Media" appears in the subtitle of your book.

While I'm pretty sure you're much more familiar with MMFA now, I wonder if you're looking into similar (media scrutinizing) sites, regardless of their political polarity.

According to Google, there are over 2 BILLION results listed for the term "media," so I hope you'll find it in your heart to be a little less suspicious of my lack of familiarity with the site.

I actually only heard about them yesterday.

But yes, I do agree it would be smart to try to squeeze in some time scrutinizing media monitoring sites somewhere in all my copious spare time -- in between writing two books, raising two kids, and trying to make a living.

Frankly it hasn't been that big a priority for me until now, as I've been focused more on blogging's overall impact on media and politics and business rather than on the many and varied ways that the media fail to tell the truth or attack those they disagree with.

But your point is well taken. Thanks.

Thanks for this write-up. It certainly sheds some new light on O'Reilly's remarks.

http://mediamatters.org/

From the Bill O'rwell dictionary:

Assassin: Someone who speaks the truth and defends it with facts - exactly what MediaMatters.Org does.

Patiot: Someone who STFU and never questions his government (especially if that goverment is ran by Republicans)

O'Reilly is the ultimate egomaniac.

I liked your halfway-smart comment! I know it's frustrating when you're up against people who are impervious to logic, but your point came across very well -- and O'Reilly's response was just blatantly petulant.

Blogs are a refreshing change from the slick, top-down MSM. It's easier to feel engaged when you're getting information that isn't all pre-digested, mass market infotainment.

Thank you for giving this account of what happened to you on O'Reilly's show. It should noted that your account joins dozens of others in the last few years, with a consistent story of O'Reilly literally pulling tricks on their guests at the last second and blindsiding them. My suggestion, although probably not popular, is that reasonable people should not appear on the Fox network at all. You literally have no chance to speak the truth. You were used as a prop by Mr. O'Reilly and crew, and others should take note. Thanks again for your honest account of the process.

I worked in television for over 20 years and seen this kind of bait-and-switch before, but back then you could get fired for that crap.

Bill's complainting people won't appear because bloggers might attack is so childish, but people seem to believe it. I've NEVER heard a producer claim they couldn't get someone to talk about something, but OFTEN heard them complain they couldn't get someone to say the pre-scripted stupid lie... usually so the host could jump to the defense of truth and (hopefully) appear half-ass intelligent.

I find only The Daily Show has conversations anymore because they do skit-comedy (taking up almost all the script-writing time) and Jon Stewart rarely YELLS at the guest. Frequently he's asking the guest to explain something he claims he just can't figure out.

He who asks the guest to do the talking shows wisdom - he who tells the guest to shut up and listen is an asshole with a bloated paycheck and something to hide.

Another rule about broadcast television -- the one SCREAMING either doesn't know anything (but can bullshit about it all day) or is the host -- paid to keep the boss's lies alive.

By the by, did you see Roger Ailes on C-SPAN admit that in any 24-hour cycle of FoxNews maybe a half hour is actually news and the rest "is obviously commentary"?

Hooray for you. Refreshing to find another good blogger. Media Matters is a fine fine one and it backs up what it publishes with data. O'Reilly wouldn't recognize a fact if he tripped over one. Mind on his looflahs, I bet.

I agree that that segment was advertized as talking about the worst political blogs on both sides of the spectrum and that it simply turned out to be a media-matters-bashing-fest. But I don't exactly see where you stood up heroically and said, "let's talk about someone else." If you're unfamiliar with Media Matters, please check them out at mediamatters.org. Yes, they're as bad as O'Reilly makes them out to be.

Anyway, let me ask you this: if O'Reilly had stayed on topic, because I feel that he simply got off on a tangent, what WOULD you have said are the five worst right-wing blogs and the five worst left-wing blogs?

I wouldn't have named names, because even the best political blogs do uneven work depending on the issue.

Instead, I would have talked about what makes a political blog credible and influential or not -- such as whether they try to accurately source their commentary, are transparent about their process, how effectively they serve as "collective organizers" that get ordinary citizens involved in grass roots organizing and fundraising, etc.

And even though I'm definitely on the left, I would have cited examples of good, interesting and credible work done on some conservative blogs.

We've got to get over this notion that only "our" side tells the truth and the other guys are "liars." Sure there are liars, and O'Reilly is certainly a fine example of one.

But it is entirely possible for two different human beings to draw different conclusions from the same set of facts or interpret these facts differently.

For example, many of my friends on the left disagree with me that Al Queda and the Jihadists are a serious threat to civilization. But I spent ten years with those people covering the war in Afghanistan, and I was writing articles warning about them 20 years ago.

Same set of facts, but my own experience leads me to interpret them differently perhaps than someone else.

That's called "politics."

I would also have loved to go into more detail about how openly partisan media actually encourage public participation and boost voting rates. In the 19th century, for example, each citizen had access to literally dozens of different newspapers, each with a distinct political viewpoint: pro-labor, anti-labor, right, left, socialist, protectionist, catholic, anti-catholic -- you name it, it was out there.

And it was better for the country than the faux "objective" corporate media we have now.

For one thing, it helps train people to think for themselves -- to take a set of facts and come to their own conclusions about them.

By the way, Audrey, I was praying O'Reilly would say, "Mr. Kline, you've got the last word."

To which I would have replied: "Thanks, Bill, I've got one word for you -- loofah!"

thanks for the inside look at "the factor". what amazes me is that o'reilly is so ignorant of the internet and blogging. is he unaware that everything he writes and says can be checked (usually in a matter of minutes) online? amazing.

I you would have had more opportunity to expound on your points. Your comparison of blogs to the competitive newspaper environment of 50 years ago, and how it engages the electorate was an interesting point. But, my favorite comment was along the lines of "and there are people who think Clinton had Foster killed."

They were on a roll, and you stopped their momentum.

Keep up the good work.

Mediamatters is definitely a left-wing website but they are also meticulous fact checkers and they provide complte, in context transcripts and usually even the audio or video evidence to support their contention. They aren't "lying" or "smearing" anyone by fact-checking their claims and statements and/or calling public attention to controversial statements or falsehoods. That isn't commentary or opinion. Facts are facts. I don't know how "Frankie" above can suport this contention "If you're unfamiliar with Media Matters, please check them out at mediamatters.org. Yes, they're as bad as O'Reilly makes them out to be." People may disagree with the politics of the people operating mediamatters, but they are meticulously accurate and they don't post vitriolic commentary. If right-wing pundits don't want to stand by their own falsehoods, distortions and outrageous rhetoric they should stop speaking in that fashion.

Gosh, wish I had seen that show! I just can't stand "Slant Head," just looking at him makes me want to hurl!

I agree with you, Billy.

I also want to say that I recently read a piece written by one of the conservative Power Line guys that I thought was interesting -- speculating on the reasons why Judith Miller decided after 3 months to testify about the Valerie Plame affair.

Leaving aside the author's spin, he seemed to source his speculations pretty credibly, and it gave me some interesting food for thought.

I'd be curious to hear what anyone else thinks of it. It's at:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/165xdjkg.asp

You know, I tuned into the "Factor" because it promised a list of the "worst" political blogs on the internet. But all it did was mention Media Matters. If anything, Media Matters is one of the most scrupulous anti-"right" attack sites on the net. For the most part, it does three things:

1. Singles out some offensive or outrageous quote made by someone on the "right" to make them look like a buffoon;

2. Singles out a false or inconsistent statement made by someone on the "right" to make them look like a buffoon; and

3. Point out the present "right-ward" skew of the corporate media channels, be it the NY Times or FOX News.

Media Matters is great because it relies mostly on the mistakes and sloppiness of said parties to hang them, rather than engaging in what O'Reilly does; namely repeatedly using personal attacks and saying things that are flat-out untrue.

But I think it's hilarious how O'Reilly keeps giving Media Matters free publicity. I bet many of his viewers long onto to it just to see what it is about; some of them might even become converts.

Maybe O'Reilly knows his views are BS, and is consciously undermining them so he can have it both ways.

he was just being a baby for whining about being criticized by bloggers.

Then that means blogs really aren't that important, right?

Can't have it both ways. Can't say blogs are going to transform everything and then say, "what's the big deal with him being criticized by blogs?"

Add the Media Matters url to your home page. The next time viewers who watched last night and the Faux gang visit your website, I bet they get the message.

Why can't I?

Maybe I'm just dense about this -- it wouldn't be the first time -- but why can't I say partisan media is good for democracy and at the same time tell those who feel they're the subject of partisan attacks not to get their knickers all in a knot over it?

That's why they call it a "debate" rather than a "lovefest."

Seaside slipped in with a good suggestion.

I would never appear on a show hosted by a sex pervert...and I would never sit in front of a moron like O'Reilly wagging his finger in my face. People who appear on the O'Reilly Factor have psychological issues.

Yeah, my wife said I was nuts, too.

I'm curious, where did you receive in training in remote diagnosis of mental disorders?

hi,
interesting to watch, and very interesting to read your take on it. i think you came across very well, and made very good points. but you certainly were used. your silence on "media matters" comes across as agreeing with o'reilly's (laughably dishonest) attack.

i think bill frist runs courses on remote diagnosis of mental disorders.

I'm surprised by a couple of things.

You've got a book out in which "blog" is the first word in the title.

Your title lists three cultural areas in which blogs are changing things; the first is "politics."

Yet somehow you claim to be unfamiliar with Media Matters for America, which is one of the most well-known sites on the left. Admittedly, it's only eighteen months old, but they haven't exactly been hiding under rocks.

Second, how can you possibly be unfamiliar with Bill O'Reilly's show? Or his radio show? Do you really live in that much of a bubble? Didn't you at least consider doing some research before going on? Could you be so totally unaware of his standard operating procedure and have anything pertinent to say about how blogs are changing "Politics, Business & Culture?"

You certainly didn't have any problem throwing in your bon mot about not wanting any stalkers following you.

And scribe1128, you can see the video. Media Matters has it posted, along with a transcript.

http://mediamatters.org/items/200510050003

He probably got it from the Bill Frist School of Hackery.

Seriously though, you have GOT to be crazy to go on that show and expect a fair discussion.

Thanks for letting everyone know about it though. You're illustrating another great aspect of blogs since almost no one would have known about this had it not been for this blog.

I saw that segment last night. I think you're an idiot and a lazy journalist.

Anyone not familiar with O'Reilly, and anyone not familiar with Media Matters, is in no position to be writing a book about political blogs.

You embarrassed yourself.

Edward. With all due respect, I think it would be rather small group of people who have no "psychological issues" and no unususual sexual proclivities.

O'REILLY: Absolutely valid, excellent point. But here's the problem: these people are so vicious, and they -- the media is so corrupt in taking their uncorroborated, as Mr. Babbin pointed out -- defamation that most people now won't run for office, sir. They won't do television and radio commentary. They won't put the -- when we had to book this segment, I couldn't get people to come on and say what you guys are saying, because they were afraid that Media Matters would go after them. They -- I couldn't -- I had people turn down this segment -- a bunch of them -- what are you, crazy? I'm going to criticize these assassins? They'll come after me. And that's a chilling effect.

KLINE: Well, I'm not naming names here, right? I mean, I don't want to get stalked.

O'REILLY: You see, you don't want to get stalked either. So put yourself in a position of somebody running for office or somebody trying to do an honest analysis of the news and they don't want to do it. Go ahead, Mr. Babbin, take the last word.

You allowed yourself to be used for the false talking point that "responsible" people like you and O'Reilly will be stalked by crazy bloggers.

Shameful.

Here are the first items that crop up if you Google "Bill O'Reilly":

  • Bill's Official Home On the Web
  • Bill O'Reilly: The O'Reilly Factor
  • www.oreilly-sucks.com - The Real No Spin Zone
  • O'Reilly Hit With Sex Harass Suit - October 13, 2004
  • WorldNetDaily News Archives: Bill O'Reilly
  • Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly, International
  • Bill O'Reilly (commentator) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • Bill O'Reilly Wants You to Shut Up - Also Al Franken, Tom Daschle ...
  • Bill O'Reilly

Some interesting reading there in Wikipedia under "HIghly publicized disputes." And under "Personal Politics": "Groups such as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and Media Matters for America challenge his public statements and handling of liberal guests on a daily basis, via their websites and print publications." With links.

Preparation and due diligence. Bad reporter.

MONACO: "We just wanted to thank you for appearing on the show. I realize the segment didn't turn out exactly the way we had discussed, but we think you did a great job. And Bill was very pleased."

What do you want to bet that he reads that same cue card to every guest after the show every day?

this is silly. it's ridiculous to use kline as a proxy villain for o'reilly. he was used, it's surprising he didn't know of "media matters" (though i 100% believe him), but he said and did nothing wrong. kline was there to talk sensibly about blogging, and to the extent that there was any sensible discussion, he did just that.

The one thing we have to know: did they serve falafel in the green room?

sorry mr kline...but im not buying it.

you are the one who brought up the issue of wacko blogs that connect bush to 9/11.

you are the one who responded to lufa boys scurilous remarks about media matters with the comment:
"Well, I'm not naming names here, right? I mean, I don't want to get stalked."

and what expert in blogs doesnt have the sense to tell the host that thesmokinggun.com is not a blog.

if you dont have a publicist, get one. it appears you are far from media savy.

How could you write a book about blogs and be unfamiliar with Media Matters??
you got a nice plug in for your book but thats it.

Bill's irrelevant -who gives a shit what he says?

I don't watch Faux News, and I wished you had known better than to go on the O'Liely factor. I'm sorry that you had to endure that animal Bill "Falaffel" O'Reilly.

It's a station that's red meat for the radical right wing, there's absolutley no point even watching it. It's unfair and balanced etc, etc, and etc.

someone who claims to be familiar with political blogs should know about:

  • media matters
  • factcheck.org
  • FAIR
  • romes

  • I'm not sure why you thought you'd get a fair shake from Bill O'Liely. If you have to call it the No Spin Zone, it's not.

    Did I blow it at times? You'll get no argument from me. My only consolation is that there are few, indeed, who succeed in besting O'Reilly.

    Let me quote from a conversation I had today with a leading liberal blogger:

    "In retrospect, I should never have given him the concession that there are loonies out there, even though of course there are. I was referring to nutcase
    conspiracy theorists, of course, but the context made it seem like I was supporting his attack of Media Matters.

    "As for why I didn't know more about them, I've spent the last year focusing on how bloggers have changed the political process, not on how the media attacks people they disagree with or how those people fight back. What's interesting to me, at least for purposes of the book I did, is not what Kos says about any particular issue, for
    example. Rather it's that he and other bloggers have been so amazingly successful in energizing people to get more involved in the political process. It's bloggers role as "collective organizers" (to use Lenin's phrase) that most intrigues me.

    "Anyway, your point is well taken. I'll have to be more diligent about following key sites more closely."

    Incidentally, I spent many years as a labor organizer and left activist. Sadly, I never received much training in how to deal with faux "debate" shows like the O'Reilly Factor, or I might have done a better job.

    As for whether I'm a "bad reporter," I can't say. You should read my book and other work and judge for yourself. But considering that I've been shot at more times than I can count, kidnapped by Jihadists, and climbed way too many mountains in war zones to get stories that other reporters wouldn't have tried to get, I think I've earned the right to be given the chance to learn from my mistakes and try harder next time.

    These scream-fests on "news"shows have made me realize how little news the public actually absorbs. O'Reilly makes me sick, I honestly can't watch him, even in the spirit of "bad entertainment." I used to practice, know your enemy, and would read and watch all exteme hacks who proclaimed "truth." Bill is a bully and a coward, I wish I had seen the program you were on, but I just can't take him, even in small doses. Peace.

    By the way, where did anyone get the notion that I wasn't familiar with the O'Reilly show?

    Of course, as I said in my post, I knew who he was and had watched his show a few times. I knew what his shtick was, belive me.

    But that's not the same thing as being able to best him on his own show.

    If you best him on his show, he would overyell you and break for a commercial. That's the no-spin dance he does. Peace.

    david,

    no one was asking you to best him. especially from a sneak attack.

    but why did you play to him, and how can you not be aware of media matters, if you wrote a book on blogs?

    like i said...hire a publicist my friend.

    I was going to come down on you a bit Mr. Kline for not knowing about Media Matters, because I would think the work over there would directly impact "blogging's overall impact on media and politics and business."
    and not because of the details of how MM shows "the many and varied ways that the media fail to tell the truth or attack those they disagree with" but because of what they do, and how they do it. Nevertheless, you have been beat up about it, and if you didn't see the site as a blog affecting the political process, then maybe we all need to work on getting their work "out there" more.

    I'm surprised that people are surprised that Mr. Kline was unfamiliar with Media Matters prior to his appearance on The Falafel Factor. I have many like-minded friends who, given their professional and family obligations, are nonetheless politically aware and Web savvy yet had never heard of MediaMatters until I'd mentioned it to them in conversations regarding politics/media/Internet. In turn, I have often become newly aware of other political/media/blog sites from these same friends who had (surprisingly to me) never heard of MediaMatters.

    There are LITERALLY a bazillion blogs and watchdog sites on the Web of every conceivable stripe. I'm not exaggerating. A bazillion. As George W. would say, it's hard work keeping track of all the sites on the internets.

    Heck, if it weren't for Saturday Night Live, I would have never heard of Clownpenis.fart.

    I get the sarcasm maybe he did to then again being such an award winning journalist and writer having another acolyte probably tickled his ego and added another inch to his falafel

    Hey thanks, Norman.

    Right now my wife is screaming at me to get off the damn computer because we've got two sick kids under the age of four who are throwing up all over the carpet (which I now have to go clean).

    But trust me, soon as I get more time -- what between two kids to raise and two books to write -- I will be much more diligent about checking out the key media sites.

    Can someone babysit for us?

    To quote Peter Daou, "the triumvirate of Netroots + Media + Party Establishment creates Conventional Wisdom." That's why sites like Media Matters (and Factcheck.org, FAIR, etc.) are so important to a topic like "how blogs are affecting the political process." They're evolving to function as the referees of what is all too often a rough and dirty game. Media Matters may not (yet) have achieved results as dramatic as Hindrocket's, but trust me: the Right doesn't like being "caught" by them. That's why they have O'Reilly so crazed with fear.

    Norman...indeed there are a bazillion blogs out there. But it is quite easy to to discover the most highly trafficked conservative and left leaning blogs and news zones in a matter of about 15 minutes by a little online research. With all do respect to Mr Kline, who I admire, I fail to understand his remark about it was his interest in his book to understand and comment on how "bloggers have been so amazingly successful in energizing people to get more involved in the political process." How can one do that fully without examing the content of the leading blogs? Obvioulsy, not having done that, it seems to me that your conclusions will have noticable problems. Looking back to the past for answers to the present (which Mr Kline does quite well)is fine, but that supplant the need to fully understand the unique aspects of the current world.

    Mr. Kline,
    It is certainly understandable that an honest person can be swindled by one who is dishonest. I feel that you did nothing wrong, and I'm impressed at how graciouselly you are taking the criticism from our fellow lefty's. I will make time to read your book in the near future.

    I just want to commend David on speaking out against the bully boy and exposing the whole setup. I watched the segment and got a feeling that they just shamelessly used you for their own dark purposes, as always. Bill is nothing but an overpaid, pompous, self-absorbed bully, who does not operate by facts and intelligene, but pure intimidation. He is actually the slanderer and the assassin - he did not produce a single fact of Media Matters' "slander" against him. NOT A SINGLE ONE! I guess he has trained his audience to believe him just because he says so and waves his big hands in their faces. As fo Media Matters, they are very meticulous, and they fact-check everything and back their claims up with facts every time. They expose everyone who lies and spins and shills for the extreme right, not just Bill. AND they are very civil about it - no name calling (that's the "no-spinner's" favorite technique). I personally think, they provide a very important service for the common good.

    Best wishes to you, hope your kids are feeling better. Get off the damn computer. And thanks for using "shtick".

    "If you're unfamiliar with Media Matters, please check them out at mediamatters.org. Yes, they're as bad as O'Reilly makes them out to be."

    Media Matters exposes misleading statements, distortionsn and out and out lies told by right wing comentators. And they back up each and every claim up with solid evidence.
    For the lying liars on the right having their lies exposed is indeed disconcerting. Its like when Harry Truman was told by a supported to "give them hell." Truman said "I just tell the truth and they think it's hell." For a pathological liar like O'Reiley to have his lies repeatedly exposed and solidly documented must be pure hell. That explains his emotional reaction.

    I can understand being a little put off by the ambush, but how hard would it have been for you to say to O'Reilly exactly what you said here?:

    "You're just whining about being criticized by bloggers"

    If a few of his guests didn't worry so much about future bookings, he might not be so anxious to ambush.

    Guess you've heard of Atrios, eh?

    David, I wish you would display as much spine on TV as you do in this blog of yours. Good luck.

    David,
    Bill O'Reilly lied to you about what Jeremy Glick said on his show. He has repeated this lie several times. On the subject of smear campaigns, he is a supreme hypocrite. Next time be more prepared when you go on a professional smearmonger's show.

    I would like nothing more than to pop O'Reilly in the nose and watch him cry.

    I have to agree with others who question how you can write a book about blogs and be unaware of Media Matters. Almost every left wing blog out there has used Media Matters or Crooks & Liars as a reference point for readers interested in getting audio clips and more detailed background about the right wing media.

    Coming away from the piece, I think most viewers would have seen you as in bed with O'Reilly and Mr. Kline, particularly because O'Reilly almost always totally stacks his guest list with like-minded folks (witness last week's "expose" on Air America with two right wing bloggers who are obsessed with bringing it down).

    Guests appear on O'Reilly for one reason only - to prop up O'Reilly's personal opinion. Argue with him and he yells over you to remind you of his opinion. Agree with him and he'll still interrupt you in order to remind everyone... of his opinion.

    I have written to past guests of O'Reilly who have ended up agreeing with/semi-agreeing with O'Reilly even when they didn't consciously intend to. The common factors seem to be that they are nervous about being on a national show and that O'Reilly's bullying behavior makes most people just want to get along with the guy. Further, the overwhelming majority of the airtime is given to him and if you add up a guest's share of the airtime, it is often a minute or less.

    The problem from all of this is that as a viewer, I would not be inclined to buy your book because I was left with the impression you were just another one of the talking points crowd that agrees with O'Reilly's point of view. We already know what that is.

    You would have been far better served not going on his show, and I suspect the majority of viewers won't even remember you had a book.

    Whoops, slight correction:

    "I think most viewers would have seen you as in bed with O'Reilly and Mr. Kline" should have obviously been "and Mr. Babbin."

    Oy. Can anyone recommend a good carpet deodorizer? Seiously.

    Anyway, I just have to quote this comment:

    "I can understand being a little put off by the ambush, but how hard would it have been for you to say to O'Reilly exactly what you said here?

    "'You're just whining about being criticized by bloggers'"

    "If a few of his guests didn't worry so much about future bookings, he might not be so anxious to ambush."

    Do you seriously think I would want to go back on that show?

    Anyway, there are other possible explanations -- chief among them being that when you can't see the people you're talking to and only hear them in an earpiece, then when you get blinded-sided you're not necessarily as quick on your feet as you'd like to be.

    I mean, surely at least some folks here have had the experience of walking away from an argument with your signicant other wishing you'd just gotten off that one last gem of a jab. You know, just to show her (or him).

    It's only about two hours later that you realize you'd be better off just saying, "Yes dear."

    I'm referring to you and your significant others, of course, not to Bill O'Reilly.

    Oh Yeah? Well, the jerk store called and their fresh out of you!

    David Kline,
    After watching the clip of O'Reilly's show, I had no interest in your book. Given the banal title, familiar subject matter and your awkward moment in the spotlight, I would have assumed that you were just another opportunist trying to capitalize on third generation Internet hype. I've made the mistake of buying printed guides to websites in the past. But after reading your comments in this thread about collective organizing, grasping your ideas about an engaged, partisan electorate and learning about your background as a journalist, I am happy to say that I look forward to buying your book. Thanks to the very medium which you describe, you have found a new reader.

    Just wanted to make one point, and I apologize if it was made elsewhere but I didn't see it as I scrolled through all the other messages...

    O'Reilly used the show to blast Media Matters under the guise of attacking "political smear sites" BECAUSE they're so good at what they set out to do, which is expose lies and bias in popular media. And since he lies SO much (or, if you wanted to be kind, because he's talking extemporaneously and doesn't have the time to check every little fact he bring...nah, he just lies. A LOT), his only hope to minimize any sort of damage Media Matters can do to his reputation is to minimize Media Matters itself. Negate what they do, so his base won't even perceive them as a source of accuracy in the media. Not that a fan of Bill's would bother going to Media Matters anyway, but just in case one of them gets it in his or her head to practice free will, Bill's got to nip that crap in the bud.

    For what it's worth, here's the text of an email I just sent to O'Reilly:
    Dear Stupid,
    Media Matters, as a rule, backs up every little thing they claim is true and accredit the source. It's the sort of thing journalists are supposed to do. I know, you're not used to backing up your "facts" with an accredited source, but even if you disagree with their politics, you should take a good long look at their website. See those words that are colored blue and underlined? Those are known in the world of the internet as "links." You see, you roll your cursor over those "links" and click the mouse-button, and it opens up the source that validates their comment.

    I bring this up because, you see, if you started backing up the things you say with what are commonly referred to as "facts," then far fewer people will think you are an "asshole."

    Of course, if you tried backing up everything you say with an accredited source, the length of the show will have to be reduced to the point where it legally couldn't be registered with a Nielsen reading, and you wouldn't want THAT now, would you?

    Just counting the days until you realize you're devoid of a soul and you kill yourself,

    John Manigrasso

    Boy, this blog became popular overnight. Congratulations.

    Watching the segment on Crooks & Liars (I'd rather french kiss my cat than turn on Fox) I am struck at how uniformative (besides being bad form) the whole thing was, because Bill spent the entire time spewing paranoia. It reminded me of High School public access TV. Really bad. It's not a complaint on you or even the other guest, so much. It was just... impotent.

    Fox News is the nuclear equivalent of an "idealogical weapon", and their favorite tool is the ambush. Jeremy Glick is the only guest I know of who came loaded with the verbal equivalent to an elephant gun. He went down in the end, but he lobbed a few on the way. He had no desire to be asked back, and that's the only way you can defend yourself with Bill.

    I, too, find it a bit incredible that you hadn't heard of Media Matters before last night. But you sounded so leveled and normal, compared to the shrills, I believe you. Perhaps that's why Bill's Staffers picked ya! Al Franken's show is a really good way to learn about some of the "bigger name" bloggers who have access at the moment. David Brock introduced his blog on Franken's show and regularly checks in with the latest on ol' Bill.

    Not sure if you are based in Portland (the segment introduced you as from there). I am in Portland suburbs. I have been here a grand total of two months, a recent transplant and housing refugee from California. This place is bloody cold!

    bujeeboo,
    I don't agree that Jeremy Glick went "down in the end". O'Reilly blew his top and was completely unable to string a logical thought together, so he cut Glick's mike. And, as Media Matters documents, he's been lying his ass off about Glick's appearance ever since. He even lied about it to David Kline's face!

    In reading some more of the comments here and your point about print media in the old days and some of your defense of your comments, it struck me. I wish perhaps you or someone would start to challenge this silly notion that there always has to be a person from the other side to defend some other POV. To everything! Not everything has two sides or two points. Fox's milieu is the so-called "balance" BS (even if it means finding some whacko to defend legalizing kiddie porn) and I see other news and commentary shows doing the same thing. It's fatuous.

    For the record, here is what Jeremy Glick actually said:

    Our current president now inherited a legacy from his father and inherited a political legacy that's responsible for training militarily, economically, and situating geopolitically the parties involved in the alleged assassination and the murder of my father and countless of thousands of others. So I don't see why it's surprising [...] What I'm saying is [...] is that in -- six months before the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, starting in the Carter administration and continuing and escalating while Bush's father was head of the CIA, we recruited a hundred thousand radical mujahadeens to combat a democratic government in Afghanistan, the Turaki government.

    OK, so Bush Is that really as "nutcase" an opinion as O'Reilly wants you to believe?

    Oops... meant to just say:

    Is that really as "nutcase" an opinion as O'Reilly wants you to believe?

    Ponte, what I meant by Jeremy Glick going down was that he obviously gave no regard for if he would ever be asked to return on Bill's show, or probably any other show for that matter. In the end, yes, Bill was apoplectic and cut his mike. That's what it takes to speak your true mind to Bill, and that's what you get in the end.

    Jeremy Glick is a hero. Bill is a still a liar.

    I finally got around to seeing/reading the transcript of the segment, and I must say I'm a bit underwhelmed. But I've come to expect nothing less on O'Reilly. There were some things that I hoped someone would touch upon, such as the flow of information and how the blogosphere has frequently regulated it, memes, the empowerment of alternative views (or the loonies, as you and Billy agree to label them), and how politicians of different ideologies have accepted/rejected the blog phenomenon. It's pretty clear that O'Reilly and his ilk that try to discredit blogs as a single entity are simply afraid of any challenge to their hegemony. I'll keep an eye on this site and if I get the feeling that your book is more than just "blogs are the bee's knees" I'll make sure to pick it up.

    bujeeboo,
    "Apoplectic" is exactly the word I was looking for. Jeremy Glick should sue O'Reilly for defamation.

    From Babbin's pre-appearance announcement, it doesn't sound like he was expecting to focus on Media Matters, either. And his take on them -- you can't let angry email intimidate you -- really only put O'Reilly's absurdly whiney thin-skinnedness in sharper relief.

    I have to agree with a previous poster: I'm surprised and disappointed that you weren't familiar enough with O'Reilly's grudge vs. Media Matters to put up a better fight, something better than this lame point about partisanship having existed since the dawn of time that you're so proud of making.

    He's singled out Media Matters a number of times on radio and TV, on big fat general issues like the Duelfer Report. I know this after 2 minutes of research, and you do this kind of thing for a living?

    And we wonder why progressives and sensibles still get rolled in the media ...

    Sure, O'Rielly's a repugnant bully and moralistic sociopath but surely you doth protest too much to call this latest performance of an old routine a "sneak attack."

    If you're going to go on the O'Reily Show, you should be ready to push back. Phil Donahue recently showed how easy it is to knock O'Reilly off his stride.

    I would just expect more from some one who claims some sort of expertise in electronic political culture.

    David

    the key narrative here regards liberals on the shout-fest cable and mainstream news media. the thesis (developed by bob somersby at the daily howler, and if you don't read that site as well that would about do it for your credibility as a reporter on blogging) is this: liberals go onto shows like the factor under or entirely un-prepared. they neither have facts to back up claims (and you were on that idiot's show the night after he defamed the 82nd airborne's record in WWII) nor have they done the research to hit back hard, or to get out of traps that are set for them over and over. it's...hard...work. if you want to be a public presence, and beyond that if you want to further a set of beliefs (you describe yourself as left) by promulgating them on air, you have got to step up your game. your performance was just plain poor. you were unprepared on every level, both on your alleged subject of expertise, on the style and substance of o'reilly's show, and indeed unable to break through the clutter.

    of course they want you back, so they can sandbag you again and have you end up unintentionally supporting the viewers (and o'reilly's) viewpoint that conservative are smarter and better prepared to engage in cable combat than liberals.

    they are. you sucked. i don't give a shit how many mujahedeen have pointed guns at you, dude, if that's the deal then go back to afghanistan and report and i'll happily read you. but do yourself and all of us on the left a favor and stay the hell off of TV until you understand what a tool you were on attempt number one.

    David, I want to hear your opinion of mediamatters. They have been smeared by O'Reilly and you appeared on the show and listened to the smearing. They run a tight ship and they are meticulous fact-checkers and they back everything up with audio/video evidence. You should be defending them. The right-wing press has so saturated the public thought with propaganda that people percieve right-wing liars and left wing truth-tellers as opposite sides of the same coin. It isn't true and our public discourse and the media have suffered because of this false perception. Step out and do your job. This false perception has created a new reality where the right is the center, the center is the left and the actual left are loony, communist hippies that don't have jobs and chase UFO's. Stand up. Bill is a liar and mediamatters are factually accurate truth-tellers. Grow some stones and back the truth tellers and call out the liars.

    Now please listen to the kindly old plumber and repeat after him, "I will NEVER, NEVER EVER trust Fox News for anything nor appear on any of its shows for any reason."

    You were played for a sap and a sucker by Fox for partisan/ideological reasons. Don't do it again unless you like being hammered by a 2nd rate hack buffoon

    I'm glad Crooks & Liars posted this link to your entry here, Mr. Kline, because honestly after watching the clip of the segment and reading the transcript I came away with the impression that you were more or less in agreement with O'Reilly and Babbin. Pleased to hear it isn't so.

    I'm not going to harp you on how you could have done better on the show, because I'm not sure how well I would be able to do myself on his show. I do hope, though, that you'll correct your ignorance about Media Matters because it really is an important site in the progressive online community!

    And if your book is as interesting as some of the topics you wanted to discuss on the show make it sound, I may have to pick it up before I leave for my vacation to read on the plane.

    This is prolly why they dropped the Powerline guy... just wanted some "lib" to be set up.

    David, for carpet deodorizers, try pet stores. Owners of cats and dogs have lots of problems with piss, shit, and vomit.

    Or you could just leave it as it is, as desensitizing training for future appearance on the O'Reilly Factor ;-)

    You got played like a Super Nintendo.

    Jeez, you should have watched "Outfoxed". You'd understand whose show you were going on.

    I mean, sure Phil Donahue did great, but he is *Phil Fucking Donahue*! The guy is a star with 30 years of running his own talk show, he's obviously going to be more TV savvy than a print reporter/blogger.

    And Glick *trained* for his appearance. Watch Outfoxed. He approached it like an Olympic event. He even did interval training, watched O'Falafel's show with a stopwatch and calculated exactly how long guests could speak before getting cut off. He planned everything he said. He knew exactly what to expect. He did it right... and there's no way you could have known that was necessary.

    And, if anyone is going to go on his show and yell out FALAFEL, they're going to have to treat it like a covert CIA operation, or the invasion of Normandy, or both. I hope someone does, though-- that would be comedy gold.

    Bill you really were HOT yesterday. I want to have phone sex with you again and give you back the 6.5 million you gave me to "SHUT UP"...Maureen and I had a lovely telephone conversation yesterday, do ask her, she has a really sexy voice too, Let's just go to the "Islands" and do that thing you said with the "loofa" you know on my pert "hard nipples" and my "wet open pussy"˜...Bill! BILLLL! BILLL!...oh I'm coming
    As always, your friend
    Andrea Makris

    David,

    I thought you did fine.

    Oreilly is a blowhard and an ass and you were obviously set-up from what I could see.

    You made it clear that you wanted to discuss something interesting and he made it clear that all he wanted to do was bitch about mediamatters.org.

    I would suggest that you read Al Gore's speech on the media yesterday where he decries the rise of television vis-a-vis American political discourse. What happened to you is a prime example of precisely what he is talking about.

    As for the Weekly Standard piece on Miller.... I had just read it before surfing over here and if anything his theory would go a ways towards explaining Fitzgeralds lack of patience with Judith Miller. Though, considering that they are (seemingly) unrelated cases I doubt the theory holds much water.

    I lean more towards the theory that she was trying to avoid giving up all the sourcing for her WMD reporting. Especially if, as has been rumoured, Fitzgerald was considering bringing conspiracy charges against various members (including many of her sources on WMD almost surely) of the Bush administration.

    Perhaps its a combination. Fitzgerald wants to bring conspiracy charges, is fed up with Miller over what happended in NY and would have no compunctions against outting all her Federal government sources in order to get to the bottom of it.

    Or maybe that was her fear... From what I have read she's quite upwardly mobile. Such a scenario could possibly destroy her career.

    Let me use Olielly's words in the article against him. My edits are in ALL CAPS:

    FAUX GNUS people are so vicious, and they -- the MAIN STREAM media, WHO IS IN BED WITH THE BUSH/CHENEY ADMINISTRATION, is so corrupt in taking their uncorroborated, as Mr. Babbin pointed out -- defamation that most people now won't run for office, sir. They won't do FAUX GNUS television and radio commentary. They won't put the -- when we had to book this segment, I couldn't get people to come on and say what you TRUTHFUL guys are saying, because they were afraid that FAUX GNUS would go after them. They -- I couldn't -- I had people turn down this segment -- a bunch of them -- what are you, crazy? I'm going to criticize YOU FAUX GNUS assassins? They'll come after me. And that's a chilling effect."

    ------------------

    A chilling effect indeed, Mr. Bill. You are a liar and a shill for Karl Rove's Ministry of Propaganda and Smear Machine. As David Kline says, you're "just being a baby for whining about being criticized by bloggers." No wonder so many come after you.

    What say you, Mr. Bill?

    "Oh NOOOOOOOOOoooooo!"

    You better get familiar with Media Matters, Common Dreams and others if you're going to represent the left side of the spectrum. I've seen our side without a strong response too many times. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail....

    I can't believe you went on his show, even if you only saw it a couple of times. I can only wish you had spoken to some of the right-wing guys who have been famously (and similarly) ambushed in the former MSM outlets, and accepted (or anticipated) O'reilly's tactics as SOP.

    I feel bad for you, but not too bad.

    Holy crap! I just read David Kline's first post on this blog, "Clueless in the Progressive Blogosphere", which denounces a study done by liberal bloggers. His criticism offers no substantiating evidence and totally fails to address the issue of the sensationalist right wing media. As they say on Fark (ever heard of Fark, Mr. Kline?):

    Pot, meet kettle.

    I've just written a book titled "Holidays" and I was recently on this talk show where I was suddenly expected to know about this day they call "Christmas".

    Since I am not familiar with this particular day, I wasn't comforble addressing any specifics because my book was more about how holidays give people time off from work.

    Wait a minute. You are a journalist, wrote a book on blogs, are interested in the intersection of politics and blogs, and you don't know Media Matters or that O'Reilly would flip the script? Come on.

    Naivete in this instance is unbecoming. In fact embarassing. As a journalist, blogger, and author of a book that announces on its cover: "How the Newest Media Revolution is Changing Politics, Business and Culture," you seem woefully unaware of the scope of your professional world and how it operates. To be unaware of the lunatic fringe is one matter, but fail to anticipate the methods of FoxNews and Bill O'Reilly is... well... simply naive. O'Reilly is not just a media icon, he's become a part of popular culture to an extent that goes beyond his own identity and into the meme arena. I've been a news and information junkie since the early 80's and I've often said, "I don't have to participate in all aspects of popular culture, but I certainly want to be a student of popular culture." To fail to do so is to fail to even come close to understanding what makes up the American Psyche. I don't expect you to own a J Lo CD, but I do hope you know who she is. Same with Ludacris. Have you seen "Hustle & Flow"? Read Wired? Been to wikipedia? eff.org? Do you know who Al Franken is? James Dobson? I'm sorry for being harsh, but in today's hyperlinked world there is little excuse for being a member of the digerati (or the profession of journalism) and not displaying a passing knowledge of a very broad scope of information and popular culture. Ivory tower tomes, think tank decrees, blog polemics, and any form of media should ALL be part of your diet as someone who is commenting on AND participating in the "Newest Media Revolution."

    oreilly is a jack*ass and shame on you for going in unprepared and not expecting an ambush. Secondly, you don't know about media matters? excuse me....what planet are you from?

    you seem like a nice guy and i hope your book sells well, but i agree with the handful of comments that i read here: You wrote a BOOK about blogging and politics and didn't KNOW OF media matters? Yeesh! Now, who's living under a rock??

    A google search on "media" does indeed get 2 billion hits and hit number 9 of that 2 billion is "Media Matters".

    I agree with JayMack. The level of naivete demonstrated by Kline in the face of O'Reilly is pretty embarrassing. How can someone write a book about all this and not be utterly prepared to be sliced and diced by O'Reilly's hate-filled and unscrupulous tactics? How can someone write a book about all this and not know what or who Media Matters is? Egads.....and then to be so oblivious as to report your naivete in such detail!! With friends like Kline, bloggers don't need enemies.

    I agree with JayMack. The level of naivete demonstrated by Kline in the face of O'Reilly is pretty embarrassing. How can someone write a book about all this and not be utterly unprepared to be sliced and diced by O'Reilly's hate-filled and unscrupulous tactics? How can someone write a book about all this and not know what or who Media Matters is? Egads.....and then to be so oblivious as to report your naivete in such detail!! With friends like Kline, bloggers don't need enemies.

    SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!

    Let me get this straight.

    You're well known enough to be invited onto O'Reilly and yet you are completely unfamiliar with Media Matters, possibly the most important website in the liberal universe?

    OOoooo-kay. So much for well-informed bloggers.

    It's called "Riffing".

    It's called "I'm a talented journalist/author whatever. I've been shot at and climbed mountains. I can go on a talk show and just talk my way through whatever comes up. If people point out obvious naivete on the subject. . well. .I have 2 more books to write out of my head and 2 kids. . who has time for details."

    This is the kind of "ivory tower media elite" attitude that the right wing always compains about and you know what? They may just have a point.

    I am sick to death of "liberals" going on talk shows unprepared and then crying foul afterwards.

    Indefensible

    You are influential enough to be invited to speak for the left, and you've NEVER HEARD of the most important website in the liberal universe.

    Great.

    Re: O'Reilley's Sneak Attack on Bloggers

    Agreeing to appear on the O'Reilley show was your first mistake. The second was failing to heed the age-old talk show adage: never argue with the fool who controls the microphone.

    I wouldn't call Media Matters a blog. So, I would says O'Reilly's producers lied to you about the show they booked you on.

    Strangely, since they forcused so intently on this one website, is that they utterly failed to inform you of that intent.

    Almost psychopathic behavior,* like a stalker calling up a female employee repeatedly who had rebuffed him and leaving sexually explicit messages on her answering machine.

    * If their purpose was an informed discussion or showing respect for the guest.

    Bill O'Reilly is whiny bitch.

    Period.

    People should just stay off his show.

    Hi David -

    First of all I'm glad we all found your website. I will start reading and commenting regularly.

    Secondly, there's nothing wrong with naivete - which too many of us on the left have. I think the one thing that many of us could learn - which you apparently did yesterday - was that the Right has been playing for keeps for quite some time. They want the whole sandbox. And the sand. And the tree the sandbox is under. And the house next door and the neighborhood. They are players. We on the left have forgotten that.

    I admire the fact that you have actually been shot at and have risked your life in pursuit of stories. I haven't. Taking risks in pursuit of truth is something we on the left may be called upon to do more of.

    I think it's important, though, for those of us to the left of center to realize that we need to play harder. This article over at Crooked Timber reviews a book that deals in detail with the manner in which the Right has worked diligently - and methodically - to erode democracy in this country:
    http://crookedtimber.org/2005/10/04/off-center/

    Due to their internal discipline, the Right can call a rally on a given issue and EVERYBODY who shows up JUST demonstrates about that ONE ISSUE. We, on the other hand, call an antiwar rally - as we did on 9/24/05 - and every cause we can imagine shows up to shout.

    No one on the Right gets on ANY show to bash Delay. Nobody.

    You go on Billy's show and we all jump your shit.

    See the difference? This is not good. This is a big reason people see the Right as more coherent. It's not that they are. They're alot better, though, at staying on message. REALLY on message.

    No one on the Right will jump Billy's shit, even though he and Babbin told outright lies. We do need a strategy. It needs to be coherent. We on the Left need to have sufficient discipline to not ALL yell at once about a thousand different things - or else, don't be surprised if people view us as totally confused and without direction. Perhaps, relative to them, we are.

    We can change that. We better do it soon. Our progressive brothers and sisters at the turn of the last century had to shed blood to advance the labor movement and other liberal causes. I for one hope we can advance our cause again without blood. I fear we won't. But if we, on one hand, claim to be the reality-based crowd, we better deal with the the REALITY that the Right has been kicking our ass. We need to understand the nature of their success and beat them on their own terms.

    Billy played you. We need to learn from these experiences. We need to be on our game. We need spokespeople who can get on TV and be coherent, without stuttering, on message, convincing, exciting - and right. There are too few on the Left who can do this. There are too many folks who get on TV and are caught off guard. You were. I feel certain you won't let it happen again. Phil Donahue wasn't. He kicked Billy's ass. He didn't flinch. We need folks who can play on that field, and play well.

    Don't worry about all the criticism on your appearance. It's easy to daydream about how great you'll do in an interview, but it's surprisingly hard to actually say those cool things when the microphone is on. I was recently interviewed by a friendly journalist on a topic I knew well and was disgusted with how the segment turned out. I can only imagine how hard it would be to deal with an experienced blowhard such as Billy boy. It seems to be a skill that is only acquired through repeated practice, with rare individuals who do well from the start.

    Well, here's some news that might be fun: O'Reilly will be appearing on the Daily Show October 18th. So maybe Jon will get back at him a bit (if we're lucky).

    I'm grateful that O'Reilly had his segment about Media Matters. It directed me to it for the first time.
    The "asmokinggun.blogspot.com" site was also dissed. I looked it up too. Neither are much more "vicious" that many others I read.

    i watched the segment on mediamatters. i think it's great that MMFA is getting under o'reilly's skin. after what he's done to so many guests like you, he deserves it. hey what goes around comes around.

    i agree with you that the two of them sounded like big babies complaining about blogs. i have no interest in defending MMFA, but most of what i read on their site deals with the facts, not smears. O'Reilly smears and doesn't know facts from his elbow.

    What also bothered me about O'Reilly is that he was essentially saying people aren't allowed to disagree with him. Who does he really think he is?

    hey hey
    just found your website thanks to Kos and i must say its a great place for banter! I will be frequenting here as much i do my local pub.

    back on track tho.

    i think the Right, people like O'Rielly, firmly believe that any opinion coming from a liberal or Democrat/Progressive, is automatically a "smear". Its assumed they are fact-less and only are said to hurt people.

    And its been an effective tool for them while spreading the culture of suspusion and hate towards the Left. Look at us today, we are generally confined to the internet and blogs. We are not on mass media TV like O'Reilly and Scarborough. Nor are we on the radio waves (kudos to Air America tho.)

    I wish they didnt trap you like that on air, we could have used your voice of reason. Hopefully there's a next time.

    David, you ask "By the way, where did anyone get the notion that I wasn't familiar with the O'Reilly show?"

    Well, you yourself said you'd seen it "once or twice" in your post. That connotes a certain amount of unfamiliarity.

    Then the title of the post contains the words "Sneak Attack." Anyone who has more than a vague knowledge of O'Reilly's show would know better than to characterize his style as a "sneak" anything.

    It is on Fox. I'd assume that as a working journalist you'd be familiar with Fox News and its reputation as a bastion for right-wing talking points, whether you agreed that reputation was deserved or not.

    As for "bad journalist," I wasn't trying to imply that all of your work was poor, just using it more as an admonition in this particular instance.

    I have a tough time swallowing the family/books/stuff defense. Most writers have lives other than our work. You were incredibly unprepared for your appearance, right from the point of making the decision to go on the program to plug your book. And it didn't do your credibility a bit of good. Maybe you thought you could wing it, but the first words out of your mouth playing right into one of O'Reilly's favorite talking points about how leftists think Bush caused 9/11 really weren't mollified by the Vince Foster reference. You just played along rather than taking them to task for not sticking to your supposedly agreed-upon discussion topic. I'm not saying I could have done it better, but I would have had better sense than to go on the show.

    You are aware of who David Brock is? And George Soros?

    So O'Reilly says:

    "There are no rules. These people will do and say pretty much anything to harm people with whom they disagree politically."

    And you didn't start laughing uncontrollably?

    Does O'Reilly watch his own show?

    I wanted to bring out this paragraph out of all the comments on this site because I think it said volumes.

    "I'm glad Crooks & Liars posted this link to your entry here, Mr. Kline, because honestly after watching the clip of the segment and reading the transcript I came away with the impression that you were more or less in agreement with O'Reilly and Babbin. Pleased to hear it isn't so."

    First, he's right on that one thing. When you watch/read the transcripts, you do come away with the impression that he more or less agreed with O'Reilly and Babbin. That's because neither he, nor they, came off as particularly antagonistic in this segment. And yet, his overall tone in reading his article, you'd almost think that it was a big arguement. It's as if the attacks on Media Matters (which Klien CLAIMS to be unfamiliar with--which is why he knows that it something he should defend, lol) are an attack on him or blogs in general.

    Second, the "pleased to hear it isn't so" line is the very tipity top of the iceberg here. Now, I'm gonna say that you are all a bunch of brainwashed liberal puppets who confirm everything O'Reilly said about Media Matters and its defenders (a given). But the mild relief this author (who looks downright civil compared to everyone else here, to be fair) shows tells me that this guy's fan base is just that: brainwashed liberals who never question the gospel of "Fox News is nothing but a lapdog for Bush, even though it was founded four years before he was elected". His "O'Reilly was so wrong in attacking poor Davy's website" is CLEARLY a piece of "don't hate me" garbage.

    Now, he personally might have been aprehensive about appearing on O'Reilly. But then he realized, "hey! No matter how well my experience goes on the show, all I have to do is paint him as a bad guy. MM is going to post a story about how wrong O'Reilly was to air a segment criticizing them (the unpardonable sin) and tons of leftist drama queens are surely going to call him a liar just cuz they don't like what he has to say. This is a Sinch!

    Pretty sad.

    To Darrel Plant and others who have taken me out to the woodshed for a good whacking, thanks for your comments. You're right, of course, that I should have known about Media Matters and should have done a better job on the O'Reilly show.

    By way of context (not excuse), I want to point out that my research on this book over the last year has been focused on the ways in which blogs are changing politics. When I interviewed Markos at DailyKos, or former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, or one of the earliest online democracy activists Jon Lebkowsky, or other left and conservative bloggers, my focus was NOT on their respective messages or viewpoints but rather on the ways in which they have been able to achieve political influence, mobilize citizens, organize grassroots activists, raise funds for campaigns, and reshape the way campaigning is conducted.

    I looked at their strengths -- e.g., their ability to cement the all-important activist core. And I looked at the weaknesses of political blogs -- e.g., their inability to date to reach across the red state-blue state divide and decisively influence the undecided middle voters.

    So it was much less important to me to follow closely the specific political messages and back-and-forth debates between left and right media and/or bloggers. I was more concerned with the overall effects of blogging on the political process itself.

    And I certainly never claimed to be an expert on blogging. I only claim to have written a book that offers a snapshot look at an evolving phenomenon and that hopefully provides some interesting food for thought about where it all may be heading. (More on that in a second.)

    In retrospect, of course, I should have assumed that O'Reilly would use his show to attack particular opponents, and then spent an hour or two researching who those bloggers might be so I could be better prepared for whatever came my way.

    One point about O'Reilly that I want to reiterate (again!): Of course I know who he is and what his shtick is. Like most thoughtful Americans, though, I simply can't stand to watch his show. I am in awe of those of you who have the stomach to watch him regularly.

    In any event, that's my self-criticism. If I were pleading in a court of law about not being prepared to defend Media Matters, I would plead "guilty -- with an explanation, your honor."

    If any of you feel my performance on the O'Reilly Factor disqualifies me as anyone worth reading, I understand and thank you for dropping by.

    Meanwhile, I invite the rest of you to join in a discussion of where political blogging may be heading and what larger effects it may have on the democratic process.

    To kick-start that discussion, I offer the following "6 Predictions for the Future of Political Blogging."

    http://www.blogrevolt.com/archives/2005/10/the_future_of_p.htm

    I look forward to a (ahem) lively discussion.


    Hey, at least you got to pimp your book. America is all about personal gain - screw the rest of 'em, right? I mean, it's not like you were on to add some legitimacy to Fox, right? Naaaahh....

    Interestingly, I cannot stand to watch Mr. O'Reilly, but I do enjoy seeing the snippetts that I see him on Media Matters followed by MM's corrections and observations. I appreciate that MM will play ALL of a clip so I can make up my OWN mind about what was
    said. I trust MM because they are the TRUE "no-Spin zone."

    Mr. Kline, I am sorry that you were set up. And you were able to make a very good point about the earlier newspapers...Rupert Murrdock is just today's William Randolph Hearst.
    Truth Will Out. And it is. It just dismays me how long that it takes to come out.

    I am all for blogs! Long may they stimulate lively political discussions that doesn't seem to be happening on the floors of our own hallowed government houses!


    Hard to feel sorry for you, Mr. Kline. Your deer-in-the-headlights performance would be ok for a college blogger, maybe....but from the author of a book on Blogs....pathetic.....
    think of another career, maybe, when Alan Colmes gets fired you can represent free speech with Hannity as your Master.

    Mr Kline

    Obviously you couldn't even keep straight what your mission was. Your mission was to strike a blow against O'Reilly on TV (obviously). Did you think it was about YOUR views? It was about O'Reilly!!

    So what if you were blindsided when they put you on a program with a subject you weren't prepared to talk about. You should have successfully guessed what the real subject was, and been prepared! If you were too stupid to do that, you should have researched ALL possible surprise subjects! And if you didn't have the gumption to research EVERYTHING, you should have at least watched every clip of O'Reilly ever recorded! And if you were too lazy to do that, you should at least have loudly, and effectively, and strongly disagreed with him, regardless of what he said, because he is the enemy!

    Like so many other footsoldiers (otherwise known as authors) in this great political war, you have failed us millions of generals, and so we are forced to strip you of your rank, and call you traitor.

    Now fall on sword some more. I didn't read your follow-up notes before I posted this.

    Dismissed.

    I am surprised when you didn't know about Media Matters when you are supposedly keeping up with blogs transforming politics. This is a well financed and factual liberal operation to keep up with conservative smears in the media similar to an older misleading rightwing organization and also similar to Factcheck.org and FAIR.

    At least you didn't disagree with O'Reilly enough for him to yell "Shut Up" and cut you off, his usual tactics.

    I've been struggling to understand why so many people have been castigating you for presuming to talk about blogs when you aren't familiar with Media Matters. Media Matters isn't a blog, and it isn't about blogs.

    But then I remembered! I read blogs. I read Media Matters! Of course!

    Now explain to me how you can presume to write about blogs or appear TV, when you don't love the album Prima Materia by Bluetech. Like I do.

    Barry

    PS We're all still waiting for you explanation as to why you didn't do to O'Reilly what we wish someone would do.

    David,

    I get the strong impression that most of those raking you over the coals have never had the dubious pleasure of appearing on a talk show. Nevertheless, each seems convinced they could have done a better job than yourself. They also seem to lack an appreciation of the grotty realities of marketing ideas in the current media environment.

    I've a wee amount of experience in this sort of thing. Though the TV stuff was limited to the echelon inhabited by Montel Williams and Rikki Lake, I did have a run-in with Sean Hannity back in his Radio salad days. Speaking from this experience I find your references to family, work, etc., completely legitimate. I doubt I would have done very well in these venues if I hadn't been free to immerse myself in preparation, particularly in the case of Hannity.

    Missing from this criticism is a recognition that O'Reilly is hardly unique. He is only a particularly blatant practitioner in a media where such tactics are SOP.

    Any commercial broadcast program has an agenda. It may be ratings based, it may involve political favor trading, it may even, though rarely, reflect a commitment to the subject matter beyond mere exploitation. What is certain is that the programmer's agenda will come first and your's a distant second or third if that. As they control the microphone, it is an inherently unequal relationship.

    O'Reilly is only remarkable in the nakedness with which he uses his advantage. His bully boy persona is part and parcel of his own marketing strategy. As is his pretense at not having such a strategy. Just a gutsy, straight shooting, no spin kinda guy is our Bill.

    The only way to make any headway in this stagnant soup of hype and opportunism is to understand up front that you're participating in an electronic dog and pony show. You either figure out a way to make your own meme harmonize with whatever the existing agenda is, or you challenge it outright. The latter is difficult, calling for exhaustive preparation and planning. In the case of prerecorded programs, it is a practical impossibility. The most intelligent and trenchant commentator can be made to appear a buffoon through editing that de-contextualizes their statements.

    It's an ugly business. I'm glad that I no longer have the responsibilities that led me into it. Of course, obstaining from the Media mess isn't an option for anyone who has a point of view seeking maximum exposure. I think blogs and other web based media have the potential for altering this but we're not there yet.

    As for the carping about your ignorance of Media Matters, I think people are confusing potential for actual influence. Brock and Co. are building up a solid reputation and base for the future but they are hardly a household name. Theirs is a culmulative effort which, I think, is why their enemies are so hysterical in their attacks. O'Reilly and his ilk fear the steady drip of correction that, sooner or later, will render them the objects of general ridicule. Their only hope is to squelch Media Matters before hand or, failing that, obstruct the growth of its influence as much as possible.

    In any event, based on your discription of your book's subject, there's no reason for you to have come across MM in your research. MM isn't really a blog in the sense of being a personal venue for opinion and commentary. It's a organization's site with a comments section. Reasonable people can disagree on this point but such disagreement doesn't justify personal attacks.

    I'd close by encouraging you not to be cowed by such critics except that your journalistic record makes clear that's not likely to happen.

    All the best.

    David,

    1st time visitor to your site. Pretty amazing the vicious and, I think, unfair attacks on you from so many know-it- alls. They come off as mini O'Reily's themselves. Lots of name calling, not much realism - none of them have probably had to sit in a room and talk to someone they can't see with average, at best, audio and deal with that type of interview. You're an author, not a professional debater. But your critics here are neither I'll hazard a guess. Since you don't worship at the alter of Media Matters you can't be taken seriously. I think that also says something about your critics.

    Just for the record, I'm a right winger who loves Fox News, but doesn't care for O'Reilly simply because he's full of it to such a point his politics become irrelevant to me.

    I watch O'Reilly pretty often, as I'm a fan of FoxNews. (Guess that tells you my political bent.)

    Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I don't. Sometimes he's reasonable, and sometimes he's a schoolyard bully.

    I'm sorry that I did not watch the show last night as other responsibilities took me away. I'm not really into the political end of the blogosphere. However, I do agree that citizen journalism is the best thing to happen to media since talk radio. (O'Reilly has a show there as well called the "Radio Factor." He's actually less belligerent there than on his TV program.)

    I think you're right to be pissed and for calling his hand at the bait-and-switch.

    All you thought about was plugging your book. Shame on you! But what you failed to realize is the O'Reilly is a right wing show, and people from the right don't read.

    I know about MediaMatters because I watch Al Franken on Sundance and I do tune in O'Reilly on a frequent basis. So, I visit the MediaMatters website quite a bit.
    When O'Reilly announced he was going to do a segment on internet bloggers, the first thing in my mind was that he was going to slam MediaMatters. I was pretty tickled that he has become that predictable to me.

    Do you really think Bill really cares that he lies on his show? I heard Doug Stephan say that Bill's show is just an act to get ratings. Only problem is the last I heard his show lost 1 of his 3 million viewers. Well, that's not the only problem, the other is the 2 milion that believe him.

    I like the comment by John Zander: "He who asks the guest to do the talking shows wisdom." As a journalist for over 35 years now, I have an 80-20 rule. If I find that I am doing more than 20 percent of the talking, I have blown the interview. If possible, I aim for more like 5 percent. Over and over again, disregarding the topic or the interview subject, this has proven to be true. The greatest interviews come when the journalist talks the least.

    Exactly.

    Or at least engage in a genuine conversation -- open-ended, even if conscious of trying to steer it towards some key points, but willing to follow the conversation wherever it goes for a bit to see what develops.

    Because in an interview, you really never do know what might develop.

    Good comment. Thanks.

    The whining on this Blog is quite expected.

    Everyone knows that Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, Al Franken, are much kindler, gentler people who have no interest other that the interst of others. #%&*cough/barf8736!

    These folks would never have changed topic midstream, or allowed a guest such as yourself to be used for their purpose. Why?? Because their purpose is the purpose of GOOD people, not the evil right wing!

    Right. I hope we're all beyond thinking that only "our" guys are the good guys and our opponents are bad guys.

    That's just dumb. O'Reilly lies, but so did NARAL when it accused Judge Roberts of "condoning abortion clinic violence."

    Our resident columnist has added his thoughts on this topic. Feel free to peruse them at http://longerlifegroup.com/cyberiter.html

    Mr. Kline:

    Are you actually agreeing that Bill O'Reilly's confrontational manner of dealing with guests he disagrees with is the same as the people M.E.Wylam mentions? Have you ever listened to any of them?

    I'm not a big fan of Schultz's or Franken's styles (I've never heard Miller), but there's a world of difference between their interviewing techniques and O'Reilly's. They don't shout over their guests. They don't accuse them of treason. They don't threaten ludicrous boycotts of their countries as O'Reilly did to a Canadian journalist when discussing her nation's harboring of servicemen unwilling to be sent to Iraq.

    What's "just dumb" is you agreeing to this point. Sure, people on both sides lie -- but not all of them lie. Franken has a regular correction segment.

    Your equivalency of a 30 second NARAL ad that was almost immediately pulled with a guy who lies almost every weekday on the TV and radio for hours is mind-boggling. If you can't find a more substantial example of regular, deliberate falsehood perpetuated on the left -- and I mean someone with an actual media voice, not some solitary blogger -- I might just think your mea culpa story was perhaps your latest entry into the fiction category.

    I don't think you need to jump to so many conclusions, Darrel.

    Of course there is no equivalency between a person like O'Reilly and someone like Al Franken.

    I was just making a casual remark about how childish it is to assume (as some people on both sides of the political spectrum do) that the "other side" lies and only "our side" tells the truth.

    Different people always interpret objective reality differently -- that's why we have "politics."

    I'm not the one who said "Right" to the guy who claimed that Miller, Franken, and Schultz are no different than O'Reilly, David. That is what he's saying, given that this was a discussion of your appearance on O'Reilly's show. You do know that, don't you?

    I'm also not the one who compared the NARAL ad to O'Reilly.

    Those are your equivalencies.

    I was saying "right" to his overall point -- which was a rhetorical jab at the notion that only the left plays fair, speaks truth, and cares about the public.

    But you are certainly free to continue believing whatever you want about what I really meant.

    That's a disingenuous answer.

    He didn't make a general statement about "the left." He named three particular people in his second sentence, then referred to them collectively as "these people" in his third. He wasn't talking about people on the left in general; by mentioning "guests" and "changing topics in midstream" he was clearly discussing talk-show hosts. At least that's what my third-grade sentence diagramming skills would indicate and English degree would lead me to believe.

    And that still doesn't explain why you decided to jam NARAL and Bill O'Reilly together, Dave. That would be the same Bill O'Reilly that compared the Irish fleeing the potato famine to the slaves brought over from Africa, just a couple of days after you talked to him.

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200510060002

    O'REILLY: My people came from County Cavan in Ireland. All right? And the British Crown marched in there with their henchman, Oliver Cromwell, and they seized all of my ancestors' lands, everything. And they threw them into slavery, pretty much indentured servitude on the land. And then the land collapsed, all right? And everybody was starving in Ireland. They had to leave the country, just as Africans had to leave -- African-Americans had to leave Africa and come over on a boat and try to make in the New World with nothing. Nothing. And succeeded, succeeded. As did Italians, as did -- and I'll submit to you, African-Americans are succeeding as well. So all of these things can be overcome I think, [caller]. Go ahead.

    Yeah, NARAL does that kind of stuff all the time.

    Having spent 40 years on the left -- 10 of them as a full-time organizer in factories and communities -- one thing I've learned is how to recognize when a political debate is not likely to lead anywhere productive.

    So I'll respectfully leave you to your opinion, and of course keep mine.

    "Anyway, there are other possible explanations -- chief among them being that when you can't see the people you're talking to and only hear them in an earpiece, then when you get blinded-sided you're not necessarily as quick on your feet as you'd like to be."

    I'm rather astounded of the criticisms of David Kline by people who obviously have never appeared on TV or radio and tried to get a logical point across to a host who is highly skilled at manipulating the conversation (such as it is). It's one thing to sit a computer terminal and compose - and edit- your thoughts, or carry out an extended conversation with someone you can see in person, or at least on a TV monitor, and there is a real give and take. Even a phone conversation usually allows you to think before answering. As Mr. Kline points out, it is very difficult to respond to a voice over an ear bud with no time to ponder the question, esp. if the question is not anticipated. I commend Mr. Kline for doing as well as he did.

    As for Media Matters, it is really not a political blog - if it is a blog at all- it is a media watchdog site that doesn't discriminate against conservatives - check their stories and see how many times they take the so-called "liberal main stream media" to task - for example, it recently pointed out misinformed reporting by media darling Katie Couric, and her partner Matt Lauer hasn't escaped MM's wrath - surely no one would accuse them of being right-wingers?

    Plato

    Hey Plato, and here I thought everything had already been said about this subject.

    Man oh man, you would not believe the number of times I've thought of all the things I *should* have said to O'Reilly. But the time for being swift is past. No matter.

    In any event, I appreciate your thoughtful comments, and I thank you for spending the time to put them down here.

    David,
    You're welcome. I've been interviewed on local radio a few times by a host who is really a great interviewer. But while I was responding to his questions, he was usually doing ten other things around his console (though he was listening carefully to what I said). I found speaking into a microphone to be somehow quite different than speaking into a phone receiver, and I found the lack of visual (facial expressions) or verbal ("ah huh".."mmm") feedback very disconcerting. I have to admire those people, regardless of their political views, who can come across as intelligent, articulate, and informed during TV interviews. I suspect a key factor is having a sympathetic host who asks softball questions - the kind of questions O'Reilly often lobs at his conservative guests (or at least those guests whose views he agrees with from the start).

    Plato

    P.S. I forgot to mention in my previous post that I'm also astounded that, given the millions of website on the 'net, people criticize you for not being familiar with one of their favorite sites. Do they think you're lying? Sheesh!

    No, they're just dogmatic and insular in their thinking.

    But whatever. Thanks again, Plato, for your kind words.

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