I'm willing to bet Bill O'Reilly is chuckling contentedly in his mansion out on Long Island this morning.
Why shouldn't he laugh? He scored a home run on The View this week, where his incendiary comments provoked co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar to walk off the set.
It was television gold. It was terrific for his ratings and even better publicity for his brand new book, the imaginatively titled: Patriots and Pinheads. In Bill O'Reilly's world you're either one or the other, unless you're a Democratic president and you're both, of course.
Bumper sticker rhetoric is often good for a cheap laugh. No one knows that better than you Bill. But between all the bestsellers and the big bucks, can I ask you spare a thought for the innocent people you carelessly maligned in the pursuit of healthy book sales, Bill?
Muslims, you said, killed us on 9/11. You said this on national television, not on your front porch. You didn't say Al Qaeda, you didn't say Wahhabi fundamentalist extremists financed by the Saudi's, you didn't even say Jihadists or terrorists - you just said Muslims killed us on 9/11.
That can only mean one of two things: all Muslims did it, or some Muslims did it. When you're making scattershot charges like this is there any point in splitting the difference?
The media let it pass. They do this more and more these days. They're so used to hearing Fox News defame the world's second largest religion they probably don't even notice it anymore.
But someone should say it: loudly and repeatedly. This kind of talk is deeply wrong. It's divisive and hateful and reactionary and damaging and it's beneath this great nation. We used to be better than this, in public at least, and you know it Bill.
In Pinheads and Patriots you lament the incivility that has replaced discussion in America. You write that Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh "and many other conservative radio commentators believe pretty much the same thing: that the President is a force for pernicious change, a committed socialist in a two-thousand dollar suit. These guys pound President Obama into pudding just about every day, and millions of Americans are spooning up the dessert. But I'm not so sure this scorched-earth strategy aimed at the President is good for the country."
Come clean for once Bill. You damn well know this scorched earth strategy is not good for the country. You know the anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim Tea Party hordes inspired by Fox News won't vanish with the November elections. You know what this means for the political life of this nation. You know it better than all of your conspiracy-theory believing, extremist inspiring colleagues combined.
And how do you know it? Because you're not like them and you never have been.
You're the working class boy who went to the fancy prep school; you're the Harvard grad who prefers to rub shoulders with Irish cops and firemen; you're the Irish American who does the heavy lifting at Fox for the conservative establishment who never invite you to their patrician enclaves. You don't really belong to the people you're defending. You don't even like most of them, you often say.
That outsider perspective has carried you very far from your humble origins. It's allowed you to strike a chord with the millions of disenfranchised Americans who call you their champion. When you tell them that Muslims killed us on 9/11 they believe Muslims killed us on 9/11. They won't split the difference if you don't, Bill. People are either pinheads or patriots, after all.
Who's looking out for you, you often like to ask the American people. Then you give them that conspiratorial grin.
I want to put a version of that question to you Bill. Who's looking out for the 1.7 billion people you're defaming so carelessly? They're also our friends and neighbors here in the U.S. It was news to them to hear they'd attacked us on 9/11. Who's going to be fair and balanced about them? Who's looking out for them?