I see that Bill O'Reilly has gone after Rick Perlstein for an article Perlstein wrote in Newsweek. The article, overall, places in historical context the debates heard today about Sarah Palin and about conservative strategies. But, the part that drew O'Reilly's fire was the statement that today's right-wing pundits own the terror they have incited.
Now the violence is back. But this time, the line between the violent fringe and the on-air harvesters of righteous rage has been harder to find. This spring the alleged white-supremacist cop killer in Pittsburgh, Richard Poplawski, professed allegiance to conspiracist Alex Jones, whose theories Fox TV host Glenn Beck had recently been promoting. And when Kansas doctor George Tiller was murdered in church, Fox star Bill O'Reilly was forced to devote airtime to defending himself against a charge many observers found self-evident. . .(Perlstein could have added as other recent victims the Unitarians killed in Tennessee, the Democratic Party leader Bill Gwatney shot dead in Arkansas, Jews targeted in more than one anti-semitic attack lately, and on and on.)
You can read the article and listen to Bill, and see that O'Reilly purposely mangles, and at the same time exemplifies, Perlstein's point.
Congratulations Mr. Perlstein for earning Bill's enemy status. I'm jealous.
Perlstein grew up in Milwaukee, is now based in Chicago, and wrote the acclaimed history Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. Many already know this book; I have seen few other books earn more lefty blogger buzz in the last few years.
Last year I attended a reading by Perlstein at the late, great Schwartz bookstore on Downer Avenue, and am (still) reading the (big) book now. Its walk through the era(s) of Nixon throw an illuminating backlight on the rhetoric and tactics of right-wingers today. On top of insulting your intelligence and inciting the lower demons of our nature, what the likes of O'Reilly do for a living, we learn from this book, is old, tired, and utterly predictable.