Thursday, November 18, 2010

That's No Joke

Fox News chief Roger Ailes doesn't seem to mind when Bill O'Reilly makes a crack about decapitation, especially when it happens to people he doesn't like.

As Howard Kurtz reports in The Daily Beast:
I asked Ailes about a recent crack by Bill O’Reilly that seemed to envision a violent end for Dana Milbank. The Washington Post columnist had criticized Fox’s election coverage as biased and neglected to acknowledge that numerous Democrats had appeared as commentators.

“Does Sharia law say we can behead Dana Milbank?” O’Reilly asked his colleague Megyn Kelly. He added: “That was a joke for you Media Matters people out there.” Milbank wrote a follow-up column objecting to the violent imagery, saying he was a friend of Daniel Pearl, who was murdered in that fashion in Pakistan. O'Reilly then accused the reporter of casting a bit of humor as a serious threat.

So should O’Reilly be joshing about beheading Milbank?

Ailes couldn’t resist: “Well, I would have cut a little lower.”

He quickly got serious: “No, he shouldn’t joke about beheading… Bill knows he probably shouldn’t have said it. He just shot off his mouth.”
Hardee har-har. Very funny.

Of course Bill "knows" he shouldn't say it. He knows he shouldn't say a lot of things, but yet he says them anyway because they draw viewers and make angry conservatives happy. It's a page right out of Rush Limbaugh's playbook: yank the media's chain, especially media critics' chain, then sort-of-apologize or complain about the media later if it goes too far.

Now compare this incident with a Twitter comment from British barrister Gareth Compton about a muslim journalist: "Can someone please stone Yasmin ­Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan’t tell Amnesty if you don’t. It would be a blessing really."

Compton was arrested for what he later called an "ill-conceived attempt at humour."

It's not funny. It shouldn't be. But I don't expect Ailes or O'Reilly to get a reprimand. They should be thanking GOD Americans love their liberties, even if Sen. Jay Rockefeller wishes Fox News would go away.

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