Bill O'Reilly crash lands in Imus territory

Billo yesterday on his radio show:

CALLER: Well, your representative asked me not to talk about this, but I have a friend who had knowledge of her and said to me months ago, “This is a very angry,” her word was “militant woman.”

O'REILLY: All right. What I want you do then, Maryanne, if — I want you to stay on the line.


O'REILLY: Because it's not fair to Michelle Obama for you —

CALLER: Oh no, all I'm saying is —

O'REILLY: — because we don't know who you are, and we don't know who your friend is, but we want to know. We want to know, OK. But it's not fair at this point for you to say, “My friend said X and Y,” because we just don't know. But if you would give us your information, we would like to talk to your friend. And then whatever your friend tells us, we'll track it down. We'll do it in a fair and balanced and methodical way. That's how we're going to cover this campaign — all of them, all of them. So stay on the line, give us your information. If indeed Michelle Obama is angry about something, if she has a history, we would like to know that, and then we can put it into some kind of context so that we can be fair to everybody.

You know, I have a lot of sympathy for Michelle Obama, for Bill Clinton, for all of these people. Bill Clinton, I have sympathy for him, because they're thrown into a hopper where everybody is waiting for them to make a mistake, so that they can just go and bludgeon them. And, you know, Bill Clinton and I don't agree on a lot of things, and I think I've made that clear over the years, but he's trying to stick up for his wife, and every time the guy turns around, there's another demagogue or another ideologue in his face trying to humiliate him because they're rooting for Obama.

That's wrong. And I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels — that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever — then that's legit. We'll track it down.

Keith Olberman had a great segment on this tonight. First he played a clip of President Bush from earlier this month, explaining that lynching is not joke material, or it's use to intimidate is simply unacceptable. And for all his callousness about social and economic injustice in this country, even Bush apparently gets it about the use of this loaded term.

Then he talked to Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, an African American, who was obviously disgusted about this incident, though he managed nonetheless to give a brief explanation of what lynching was (is!), as a hate crime or tactic of terror and control for an entire class of people. They concluded with a question about whether O'Reilly will keep his job despite his repeated clear displays of racism, and with no small degree of sadness and resignation answered that, yes, he probably would.