Thursday, October 21, 2004

Rich On O’Reilly

Frank Rich lets us in on a little secret about Bill O’Reilly; he’s a flaming hypocrite. That’s just about as big a news item as finding out from John Kerry that Mary Cheney is a lesbian.

In the annals of election year 2004, Oct. 13 will be remembered as the day it rained lesbians in red America. That was when we learned that Andrea Mackris, an associate producer on “The O’Reilly Factor,” had filed her sexual harassment law suit, charging that her boss had an obsessive interest in vibrators, phone sex and, most persistently, erotic scenarios involving pairs of women. That night brought the final presidential debate, in which John Kerry’s description of Mary Cheney as a lesbian so riled the Bush-Cheney campaign, not to mention the easily aghast Washington press corps, you’d have thought the vice president’s daughter was accused of enlisting in a threesome with Bill O’Reilly.

What’s followed ever since is an orgy of schadenfreude and hypocrisy almost entertaining enough to take your mind off Iraq (as the Bush-Cheney campaign hopes it will). It’s the kind of three-ring circus that makes me love this country. Only in America could Mr. O’Reilly appear on “Live With Regis and Kelly” to plug his new moralistic children’s advice book (sample dictum: “Healthy sex is a combination of sensible behavior and sincere affection”) just as old and young alike were going online to search thesmokinggun.com for the lewd monologues attributed to him in Ms. Mackris’s 22-page complaint. Everyone is now so busy matching Mr. O’Reilly’s alleged after-hours oratory – none of which he or his lawyer immediately denied – with his past condemnations of Janet Jackson, Ludacris, wet T-shirt contests, Joycelyn Elders and the televised Madonna-Britney smooch that the findings could fill another Starr report. My own favorite example, hands down, is Mr. O’Reilly’s reverie about hooking up with “hot” Italian women during a visit to the Vatican while his pregnant wife was marooned at home in Plandome, Long Island.

[…]

Sooner or later this untenable level of hypocrisy is going to lead to a civil war within the Republican party. But this hypocrisy is not just about homosexuality – it’s about all sexuality, as befits a party that calls for the elimination of Roe v. Wade and the suppression of candid sex education that might prevent teenage pregnancy and AIDS alike. Should Bill O’Reilly-Andrea Mackris tapes exist, as many believe they do, we will learn graphically where the right’s most popular cultural defender of G-rated values stands not only on lesbianism but also on extramarital sex, sexual tourism in Asia and masturbation -which all figure in the complainant’s detailed description of her alleged conversations with her boss. But anyone who fears that Mr. O’Reilly has completely abandoned his political faith need not worry. According to Ms. Mackris’s account, the one time this would-be Lothario succeeded in luring her to his hotel room alone it was not by offering to show her his etchings, or even Spectravision, but a televised news conference by President Bush.

To be fair, hypocrisy is a bipartisan trait, but it seems all that more delicious when it trips up the moralistic preachers like O’Reilly, Bill Bennett, or the multi-married folk like Newt Gingrich, Bob Barr, and adulterers like Congressmen Henry Hyde, Dan Burton, and Bob Livingston. Their moment of glory in the impeachment of Bill Clinton went a-glimmering when the news came out that they had their own little pecadillos.

“And guys, if you exploit a girl, it will come back to get you. That’s called ‘karma.’ “

– Bill O’Reilly, “The O’Reilly Factor for Kids”

Karma’s a bitch, Bill.