Aniston Starts O'Reilly-Olbermann Feud

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Who knew Jennifer Aniston still had this much clout? On Tuesday, Bill O'Reilly summoned his inner culture-warrior for a segment on Jennifer Aniston's parenting philosophy. He was upset because in a recent interview Aniston promoted the idea that women "don't have to settle with a man just to have a child." O'Reilly admonished her for "diminishing the role of the dad":

Aniston can hire a battery of people to help her, but she cannot hire a dad.  OK?  And Dads bring a psychology to children that is, in this society, I believe, under emphasized.

He went on to moderate a pretty exhausting discussion about how Aniston is negatively influencing 12-year-old girls. Now, enter Keith Olbermann, who managed to make a bad cable TV moment even worse. On his show Wednesday night, Olbermann connected O'Reilly's remarks to physical abuse he may have received as a child:

If you've read Marvin Kitman's biography of O'Reilly, it's pretty simple. Virtually every reference O'Reilly makes to his own father describes how the man hit, slapped, punched him. As Kitman put it, simply, O'Reilly has a history of physical abuse with his father. It is actually very sad.

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It was a pretty low blow—even for Olbermann. Something Frances Martel at Mediaite puts into perspective quite deftly:

Whether or not the allegations made by Olbermann via Kitman’s book are true are beside the point. Child abuse is not a political grenade to toss hastily at people you don’t like. ... This attack has nothing to do with Bill O’Reilly in any professional or personal capacity, and only with speculation on a very serious topic that tosses it to the realm of the frivolous.

Then there’s the touchy subject of fathers in general, and how often Olbermann likes to discuss his own seemingly beautiful relationship with his father. Olbermann’s attack takes nothing away from the positive impact of having a major cable news figure routinely emphasize how important a father is in the development of the child– the world can never have enough of that, and Olbermann’s regular James Thurber segments are stellar programming. That is precisely why he, of all people, should know better than to bring someone else’s deceased father into play in the cable game.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.