Almost no one remembers Bill O'Reilly's searing attack on Rush Limbaugh-style talk radio hosts in 2008. But it happened. "These idiots," the most popular conservative TV personality in America said. "I mean, they're misleading you. They're lying to you." As he explained it, "most talk radio is conservative-dominated ideologues; Kool-Aid drinking idiots." They're rich guys with "big cigars," he continued, causing many to believe he was singling out Limbaugh. "Walk away from these liars, these right-wing liars," he warned. "Walk away from them! They're not looking out for you."
The response was swift.
Talk radio's Mark Levin, a volatile man as prone to sudden, unexpected outbursts of anger as O'Reilly, hit back. "These blowhards," he said. "You get arrogant, stupid people who get paid a lot of money to be on radio and TV to be arrogant and stupid. And one of them ... is on the Fox News Channel, my favorite cable channel. And he has a fledgling radio show that has no ratings, and he'll be off radio soon because he's a failure. It's the non-factor: Bill O'Reilly." He went on to call O'Reilly a "moron, phony journalist" who is "utterly unencumbered with information."
Amazing, right? Even titans of right-wing media believe that other titans right-wing media are disingenuous hucksters! As someone who's been making that same critique since around 2008, when that exchange took place, I can't help but chuckle at all the times I've been denounced by conservative bloggers for pointing out the very truths spoken by O'Reilly and Levin: that high profile conservative entertainers regularly violate the trust of their conservative fans. Limbaugh does, in fact, mislead on a weekly basis. O'Reilly is, in fact, curiously unencumbered by facts on occasions when they get in the way of something that he "knows" to be true.