(UPDATE: O'Reilly link below is now obsolete -- go here.)
Via World O'Crap, I see that Bill O'Reilly is shocked, shocked, that some liberal pundits met with John Kerry a couple of months ago. O'Reilly writes:
According to an article in The New York Times Magazine, a non-publicized meeting was held in New York City early last December, attended by Senator John Kerry and a number of liberal leaning journalists including CNN's Jeff Greenfield, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post and Frank Rich of the aforementioned New York Times....
Can you image if executives from The Fox News Channel, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Times had gathered at Camp David for a little slap and tickle with W? ...and nobody was told about it? And The New York Times found out about it? Can you say PAGE ONE BOLD FACE HEADLINE?
Yeah, can you imagine?
Talk radio sets up shop on White House lawn
Originally published Thursday, October 31, 2002
Six days before Election Day, the White House opened its gates Wednesday to talk radio hosts, staging an invitation-only North Lawn gabfest that gave the select few direct access to Bush administration officials.
...About 50 radio talk shows and news programs participated in "Radio Day," held under a vast, heated tent just outside the White House's front door from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. EST on a cold, rainy day. Most of the shows broadcast live from the North Lawn, with the rest using material from stringers or correspondents.
Made available to them for brief interviews: Cabinet secretaries, senior Bush administration officials and White House staff....
Now, of course, these broadcasters weren't "executives" -- O'Reilly complained about "executives" meeting with Kerry. But Greenfield, Cohen, Alter, and Rich aren't "executives" -- they're pundits. They're opinion-mongers. And they work for news organizations that also employ opinion-mongers on the GOP side -- who undoubtedly will be courted by GOP presidential candidates in 2008. And there won't be any PAGE ONE BOLD FACE HEADLINES when that happens.
By the way, here's the article O'Reilly's so worked up about. It's the New York Times Magazine cover story on Al Franken. O'Reilly avoids mentioning his arch-nemesis, but he mischaracterizes the gathering, which Franken organized. O'Reilly:
Now this pow-wow might have been just an innocent 'get to know you' soiree, but there are hints it might have been quite something else. One of the attendees, Jim Kelly, the managing editor of Time Magazine, was quoted as saying that Kerry was asked a number of times about his vote on Iraq and, according to Kelly, "by the third go-round the answer was getting shorter and more relevant." ...
There is nothing wrong with news organizations endorsing a candidate or a columnist writing about his or her political preferences. But actively participating in political campaigns by coaching candidates and strategizing with them is absolutely against every journalistic standard, and it is happening, usually under the radar.
But they weren't coaching him -- they were grilling him:
Last fall, when Dean seemed the inevitable nominee before a single primary vote had been cast, Franken was troubled that John Kerry was being written off. ''I liked Dean, but I also think Kerry is just a really smart, capable man,'' he told me. ''I'd noticed that he was very good in a small gathering, so I thought, What if I invite some opinion makers over to hear him?' On Dec. 4, an impressive collection of the media elite and assorted other notables -- Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker, Frank Rich of The New York Times, Howard Fineman and Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, Jim Kelly of Time, Jeff Greenfield of CNN, Eric Alterman of The Nation, Richard Cohen of The Washington Post, Jacob Weisberg of Slate and others, including, as eminence grise, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. -- responded to his call and had a little powwow with Kerry at the Upper West Side apartment of Franken and his wife, Franni.
''The whole thing was odd, I would say, because people didn't know why they were there,'' Kelly said. ''But I think the idea was to put John Kerry into the belly of the beast. It may have been the actual beginning of the new approach he took -- 'I'm going to stay in this room and take every question you throw at me.''' Alterman grilled Kerry on his vote on Iraq, and he gave a long, tortured answer. Then he was asked about it a second time. ''By the third go-round, the answer was getting shorter and more relevant,'' Kelly said.
''It was a really interesting event,'' Alter said. ''A lot of these people hadn't actually met Kerry before. Al wanted them to get to know him. It was an example of him playing a sort of intermediary role in the nexus of politics, media and entertainment.''
Where does it say that the reporters were coaching Kerry to shorten his answer? The way I read it is that he was doing a better job of getting to the point as the evening wore on. This wasn't a coaching session -- it was an oral exam, and apparently he passed.