Blogger Andrew Sullivan tore into Bill O'Reilly Thursday, calling his criticisms of President Obama ridiculous and asking to go on his show to debate him.
Sullivan's blog post was inspired by Mark Leibovich's profile of Glenn Beck in the New York Times Magazine. In it, Leibovich wrote that "several Fox News journalists have complained that Beck's antics are embarrassing Fox, that his inflammatory rhetoric makes it difficult for the network to present itself as a legitimate news outlet."
Sullivan pronounced himself baffled by this, since, in his opinion, Beck wasn't nearly as embarrassing for Fox as Sean Hannity or, especially, Bill O'Reilly.
Sullivan had harsh words for Hannity, saying that, compared to him, "Beck seems to me to be a relative innocent. Hannity is a cynical liar and cool propagandist...shameless does not even begin to describe the man's public character."
But he reserved most of his criticism for O'Reilly. Writing that he had watched Wednesday's "Talking Points Memo," Sullivan wrote that it was "so full of meaningless cliches about 'big government' and 'progressives,' so divorced from any coherent engagement with the reality of Obama's record and stated views, that it beggared belief "(video below).
Sullivan then responded to several of the points O'Reilly made in his segment--including one about foreign policy:
He says first that in foreign policy, progressives believe that America is a "bully" and "too aggressive." Obama, however, has retained most of Bush's executive powers against al Qaeda (except, critically, torture), has poured more troops into Afghanistan than was ever the case under Bush, has ramped up the drone campaign in Pakistan, retained Bush's defense secretary, stuck to Bush's withdrawal timetable in Iraq, and embraced targeted killings of al Qaeda operatives, even US citizens...there is no other description of this than a travesty of the truth.
Ultimately, Sullivan said, Beck is "a clown," but a genuine one. O'Reilly, though, did not get off so gently. Sullivan called him a "a propagandist - not as bad as Hannity - but dishonest and wrong." He concluded by asking O'Reilly to debate him:
Mr O'Reilly, I know Fox has long had a blanket ban on having me on as a guest, but here's a challenge: allow me to debate this Talking Points Memo with you, and reveal what a completely half-baked piece of nonsense it was.
Watch Wednesday's "Talking Points Memo":