I don't typically ask for Labor Day presents but with the holiday fast approaching, I'm going to break from the norm and beg for a series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates between MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly.
Imagine the two of them squaring off on neutral ground, say CSPAN, for a series of thoughtful debates about Fox News' place in the media landscape. It would be, in a word, heaven.
Such a cross-network debate isn't likely to happen. Heck, even if it were a possibility, I doubt O'Reilly would be game. By his own definition, he is a "coward." As Media Matters founder and CEO David Brock once noted in a letter to O'Reilly:
You once offered your viewers your definition of the word "coward." On the January 5, 2004, O'Reilly Factor, you declared: "If you attack someone publicly, as these men did to me, you have an obligation to face the person you are smearing. If you don't, you are a coward."
O'Reilly attacks people regularly without facing them in person so I don't expect Fox News' cowardly lion to face off against Maddow any time soon but it's still fun to dream. Especially when you see the MSNBC host's latest schooling of the right-wing blowhard.
As Mediaite's Francis Martel points out:
Maddow began her segment on the Fox News anchor last night by pointing out one of her own errors– his attacks on her based on his enormous ratings aren't ad hominem, they're argumentum ad populum– the fancy name for the "bandwagon technique." Thanks, viewer with a Ph.D. in classical logic!
Then she went on to explain why both his ad populum attacks regarding ratings and his ad hominem attacks calling her a loon were wrong, but highlighted specifically his point that there was "no evidence" that Fox News ran stories designed to "scare white people," as she put it. That point she classified as "so stupid" it didn't even have a Latin name:
"It's him saying that there's no evidence to back up my claim that Fox News consistently runs stories it says are news, but that nobody else really covers– stories that are ginned up, exaggerated, charicatured, in some cases just flat-out made up scare stories designed to make white people afraid of black people. Designed to make it seem that black people– or in some cases, immigrants– are threatening white people and taking what is rightfully theirs."
She gave that claim a name of it's own: bullpucky.