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A (Slightly) Humbler Bill O.

by Steve Young

When Bullies Squeal

In 1991 film, "The Doctor," William Hurt played Dr. Jack MacKee, an emotionally-detached physician who, insensitive to the frustration, indignity and heartache of his cancer patients, thought he knew it all. When he discoverers that cancer has invaded his own body, his eyes and heart finally open to the breadth of pain, futility and lack of compassion from the professional in charge, that the patient often endures.

The contrived, yet compelling plot point, reveals the lesson of the Dylan line: (excuse the paraphrasing) "I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes and for that one moment I could be you...then you'd know what a drag it is to see you."

I have long felt that every doctor should be made to see "The Doctor," before ever seeing a live patient. Likewise, it should be mandatory that every radio talk show host should have to suffer the indignity of being the object of their labored charges, toxic labeling and name-calling with little or no consequences, before ever taking their first orchestrated phone call.

This past week, Fox News' prince, Bill O'Reilly, used his weekly column to support Dan Rather and condemn those whose attacks have run ramped since his broadcast of a "60 Minutes" segment that attacked President Bush's military service on the basis of questionable documents.

In part, O'Reilly wrote, "The ordeal of Dan Rather...speaks to the presumption of guilt that now rules the day in America. Because of a ruthless and callow media, no citizen, much less one who achieves fame, is given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to allegations or personal attacks."

In Rather's support, O'Reilly argued that critics do not have license "to practice character assassination or deny the presumption of innocence." Wow...a "Fox News Cable (so-called) Independent" defending an "Elite Network (so-called) Liberal." That is some kind of an admission coming from pot's own blackness (or is it the kettle's). O'Reilly has often ripped into any number of targets without much a concern for what his sometimes less than accurate charges might produce.

O'Reilly's incessant, I think thou dost protest too much claims, that he is the object of a multitude of evil, unjust attacks from evil, unjust people, might make one believe that his paranoia is invalid? Not entirely. Though I believe he does not appreciate his role in the conflicts, I have to also acknowledge that without O'Reilly out there to bang on, my weekly diatribes would probably have to be cut back to once a month.

While I truly believe that a major factor in O'Reilly's indignation comes from his perceived personal affronts to his own character, I'm certainly not willing to give a pass on the allegations of his sexual harassment or his own polemics that escalated the Al Franken book sales. Fighting these accusations in court hasn't exactly turned those problems in his favor. That is unless you consider silencing-payoffs to check additional expense and further embarrassment as beneficial.

But becoming the William Hurt neglected cancer patient, as O'Reilly seems to have become, may have worked a small (infinitesimally small) miracle down at "The Factor." Becoming the victim sure tends to adjust one's thinking, especially when it affects numero uno the most. It worked for Rush Limbaugh who had once called for throw-away-the-key incarceration for drug addicts...until he became one. You might even want to throw in his anti-attorney assaults, until he needed one. Unfortunately, his failures of body and soul that necessitate AA-12 Step (specifically 4, 8,9 10 and especially 12) solutions have yet to affect his need to twist the truth he feeds daily to his ditto'd fans.

And so I doubt the O'Reilly, like Limbaugh, will do much to change his attack style as, though he may dismissed by his own "Doctors," this "patient" does not grasp that he is also the "cancer."

Perhaps one day the Lords of Loud will stop rationalizing the harm their divisiveness generates much like a terminal disease spreads toxically through the body politic. Perhaps one day they will become part of the remedy instead of the plague.

And perhaps one day there'll be a cure for cancer.

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Albion Monitor December 5, 2004 (

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