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Today's Edward R. Murrow

by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

It was a unspeakable time in U.S. history: A power-hungry madman took the country through hell, using his soapbox to spread lies, bully the defenseless, and ruin lives, all under the guise of doing it for the betterment of the country.

It was a time we'd like to forget -- but never can. How could we? It was only last week. Most likely it will continue again this week. After all, Bill O'Reilly is king of all Fox News.

No need to beat an ornery, can-give-it-out-but-can't-take-it, old horse, so let's all agree to agree that O'Reilly is a full- of- himself blowhard who is Joe McCarthy incarnate -- except without the McCarthy charm. I'm not saying that Bill and Joe are exactly the same. Lot of differences. McCarthy claimed many who disagreed with him were anti-American far-left traitors in the pocket of the Communists. On the other hand, O'Reilly claims that many who disagree with him are anti-American, far-left moonbats in the pocket of the Klu Klux Klan, Nazis, or Mao.

In the dark days of McCarthyism, it was CBS news legend Edward R. Murrow who stepped forward to reveal McCarthy as the bullying hypocrite he was. And he did it by letting the folks see McCarthy's ill-will in all its context.

Today's targets are no longer as weaponless as the victims of McCarthy. Advanced technology has come up with the remarkable ability to record audio, and unfortunately for Bill there are young, traitorous whippersnappers, probably French, who have figured out how to run the play-it-again gizmos so that we can actually hear what it is that Bill said that he said he did not say. For some reason, ever-modest Bill has yet to figure out that much of the ammo his adversaries use against him is unwittingly supplied by the spinmeister himself.

But even armed with new weapons, there is still the unanswered question: Who will step forward to fill Murrow's shoes and expose O'Reillyism for what it is?

Al Franken? Nah. He already knows how to get to O'Reilly. Besides, Franken has made so much money from O'Reilly's embarrassing blunder of pushing Fox News to sue Air America's all-star that he's going to spend his time and money running for the Senate.

David Brock? Maybe. Brock and his website,, has replaced the ACLU on O'Reilly's list as the most evil danger facing America today. But even though it's the best documented resource on talk-radio's spew, Brock's troubled past as a Richard Mellon Scaife / American Spectator hitman makes him vulnerable to O'Reilly's "He's a proven liar" defense.

How about some courageous politician who isn't afraid to stand up a speak out? I'm kidding. There aren't any. Believe or not, my guess is that the person who exposes Billy-boy for who he really is, will be...wait for it...wait for it...syndicated liberal talker, Stephanie Miller.

Who? For the unacquainted, Stephanie Miller is an adorable radio rapscallion who airs five mornings a week in an ever growing number of markets, and is the top-rated liberal talker in many (see for time and station in your area).

Why would she be the one? Knowing Stephanie, probably for laughs. But she's also the medium-sized (and attractive) fish in the talk show world poized to knock off Big Bill's block. Y'see, Miller listens to O'Reilly every day, so you won't have to.

Actually, she has to. Without O'Reilly's soundbites to use as fodder, the hilarious Miller and her sidekick, the even hilariouser Jim Ward, might have to actually write material. As it is right now, those clips provide enough spit-takes, coffee spews and snarfs to keep listeners cleaning their computer keyboards and commuter dashboards daily.

And that's why I think, ultimately, it could be Miller who shoots down the big goose. Not by going mouth to mouth, shut up to shut up. You don't win by trying to out-bluster, Mr. Bluster, and anyway, that's the Right's game. You go with your strength. Humor. And Miller has it in spades.

First, let me stipulate: I find Stephanie Miller to be exceedingly captivating, and I'm not even gay (y'gotta listen to the show). But still, why would I pick a medium-sized, though attractive, fish in the talk show world to knock Big Bill off his ever-lovin' obnoxious perch. With engineer Chris Lavoie setting the table for the team, Miller and Ward knock ‘em out of the park. Although, to be honest, O'Reilly and his brethren Lords of Loud like Sean Hannity (Miller's requited hug-mate) make it too easy.

Miller lets O'Reilly's own words provide the laughs. There is nothing funnier or more satisfying than a big mouth bully being hoisted on his own petard. And the self-deprecating Miller and her morning crew never seem to lack for an O'Reilly bite to ridicule. Hypocrisy is never missed and if needed, replayed until we get tired of it -- which we don't.

Point is, when their comments are held up to the light, the Lords of Loud are fundamentally ridiculous. All we have to do is point it out. Making fun of what fools they are which makes it even funnier. Not Hee-Haw funnier like the Right, but clever fun funnier. Hopefully, one day the politicos will figure it out too. Nothing says what a joke your opposition is better than letting them point it out for you. When the rest of the Left catches on to what Miller has wrought, it could start to spell the beginning of the end for the Right bloviators.

And on the day when Billy attempts to shut up Stephanie, she'll play back his "shut up." Again and again. And then, after a long drag on her ever-present cigarette (she doesn't smoke, but couldn't resist the imagery) and a perfect comic beat, we can only hope that she asks...."Have you no sense of decency, Bill? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

Steve Young is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful (, can be heard on L.A.'s KTLK AM1150 (Sat 1-4PM) and read every Sunday in the L.A. Daily News Oped page (right next to Bill O'Reilly).

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Albion Monitor October 28, 2005 (

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