Character assassination, part two: that's the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
This Alberto Gonzales (search) situation is really bothering me. It's flat out wrong for the left wing media to slime the guy.
First, the definition. Media character assassination is when a journalist or a talk show host levels charges designed to hurt a person's career, family or character.
It used to be this kind of malice was mainly done on talk radio, but now it has spread to the so-called elite media. Alberto Gonzales has been accused of aiding the Abu Ghraib (search) crimes, of human rights violations, of promoting the torture of innocent people. And of that is false.
While the issue of terrorist interrogation is certainly a legitimate debate subject, demonizing Gonzales is wrong. Here's how grossly unfair it is: Gonzales is one of eight children born to a poor family in Texas. His parents came here from Mexico and worked hard to make a decent life. Gonzales also worked hard, excelling in school, joining the Air Force and finally graduating from Harvard Law School.
After succeeding as a private attorney, the man entered public service 10 years ago and has served ever since. Alberto Gonzales is a patriot and a role model for minority children. He is not a sadistic torture-monger. He is not a villain.
The left-wing press should be ashamed — but it's not. It's angry, angry that President Bush won re-election.—So it's lashing out and assassinating characters all over the place.
Now the right does this, too, primarily on the radio as we said. But in print, the defamation falls squarely on the progressives. The nation's most influential conservative newspaper, "The Wall Street Journal" rarely attacks people personally. "The New York Times" does it almost daily. Many of its columnists have turned into revolting smear merchants.
So what can be done? Unfortunately, not much. Personal attacks are designed to hurt people, not enlighten or persuade. They are also designed to intimidate. Believe me when I tell you very few Americans want to take on the smear machines in the media on the left or on the right.
America is slowly losing freedom and core values. We prove this almost every night here on “The Factor”. And if you doubt it, just think about Alberto Gonzales and the garbage he is going through. There's something very wrong here. And the media is 100 percent to blame.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
It is not — let me repeat — not ridiculous to go to billoreilly.com this weekend.
Two reasons: We have a brand-new poll question —Are you confident that donations will get to the tsunami victims? Are you confident that donations will get to the tsunami victims? Very important question. Once again, all are welcome to vote in this poll. No premium membership is required. It's free.
Also gratis is my new column on loyalty to America. You may remember I debated a University of Chicago professor about this a few weeks ago, and then the guy trashes me after the broadcast in The Chicago Tribune. I tell you all about that in the column. —billoreilly.com. You can read it there, never ridiculous, always free. Free, free, free...
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Bill O'Reilly currently serves as the host of FOX News Channel's (FNC) The O'Reilly Factor (weekdays 8PM/ET), the most watched cable news show for the past 13 years. He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York.