Bill O’Reilly picked the wrong person to be a human punching bag when he invited Ann Coulter on his show. His purpose was to position himself as an independent and Coulter as a “right-wing pundit.” But Coulter tried getting into the substance of her book, Treason, and O’Reilly was exposed as a know-nothing on the subject of Joe McCarthy.
Rebutting phony charges that she is “mean,” Coulter said, “I’m responding to 50 years of the liberal creation of a myth?turning an honorable American, a great American patriot, Joe McCarthy, into a virtual Nazi.” O’Reilly responded, “I’m not going with that. I’m not going with that. A guy who used his power to do some good but a lot of bad too.” Then the following exchange occurred:
Coulter: “Like what?”
O’Reilly: “He demonized people who didn’t deserve to be demonized.”
Coulter: “That’s not true. Name one. There is not one.”
O’Reilly: “I’ll name one?Dalton Trumbo.”
Coulter: “He had nothing to do with Dalton Trumbo.”
O’Reilly: “Sure he did. It was the House of Unamerican Activities Committee. And who was overseeing that?”
Coulter: “He was known as Senator McCarthy. He was in the Senate not the House. Everyone confuses him with the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.”
O’Reilly: “But who was overseeing that? Come on, you know the clubhouse rules.”
Coulter: “He had nothing to do with HUAC. You see this is part of the myth. Everyone says this. Everyone says HUAC.”
O’Reilly: “All right, I don’t want to debate McCarthy. He’s dead…And I’m not debating what’s in your book.”
O’Reilly embarrassed himself by not having the facts. Rather than admit he may have made a mistake, he tried to move on by saying that McCarthy was dead. Yes, that’s true. But the myth about McCarthy lives on in the minds of liberals and left-wingers and even Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly didn’t have the facts about Dalton Trumbo. Rather than being an innocent victim of McCarthy or even the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, the facts show that he spent time in prison for refusing to testify about Communist penetration of Hollywood. Steven Martinovich, who has written extensively about the Hollywood Communists, says Trumbo at first denied being a Communist and later admitted it.
To the credit of Fox News, the transcript of the O’Reilly show was posted on the Fox News web site, where people could see how he lost the debate with Coulter. Ironically, O’Reilly has himself been accused of “McCarthyite” tactics. Hussein Ibish of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee claimed during an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor that O’Reilly had used “McCarthyite” tactics in raising questions about former Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian’s involvement with terrorists. “Mr. Ibish,” said O’Reilly, “it’s not fair of you to accuse me of being Joseph McCarthy for asking questions.” Indeed, it was entirely appropriate for O’Reilly to raise these questions, and Al-Arian was later indicted as a leader of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. McCarthy and O’Reilly were both right.