Bill O’Reilly is looking out for you. He’s above the petty fray of the ideologues on both sides, and immeasurably more reliable and responsible than mere “entertainers” like Rush Limbaugh—or so he says. As part of his never-ending centrist-populist shtick, during a recent segment he lectured the conservative blogosphere for incivility toward Barack Obama and Judge Sonia Sotomayor, using as evidence some ugly “blog posts” from Free Republic and Hot Air.
Hot Air founder Michelle Malkin and HA bloggers Allahpundit and Ed Morrissey were not amused. And for good reason—these are not “blog posts” at all, but comments on articles left by readers. Anybody who’s ever spent five minutes on the Internet knows that any comment-allowing website with a significant amount of traffic is going to have its fair share of sleaze. O’Reilly later admitted “I should have been more precise,” yet proceeded to chastise Hot Air for not editing their comments—“as we do on BillOReilly.com” As Allahpundit explained, this is insane:
Between Ed’s and my 20-25 posts plus the 40 or so Headline items, Hot Air must get, let’s say, 2,700 comments a day. To put that in perspective, if I worked 15 hours a day doing nothing but moderating them, in order to read and rule on each one I’d have to work at a clip of three comments per minute without taking a single break. That is to say, we’d need not one but two full-time moderators to do the job right, the cost of which would bankrupt nearly any blog given the realities of online ad revenue, especially in a recession. Add to that the endless headaches involved in deciding whether a given comment’s over the line and the inevitable haphazard, arbitrary standards we’d end up imposing on readers and it’s simply not worth it. Frequently we’ll get tips alerting us to really nasty stuff, like racist cracks or death threats, which we promptly clean up, but by and large, if other readers are willing to let a comment pass without mention — stupid and/or distasteful though they may find it — we’re willing too. There’s just too much else to do.
Meanwhile, conservative blogger Patterico decided to put O’Reilly’s words to the test. He signed up for BillOReilly.com Premium Membership and posted the screen caption of the website’s disclaimer: “BillOReilly.com does not control or pre-screen the files, information, or messages (referred to collectively as ‘Information’) delivered to or displayed in the Message Boards, unless otherwise noted therein, and BillOReilly.com assumes no duty to, and does not monitor or endorse Information within the Message Boards.” Accordingly, it didn’t take long to find similarly unflattering comments there, or on Fox News Channel’s Fox Nation site. So now we can add “dishonesty” and “hypocrisy” to O’Reilly’s bold freshness.