As the “mainstream media” has taken heat for not giving enough coverage to presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, a valid assertion backed by the numbers, progressive talk show host Cenk Uygur defended the Texas Congressman for not appearing on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News television show.
“Ron Paul’s afraid of a debate? That’s ridiculous, right? I have no idea why he’s not going on Bill O’Reilly’s program, you know. But that’s O’Reilly’s favorite trick to get guests on. He’ll call them out,” Uygur said in an episode of The Young Turks, a popular progressive Youtube show.
Pointing out how much establishment Republicans don’t like Ron Paul, he mocked the Fox News host for insulting Paul as being too timid. Uygur suggested that there could be many reasons for Paul’s absence and pointed to the fact that Congressman Paul has appeared on the Young Turks to debate numerous times.
“Ron Paul has been on this show many times. We’ve had endless debates. fervent debates. He was never afraid of it. It’s so comical. That’s the one politician, agree or disagree with him, that is definitely not afraid of a debate.”
By O’Reilly’s own acknowledgement, he’s called Paul insane, labeling him an isolationist naive to foreign threats. Along with conservative political analyst Dick Morris, he continued to repeatedly complain about Paul’s absence on a recent show addressing the matter.
“From the very beginning, and we’ve had Ron Paul on this program, I have said to Mr. Paul’s face that some of his positions are insane. That you can’t be an isolated nation the way he wants to be, that bad guys will come and get us unless we get them first. We all know this, except Ron Paul doesn’t. But there is a strain of people that love him and that’s what shows up in the 13% or 14% that he gets.” O’Reilly said in an August 24 broadcast.
Stooping to a seemingly desperate attempt to discredit Paul’s position, fellow Republican commentator Dick Morris jumped on the the O’Reilly bandwagon to threaten Paul’s supporters with getting used to seeing President Obama if they continue in their ways.
“Those people that love him better love Obama because if he ever gets the nomination, they get him for four more years.”
The seemingly childish tantrum thrown over Paul’s declining Bill O’Reilly’s invitation is a good example of how rational explanations can get lost through the filter of the drama-filled cable news environment. In a statement provided to Politico last week, Paul’s campaign chairman Jesse Benton stated the Congressman’s New Hampshire campaign schedule didn’t make it possible for an appearance at that time. Benton also said the campaign would “be very happy to entertain offers in the future.” The whole incident is also another reminder of how a maverick candidate like Ron Paul can ruffle the feathers of the political establishment, upsetting the likes of Dick Morris and others who are in favor of the Republican status quo.
As partisan as Cenk Uygur has been known to have been in his past shows, both in his former MSNBC days and currently with the Young Turks, it’s great to see him put this partisanship aside to shed some light on an independent-minded candidate like Congressman Ron Paul. It’s possible for media personalities to hold political beliefs of their own while at the same time presenting an independent way of looking at politics.
I would venture to argue that if more media personalities took on this mindset, instead of being mere partisan cheerleaders, political discourse in this country would be a lot more productive.