If nothing else, Bill O’Reilly is great at stirring up trouble. Unfortunately, he’s terribly misguided just about every time, and this one is no different. O’Reilly’s latest target is JetBlue. The airline is one of the sponsors of the YearlyKos Convention, the annual shindig put on my very left-leaning political website DailyKos. As you’ll see in the 8 minute clip below, O’Reilly has determined that DailyKos is actually “one of the worst examples of hatred America has to offer.” If you can’t see video, read the transcript.
Take a look and then we’ll talk more afterwards.
Regular readers of DailyKos (and there are a lot – more than 500,000 per day) had to see this coming. I mean, the site is blatantly liberal. The About Us section starts off with “Markos Moulitsas — a.k.a. “kos” — created Daily Kos on May 26, 2002, in those dark days when an oppressive and war-crazed administration suppressed all dissent as unpatriotic and treasonous. As a veteran, Moulitsas was offended that the freedoms he pledged his life for were so carelessly being tossed aside by the reckless and destructive Republican administration.”
So right away it’s going to be a target for conservative Bill O’Reilly and Fox News. What about his allegations of hate? Well, it’s not like there’s one person behind the site pulling the strings. Stories are posted by the founder as well as 15 contributing editors, but diaries and comments are posted by anyone and everyone including prominent politicians like Jimmy Carter and Harry Reid. Sure, some of those comments and diaries may have some pretty strong, potentially hate-filled comments, but that’s what happens with sites that rely on user-generated content. The whole point of the site is to have people exchange ideas freely, and that’s why these things can happen. When it does, other users are usually quick to jump on that poster.
But O’Reilly could have at least gotten all his criticisms correct. For example, he bemoans how the Pope was called a primate, but guess what? He IS a primate. All humans are part of the order of Primate, but more importantly, a primate is defined as “an archbishop or bishop ranking first among the bishops of a province or country.” (Thanks, Dictionary.com) By the way, the Pope is the Bishop of Rome, in case there was any confusion.
This attack should really be a non-story, like all of O’Reilly’s attacks, but Dave Barger’s stumbling interview when ambushed outside his home probably helped fuel the fire. That awkward situation, caught on tape, made Barger seem guilty even though he probably knew nothing about the whole sponsorship in the first place. It most likely came from levels lower than his. Too bad for him that he wasn’t able to think quickly enough in that situation to come off well.
You can read more from the other side in this thread on DailyKos. Kos was kind enough to post some of the real hate mail he received from O’Reilly supporters. Oh, the irony. At last check, there were 369 comments about the issue. That’s the type of user participation that makes the site successful, even though it sometimes results in some pretty inappropriate comments. But that’s freedom, and O’Reilly hates it unless it serves his purpose.
With all this mind, it’s funny that as this was breaking, JetBlue rolled out their Simpsons plane in support of the upcoming movie. And who is it that’s putting that movie together? Oh right, Fox. Ah, the tangled business relationships that make life complicated.
Bottom line, is it a problem that JetBlue sponsors the YearlyKos convention? Not in my eyes. Reaching a young, liberal, politically active demographic probably fits quite nicely into their overall customer-base. And having Bill O’Reilly call them out for it may even make them heroes to this group of people. But, when you get involved with politics, you always run the risk of angering the other side, so it’s not always the smartest move. A smart business will try to play both sides of the aisle, and for all I know, JetBlue might also sponsor a Young Republicans convention somewhere. If they don’t, they might want to really consider it after this.