Conservative commentators usually attack liberals, not their own. So when radio host G. Gordon Liddy, of Watergate fame, recently duked it out with Fox News talkmeister Bill O’Reilly, it was a treat.
The first volley was fired on MSNBC’s Deborah Norville Tonight. Liddy called O’Reilly “an embarrassment to our side.”
The next day, on CNN’s Crossfire, Liddy shot another round: “O’Reilly is no good at radio, and part of that reason is because his most nuanced response to a complex question is ‘shut up’!”
O’Reilly is nonplussed. “Liddy is totally out of control,” says cable’s top-rated news host.
Both men’s radio shows are distributed by Westwood One Radio Network so, O’Reilly says, Liddy should know “it’s a blatant lie to say my radio show is a failure, even if he is a senile old coot.” (A source close to O'Reilly's The Radio Factor says it’s netting “north of $10 million” a year.)
Liddy was booked to appear on O’Reilly’s show, but Liddy says producers reneged on the invitation unless he apologized. “Tell Bill to pound sand,” he replied, “I’m not apologizing for anything.”
Says Liddy, “One of the things I learned when I was a little boy in school and the same thing holds in prison, if you confront the bully he’ll back down.” But G. Gordon shouldn’t hold his breath for that to happen with the Fox News star.
O’Reilly says Westwood One sent a statement to both Crossfire host Paul Begala and Norville that The Radio Factor is a strong performer and that Liddy’s comments “are totally inaccurate and in no way represent the views of Westwood One.” It also noted O’Reilly is heard on 405 affiliates.
O’Reilly doesn’t believe that statement will be read. “Begala won’t do it because he doesn’t care, and Norville won’t because she doesn’t have a clue,” he says. “You could go on [Norville’s] show...and say ‘The Martians have just landed’ and Norville would say, ‘Oh really, tell me more.’”
O'Reilly planned an on-air volley on the Talking Points segment of his TV show Friday night, saying Liddy had joined the "character assassins" who attack Fox news, calling Begala a "propagandist" and saying Norville "seems to have little frame of reference."
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