During last night's "policing the net" segment on Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly asked Washington Times blogger Amanda Carpenter about the political blogosphere's reaction to the Sotomayor nomination. As the segment progressed, O'Reilly quoted a "blog posting" from Hotair, one of the most popular conservative blogs on the web. The so-called posting referred to the nominee as:
"Unqualified, militant, and socialist. Next, please. The GOP has to block any of Hussein's extremist picks."
Anyone even somewhat familiar with the terrific work of bloggers Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit — who run Hotair — would almost immediately recognize that the quote above did not originate from either man's keyboard. Neither blogger cavalierly tosses around those types of pejoratives, nor do they ever harp on the president's middle name. As it turns out, the statement in question came from the site's comments section, yet O'Reilly used the quote as an example of right-wingers going overboard. Viewers were left with the distinct impression that the offending words were posted by the proprietors of the site.
I rather doubt that O'Reilly would have intentionally smeared a site like Hotair, but he and his staff are at the very least guilty of sloppy show prep. As the understandably outraged guys over at Hotair have pointed out, if O'Reilly & Co. cannot discern the difference between blog postings and blog comments, perhaps they need to hire an entire squad of "internet cops" (the title currently held by Carpenter, preceded by Mary Katharine Ham) to conduct a basic tutorial of how the internet works. As a general rule, political websites should not be judged based upon the rantings of anonymous commenters unless the bloggers/moderators actively encourage mean-spirited invective.
As a talk radio host and producer, I recognize that honest mistakes are made on the air from time to time. Fortunately, there's a remedy. In this case, O'Reilly should issue a correction on his next program, and his viewers should absolutely check out Ed and Allah's fantastic site (after, of course, reading NRO from virtual cover to cover).