Something truly amazing happened last night on The O’Reilly Factor: Bill O’Reilly scolded his guest, Human Events editor and video blogger Jason Mattera, for being rude to O’Reilly’s long-time nemesis, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).
Mattera posted a YouTube video a week and a half ago of himself conducting an ambush interview of Franken in the Capitol Hill hallways, in which Mattera asked questions about the health care bill and then frequently interrupted Franken as he attempted to answer. At one point, he addressed Franken as “Sen. Smalley,” referring to Franken’s old Saturday Night Live character Stuart Smalley, the neurotic self-help talk show host. The term “Sen. Smalley” has become a term of derision for Franken among the right.
And for that particular slight, O’Reilly chewed Mattera out.“Now, you made one big mistake in that — that interview,” O’Reilly told Mattera. “Do you know what it is?”
“What is it, sir?” Mattera responded.
“Do you know? You know what it is,” O’Reilly replied. “What was your big mistake?”
“Sen. Smalley was upset at me because–” Mattera began.
O’Reilly interrupted: “Sen. Smalley?”
O’Reilly then went on to explain that even though he himself refers to Franken as “Stuart Smalley” all the time, Mattera should not have taken that posture as a journalist in trying to get answers from Franken about the health care bill.
“The mistake you made was you were disrespectful for him — to him, when you called him ‘Sen. Smalley,'” said O’Reilly, “and you gave him a reason to blow you off.”
It certainly is odd to see O’Reilly taking Franken’s side in an argument. Back in 2003, Franken’s book Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them, A Fair And Balanced Look At The Right, featured an unflattering photo of O’Reilly on the cover, and in the book Franken referred to O’Reilly as, among other things, a “lying, splotchy bully.”
It is also widely believed that O’Reilly was responsible for the lawsuit that Fox News launched against Franken’s book, alleging trademark infringement in the use of the term “fair and balanced.” The lawsuit very quickly failed in court, due to satire being protected speech, and in the short run it served to massively boost Franken’s book sales through free publicity. In the longer run, the lawsuit by Fox News helped make Franken a hero to liberal activists everywhere — without which he might never have become a politician.