Remember Bob Costas' halftime essay on the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide and guns? For a couple days last week that was seemingly all everybody in America was talking about. And then everyone moved on. Sure, there were a couple meaningful conversations about gun violence and domestic violence, especially within the context of the NFL, but for the most part we've all forgotten about it. Like we always do with any story in this new age of news.
In the dying embers of the frenzied gun control/culture debate though, one strange media feud has developed.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly vs Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock.
If you'll remember, the comments Costas made that received such national attention were actually paraphrased from the outspoken Fox Sports columnist who's been known to put his foot in his mouth on more than one occasion. With Whitlock gaining increased notoriety because of his commentary on guns, he made the jawdropping comment that "The NRA is the new KKK." That statement caught the attention of Bill O'Reilly, who first excoriated Whitlock on his primetime show last week. O'Reilly said he invited Whitlock onto his show, but Whitlock was "hiding under his desk" because he couldn't defend that statement. Whitlock wrote a column apologizing and making excuses for the remark, but also took the time to hit back at O'Reilly:
"I’m a grown-ass man and it’s 2012. I don’t have to shuffle off to the Big House when summoned. O’Reilly is not Boehner, Pelosi or Obama. He’s a TV entertainer who has spent the weeks after the election crying about the end of “white establishment” America, the end of the days when an upstanding white man felt entitled to summon whomever he wanted whenever he wanted to the Big House to dance.
I don't dance."
While Whitlock refused to dance to the beat of O'Reilly's drum, he did offer Bill-O a chance to appear on his own podcast. Makes… sense? I guess?
"If O’Reilly wants to talk, he’s more than welcome at my little house. I’d love to tape a podcast with him discussing the Second Amendment, gun culture and his fears about the end of white establishment America."
The intra-Fox feud continued this week. O'Reilly launced another attack against Whitlock Tuesday in his opening Talking Points Soapbox under the headline "Confronting Evil." Seriously. He also tried to diminish Whitlock's importance by saying the only reason he's getting attention is thanks to Bob Costas. (Which is why O'Reilly has dedicated multiple days to attacking Whitlock… again, this totally makes sense, you guys.) O'Reilly even called it "way beyond disgraceful" that Whitlock gets paid to write what he does. I assume O'Reilly is talking about Fox writing those paychecks.
God bless you if you're still with me, because Whitlock threw yet another counterpunch after that O'Reilly essay. That was, after he asked someone on Twitter to tell him what O'Reilly said.
did anyone watch the o'reilly factor who can tell me what he said verbatim… shit, i can't wait for the re-air.need to know now.
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) December 12, 2012
Whitlock's response to O'Reilly's most recent attack was to record a 36 minute "Message to Bill O'Reilly" for his FoxSports.com podcast Tuesday. You can listen to the audio here if you want to voluntarily listen to 36 minutes of a Jason Whitlock monologue. The upshot of it all is that Whitlock still refuses to kiss the ring of Bill O'Reilly. He also accused O'Reilly of being afraid to have a real conversation and invited him onto his podcast again. There, I saved you 35 minutes and 30 seconds of your life. Go plant a tree or something.
So where do we go from here? Obviously, Bill O'Reilly and Jason Whitlock will continue to trade shots across the bow and throw out words like "disgrace" and "evil" and "racist" and "Big House" because for better or for worse, that's what these guys do for a living. Apparently, neither man is really that interested in having this debate because if they were it would have happened by now.
The amazing, reality-defying takeaway from this madness is that a Sunday Night Football essay from NBC's Bob Costas has developed into a feud between Fox News' highest profile cable host and Fox Sports' highest profile columnist. (You can make a judgement as to what that says about Fox as a whole on your own.)
It completely baffles me though that a network with the visionary history of Fox can't see the mutual benefit a Whitlock v O'Reilly tete a tete would offer both Fox Sports and Fox News. Let's just skip this childish contest of these two shouting "mine's bigger! no mine's bigger!" and do Whitlock v O'Reilly live!