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With Enemies Like O'Reilly, We're Doing Just Fine



I once wrote -- in what must surely have been an unconscious appropriation of someone else's great thoughts -- that you judge a journalist by the enemies they make.

Using that yardstick, the St. Petersburg Times joined the big leagues following Fox News Channel gasbag Bill O'Reilly's decision to place us in second place on his Nixonian media enemies list.

Though his web site doesn't explain how we earned this distinction, anyone who has watched his show for more than two days knows O'Reilly has a serious jones for the Tampa bay area in general and the St. Pete Times in particular.

He hates us for our coverage of Sami Al-Arian. He hates us for our coverage of accused child killer John Couey. He hates us for our coverage of Hillsborough County's struggle to deal with religious holidays in its vacation schedule (why a national talk show host with 3 million viewers nightly cares about that, remains a mystery). He's denounced me as a "a dishonest, racially motivated correspondent writing for perhaps the worst newspaper in the country.")

Indeed, O'Reilly has featured segments mentioning the Tampa Bay area 20 times in the past six months -- a level of obsession with Florida goings on that is just plain creepy from a guy based in New York City with no apparent ties to this area.

O'Reilly needs enemies. And every conservative yahoo with a microphone rails about the New York Times.

He says we "traffic in defamation" and "false information spread by far left websites." I say we keep saying things he doesn't want to hear, on subjects he doesn't want to talk about.

Sounds like the classic definition of good journalism to me.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:35pm]


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