Newsmax editor and CEO Christopher Ruddy has had enough of the feud between Bill O'Reilly and George Will over O'Reilly's book "Killing Reagan" -- and he taking O'Reilly's side.
In a Nov. 11 column, Ruddy notes that Newsmax has published criticism of O'Reilly's book from historians like Craig Shirley over O'Reilly's suggestion that Ronald Reagan was not fully engaged during the finalyears of his administration, but fawns over Reagan being "a lion, a great visionary who created the greatest economic boom in American history as he brought down the Soviet Empire" and adds, "I would take an 80 percent Reagan over a 100 percent Obama any day."
Ruddy then complains about Will's "seemingly personal jihad against O'Reilly":
Will has gone well beyond offering legitimate criticisms of the book. He has attacked O'Reilly’s integrity as a journalist. O'Reilly stated during their TV exchange last week that Will had agreed to speak with him by phone before he completed his article on the book.
Interestingly, Will accuses O'Reilly of not talking to people involved before publishing his book.
While I have disagreed with O'Reilly on numerous issues through the years, I don't think that there's any evidence he is a person that seeks to mislead people or is an “expert” in such activity, as Will asserts.
O’Reilly is probably one of the most highly-scrutinized media figures of our time. While he sometimes has strong and passionate opinions, he has always been a straight shooter and fair-minded.
Criticism of O'Reilly's book is totally appropriate. But Will’s primary assertion that O'Reilly is “something of an expert on willfully misleading people” and guilty of “extreme recklessness” is simply not substantiated by the contents of O'Reilly's book or his long track record as a media personality.
But O'Reilly has no "integrity as a journalist," and he does have a track record of misleading people. This is, after all, a guy who cited "The Paris Business Review," a publication that doesn't exist, to claim success in a boycott of France, and he has misled about reporting from a combat zone during the Falklands War. Further, O'Reilly's previous book on John F. Kennedy's death contains a false claim about the purported suicide of one of the figures in the case. Ruddy can read more about O'Reilly's actual track record here if he'd like.
Nevertheless, Ruddy concludes his column with how he would handle Will:
I run my own network. It's called Newsmax TV and we encourage a healthy dialogue among anchors, commentators and guests. Disagreements make for great television. But what George Will said crossed the line.
If George Will was a paid commentator on my network and made such claims about our lead news host, I would have promptly gotten Will on the phone.
Here's how the brief conversation would have gone: "George, you are a respected columnist and I respect your opinions. You have every right to criticize Bill and his book. He knows you do and he had the cojones to put you on his own show to hear them out. But you did something more than that.
"You went after him personally and said he's a liar, and that he's made a career of misleading the public. You have used other outlets to attack him. If you feel so strongly about our lead news host, shouldn't you just do the honorable thing and resign from the network?"
After that I would expect Will would do the decent thing and resign from a network where he collects a nice paycheck, in part, thanks to the very host he is crusading against. If he didn’t quit, I would terminate his contract, killing George Will.
End of story.
Interestingly, Ruddy doesn't say he would investigate the veracity of the claims before reflexively defending his host and firing Will.