Bill O'Reilly Bill O’Reilly of Fox News ( Frank Micelotta / Associated Press)

This week’s fiery race-oriented monologues of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly have worked: Competing cable network MSNBC has been repeating his riffs on its own airwaves.

In a just-concluded segment on MSNBC, for instance, host Martin Bashir addressed O’Reilly’s recent rantings about, among other ills facing blacks, how hip-hop lyrics may be debasing African American culture. Bashir took up the matter with fellow MSNBCer Touré:

Bashir: The Zimmerman trial, the president’s comments, the attorney general’s speech — they all opened up a conversation on profiling, social context and stand-your-ground laws. But Mr. O’Reilly doesn’t want to have that conversation. He wants to have a conversation about single-parent families and the lyrics in hip-hop. Why does he want to have that conversation rather than the one that we’ve all been directed to have?

Touré: Well, that’s a simple question, ’cause he’s an idiot. …

Bashir: Well, you gotta give me a more serious answer than just that he’s an idiot.

Following that request, an informative discussion of race ensued.

Even so, Bashir comes off as an ideal puppet of the state: As if we, as vassals of the White House, should follow instructions as to precisely what conversation we should be having. It’s fine that O’Reilly, on his own program, addresses a set of issues that don’t happen to be dominating the shows on MSNBC and elsewhere in cableland. That’s his prerogative as cable-news host and American citizen.

None of this is to endorse a single word that O’Reilly has uttered in regard to the racial issues on his show this week. That’s for another post.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.