On his program Tuesday night, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly took a look at the burgeoning crowd of GOP presidential hopefuls revving their engines for the 2016 contest. In promotional spots for the program, O’Reilly made snide remarks about the crowd: “O’Reilly here. Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Chris Christie all may run for president on the Republican side. Wow. Talk about a reality show.”
Later that evening, Palin herself landed on Fox News with host Sean Hannity — and she made clear that O’Reilly’s dig had bothered her. “Even there on Fox — you know, kind of a quasi or assumed conservative outlet, and we have all day listened in to the tease of Bill O’Reilly,” said Palin to Hannity. “He’s talking about the guests on his show tonight or the commentary on his show. And that would be, ‘Oh, all these GOP contenders thinking about running for president, like Donald Trump, Sarah Palin,’ and he names them off. He says, ‘Oh, what a reality show that would be, yuck, yuck.’ Well, the left doesn’t do that, OK? They take this serious because this is war.”
A vacuous assessment on par with the average Sarah Palin assertion.
Being the King of Cable News and never one to back down, O’Reilly on his program last night quite effortlessly dismissed Palin’s snark. “So here’s the deal. In TV land, where I live, you tease upcoming segments with flamboyant descriptions so people will sit through the 18 minutes of commercials and watch it,” said O’Reilly. “That’s what we do. Ms. Palin and Donald Trump are very high profile folks, and both have starred in reality TV shows. That’s my tease. It was perfectly in context and harmless.” He wrapped up with these words, “If no offense is intended, don’t take offense.” Perhaps mindful of not giving Palin more airtime than she’s worth, O’Reilly dedicated just over one minute of his program to his response.
The upshot? Sure, Palin may have bombed in her Iowa Freedom Summit speech over the weekend; she may have alienated a bunch of former supporters; and she may have zero prospects as a presidential candidate. As O’Reilly’s little rejoinder makes clear, however, the former Alaska governor isn’t finished as a driver of Internet and TV audience.