The PD's Bill O'Reilly Affair

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Bill O\'Reilly, pictured here with an unnamed male 'friend.'
Every Sunday, Ted Diadiun, The Creepiest Facial Hair in Journalism�, pens a column for The Plain Dealer answering readers' questions and explaining the paper's decisions. If you like having a man stroke his beard at you for 1,000 words, it's a delightful literary excursion. Otherwise, it pretty much blows. But two Sundays ago, Diadiun stumbled on an almost interesting column. A liberal book reviewer had written a story for The PD panning the new book of conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly, in turn, ripped the paper for using a biased reviewer. Diadiun -- never one to let an intellectual joust go unanswered -- chimed in the following Sunday. Books editor Karen Long had used the reviewer, Elbert Ventura, before, The Beard� wrote: "She knew that Ventura's personal politics are liberal. ... But what she didn't know was that since his last review for The Plain Dealer, Ventura had become a research fellow for Media Matters for America." It was an assertion that positioned the paper, already under orders from Editor Doug Clifton to squash its liberal bias, in a favorable position: We wouldn't have run the review had we known the guy was a whack job! We swear! Unfortunately, it wasn't technically accurate. Technically, it was total bullshit. "I should let you know that I found new job since we last talked," Ventura told Long in his email asking to write the review. "I am now a research fellow at Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog." If that wasn't enough, he says, he specifically asked Long to include his new job title at the end of the published story. Long admits she knew where Ventura worked all along, but says she didn't do her "due diligence" to find out what the group was really about. (Translation: Who the hell's supposed to review the book? Rush Limbaugh?) She explained this to Diadiun, she says. But Diadiun must've been distracted by some great ethical quandary at the time; he claims that Long said she didn't know where the reviewer worked. "I believe that what I wrote was the truth," he tells Punch, stroking his beard and adding, "Wanna touch it?" -- Joe P. Tone

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