Several of you have asked me why I care what Bill O’Reilly thinks or says about me. Frankly, I don’t give a damn. But I do care that our national conversation is increasingly shrill — with name-calling substituting for civil debate and ad hominem attack for reason. O’Reilly and Fox News are partly responsible. Millions of Americans tune into his and his colleagues’ rants every day. That’s why I’ve challenged him to a debate. He obviously disagrees with me — why else would he call me a “Communist” and “secret admirer of Karl Marx,” and go after me on his show this week for even bringing this up? The fact he’s unwilling to debate speaks volumes — not just about him and Fox News but also about the poison he and others are infecting America with, making it almost impossible for people of different political views to engage in reasoned and civil discussion.
The scourge of widening inequality is causing large numbers of Americans, working harder than ever but getting nowhere, to feel frustrated and angry. O’Reilly and his ilk are using that anger to turn us against one another at the very time we most need come together to solve our problems. This is contemptible.