If you’re wondering how I earned the “honor” of going up against Bill O’Reilly last night, well, it turns out I have Dan Savage to thank.
Ken Schram from KOMO gave my name to a producer from Bill O’Reilly’s show who was looking for someone to come on tonight and defend the sign put up by atheists near the nativity scene in the state capitol. The producer added that O’Reilly wanted to “broaden the discussion out to include observations about Washington being a very liberal state.” Uh-huh. I declined and when the producer asked if I could suggest someone who might want to come on, I gave him your name Goldy.
So I guess I should just think of Billo as Dan’s sloppy seconds. (Bet that’s an image that sticks in your head.) But, hey Dan… when do I get my shot at doing Bill Maher?
In the end, O’Reilly really wasn’t all that. Sure, he did that cutting me off and talking over me thing he does, but that’s not really all that different from a typical dinner table conversation in my family, and, well, I’ve spent enough time on both sides of the mic to have been there and done that. Watching the video, I thought I did okay given the context… got in a couple good lines… didn’t embarrass myself or anybody else. And now that I know what to expect, I’m confident I’d be more relaxed and forceful given another shot at going up against Billo.
Speaking of which, the process of taping the segment is probably not what most people imagine. Both Anne and I appeared from studios at Fisher Plaza, but were taped in separate rooms. Throughout the interview I sat alone in a small studio with a fake skyline behind me and a robotic camera in front; there was no TV monitor on which to view the proceedings. Except for having to stare at the camera, it was pretty much like doing radio, except with a tinny piece in my ear instead of a set of good headphones. In the end, having Bill O’Reilly’s voice in my head wasn’t all that scary—there are way more frightening demons in there—but it would have been easier if I could have heard him more clearly.
As to the story itself, well, it’s total bullshit, and it’s hard to believe that was Billo’s top story of the day. In fact, after taping what I thought was a pretty uncontroversial segment, I almost feared they might edit it, bury it or cut it entirely. But then, I’m not a real journalist like Billo, so what do I know?