Back when the O’Reilly Factor was first gaining popularity, one of the common, and wildly misguided, complaints against the show by liberal commentators was that the host, Bill O’Reilly, was too willing to cut off the microphones of guests when they didn’t say things he liked. Now, years later, the actual tactic is applied with equal gusto all over television. Unfortunately, it is rarely applied with the right judgment.
Exhibit A: Today, on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall invited libertarian author Tim Carney on to discuss the current controversy that exists regarding Mitt Romney’s instances of high school “bullying.” Carney refused to treat the story seriously, and criticized Hall for giving it credence. Hall…did not take it well:
Here’s the relevant part of the transcript, excerpted from the Washington Free Beacon:
CARNEY: You are bringing up a meta story here, which is, “What is the Romney response to this other non-story?” I’m trying to go meta-meta on you, and say here’s some media treatment—
HALL: You don’t want me to go anything on you, because you are actually irritating me right now. I’m going to be honest with you—yes, you are, because you knew the questions and topics we were going to discuss. You knew them; you agreed. And we are not talking or demeaning—listen, 50 years ago, I was a much tougher kid probably than Mitt Romney was in high school. I’m not talking about the issue of whether he was bullying or not. He says he doesn’t remember; to be fair, I cannot say he does. What I am asking about is how the campaign has handled this situation, how he handled the Colorado reporter, how he handled same-sex marriage where he said he agrees with gay parents be able to adopt, but he does not agree with same-sex marriage? Just the handling of questions beyond the economy. If you’re not comfortable talking about that, I am a-okay, but you’re not going to come on and insult me, you’re not going to come on and insult the network when you knew what you were going to come on and talk about. Done. Now, let me talk to Jimmy, I’m done.
CARNEY: Are you going to cut me off?
HALL: Yes, I am.
And with that, it was over. Word of advice to Ms. Hall – preemptively shutting up a guest when you’re trying to condemn someone for “bullying” is dangerous to one’s credibility.