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Robert Reich trying so hard to debate Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly, host of FOX's "The O'Reilly Factor" at FOX Studios on December 15, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

University of California at Berkeley Professor Robert Reich has started a petition of sorts to get booked by Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor." The reason: He wants to go on to debate anchor Bill O'Reilly.

Reich, a frequent guest on MSNBC, writes in an op-ed for the Huffington Post:

When [O'Reilly] first claimed I was a Communist I challenged him to a debate -- a civil debate. He refused. He still refuses. He won't even debate the topic of my op-ed -- the increasing shrillness and divisiveness of Fox News and other media outlets, which are only adding to the vitriol of American politics.

Why won't O'Reilly debate me? What's he afraid of?

Reich wrote the op-ed in response to a segment O'Reilly did on his show Monday. The segment centered on a separate op-ed Reich wrote for the New York Times last weekend, in which he criticized the often-hostile language that permeates national political discourse. He used O'Reilly, who once referred to Reich as a "communist," as an example.

"We used to have him on 'The Factor' once in a while way back," O'Reilly said on the show Monday, "until he started cheap shoting us and then we didn't have him on." From there he and guest media critic Bernard Goldberg discussed the motive behind Reich's Times column.

In the HuffPost piece, Reich calls on readers to urge O'Reilly by email to have Reich on the show.

A spokeswoman for Reich said he likely wouldn't be able to answer our request for comment anytime soon, given that he's "traveling all week."

We also requested comment from O'Reilly.

@eScarry

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