Spinning Out of Control

How Mark LeVine survived The OReilly Factor

The realization of just what the media has let the Bush administration get away with is no doubt one reason why I got so many e-mails from colleagues and even strangers thanking me for taking O'Reilly on and for "telling him to shut up," which I never did, but apparently just refusing to let him cut me off was tantamount to telling him to shut up (of course, I also got dozens of e-mails accusing me of being the same terrorist-loving America-hater as the Muslim students who wore the stoles, and at least one person threatened violence—just as colleagues who'd previously appeared on his show warned me I'd get).

But what really surprised me is that so many progressives watch his show—kind of like being caught admitting they were watching porn, however, most said they just happened to be flipping through the channels and saw me on the show. A couple of friends I teased about this admitted they find The O'Reilly Factorsimultaneously entertaining and sleazy, just like porn. I've never been in a porno movie, so I can't compare porno acting to appearing on The O'Reilly Factor, but I can say it was fun to go mano a mano with someone who strikes such fear in the hearts of people with Ph.Ds. And so to my colleagues who remain too offended or insecure to take on O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity and their hardcore comrades, I say, take a Viagra and join the party. The sleaze washes off after a quick shower.

Mark LeVine is assistant professor of modern Middle Eastern history, culture and Islamist studies at UC Irvine. He is co-editor with Pilar Perez and Viggo Mortensen ofTwilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation (Perceval Press, 2003) and author ofOverthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv and the Struggle for Palestine (UC Press, 2004) andWhy They Don't Hate Us: From Chaos to Culture Jamming in the Global Age (Oneworld Publications, 2004).
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