Simon Hoggart's week: Raging rightist put down by a mouse
- The Guardian, Saturday 11 April 2009
• I'm in the US, just in time to enjoy a splendid new feud. Bill O'Reilly is one of America's most famous - or notorious - rightwing commentators. These people live in a permanent spume of rage, which has got worse following the election of President Obama. O'Reilly's column has recently been dropped by, among other papers, the Chicago Sun-Times. He called for an advertising boycott of the paper in retaliation.
Roger Ebert still writes for the Chicago Sun-Times, and also happens to be by quite a wide margin the best-known film critic in America. He has responded to O'Reilly with a letter on his website of quite magnificent rudeness. He starts by pointing out that very few readers complained about the column being dropped. He then points out that the paper is desperate to save money, having been saddled with millions in tax debts incurred by Conrad Black.
Then he gets into his stride. "There is a major difference between Conrad Black and you: Lord Black is a much better writer and thinker ... that newspapers continue to run your column is a mystery to me, since it is composed of knee-jerk frothings and ravings. I am concerned that you have been losing touch with reality. Did you really say you are more powerful than any politician?"
Then he reaches his grand climax. "It reminds me of the story about Squeaky the Chicago Mouse. It seems that Squeaky was floating on his back along the Chicago river one day. Approaching the Michigan Avenue lift bridge, he called out: 'Raise the bridge! I have an erection!'"