Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

On Monday’s Campaign Desk, I suggested that mainstream journalists—who, in their zeal to provide balanced, sober, and non-panic-inducing coverage of the financial crisis, often erred on the side of callousness—would do well to take a cue from Bill O’Reilly. And, specifically, from the pundit’s particular strain of impassioned, indignant populism.

Well. That strain has, apparently, mutated. Indeed, the form of Populismus indignus O’Reilly has been hosting, if yesterday’s episode of The Radio Factor is any indication, seems to have evolved into some kind of ultra-resistant, mutant form that attacks its host’s temper, judgment, and, quite possibly, sanity. (I’m not sure precisely how to distinguish the benign brand of populism from the mutant strain, but here’s a good rule of thumb: when your voice cracks as you call a high-ranking member of Congress a “big fat toad,” and when your voice cracks even more when you threaten physical violence against said high-ranking member of Congress, you’re probably infected with the latter.)

So. For the record, I officially take back my previous praise of O’Reilly’s populist approach to journalism whatever it is he practices. Instead, journos, build your resistance to it. And, in the meantime, listen to O’Reilly do it live, below.

[h/t: Johnny Dollar]

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.