In response to a Times column about Fox News uglifying a picture of reporter Jacques Steinberg and viciously smearing Tim Arango and other journalists, the cable network's chief rageaholic, Bill O'Reilly, is pretending to be pissed at the Times for caricaturing him in the illustration for a 2007 book review. The caricature, he said during his Fox show last night, even included some kind of devil horn (clip after the jump). But O'Reilly's screaming on-air hatefest is the worst sort of act, because if you actually examine the illustration, reproduced after the jump, you notice two things.

1. There is no "horn" attached to O'Reilly. The illustration includes little dialog bubbles, like in comic books, with pointy parts of the bubbles aimed at O'Reilly's mouth. Maybe the host missed that when his producer or whoever briefed him on his outrage during a break.

2. The illustration is by no stretch a caricature, defined by Merriam-Webster as "exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics." It is a series of straightforward renderings of O'Reilly as he looks on camera. A variety of unnatural colors are used, but not in the service of exaggerating anything about O'Reilly or making him look bad.

O'Reilly's ginned up outrage comes from Roger Ailes' mudslinging, dirty-politics playbook. The idea is to attack the critic, as the network did with our own Hamilton Nolan yesterday and as it has been doing with journalists and other targets for years now. But some of O'Reilly's emotion may very well be real: emerging evidence, as reported by Arango and Steinberg, that this old routine is getting boring and driving away viewers is apparently causing some very real panic over at Fox.

Click to view


(Ward Sutton illustration via Times)