Cheap Shots: Bill Keller Takes on O'Reilly, Coulter, and Kristol

While taking questions from readers online, Executive Editor Bill Keller took on conservatives Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and even just-released columnist Bill Kristol. On O'Reilly: "He's really not the Neanderthal blowhard he plays on TV. He's totally in on the joke."

New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller is participating in the paper's "Talk to the Newsroom" online chat this week, discussing, among other things, the potential for the Times to again start charging for online content,but alsotaking cheap shots at conservatives Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and even just-released columnist Bill Kristol in an ill-advised attempt at satire.

Keller's running commentary also marks the third time in less than a week that a Times editor has gone after FOX News talk show host Bill O'Reilly.

The first was this, from Sunday's lead editorial on racist Republicans opposed to immigration:

Google the words "Bill O'Reilly" and "white, Christian male power structure" for another YouTube taste of the Fox News host assailing the immigration views of "the far left" (including The Times) as racially traitorous.

The second attack on O'Reilly came via a post on the the paper's editorial board blog, "The Nativists Are Restless, Continued," after the Fox Newshost devoted the first half hour of the Monday night edition of "The O'Reilly Factor" taking on the Times for attacking him.

Finally, in his online chat, Keller took cheap shots at conservatives O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, and even one of his former employees, recently released conservative columnist Bill Kristol, while trying to be funny. Here was the exchange he had with a reader, responding to a serious question with a flippant answer:

Q. I think a lot of young journalists and editors, myself included, are curious about what a day in the shoes of Bill Keller is like. Can you walk us through a normal work day for The Times's executive editor?

A. Really? You'd be interested in that? Well, I think my life is pretty much what you would imagine it to be.

I wake up most mornings to the telephone, invariably some world leader or international celebrity seeking my counsel. Lately it's been a lot of President Obama - again with the damn puppy? - but sometimes it's Richard Holbrooke to pick my brain about Afghanistan, or Bruce Springsteen asking if it isn't time for another Arts and Leisure cover story about Bruce Springsteen. The valet brings breakfast with the handful of newspapers that have not gone out of business. In the limo on the way to the office, I help Warren Buffett sort out his portfolio and give trading advice to George Steinbrenner, not that he ever listens.

At the office, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and I have our morning conference call with Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong-il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - plus Fidel Castro when he's compos mentis. Dictating the world's agenda entails a lot of conference calls. I've been encouraging the cabal to save some money by using iChat, but first we have to persuade Putin to wear a shirt.

Lunch at the Four Seasons is always a high point. Today it's my weekly tête-à-tête with Bill O'Reilly. He's really not the Neanderthal blowhard he plays on TV. He's totally in on the joke. After a couple of cosmopolitans, he does a wicked impression of Ann Coulter. We usually spend the lunch working up outlandish things he can say about The New York Times and making fun of Fox executives. (Once Rupert Murdoch showed up for a lunch date, and O'Reilly had to hide under the table for half an hour.)

I spend most of the afternoon writing all the stories for the front page. (You knew those were all pseudonyms, right?) I write Tom Friedman's column, too, but, I swear, Bill Kristol wrote all his own stuff.

By then it's time for drinks and dinner. If you're reading this, Julian, I think the duck tonight. I had the foie gras for lunch. And no time for dessert. The Secretary of State is coming by to give me a back rub.

Hillary Clinton giving Bill Keller a back rub? There's content I'd pay not to see.

Keller also took a job at political blogs in response to a question about why the Times was obsessed with Caroline Kennedy while virtually ignoring the other candidates for the New York Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. Keller responded:

I can't speak for the political blogosphere - even a stopped clock is right twice a day - but we had good reason to believe, and our reporters and editors still believe, that Caroline Kennedy was the governor's choice up until the day she told him she was having second thoughts.