I was thinking a bit more about that Lawrence O’Donnell rant from Tuesday night. And the more I think about it, the more wrong he gets. For example, over the last few years, those crazy, right-wing, teacher-hating Fox News personalities John Stossel and Andrew Napalitano have had me on their shows at least a dozens times to talk about police abuse issues. Want to guess how many times MSNBC has invited me on? It’s less than one.
Of course, I’m not the only one who writes about this stuff. Maybe O’Donnell has had other people on. So I did a search of O’Donnell’s archives to see how many times he has addressed police abuses. I found one instance, and even that one had a partisan angle. O’Donnell actually acknowledged on Twitter yesterday that he could only think of a single story about police abuse he has addressed since he started hosting the show. (Though he did write a book several years ago about a police abuse case his father handled as an attorney.) Reason has run dozens of articles, videos, and blog posts over that period.
And O’Donnell isn’t just wrong about Reason. The conservative-learning libertarian Glenn Reynolds have been outspoken and critical of police on issues like no-knock raids, citizens’ right to record police officers, and even ending qualified immunity for cops, a pretty radical (though in my opinion correct) position that I doubt you could find ten members of Congress to support. Sites like Lew Rockwell also run pieces by adamant police critics like William Grigg.
So not only did O’Donnell deliver an ad hominem attack, it was an attack that was also embarrassingly wrong on the facts, which he’d have discovered had he done 20 seconds of research. And it doesn’t look like he’ll be issuing a correction. His only response yesterday was the Tweet linked above and to re-Tweet others’ weak defenses of him.
If O’Donnell really gave damn about police abuse, he’d be looking to forge alliances across partisan and ideological lines to build support for reform. Meaning he’d be reaching out to places like Reason. Instead, in just the second time he has mentioned police abuse in his eight months of hosting a national TV show, it was to use the issue as an ideological cudgel to smack around people with whom he disagrees . . . on a completely unrelated issue.