Sparks Fly as O’Reilly Debates Poverty with West, Smiley

Bill O'Reilly (left), Tavis Smiley and Cornel West (Photos: Getty Images)

Bill O'Reilly (left), Tavis Smiley and Cornel West (Photos: Getty Images)

Bill O’Reilly clashed with guests Cornel West and Tavis Smiley Tuesday over the Occupy Wall Street movement and poverty in America.

Predictably, the “discussion” — seen on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News Channel — devolved into an argument over nothing less than the American way of life. O’Reilly declared that the redistribution of wealth demanded by the protesters amounted to socialism. And his two guests declared that the government’s bailout of banks and corporations was also socialism. So what is O’Reilly complaining about, they wanted to know.

“Where am I going wrong?” O’Reilly asked West, the famed Princeton professor, and Smiley, the PBS talk-show host.

Answered West — according to this story on “The oligarchs and plutocrats that you tend to want to promote rather intensely [are] not only doing well but been too greedy!”

Naturally, O’Reilly objected to that. “I don’t think I’m promoting anybody who’s doing untoward things,” countered O’Reilly. To which West responded: “We’re talking about chronic excess!”

Eventually, as the discussion grew louder, a misunderstood word led to accusations that O’Reilly is a routine liar. It began when O’Reilly thought he heard Smiley accuse him of lying, when Smiley had actually said O’Reilly was “right” in at least once aspect of his argument. The misunderstanding had to do with the quality of the audio O’Reilly was receiving. He was doing his show from Boston’s Faneuil Hall and West and Smiley were in Los Angeles.

In any case, O’Reilly apologized for thinking Smiley called him a liar, but West chimed in for no apparent reason that O’Reilly’s a liar anyway.

And so it went. In the end, it made for another classic cable-news confrontation. And you can watch the whole thing here on the Fox News Web site.

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