Ken Tucker
August 27, 2009 at 12:45 PM EDT

Bill O’Reilly began The O’Reilly Factor last night with one of his “Talking Points Memo”s, this one about the death of Ted Kennedy. Listing Kennedy’s pros and cons as the host saw them, he said at one point, “The Senator held up the Sex Offender and Registration Act in 2006 until the Factor reasoned with him. Once he was on board, it quickly became law.” (The quote occurs about 2:15 into this clip.)

Huh? What does that mean? We know from watching O’Reilly that “the Factor” means “Bill O’Reilly.” So he seems to be saying that he made Kennedy see the error of his ways on this issue, and that Kennedy then followed O’Reilly’s instructions (i.e., “got on board”). Why does this sound both self-aggrandizing and false?

Look, I’m not someone who thinks the second a person dies, everything bad or misguided he or she has done should be forgiven and never spoken about. And it didn’t surprise me at all that the very first thing O’Reilly brought up about Kennedy in his “memo” was Chappaquiddick.

Excessive sentimentality is irritating, too. Over on MSNBC, I got heartily sick of Mike Barnicle’s self-glorying stories about how Ted Kennedy helped Mike through Barnicle’s highly controversial journalistic-ethics problems. (The real message of Barnicle’s yarns was “Look at me, I have powerful friends.”)

But to go on TV and claim you changed a guy’s mind on an issue when he’s not around to verify that that’s what happened? That just stinks.

Fortunately, there was also last night on the show a comedy routine between O’Reilly and guest Glenn Beck — hilarious stuff about how “far left loons” are the only people offended by Beck having called President Obama a racist — and so it was momentarily easy to forget O’Reilly’s opening salvo.

Well, not really.

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