Thumbs Down: Ebert Reams O'Reilly

Film critic calls out

Never one to mince words in his criticism of actors and film, Roger Ebert wrote an open memo to Bill O'Reilly, this week and published it on his Web site.

In case you were wondering, Ebert doesn't seem to be an O'Reilly fan.

In his message to the Fox News commentator, Ebert thanks O'Reilly for including the Chicago Sun-Times on his list of newspapers on the Bill O'Reilly "Hall of Shame."

"To be in an O'Reilly Hall of Fame would be a cruel blow to any newspaper," Ebert writes.

Describing O'Reilly as "a man who turns red and starts screaming when anyone disagrees with him," the Chicago writer says that one of the Sun-Times' "misdemeanors" was dropping O'Reilly's syndicated column from its paper.

"My editor informs me that 'very few' readers complained about the disappearance of your column, adding, 'many more complained about Nancy.''"

The Sun-Times ran O'Reilly's column back when the paper was owned by "the right-wing polemicists Conrad Black (Baron Black of Coldharbour) and David Radler," Ebert wrote.

"We dropped it to save a little money after they looted the paper of millions," he added.

While the paper doesn't currently carry any bank debt, he said, "it labors under the weight of millions of dollars in tax penalties incurred by Lord Black ... We also had to pay for his legal expenses."

Clearly, there's no love lost between Ebert and the fallen media baron, but the film critic goes on in the memo to tell O'Reilly that Black, while perhaps contemptable, "is a much better writer and thinker" than the Fox commentator.

Voicing surprise that any newspaper continues to run his column, Ebert writes, "If I were an editor searching for a conservative, I wouldn't choose a mad dog."

And speaking of dogs, Ebert ends his official damning with a story about a mouse that's well worth the read.

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