The blogosphere has been masticating last week's "showdown" between Bill O'Reilly and David Letterman, with most of the attention focusing on Letterman's statement that about 60 percent of what O'Reilly says is "crap."
Most observers see this statement as a putdown, but I see it as a pretty accurate assessment and as fairly high praise. Few broadcast pundits manage to hit the coveted 40 percent standard of non-crap. Limbaugh runs in the 75-80 percent crap range, and Hannity has bursts of up to 90 percent crap. On many days, Michael Savage never dips below 100 percent crap. I don't listen to the liberal pundits, but anecdotal evidence suggests they don't score much better.
How many bloggers manage to keep the level of crap below 60 percent, especially when comments are unmoderated? Black Jack has made comments on this blog that have been up to 175 percent crap, a percentage obtainable only by writing comments so bad that they actually multiply in toxicity upon prolonged exposure.
Under Sturgeon's Law, 90 percent of everything is crap. Even if one applies Sturgeon's Law to Stugeon's Law, then the percentage of non-crap in the world can rarely exceed the low 20s. O'Reilly beats the average because he is thoroughly nonpartisan, occasionally funny and actually willing on occasion to change his mind in the face of contrary evidence.
On the other hand, he also is remarkably thin-skinned for a guy in his position, and he has a wildly exaggerated sense of his own importance (a common enough failing) and journalistic acumen. Letterman may be giving him a bit more credit than he deserves.