Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Published: February 21, 2006 9:55 AM ET
NEW YORK In a postscript to his regular New York Times column on Tuesday, Nicholas Kristof reveals that he has raised almost three-quarters of a million dollars from readers to send Fox News host Bill O'Reilly to troubled Darfur.
Kristof, embroiled in a public feud with O'Reilly, launched a pledge drive recently with this end in mind, and reports today that he has been "deluged by 6,675 pledges, averaging a bit more than $100." The grand total comes to $727,568, "so Mr. O'Reilly will be able to fly first class with the very best satellite phones and fill his water bottles with San Pelegrino."
O'Reilly has called Kristof's pledge drive "simply a gimmick, a ploy, to bring my name to his passion."
Kristof, he added, "couldn't care less if I travel to Darfur. He should direct his ire at the U.N."
Earlier, Kristof had announced he would ante up the first $1000 to bring O'Reilly to Africa. Presumably, the ticket would be roundtrip.
The "feud" began last December when O'Reilly denounced Kristof as a "left-wing ideologue." Kristof replied by calling him a "bully" and challenging O'Reilly to show truly "traditional values" by joining him on a visit to Darfur to assess the death and devastation there, thereby "using your talents for an important cause."
O'Reilly then hit back at Kristof, calling him "absolutely clueless" and adding that the New York Times columnist has "no idea what is happening in the country."
Kristof recently revealed that he got this answer to his earlier offer to take O'Reilly to Darfur: "I do three hours of daily news analysis on TV and radio. There's no way I can go to Africa."
But Kristof observed that with a satellite phone, "you can do your show from anywhere."
Today he noted that President Bush now seemed more interested in Darfur, and Olympian Joey Cheek had donated cash from his medals to help Darfur survivors. "So come on, Bill--and Oprah, and the rest of you on the little screen--and visit the world's most awful place," he suggested.