Watters' latest victim was a much bigger fish: Al Gore. In Monday's "Reality Check" segment, O'Reilly showed footage of Watters confronting a shell-shocked Gore before a lecture at Duke. After Gore agrees to consider sitting down for an interview, Watters begins to pepper him with climate change questions, with Gore repeatedly responding "I'm not doing an interview right now."
After showing the clip, a smirking O'Reilly chuckled: "Does he have a responsibility to answer those questions? Since he's no longer in public office, we think he does."
Less than amused is Salon's Gabriel Winant, who fired back at O'Reilly and Watters for the "unfair gimmick" which produced "some incredibly misleading and exploitative footage." Not only were Watters' specific global warming questions "spurious," Winant fumes, but his guerrilla tactics represent "a master class in smarminess." Then Winant turns his ire on O'Reilly himself.
[O'Reilly] has the nerve to wonder why Gore won’t come on the program. Actually, he of course isn’t really wondering that. Watters' ambush journalism is structured to make it seem like there’s a conspiracy of liberals who won't engage with the important questions. By being outrageously provocative and misleading, it discourages its targets from engaging with it, and thus is able to make unanswered insinuations about them. It is, in other words, epistemic closure at its finest: questions that don't need answers, and an argument that has no interest in a response.