Two years ago, when Colin Powell went on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss race and politics, I remarked to a friend that I could not possibly understand why Powell would stoop so low as to appear on O’Reilly’s program, and a network devoted to dividing the United States along racial lines. Two years later, my views remain the same: Powell’s done some, uh, more objectionable things in his life, but his decision to give O’Reilly legitimacy by appearing on his show was a low point for him.

Evidently, former White House adviser David Axelrod learned absolutely nothing from the 2013 Powell debacle; why else would he agree to appear on O’Reilly’s show on February 9? What do Axelrod and Powell think will be gained by going onto these extreme-right-wing media platforms? Are they going to do exclusive interviews with Breitbart News next?

I wonder if people like Axelrod and Powell are afraid of being branded cowards if they refuse to appear on these extremist programs. So what if wingnuts brand you a coward? I mean, consider the source!

If Jeb Bush refused to appear on All In with Chris Hayes, and Hayes called him a coward, would Jeb Bush care? Of course not, and he’d be right not to care. As much as I love Hayes, if Bush felt that Hayes was a far-left host who would not give him a fair shake, Bush would have every right in the world not to appear. Similarly, people like Axelrod and Powell should simply refuse to legitimize O’Reilly and other Fox personalities by appearing on their programs–especially programs known for their chronic and deliberate dishonesty on such issues as climate science, as Brad Friedman notes.

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I mean, didn’t Axelrod and Powell remember how O’Reilly declared unholy war on George Tiller in the years prior to Tiller’s murder? Didn’t they remember O’Reilly’s demonization of Jeremy Glick? Didn’t they remember O’Reilly trying to suggest that Martin Luther King Jr. would be a right-wing culture warrior if he were still alive? Didn’t they remember O’Reilly’s denial of Fox’s efforts to stir up racial tensions? Didn’t they remember any of that?

Axelrod and Powell (and, yes, President Obama) should have stayed far away from O’Reilly’s program. They didn’t change any minds. They didn’t win any hearts. They simply invited more hatred from deranged souls.

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D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.