At any given moment, there are a number of feuds being played out in Washington: Harry Reid vs. Mitch McConnell, Eric Massa vs. tickle-averse staffers, Michael Steele vs. everyone. But signs are emerging that we might finally be able to close the door on an outside-the-Beltway spat, this one stretching from New York to Hotlanta: Ludacris vs. Bill O’Reilly.
The Fox News host lit the spark way back in 2002, when he successfully launched a campaign to get the flamboyant rap star booted from a Pepsi endorsement – you see, hocking a mediocre brand of soda apparently requires a certain kind of moral superiority. O’Reilly objected to the explicit nature of many Ludacris songs: Kids drink soda, therefore, if Ludacris is affiliated with the beverage, any tyke with a cola craving will inevitably end up shirking school for “Girls Gone Wild” auditions.
Ludacris responded in kind, giving O’Reilly a series of high-profile admonishments, such as on his track “Number One Spot,” where he raps, “already offers on my sixth album from labels tryin’ to sign me/ Respected highly, Hiiiiiii Mr. O’Reilly/ Hope all is well, kiss the plaintiff and the wifey,” a nod to a sexual harassment suit filed against O’Reilly by a female Fox News producer in 2004 (the case eventually settled). Ludacris also acknowledged O’Reilly during his Grammy speech after winning the award for best rap album in 2007: “Special shoutout to Oprah and Bill O’Reilly. I love you.” (Oprah has similarly critiqued his lyrics, and rap in general.) And none other than a certain Daily Caller editor informs me that Ludacris had his foe on the brain at last year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which he attended, jokingly naming O’Reilly when asked about his favorite celebrity in attendance.
Thankfully, however, RadarOnline reports that the two outspoken men have buried the hatchet – and that Ludacris was the one who initiated the reconciliation. He told the entertainment site that upon noticing they were both slated to attend a recent event, he approached O’Reilly directly: “The conversation we had was confidential, however, let’s just say it was a good conversation and good came out of it.”
That’s a relief. In fact, now that they’ve apparently smoked the peace pipe, is it possible that these two could become friends? They actually have more in common than they might realize. Late last year, David Segal pointed out in the New York Times that talk radio (O’Reilly ended his syndicated radio program in 2009) and rap share a certain kinship. That is certainly true when it comes to Ludacris and O’Reilly. Consider this: Both make their living in harnessing their considerable verbal skills to make controversial observations and evoke emotional responses from their audience; both have outsized egos; both have been engaged in feuds within their respective realms (O’Reilly and “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart regularly trade barbs; Ludacris has had a long-standing beef with fellow Atlanta rapper T.I.); and both revel in proving their detractors wrong.
Don’t expect to see Ludacris promoting his new album, “Battle of the Sexes,” on “The O’Reilly Factor” anytime soon. But at the very least, with their feud behind them, these two can presumably acknowledge a mutual respect based on a shared knack for performance and provocation.
Sara Libby is a writer and editor in Los Angeles. She blogs at http://trueslant.com/saralibby/.