Politics, Sex, Religion, and all those impolite Human Conversations...

My Photo
Location: Oaksterdam, California

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Mad Dog on Fox

Last year we had Talk Like Bill O'Reilly Day (Shut Up, you peabrains). So I thought to post this Rolling Stone Mag profile on the the bloviator everyone loves to hate. Here is a choice bit about the Mad Dog

O'Reilly loves any story that smacks of child mistreatment. There's easy emotion in it, and what O'Reilly is always looking for is emotion, something to jolt his viewers, to stir them to an indignation, disbelief or contempt equal to his own. His nose for such stories, and his ability to milk them for every ounce of drama, is what has made him the most successful personality on cable news. He demonstrates his special skills a few days later, when he kicks off The Factor with a tale of two U.S. soldiers who fled to Canada rather than serve in Iraq. Next to stories about abused kids, nothing pushes O'Reilly's buttons like stories about lily-livered, spineless, cowardly, anti-American lowlifes like these two deserters. He brings on a guest to "discuss" the "issue": Toronto Globe and Mail columnist Heather Mallick, who has dared to call the two deserters "fine American men." O'Reilly is not happy. And from the top of the "interview," he strikes that special note of scathing, keening contempt that might be described as the keynote of the entire Fox News Channel, an operation whose professed reason for being is to counterbalance the supposed liberal bias of all other media outlets. Thus the mood of bunkered aggrievement, which animates even the network's ostensibly "objective" news shows and which O'Reilly has raised to the level of an art form.

After verbally abusing Mallick as "anti-American," a "socialist" and someone who writes "stuff that's not true," O'Reilly takes the gloves off. "Now," he says, "if your government harbors these two deserters . . . there will be a boycott of your country, which will hurt your country enormously. France is now feeling that sting." (He's referring to a boycott that O'Reilly called for after France declined to join the Bush administration in Iraq.)

"I don't think for a moment such a boycott would take place," says Mallick. "We are your biggest trading partner -- "

"No," O'Reilly cuts in, "it will take place, madam. In France -- "

"I don't think that your French boycott has done too well -- "

At which point O'Reilly executes his signature move -- the bellowing, bullying, peremptory interruption. "They've lost billions of dollars in France, according to the Paris Business Review!" he thunders.

In short, amazing TV -- the modern media equivalent of witnessing a Christian torn apart by lions, with a touch of opera buffo thrown in. (Boycott Canada?) It mattered not that most of what O'Reilly said bears no relation to the truth. The Paris Business Review doesn't exist, and the "billions" of dollars France supposedly lost reflect figures dating to the 2001 recession, predating by two years O'Reilly's call for a ban on buying French goods (since then, French exports to America have actually gone up).

(Via Kottke)