If the political right is wondering why Americans are abandoning it in droves, it is not just because of our catastrophically bad president. It is also because of the number of extremely annoying people that populate that side of the political spectrum. I have seen and heard enough to make one judgment: Fox News Commentator Bill O’Reilly is without a doubt the rudest person on television.
It is unlikely that Bill O’Reilly will call me on the phone and invite me to be on his show. However, if he did I can tell you my answer in advance. I would attempt to politely decline the offer but perhaps because my brain has been tainted by watching him, more likely I would utter something extremely rude into the receiver. Something like (you fill in the blank, I know you can), “No way. No ____ing way. Absolutely NO ____ING WAY would I be caught DEAD being on your CRAPPY, MEAN and HURTFUL show!” I do not care how many people I might have a chance to influence by being on his “show”. I do not even care even they offered me a million dollars to debate him. Money cannot buy some things, like my integrity. I would rather spend a day in a vat full of poisonous snakes wearing nothing but my skivvies than spend even thirty seconds on his show. It is not because I am afraid of Bill, it is because I know I would never be heard in the first place. Instead, I would be slimed. So Bill, don’t call me. I will not take your call and even if you did, I would have to hang up on you. I certainly would not let my daughter within a mile of you; some of your vitriolic toxic personality might rub off on her.
Naturally, I do not bother to watch his show The O’Reilly Factor on the Fox so-called “News” Channel. At this point when I am channel surfing, if I even see his ugly mug, an autonomic finger jab moves me to the next channel even before his face registers in my brain. Before I knew better though I did watch his show, each time with my mouth hanging open in shock and disbelief. When he invites someone he does not agree with the format is always the same: they “debate”. Debating, according to Bill O’Reilly means being mean, smearing and constantly interrupting guests. Except for the first thirty seconds or so and in the last five seconds when he makes a slight feint of politeness, he goes for the jugular the same singular way your dog goes for the dish of Alpo when you put it down.
Perhaps he would almost be tolerable if most of his arguments were not non-sequiturs. For example, he will pull some quote by his guest from five years ago, which has no relevance to the topic at hand, and try to use it to prove he is a slime ball. It may be one sentence or phrase from a couple paragraphs. It is likely the sentence must be understood in the context of the entire argument. That does not matter. Anything is fair game for him. All he really cares about is sliming those he does not agree with. If you once shook Jane Fonda’s hand, he will use it to insinuate you were burning American flags.
In front of a “debater”, he does not know how to shut up. In fact, he does not even know how to debate. To debate you must discuss an argument on its merits. Debate is supposed to consist of point and counterpoint, not to be entirely one sided. O’Reilly’s idea of debating is to invite you into his sandbox, immediately start throwing sand in your face, then kick you and beat you over the head until you leave or cry uncle or until the first commercial hits. O’Reilly is not a debater. O’Reilly is simply an emotionally abusive bully who is paid top dollar by his employer, Fox News so the sick voyeuristic tendencies of his audience can satiated. If he pulled this kind of crap in public school, he would have been expelled for the semester.
I read today that Michael Moore is planning to go on The O’Reilly Factor to promote his new movie about health care, Sicko. Perhaps “interviews” like this come with the territory when you have to promote a documentary. I would urge Michael to cancel his appearance. Michael, your “interview” may generate some heat, but do not expect it to generate any light. It is not as if the viewers of The O’Reilly Factor are going to be going to see your movie. Instead, you will just be more red meat for this crowd who, let’s face it, already hate you because (a) you are liberal, (b) you are fat, (c) you hate President Bush and (d) you believe in gun control.
The same goes with anyone else who shows up on Bill’s show from the left side of the political fence. The odds are not just stacked against you, you are guaranteed to be verbally abused and bullied. You would probably divorce your spouse if he did this to you. Why put up with it in public? Except for the first thirty seconds or so, you will be unlikely to get out a coherent sentence. Whatever the alleged reason for your appearance on the show was, Bill will quickly steer it in a completely different direction that will be designed to make you look foolish. The alleged topic for discussion is merely a means to promote his ideology, which seems to be that the right is always right, and the left is universally wrong.
Are you tired of Bill O’Reilly? Do you want a civilized alternative from the other side of the political spectrum? Why not listen to The Diane Rehm Show instead? If it is not syndicated on your public radio station, you can listen to it live online from 10 AM to Noon Eastern Time on wamu.org, or download the latest podcasts of her show. Here is an interviewer with manners who asks thoughtful and probing questions. Here is someone who even if she does not agree with you will give you the opportunity to get your point across in a coherent manner. She will never denigrate you for your beliefs. In short, Diane has been house trained. Guests do not leave the studio feeling slimed; they leave the studio feeling like they had a chance to be heard. What an idea!
I would have thought that O’Reilly would have crossed the line a decade ago, but like the Energizer Bunny, he just keeps going and going. There does not appear to be anything he can say on the Fox “News” Channel that will get him kicked off the air. As a cable network, Fox knows the FCC will not be coming after them, so I guess anything goes. In addition, there must be quite a market for his bilge. Two millennium ago, his viewers were the kind filling Roman coliseums to cheer on the gladiators.
So unfortunately, unless his ratings go through the toilet, or the right wing totally implodes (not impossible given our current president) Bill will continue to be haunting the Fox “News” Channel. However, I suggest that even if you agree with him, you have better things to do with your time. If you have children, keep them away from the TV when Bill O’Reilly is on. If you ask me, his “show” should be rated at least TV-MA (Mature Audiences Only). The only problem is that if you were truly mature, you would not touch his show with a ten-foot anaconda.
Instead, I will channel Nancy Reagan and “just say no” to Bill, just as I have said no to Wal-Mart and Circuit City. I have taken the “No more Bill O’Reilly ever” pledge. I pledge not just to not watch his show any more, but also to do my utmost to avoid even the possibility of seeing or hearing him. Even if my favorite blog suggests watching a guest tussle with him on YouTube, I will wisely decline.
Like a Buddhist, I envision a more peaceful and gentle planet. Ideally, Bill O’Reilly would not be on it. If he has to be on it, people should be smart enough not to give him a microphone, because when someone like him gets a microphone it adds a couple centuries to our quest.
In any event, I do not need any more of his bad karma leeching onto me. Bye bye Bill.
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