Saturday, December 11, 2004

Bill O'Reilly: Bully and hate-monger

Bill O’Reilly has a strong and devoted following. While O’Reilly claims he’s non-ideological, this is an obvious ruse to anyone who analyzes his nightly right-wing diatribes. With his prime time spot in Fox’s nightly lineup and an additional two hours of radio in many markets across the country, O’Reilly commands a sizeable audience.

While O’Relly dares to promote himself as an objective journalist, he actually is a demagogue—a rather ugly and vicious one at that. O’Reilly regularly attacks his guests on his nightly radio and television shows. Anyone willing to challenge O’Reilly, particularly the more intellectually adept guests, receive the harshest treatment.

Some would argue that this is all part of his persona to garner ratings and an audience. I would counter by saying that O’Reilly is a man who has spent his life bullying and intimidating people and getting away with it.

During the past year, I witnessed a particularly ugly exchange involving O’Reilly and Al Franken. Poor Molly Ivins was on a panel with O’Reilly and Franken to discuss their new books. Each one got about 20 minutes to discuss their works and apparently, O’Reilly thought Franken went on too long and that his subject matter, the lying liars in his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, came a little too close to home for O’Reilly’s taste. For all of C-Span’s viewers, O’Reilly showed himself to be the thin-skinned bully that he really is. All 6’5” of his frame puffed itself up and he began yelling and pointing at Franken. Franken, who stands less than 6 feet, put on his best smart-aleck smirk, which just made O’Reilly crazier. I realized that day what a thug and intimidator this right-wing hate-monger really is. Poor Ivins did her best to try to mediate, but O’Reilly just kept on telling Franken to “shut up.” I seriously thought that the two might come to fisticuffs on live television.

Since then, O’Reilly has attacked the poor, blaming their lack of wealth on their laziness, regularly insulted intellectually superior members of the media for their criticism of President Bush and the war in Iraq, and then, sexually harassed a co-worker (who he consequently tried to intimidate into silence). Now O’Reilly is focusing his hate and vitriol at both Media Matters and Abraham Foxman, the head of the Anti Defamation League. Their crimes? Daring to take O’Reilly to task for the remarks he made on his December 3 Radio Factor about Christmas to a caller during the program.

A caller on the December 3 Radio Factor objected to "Christmas going into schools" and explained that he "grew up with a resentment because I felt that people were trying to convert me to Christianity," O'Reilly informed him that the United States is "a predominantly Christian nation" and declared, "if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel then." O'Reilly labeled the caller's concerns "an affront to the majority," insisting that "the majority can be insulted too." In his letter protesting the comments, Foxman wrote, among other things, that O'Reilly's comment "plays into one of the oldest anti-Semitic canards about Jews, that they are not full citizens of a country and are not entitled to all of the rights afforded to the majority."

The ever-indignant O’Reilly of course resorted to his usual shtick whenever anyone questions his integrity—lashing out and impugning the character of his attackers. O’Reilly, the self-appointed champion of Joe-sixpack and the guardianof all things virtuous, must annihilate any enemies. Agreeing to disagree wouldn’t be subtle enough for the self-declared protector of the journalistic profession.

While O’Reilly claims he was quoted out of context, it is in the full context provided by Media Matters that one can see the ugly ideology of people like him.

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