Friday, October 3, 2008

O'Reilly Goes Ballistic

In case you haven't seen it, on Jay Greene's blog, I watched six minutes off Bill O'Reilly going completely crazy while interviewing Barney Frank. As disturbing as it was, I’m glad I watched the painful six minutes of this clip because it is indicative of much that is wrong with American culture in terms of political discourse. Years ago, I ran across the Bill O’Reilly show and was amused for a while, and I thought, “Hey, this is interesting. This guy is like Morton Downey, Jr., but with a brain.” Sadly, I overestimated the “brain” part.

Certainly, Barney Frank and the Democrats need to answer for the status of FNM/FRE, but this display was, quite simply, a disgusting display of ranting “info-tainment.” Nothing good can come from people tuning in to this show seeking information. I can’t imagine why anyone, including Bill O’Reilly, thinks this is productive. Sadly, 10-14 million people get their news from shows like this each week.

Years ago, in his work “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” Neil Postman noted that all the information contained in an hour-long television news show could be found on one page of a newspaper. That is a disturbing statistic, especially when the amount is probably lessened by a “Factor” of ten when Bill O’Reilly is screaming “that’s Bull!”

Being an educator, I weep for the days before this kind of drivel, and I hold out hope that someday shows like this will again become the realm of only cheap, late-night, local cable access like Morton Downey, Jr.


Mrs. C said...

I did appreciate the part where they played Frank's quote about financial soundness in these institutions. The guy really was wiggling a bit where he shouldn't have bothered (we should really be talking of what to do about it and stop pretending this is a partisan issue!), but I thought O'Reilly had crossed the line as well.

Though I must say this passes for "news" better than the "what Britney did this week" drivel that MUST seemingly accompany most shows.

The people who make and air the shows are giving the American people what they think we'd like to see. When I was in journalism classes, we were taught never to inject ourselves into the story. There was at least a presumption that an effort would be made at objectively covering the news.

Then again, I became a newspaper reporter on a daily, which just shows you how old-fashioned I really am. Yep, we lined up the type and everything and counted headlines. (M's are worth two, lower-case L's are half... ever do any of that stuff?)

Katie Lee Rush said...

Wonderful writing on this blog: concise and with a defined, considered perspective. I wish you had been my high school English teacher! It is a true gift to be able to write like you do. It's also an interesting read, by the way. Thank you!

Dennis Fermoyle said...

THAT was unbelievable! Even for Bill O'Reilly! And then he questions the "manliness" of public officials who don't want to go on his show. Michael, you are right. The success of Bill O'Reilly's show is an example of the very worst of our culture. And I don't think Lou Dobbs is much better.

Anonymous said...

Love Neal Postman. Appreciate your post at "Right on the Left Coast" too.