Perhaps Best Shows What is Wrong With Political Punditry
Jun 29, 2009
Seeing as how I recently took a stab at Keith Olbermann, I might as well take a moment to review Bill O' Reilly. Again, I'll point out a couple of things.
I am in no way expressing my own political views within the context of this review. This is not a political discussion, it is mostly a review of a political pundits show. Therefore, my own political views are being kept out of this. It is possible to like or dislike a man without actually endorsing their views. I am in no way endorsing the views of anyone on the political left or right within these reviews.
There are a few crazies in political punditry. There's Keith Olbermann, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Ed Schultz. But there are few that are crazier than Bill O' Reilly. His show The O' Reilly Factor has often been at the top of the ratings for his time slot. However, the question I have often posed is WHY are people watching The O' Reilly Factor? Is it to get news and commentary, or is it to watch Bill O' Reilly go a little crazy? It's hard not to wonder. Of all the political commentators, Bill O' Reilly is one of the most interesting and entertaining to watch. He's loud, in-your-face, and sometimes seems to be unaware of what he says (and often later denies he said it or... as is mostly the case, will tell people his words were "taken out of context"... if I the American people got a nickel for every time a pundit said that, there would be no poverty). You could show O' Reilly actual video footage of what he says and he might deny it. O' Reilly insults, cheap shots, lies but the point is that he's entertaining while he does it. This is probably more reason to watch The O' Reilly Factor. And O' Reilly's biggest fan seems to be Keith Olbermann. The only reason I ever tuned into The O' Reilly Factor was because I saw clips on Countdown. It made me wonder, "Is he really like that on his show?" And to my surprise... he is. Often. Not just when Keith calls him out on it.
His show always begins with the top story. Just like so many pundits out there, O' Reilly assumes you've heard the news by the time you tune into his show. All he has to do is comment on it. O' Reilly often refers to his show as "The No Spin Zone." Where the spin stops. This is hardly the truth, of course. Many have already pointed out that O' Reilly plays right wing politics. Regardless of how many times people point this out, O' Reilly denies it. He says he's an independent, and that his show is "Fair and Balanced." O' Reilly has otten described himself as "Fair and Balanced." Even for some who may lean on the right, it's hard to say that O' Reilly is Fair and Balanced. He is often more sympathetic to the Conservative view point. O' Reilly being more sympathetic to the Conservative viewpoint would be perfectly fine, if he would just admit he's a fairly conservative guy. Most commentators don't make their political allegance a secret. But O' Reilly keeps trying to play off as being an independent. This is in spite of him constantly using the term "Far left loons" and often referring to people on the political left as pinheads, and those on the political right as patriots. When Ann Coulter insulted 9-11 widows there was no problem. When Oliver Stone made a movie on The World Trade Center that was absolutely horrific to O' Reilly and more insulting to the 9-11 families than Ann Coulter accusing them of enjoying their husbands death. It's very interesting. There have been some people who have speculated that O' Reilly is lying about it.
Of course, that's not to say he hasn't talked down to some Right Wing nutjobs. He doesn't refer to them as such, however. It is only to say that the only time when O' Reilly looks moderate is when the person he's interviewing happens to be far more conservative than him. If O' Reilly had on Michael Savage, for example, O' Reilly WOULD look moderate only because Michael Savage is a far bigger asshole. He's a safe bet for almost any Conservative when they want to look moderate. I've never actually seen Savage on the show, that's just an example. It's only to say that talking down to people who appear crazier than you is not how you show you're a moderate. O' Reilly often sticks with safe bets. Often bringing on people so far to the right that even people on the right don't especially like them to begin with. Or bringing on "weak" conservatives.
There are other segments on The O' Reilly Factor, but more than that are his interviews with some of his guests. He rarely, if ever, actually has a prominent Democratic figure on his show. If he does, he makes sure it's someone that he can talk down to, or who comes off as painfully ignorant of what's going on. Not only that but O' Reilly makes sure he has a fellow Conservative on. He'll constantly portray the liberal side as being very dumb and crazy. In short... it's almost exactly like watching Keith Olbermann. As I said of Keith Olbermann... if Bill O' Reilly didn't look so astonishingly different, I'd be hard pressed to say they were the same guy. O' Reilly, however, seems to be slightly worse than Olbermann. O' Reilly constantly refers to the media as being overwhelmingly liberal while he gloats about his own ratings. Does it occur to O' Reilly that he is not only part of this "liberal media" but that he also gets more viewers than his rival shows such as Countdown with Keith Olbermann and Campbell Brown: No Bias No Bull? He is a man who commonly rules primetime cable news. You don't even have to watch his show to know exactly what O' Reilly has said (although for many half the time it's because Keith Olbermann is more than willing to fill them in).
In another segment "Pinheads and Patriots" he often labels people pinheads and patriots. Much like Keith Olbermann's "Worst Persons in the World" segment, it's predictable. Is the guy a "Far Left Loon"? Then he's a pinhead. At least when O' Reilly does this segment it doesn't slip into the same repetitiveness of Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World." You don't see O' Reilly commonly naming the same people over and over "Pinheads". But sometimes you have to wonder why someone like Ann Coulter rarely winds up there.
He also has segment where he talks about legal issues with two attorneys. This is one of the few moments where O' Reilly might get someone who disagrees with him who is actually competent in doing so. It's also one of the segments where O' Reilly doesn't really fly off the handle. In fact, he comes off as fairly charismatic, even when he's calling someone a nut.
Another fun segment on his show is the "Culture Quiz," where he often asks trivia questions to two fellow Fox News contributors and they answer. It's fun to play along. The reason this segment may be good is because it's one of the moments where O' Reilly steps back and stops playing politics. For at least five minutes or so of his show he's not blaming the evil left wing media for everything that's wrong (or President Obama).
Yet perhaps what's wrong with O' Reilly most is that while he berates the "evil media" (while being apart of the media) he rarely seems to see how people might take some of his words the way they do. When you, for example, blame a rape victim for her own demise because of how she dresses... it shouldn't be a surprise that you draw fire to yourself. Yet, O' Reilly IS often surprised. When O' Reilly is proven wrong he has a hard time even admitting that. He's about as stubborn as a mule. Even Keith Olbermann, in his infinite stubborness, has been known to retract statements he later found out were false, or even apologize to some people he once called the worst person in the world when he discovered he'd made a mistake. O' Reilly doesn't do those things. If O' Reilly is wrong, he won't admit it. Even if he is clearly found to be wrong on his own show. When his words are taken "out of context" as he says they so often are, he never does anything to actually clarify what it was he meant. Instead he turns himself into the victim and blames the media for taking his words out of context.
It's easy to watch the O' Reilly Factor, though. Part of it is entertaining when you see Bill O' Reilly get upset. Love him or hate him, this is a big reason why he gets so much attention. He's just a guy who brings a lot of attention to himself because of things like this. Much like many pundits, you're not getting much news. O' Reilly is basically there for Conservatives why Olbermann is there for Liberals... to tell them what they want to hear. When things go bad, Conservatives want to hear that it's the fault of Liberals. O' Reilly tells them that. When things go bad, Liberals want to hear that it's the fault of Conservatives. That's what Keith Olbermann is there for. To O' Reilly's credit, though, at least he's above taking constant cheap shots at Keith Olbermann the way Olbermann does to him.
It's also worth noting that when O' Reilly is NOT on his show and he's on a different show like Letterman or The Daily Show, he is a bit more toned down. Even likeable to an extent. He can actually leave his smugness behind. That doesn't separate, however, from the fact that his show is just as bad as many other political commentary shows. If you do lean to the right, you're probably okay with him. If you're on the left, you're probably already watching Countdown with Keith Olbermann. As Olbermann is, I'm sorry to say, O' Reilly's alter ego.
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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William James "Bill" O'Reilly, Jr. (born September 10, 1949) is an American television host, author, syndicated columnist and political commentator. He is the host of the political commentary program The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel, which is the most watched cable news program on American television. During the late 1970s and 1980s, he worked as a news reporter for various local television stations in the United States and eventually for CBS News and ABC News. From 1991 to 1995, he was anchor of the entertainment news program Inside Edition.
O'Reilly is widely considered a conservative commentator, though some of his positions diverge from conservative orthodoxy (in particular his opposition to the death penalty.) O'Reilly characterizes himself as a "traditionalist". O'Reilly is the author of eight books, and hosted The Radio Factor until early 2009.