A close friend of mine told me a story about a woman who recently tied up her partner in bed and sliced off his penis. If your politics are left of center, watching the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox News is a lot like this... a lot like being tied up and having your manhood cut up into tiny little pieces. It's 60 minutes of immasculation viewing your political kin interrupted, demonized, insulted, and pulverized.
But you know what's really weird?
If you watch the show long enough (I'm coming up to five years) terrifyingly... you actually start to like it.
You catch yourself saying to your girlfriend, "Don't change the channel, baby, O'Reilly's on in five minutes," and you catch yourself thinking "you tell'em Bill," when he's screaming at an excessively cerebral commentator who spins (y'see!) around the point of the argument.
You think to yourself, Bill's not a conservative, he's an independent. He likes Bobby Kennedy. He's against the death penalty.
You hear him in one of those rare moments chastize Bush, and you think "wow, Bill's looking out for me," I'm one of the folks, too... (it doesn't really matter that he's chastizing Bush for not putting the military on the border to combat the national security threat posed by impoverished mexicans)
But, y'know, when I watched his show last Thursday, and listened to his talking points, it finally happened. I finally reached the point I never thought he could take me... I truly couldn't take it anymore.
I don't imagine Bill's talking point memo (link at bottom of post) will read quite as offensively as I took it on Thursday night. Barely twelve hours prior fifty innocent Londoners had been brutally murdered, and my city's whole infrustructure had been threatened desperately by the chaos surrounding what felt like a neverending stream of bomb reports.
And yet, as a city, and a nation, we were all pulling together to find strength in our own ideals. We weren't consumed with rage, we were solemn and sad for the poor individuals that had lost their lives, and their families. The questioning, the retrospectives, the anger, the reactions, would all have their time and place, but, as a nation we were still in the midst of the tragedy... we were still wondering what tomorrow would bring.
Bill had other things on his mind.
Bill thinks we placate terrorists. Bill thinks we don't kill them hard enough. Bill thinks when we raise human rights issues in Guitmo terrorists want to kill us more. Bill thinks the French luuuuuvvvv terrorists, and the terrorists luuuuuvvvvv the French. Bill thinks Osama and Chirac have long distance phone sex. Bill thinks the NY Times is satan. Bill thinks the NY Times wants to give Al Quaeda hugs and kisses while appealing to their humanity...
Who knows, Bill might be right. It doesn't really matter. Thursday night was not the time to so aggressively address the political implications of the terrorist attack. Nor was it the time to use the events in London to support a political argument, regardless of how valid and pertinent that argument was. It was utterly disrespectful of what we were experiencing here, and, in my opinion ... a mindless attempt to define the parameters of the ensuing dialogue. It was a shallow, narcissitic, insensitive ramble and, as a consequence, I'm going to finally try and bring my days of watching O'Reilly to an end.
P.S. As a side note, I think it deserves mention that Fox's general coverage of the events was respectful, and very informative.
Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, Terrorism