Like Malcontent, I rarely tune into the O’Reilly Factor. I find Bill O’Reilly pretentious, obnoxious and even boorish. He often brings thoughtful guests on the air, but frequently cuts them off before they have a chance to make their points.
Yet, occasionally, he has done a good show. A while ago, he had a “right-to-die” advocate on to discuss the Terry Schiavo case. He let this guest speak and together they did a good job of outlining the complex issues in this situation, presenting both sides. So, despite my distaste for O’Reilly, I realize that from time to time he can put on a good show. (Maybe he has done more shows like this since I stopped watching his program regularly about five years ago. Malcontent’s post on his latest show on “the gays” suggests not.)
If people ask me what I think of the show, I’ll note I rarely watch it for the reasons I articulated above.
But, there’s a huge difference between my criticism of O’Reilly and that which David Letterman leveled earlier this week. That late-night talk show host acknowledged that while he doesn’t watch O’Reilly’s show, he has a “feeling” that “about 60 percent” of what O’Reilly says “ is crap.” Why couldn’t Letterman just say that he doesn’t watch the show so can’t evaluate its content? Or say that he found O’Reilly irritating the few times he watched the show and so longer watches it?
But, because O’Reilly has the reputation of being a conservative, many in the media feel it incumbent on themselves to loudly dismiss his ideas — as they dismiss other conservatives — even when they are not familiar with them. (In the 1990s, a friend insisted Rush Limbaugh was anti-woman, but acknowledged she had never listened to his radio program nor read a word he wrote.) When someone is labeled conservative, many in the media, just like those on the left, always have this feeling his (or her) ideas are “crap” (or some similar pejorative) even when they’re clueless as to what those ideas are.
I see the same thing in the comments to this blog (and some of my e-mail) where readers, having heard about this gay conservative blog, decide savage us withouth having a clue as to what we believe. They misrepresent our points, oftentimes claiming we hold to ideas and policies we have criticized in previous posts — and on a number of occasions in the very post to which they attach their comments. (Though sometimes, our critics make solid arguments taking issue with the points we’ve made as some did in comments to my last post.)
It’s just another sign of those on the left and in the media taking issue with conservative ideas (or policies) they refuse to understand. And Letterman’s comment makes me strangely sympathetic with a man whose on-screen persona never ceases to annoy me.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
ADDENDUM: The Anchoress has a related post — Emotionalism: bad fuel for the press which I highly recommend.