Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My notebook is a graveyard for posts

I have in my notes (both on paper and on my laptop) notes for numerous posts that I never got around to writing. One such post that died in my notebook is one where I was planning to examine the way that Bill O'Reilly's hypothetical future inauguration speech from a "S-P" president at the start of Culture Warrior transmits and reflects extremist ideas to a mainstream audience.

Well, I was just taking a look at Jeffrey Feldman's Frameshop which I've newly discovered today and see that Feldman has already written something along those lines.

In his imaginary future, the election of a Latina represents the downfall of 'traditional' America and a total loss of the culture 'war' that O'Reilly describes in the rest of the book. In O'Reilly's twisted vision, the final outcome of liberal love for abortion, sexual depravity, seizure of private assets, elimination of educational standards, and abrogation of independent U.S. government--is a Latina being elected president. "Gloria Hernandez," the reader easily concludes, is not just the opposite of everything "traditional" in O'Reilly's vision of America, she is the terrible outcome that will come to pass if O'Reilly's readers do not dedicate themselves to winning the culture 'war.'
And the following seems especially relevant given the recently surfaced footage of O'Reilly behaving as a deranged mad-man

O'Reilly's role as a key right-wing pundit is rooted largely in his strategic use of three kinds of rhetorical violence.

First, O'Reilly blurs the line separating verbal and physical confrontation during his interviews. Anyone who has seen The Factor has witnessed O'Reilly using this technique, and the video linked above is a perfect example. When we watch O'Reilly, his physical persona creates a particular kind of violent tension. As his voice rises and his body leans into his guests personal space, the threat of an actual physical outburst seems imminent. It is a calculated tension.

Second, O'Reilly couches his punditry in a self-stylzed image of a street fighter. Culture Warrior, for example, is as much a call to cultural arms as it is O'Reilly's attempt to describe himself as some kind of hair-trigger street fighter and inheritor of an Irish warrior spirit. But the idea that his work is 'war,' is one that O'Reilly constantly brings to the fore of his commentary and writing.

Third, O'Reilly uses a vast majority of his political commentary to frame liberals as a dangerous threat to American citizens. To achieve this, O'Reilly does much more than simply describe readers of liberal websites as 'Nazis.' He renames them 'Secular-Progressives' or 'S-Ps' and then proceeds to equate these terms with supposed guerrilla programs to seize control of the United States.
I've observed myself that O'Reilly's bullying is step away from a fight.

After watching Bill O'Reilly two nights ago start hollering and shaking with rage at one of his guests while charging the man with being an apologist for murder when he tried to offer the background information that Chris Benoit's son had a rare condition in order to dispel the caricature O'Reilly had painted of Benoit as some madman who had been injecting his son with human growth hormone for no reason, I myself became livid at O'Reilly.

Why? Because that kind of yelling and threatening demeanor is an act of intimidation. It is confrontational, and watching it, the antagonism of such an act is visceral. How is a guest supposed to respond? O'Reilly obviously believes that by yelling and shaking with rage at a guest that he is putting them in their place, but what if the guest were to respond in kind? Would the person who yelled the loudest be correct? No, because the escalated yelling tends to be followed by physical confrontation. I've witnessed many many fights break out over the years and this is an essential pattern. Every time O'Reilly does his yelling routine, on a primal level there is an implicit hidden threat of force, which I've remarked, has only once that I know of become explicit (when he told Jeremy Glick he didn't know what he'd do to him if he saw him off camera in the studio.)
And of course I've already noted that O'Reilly directs laundered extremist hate at "S-Ps".

Feldman had written his post in response to Hillary Clinton having sat down for an interview with O'Reilly recently. He concludes with some advice that I think should be generalized out to anyone invited onto the Factor

Bill O'Reilly is a key voice of a cohort of right-wing pundits who use violent-rhetoric to undermine American political debate, the result of which is a weakening of our Democracy.

Democratic candidates for President should denounce him and explain why, not walk into his studio and sit down.

1 comment:

Sheldon said...

Yep, spot on post. One thing I have noticed O'Reilly saying time after time is the phrase "we will go after them", and "we will take them down."

One person who has handled O'Reilly exceptionally well on his Billo's own show is Phil Donahue. Look for the clip on YouTube where he calls out O'Reilly on his acting tough bullshit.