The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Thursday, July 08, 2004

I Can't Stand Bill O'Reilly 

I don't hate Bill O'Reilly mind you (I do hate Michael Moore), but I certainly can't stand to listen to the man. I have this conversation with my Mom from time to time. She absolutely loves Bill O'Reilly. In fact, I recently on a whim bought her a Boycott France - The Spin Stops Here bumper sticker just for fun. The only problem with this whimsical gift is that I fear I'm now on some Bill O'Reilly email list and I'll be getting crap from him. Ugh. She continually tells me that I should listen to him because I'd agree with so many of his viewpoints, and that could be true, though I doubt we agree on as much as she thinks.

The problem is that I can't even watch an entire show of his to find out. Oh come on, why? I can't stand him because he doesn't let anyone finish. But Nick, that's the point of the show... That's his style. Well his style sucks. Maybe its the fact that I was on my high school debate team for four years that makes this so bothersome to me. I'll wait while you finish laughing at me. Yes - I was on the debate team. Are you quite finished now? Good.

The great thing about a debate is it's structure. One person talks, then there is a cross examination, then another person talks. More importantly, you have a set amount of time to get your point across. You don't spend your time spinning a web, because spin takes time. You make your points, show your evidence, bang bang bang. O'Reilly just cuts you off at the knees. He cuts you off at the knees even if you're not spinning. He may just disagree with you. And in Bill O'Reilly's dictionary, the other definition of spin is when he doesn't agree with your viewpoint. And God help you if you're not the most succinct orator around, because if you stutter once he'll think you're spinning and cut you off.

So why does this really bother me so much, debating style aside? It bothers me this much because I find him, and many other conservative writers and commentators, to be very hypocritical in this fashion. One of the biggest complaints among them (and they're right) is the fact that there is so much rhetoric, and not enough conversation. They complain over and over that political candidates, and people in the parties (both parties), are becoming polarized and moving further to the fringes while most Americans remain somewhat in the center. Yet they complain about it by adding to the rhetoric. If you want to see a prime example of this, read Slander by Ann Coulter. She is literally mean and angry through the entire book about how liberals are, well, mean and angry. Does she not get the irony? It's actually more funny than informative, or convincing.

So Nick, what brought this on? Last night I watched about 15 minutes of the O'Reilly Factor. He had former Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro on. Yes I agreed with Bill on almost every point, and yes I disagreed with her on almost every point. Yet strangely when the argument (and it was an argument, not a discussion) was over, I was more impressed with Ferraro for holding her own, sticking to her guns, and not letting Bill push her around. As a small aside, the funniest part of the argument was the 45 seconds worth of "Yes it is. No it isn't. YES it is. NO it isn't" that took place. I thought I was watching a playground argument that would lead to hair pulling, not adults discussing politics. Bill, if you're trying to make a point, you're doing it the wrong way. You do a great disservice to all those who might agree with your viewpoints, and have to apologize for you when we discuss things with people we know. I understand that amputating the lower legs of your guests gets you ratings... but I ask you this. Are you in this to get higher ratings, or to make a good point and change some opinions? Answer that question honestly on your show, and maybe I'll at least respect you.


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About Me

Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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