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O'Reilly vs USA Today

Discussion in 'The OT' started by George_F, Feb 1, 2003.

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  1. Feb 1, 2003 #1 of 11

    George_F Legend

    Dec 25, 2002
    I just caught a minute of O'Reilly talking about the following article on the opinion page of USA Today. Keep in mind the writer of the article never called O'Reilly to let him offer a differing opinon.


    Why do mean-spirited TV shows lure Americans?
    By Bruce Kluger

    Your parents lied to you: Sometimes the bad guys do win.

    Now that the Fox News Channel has won the battle for cable news supremacy by breezing past MSNBC and CNN in the ratings, it's time to review how it made such a remarkable leap. To do so sheds new light on the state of cable news -- which isn't good.

    For several years, the industry has toyed with abandoning newscasts in favor of nightly lineups crammed with clamorous political crossfire and sleepy-eyed sit-downs with stars. Not surprisingly, none of this seems to bother viewers. Who cares how many nukes the North Koreans have when Larry King can land Liza Minnelli for an entire hour, or Chris Matthews can (once again) scream at political guru Pat Caddell?

    Fox has found its niche in this disturbing transformation, capitalizing on the very real notion that Americans embrace acrimony over civility and conflict over resolution. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the yin-yang styles of Bill O'Reilly and Phil Donahue.

    First O'Reilly. Perched high on the bully pulpit of his nightly Fox fight-fest, The O'Reilly Factor, the staunchly right-wing host invites onto his program a vast array of ideological adversaries whom he usually decimates -- not by relying on the deft maneuvers of substantiated debate, but by the sneaky craft of chronic interruption and well-placed commercial cutaways. Yet his attack-dog style has earned him the status of the most-watched talk show host in all of cable news, spawning a spate of ill-tempered imitators, mostly on Fox.

    Viewers want clatter, not quality

    Simply put, O'Reilly has done for chat TV what Rush Limbaugh did for talk radio -- namely, help transform the constructive buzz of the public square into a noisy, messy melee. To wit: Right after the 9/11 attacks, while other shows tried to extract order from chaos -- cautioning against speculation, sticking to facts -- O'Reilly devoted a series of programs to who was cheating whom out of relief money. On one, he mocked Americans seeking psychological help in 9/11's wake, calling them ''weak.'' His ratings soared.

    Meanwhile, just a few remote clicks away at MSNBC stands Phil Donahue, the godfather of talk TV. Donahue turns down the piercing volume of the O'Reilly-type mob and turns up the intelligence, selecting panelists for what they have to say instead of how effectively he can belittle them.

    On one program, he tackled the Israeli-Palestinian debate by presiding over a wrenching discussion between two Jewish men -- one favoring a Palestinian state, one opposed -- both of whom had lost a child in the conflict. Which is not to say Donahue plays it safe. The only full-throttled liberal on talk television today, he was among the first of the talk show hosts to denounce a war on Iraq.

    Donahue is the Obi-Wan Kenobi of conversation: genuine, affable, well mannered and well informed. But the magic ain't working this time. By year's end, his audience of 379,000 was about one-sixth of O'Reilly's 2.4 million on Fox.

    Therein lies the problem: Donahue has not lost one bit of smarts since his heyday. American TV has.

    Follow Tinseltown's example

    Twenty-five years ago, viewers were enchanted with Donahue's brand of audience-roaming, mike-waving, levelheaded give-and-take. But that format mutated into the dirty-laundry-airing chaos of Jerry Springer and Sally Jessy Raphael. Columnists and politicians denounced these programs, and many of them disappeared. But the gratuitous mean-spiritedness -- and American viewers' obsession with it -- has crept over into network TV, where audience hits such as Survivor, Fear Factor and Joe Millionaire rely on generous doses of embarrassment, failure, duplicity and shame.

    Will the Phil vs. Bill paradigm reverse anytime soon? Are you kidding? The chances of any TV executive pulling the plug on a ratings champ -- or keeping a runner-up on the air -- are about as likely as Greta Van Susteren's old face suddenly reappearing.

    Then again, one can hope. Since 9/11, Hollywood has done some soul-searching, wondering out loud whether it can churn out blockbusters that don't rely on stars wielding Uzis. Perhaps the cable news industry can do the same by examining the violence that thrives in the words of Bill O'Reilly.

    Bruce Kluger also writes for National Public Radio.
    Donahue is the Obi Wan Kenobi of talk shows!
  2. Feb 1, 2003 #2 of 11
    John Corn

    John Corn Hall Of Fame

    Mar 21, 2002
    O'Reilly could make anyone squirm, he's a verbal bully and if you go his show that's what you will be subjected to, the writer is not particularly smart if he goes on that show. You'd talk to him but not on his show, if you go on a show, the game is played by the rules of the host so you are fighting an uphill battle.

    I personally agree 110% with the article. Bill O'Reilly is what happens when WWF meets politics. Chris Matthews is the same if not worse. It's the Jerry Springer show for middle-aged conservatives.
  3. Feb 1, 2003 #3 of 11

    Swampthing Legend

    Apr 23, 2002
    And don't forget the infamous McLaughlin Group!
  4. Feb 1, 2003 #4 of 11

    Martyva Guest DBSTalk Gold Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    I'd avoided that drivel for over 2 years. I turned to MSNBC a couple of nights ago and Donahue was interviewing Tim Russert. I'd forgotten how enjoyable a good interview was. Fox news has the ratings and everyone tries to be like mike.
  5. Feb 2, 2003 #5 of 11

    dtcarson Godfather

    Jan 10, 2003
    O'Reilly may be somewhat of a verbal bully [just like every other talk show host I've seen, from Donahue to Springer], but he is not "staunchly right-wing" by any means. I've read a couple of his books, and he espouses some ideas that are core Republican values, and some from the Democrat side, which lead me to believe he's his own man, like him or not. True, he is *more* of a Republican than a Democrat, but he is not by any means a card-carrying 'right-winger'.
    And, yes, his interviewing styles can be, shall we say, provocative--but think about it: this is the TV generation, where shows are given three episodes to rocket to the top of the Neilsens, then are yanked. Everyone has a remote, many people have PVR's where they can skip commercials, skip parts of shows, etc. You only have seconds to catch that channel surfer's attention, so TV by definition is short-attention-span oriented, and someone has to offer something 'different' to stop the clicker. That 'something different' may be someone jumping out of a plane or eating bull testicles [Fear Factor], or it may be a debate/argument on OReilly, but it's the same principle.
    OReilly is not closeminded--if someone can support his case with logic or fact, then OReilly will debate that person. If they churn out 'buzzwords' or the 'typical argument', OReilly will poke and prod until the other party starts getting frazzled. That doesn't mean OReilly doesn't like or respect the other party, but that he's attacking, deservedly, the 'Well, because I heard it on the net' type argument.
    I watched him a while back have Joe Pantoliano and Janeane Garafalo [sp?] on, about their not supporting an attack on Iraq. Joe said the usual 'It's about oil,' 'It's revenge for Daddy Bush,' 'I don't want my 18 year old kid going to war and getting killed,' claptrap that everyone against military action [or against Bush] churns out. But Janeane actually had some logical arguments, expanding them to Israel/Palestine issues among others, and OReilly focused on her, trying to actually *discuss* the issues. He pretty much tuned Joe P out, which I probably would have too, because Joe was adding nothing to the 'discussion.' And at the end, OReilly thanked them both, and said 'I disagree with you, but I respect your opinions, and thanks for sharing them with my audience' or something to that effect [because, realistically, about Iraq, either you support military action or you don't, and right now, something catastrophic would have to occur to change either side's minds.] So in effect it wasn't a debate, but just a chance to air factual, logically constructed arguments, that Bill was after on that episode.

    Plus, keep in mind, OReilly isn't a newsman, he's a commentator--as such, he is allowed, expected, to have opinions and sometimes share them forcefully [if you don't get emotional over some issues, you must not care about them.] I would certainly not expect Rather or Jennings or any of those to espouse opinions except in an editorial, since they are allegedly newsmen, whose job it is to REPORT the news.
  6. suzyshop

    suzyshop New Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    The bill oreilly show is dubbed the no spin zone for a reason.
  7. jonstad

    jonstad Hall Of Fame

    Jun 27, 2002
    Aloha and welcome Suzy.

    Boy, you've really dug back in the archives here. But OK, I'll bite. What IS the reason "the bill oreilly show is dubbed the no spin zone"?:D
  8. Mike D-CO5

    Mike D-CO5 Hall Of Fame

    Mar 11, 2003
    Try listening to the Am Fox radio new interviews with his callers, or anyone who disagrees with his opinion. He will cut them off when he can't get his point accross. IF they try to make a point he will interupt and call them ignorant or stupid and he will say" I won't subject my audience to those kind of ignorant rantings!"

    Talk about a no spin zone. If you disagree with Bill in any way he cuts you off and calls you names live on the radio. How mature.:rolleyes:
  9. mainedish

    mainedish Hall Of Fame

    Mar 25, 2003

    Sounds more like Al Franken on CSPAN a couple years back.
  10. kb7oeb

    kb7oeb Icon

    Jun 16, 2004
  11. Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    Speaking of a spin on ratings, I am reminded of this story...

    Some years ago, a footrace was held between a Russian runner and an American runner. The American won the race.

    In the Soviet newpaper 'Pravda', the result of the race was reported as follows:

    "The heroic Russian runner came in next to first, while the American came in next to last."
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