Yesterday, rather than discuss the Supreme Court hearing that demonstrates just how out of touch conservatives are from the rest of America, the gang at Bill O’Reilly’s Retirement-Home Fist-Shaking Hour took up the news that mattered most to their audience: the hurt feelings of denim enthusiast and talk-show bogarter Jay Leno. (And also Matt Lauer, a man we have no opinions on because, Christ, who’s watching TV when Matt Lauer is on?)
O’Reilly hauled Bernard Goldberg out from the Fox mausoleum he shares with Charles Krauthammer. Over the next five minutes Goldberg and O’Reilly asserted the five following bits of contradictory nonsense:
On the Matt Lauer case, Goldberg insists “journalists” and “the Internet” who “have virtually no power and make very little money” all “like to bring down people in the media who have achieved success and make money.” Goldberg continued, “They make very little money, and if they can make a shot at a guy making $25 million, which is more than they’ll make in the next hundred years, and this is how they derive their power, then they’re going to do it.”
Assertion One: Everyday losers across the country attack wealthy, deserving media personalities out of jealousy.
Then O’Reilly complains that in the days of Walter Cronkite, the press didn’t have the bad habit of attacking news anchors and talk-show hosts. Goldberg, who made a career out of assailing the purported liberal bias of his former boss Dan Rather, replies “That’s a perceptive observation.”
Assertion Two: In America today everybody but Bill O’Reilly and Bernard Goldberg attacks our important media figures, and that makes O’Reilly and Goldberg sad.
Goldberg then points out that the difference between today and the era of Walter Cronkite is the rise of “the Internet” and “cable news.” “Both of these things, for whatever good they do, they also polarize the culture,” says Goldberg, a man who is paid to go on Fox and complain about liberals. Goldberg adds that the Internet is worse than cable news, because online “being ironic –which is a nice way of saying ‘being sarcastic’ or ‘being nasty’ — has value.” Goldberg complains that some people are even “ironic” about Bill O’Reilly.
Assertion Three: Powerless regular folks on that hateful Internet insist on being ironic about hardworking, highly paid TV professionals like Matt Lauer and Bill O’Reilly, and this is what is tearing America apart.
They move on to Jay Leno, who both agree has been treated “shabbily” by the press and the executives at NBC. “Elites, whether they’re in the media or not, look down their long, elitist noses at people in Middle America,” Goldberg says. He adds, “They think Middle America is a barren desert populated by hayseeds,” which is a rousing defense of a L.A.-based comedian whose most famous schtick involves taking to the streets to expose the ignorance of random Americans.
Assertion Four: Wait, actually, it’s the media elite who are dividing America by assailing the great men we should respect, like Jay Leno and Bill O’Reilly, who are by no means “media elites” themselves.
Finally, O’Reilly suggests that David Letterman gets better treatment in the press (and, by extension, from the powerless elites who are somehow different from regular Americans) because Letterman is considered “cool” while Leno is not. “Exactly!” Goldberg erupts. “That is exactly the word I was going to use.” He argues: “The people who take down people like Leno want to see themselves as cool and hip.” That is the real reason this country is divided, insists Goldberg, the author of a book titled 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.
Assertion Five: America is divided between non-cool, non-hip, regular Americans who are happy with Jay Leno making fun of them for not knowing the name of the vice president, and the cool, hip, elitist, broke-ass haters who attack Jay Leno on the Internet for not being funny and for stealing everybody’s talk shows. Got all that?
Also, for the first time ever, The O’Reilly Factor is apparently in favor of the worker in a labor dispute.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 26, 2013