Monday, May 19, 2008

O'Reilly prefers cheese with his whine

If you ever desired more proof that right-wingers are perhaps the most thin-skinned people on the planet, then read further...

Anyone who even casually follows the ongoing soap opera that is cable news knows that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and FOX News Channel's Bill O'Reilly can't stand each other. Olbermann constantly blasts O'Reilly on his weeknight show, Countdown, which airs opposite The O'Reilly Factor.

The mere mention of Olbermann's name gets O'Reilly hot. Absolutely livid. Who could forget the time on his radio show when he went on a rather nasty and ridiculous on-air outburst and threatened to sic 'FOX Security' on a prank caller at the very moment he said, "I think Keith Olbermann's show..."?

O'Reilly hates Olbermann so much that he makes it a point to never mention his adversary specifically by name (though he has had surrogates do it). Rather, he attacks Olbermann's boss and NBC's owner, General Electric. Olbermann, on the other hand, often refers to O'Reilly by such nicknames as the Sisyphus of morons, the Big Giant Head, and Ted Baxter.

Now, the war of words has escalated. Olbermann had fun last week ripping on the old Inside Edition outtake that featured O'Reilly erupting into a profanity-laced tantrum. He even jokingly brought in a phony body language expert to dissect the now-infamous clip. In retaliation, O'Reilly, who rarely misses a chance to attack those he sees as his enemies, is calling GE's chief executive a "pinhead" and a "despicable human being" who bears responsibility for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq.

Howard Kurtz, media columnist for The Washington Post, claims that the war is moving higher up the food chain. Allegedly, there have been back-channel discussions involving the likes of News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, NBC chief executive Jeff Zucker and General Electric's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt.

One day last summer, Ailes called Zucker on his cellphone, furious after Olbermann trashed him on his show. Ailes allegedly warned Zucker that if Olbermann didn't lay off the attacks on him or his network, he would sic his attack dog, O'Reilly, on NBC. He threatened to use the company's New York Post as well. Zucker evidently told Ailes to go pound sand. Perhaps Ailes should have used this guy.

Since then, Olbermann hasn't let up, leading O'Reilly to toss out ludicrous accusations toward GE, claiming that, because they do some limited business in Iran, that they are causing the deaths of American soldiers (though FOX News' constant cheerleading for the Iraq War hasn't). The kicker was when he claimed that "If my child were killed in Iraq, I would blame the likes of Jeffrey Immelt."

In addition, several years ago, O'Reilly's agent also allegedly contacted Zucker on a few occasions, demanding that Olbermann and other MSNBC personalities, such as Joe Scarborough lay off his client. So, in other words, O'Reilly, who has never been afraid to attack those he despises from the safe confines of his television studio bunker, has others fight his battles in the real world. Witness last year, when FOX News' Geraldo Rivera threatened to kick Olbermann's ass.

Of course, FOX News denies that Ailes has ever made such demands to NBC, claiming that he has no editorial control over the content of host-driven shows such as O'Reilly's or even the New York Post. GE and NBC executives have maintained otherwise. Ironically, the New York Post published a hit piece on Olbermann just this morning. Interesting.

Coincidentally, Ailes' friends in the White House today sent a nastygram to NBC regarding what they view as unfair coverage of the President. They obviously hate them for their freedom.

It is true that the "O'Reilly Factor" gets better overall ratings than "Countdown." One would think an established twelve year-old show up against a much younger counterpart would. But while O'Reilly does better overall when total viewers are taken into account, the playing field between the two shows is much more even in the much-desired 25-54 demographic. On occasion, Countdown even bests O'Reilly in this group. MSNBC’s research claims that the median age for O’Reilly’s audience is 71, while Olbermann’s is 59. Guess what age group advertisers would rather have?

Now, Olbermann must be doing something right. Right-wingers absolutely detest the man. And the hostility on their side gets even more heated whenever Olbermann gives one of his "Special Comments." The most recent one, about Bush claiming he gave up golf as a sacrifice in these hard times, must have ruffled a few feathers. Syndicated radio conservotalker Mark Levin demanded that NBC suspend Olbermann, and called him "Tokyo Rose in a suit," which smacks of irony because, like Olbermann, Levin is himself an opinionated media commentator.

Now, what does one make of all this bickering and whining? Ailes is an interesting person to talk about any of this, since he earned his bones in the cutthroat world of Republican politics, where he even co-wrote that infamous "Willie Horton" ad for George H.W. Bush's 1988 presidential bid. At the helm of FOX News since its inception, he has encouraged right wing pit bulls such as O'Reilly and Sean Hannity to be as nasty as they wanna be. To be on the opposite end and pretend to be the victim (typical of many right wing attack dogs) is the epitome of hypocrisy.

Many people are just plain fed up with all this dick swinging among the talking heads. I for one feel reminiscent for the time when cable news was about news, something that has been sorely missing since Ted Turner sold CNN to Time Warner and bolted to his Montana ranch. But since cable news these days is more about sizzle than steak, and opinionated, egocentric personalities have turned the genre into AM talk radio with pictures, we are constantly bombarded with self-righteous, mostly right-wing blowhards who's shit don't stink.

However, in this landscape of obnoxious helmet-haired empty suits who wrap themselves in the flag and tell us what to think, screaming head pundits who shout talking points at each other, ultra-moral finger-waggers who get outraged at everyone else's behavior and celebrity-obsessed dim bulbs, we have Keith Olbermann, who has carved out a niche as an iconoclast courting the equally-pissed off left. In addition to his occasional 'Special Comments,' which often rip into the Bush Administration in ways most media personalities are afraid to do, he also digs deeper into stories that other media outlets are either too scared or too lazy to. While he obviously despises celebrity gossip tales, he does the bare minimum glossing-over of them, though with a somewhat humorous snide undertone that screams "they're making me talk about this." And he speaks for many of us who often find ourselves giving the middle finger to pompous bastards like Bill O'Reilly. And he effectively uses humor, perhaps the sharpest of all verbal weapons, to accomplish this. He's also not above making fun of himself, something that can't be said about his more arrogant counterparts.

For that, and in this lousy cable news environment that we are limited to, that's good enough for me. I, for one, am glad Keith Olbermann is around to kick some O'Reilly ass, and expose him and his ilk for the frauds they are.


raccoonradio said...

Olby blamed "editors" for removing "the Pentagon" from his remarks about cold-blooded killers. He went on to wonder why Levin and Ingraham hate the troops. Ingraham has been with the troops in Iraq. Has Olby?

ltr said...

raccoon, I welcome your opinions, but please don't spread astroturf in my yard.

As for your remarks, I think you're being incredibly naive to think that all it takes to 'support the troops' is to wrap oneself in the flag, slap a magnetic ribbon on the back of the SUV and do promotional stunts in warzones. Don't fortget, these people are incessant cheerleaders for an administration that cavalierly sends soldiers off to fight in pointless wars, puts them up in moldy barracks that should be condemned, administers care to them in filthy hospitals and then screws them on veterans' benefits.

If you want to call that 'supporting the troops,' then that's your prerogative.

  © Blogger template Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP