Bill O’Reilly Goes Over the Top on the Angry Factor

Bill O’Reilly is “looking out for you.” This, of course, presupposes that he knows two things about you: what you care about—your values, your priorities, that sort of thing—and what’s good for you.

Recently he’s been interviewing (interrogating?) guests about the economic fiasco brought down on us by recent events and the agents behind those events. He now suggests (“suggests” is too mild here) that “the people” are angry. They’re angry at the government and all those CEOs who get paid scandalous amounts of money, because we now have to pay for the bailout we didn’t choose. In fact, “the people” are so angry that the economy is pretty much the only thing that matters to them right now. And “right now” is an election period.

OK. Time for a deep breath. Are people angry? I suppose so. Are they seething with anger? Are they so preoccupied with the state of the economy that anger is their dominant emotion right now? I don’t see signs of that among the people around me. It’s possible, of course, that O’Reilly knows “the people” better than I, though I am one of “the people.” I suspect, however, that O’Reilly’s schtick self-selects for people who fit a certain profile and who may be as angry as O’Reilly says they are.

I like it that O’Reilly pursues his guests with decent follow-up questions and exposes the “spin” for what it is. There isn’t enough of that in the media. I often cringe at the way O’Reilly conducts business on his show, and there are times when I wish he would ask more penetrating questions than he does. That’s right, more penetrating. But I digress.

I don’t presume to speak for “the people.” Speaking only for myself, I acknowledge my frustration with government and with this bailout/rescue idea. I’m not pleased with the way my family has been and will continue to be affected by the screwball decisions that have been made and will continue to be made. But Bill O’Reilly goes too far in representing the level of my frustration. Call it anger if you like, but my feelings about this are not so viscerally combustible that the economy is the only thing I care about in this election. I’m beginning to think it’s a media ploy, oddly endorsed both by Bill O’Reilly and by those he calls “the mainstream media.” I hope I’m not alone in this. I hope our economic woes have not lit such a fire that we are blinded by them and indifferent about other major challenges that we face in this country, other issues of long-term significance. I refer to the conduct of war with our enemies, the character and experience of our leaders, the future composition of the United States Supreme Court, and much else besides.

We’re at a place today where the media are telling us, “It’s the economy stupid.” And when the media are telling us what we’re supposed to think and feel, in that inimitably condescending way of theirs, I get suspicious. I don’t like being told how I feel when it’s not how I feel, and I don’t like being called stupid—especially by the media.

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About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

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