Favorite New Thing 4: “O’Reilly’s Fall”

 

"I'll tell you why [religion is] not a scam in my opinion. Tide goes in, tide goes out never a miscommunication. You can't explain that. You can't explain why the tide goes in."  

 

            - Bill O’Reilly

 

This installment of My New Favorite Thing is thick with schadenfreude… you’ve been warned.

           

            I’ve said it before and I will say it for the rest of my life, I love politics and the twenty four hour news cycle. Like a housewife in the 1980’s who planned her entire day around the Soap Opera schedule, and let’s be honest a hell of a lot of men too, I follow it all. Or let’ put it into more modern terms since the Soaps are dying, all of you people who love to watch horrible reality shows are no different than me. I’m not ashamed of that and I’m not particularly proud of it either, it’s just the way I like to entertain myself. I can even pinpoint when I really became an addict, it was the Iran Contra hearings in the 1980’s.

 

The Iran–Contra affair

The Iran–Contra Affair also referred to as Irangate, Contragate or the Iran–Contra scandal, was a political scandal in the United States that occurred during the second term of the Reagan Administration. Senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, which was the subject of an arms embargo. They hoped that the arms sales would secure the release of several US hostages and use the money to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. Under the Boland Amendment, further funding of the Contras by the government had been prohibited by Congress.

 

The scandal began as an operation to free the seven American hostages being held in Lebanon by a group with Iranian ties connected to the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. It was planned that Israel would ship weapons to Iran, and then the United States would resupply Israel and receive the Israeli payment. The Iranian recipients promised to do everything in their power to achieve the release of the U.S. hostages. The plan deteriorated into an arms-for-hostages scheme, in which members of the executive branch sold weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of the American hostages. Large modifications to the plan were devised by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council in late 1985, in which a portion of the proceeds from the weapon sales was diverted to fund anti-Sandinista and anti-communist rebels, or Contras, in Nicaragua.

 

While President Ronald Reagan was a supporter of the Contra cause, the evidence is disputed as to whether he authorized the diversion of the money raised by the Iranian arms sales to the Contras. Handwritten notes taken by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger on December 7, 1985, indicate that Reagan was aware of potential hostage transfers with Iran, as well as the sale of Hawk and TOW missiles to "moderate elements" within that country. Weinberger wrote that Reagan said "he could answer to charges of illegality but couldn't answer to the charge that 'big strong President Reagan passed up a chance to free the hostages'". After the weapon sales were revealed in November 1986, Reagan appeared on national television and stated that the weapons transfers had indeed occurred, but that the United States did not trade arms for hostages. The investigation was impeded when large volumes of documents relating to the scandal were destroyed or withheld from investigators by Reagan administration officials. On March 4, 1987, Reagan returned to the airwaves in a nationally televised address, taking full responsibility for any actions that he was unaware of, and admitting that "what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages".

 

Several investigations ensued, including those by the U.S. Congress and the three-person, Reagan-appointed Tower Commission. Neither found any evidence that President Reagan himself knew of the extent of the multiple programs. Ultimately the sale of weapons to Iran was not deemed a criminal offense but charges were brought against five individuals for their support of the Contras. Those charges, however, were later dropped because the administration refused to declassify certain documents. The indicted conspirators faced various lesser charges instead. In the end, fourteen administration officials were indicted, including then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Eleven convictions resulted, some of which were vacated on appeal.[13] The rest of those indicted or convicted were all pardoned in the final days of the presidency of George H. W. Bush, who had been vice-president at the time of the affair.

 

            When the situation came to light all hell broke loose.

            Just to put it on front street before someone asks me when I was younger I supported the Reagan administration in their actions, I was a scary Neo Conservative when I was young, but those views have done a complete flip in the last twenty years.  Eventually I did my due diligence on what the United States did in Latin America and it made me ashamed to be an American. But that is an essay for another day.

            The congressional hearings were televised on all three networks. Yes kids the myths and fables are true, a one time dinosaurs roamed the earth and back in the day there were only three broadcast networks, well four if you counted PBS. All daytime programming and back in the day that was talk shows, game shows, and soap operas was preempted by the hearings.

            I was kinda pissed, I loved me some General Hospital and The Price is Right.

            My great grandmother was taking care of us then and she had the hearings on. This was the same grandmother who spent my early childhood reading to me from her scared and beautiful bible, giving me my lasting love of the bible stories, and whose action after the slut shamming of my cousin inspires me to this day. The first day I tried to ignore them, on the second day I caught myself watching snippets of them, and by the third day I was hooked.

            In the end the resolution was lukewarm bullshit but to me that’s not the important part. The big takeaway was my newfound love of politics and news. I remember being an irritating little shit after that pestering adult family members and teachers to explain what was happening in the world to me. I have to give props to each and every one of them they humored me and gave me the best information they could.

            Of course along with CNN (when it was respectable), the Wall Street Journal (before Murdoch raped it), the BBC (I love you Brits so damn much) and C-SPAN I discovered tabloid journalism. My hands down favorite was Inside Edition hosted by the one and only Bill O’Reilly.

 

Inside Edition

Inside Edition is a thirty-minute American television syndicated news magazine program. The show was originally a mix of tabloid crime stories, investigations, and celebrity gossip. It is one of the original "Big Three" American tabloid-style TV newsmagazines of the early 1990s -- the other two were A Current Affair and Hard Copy -- which fiercely competed with each other and is the only one of the three still on the air.

 

The first anchor of the program was David Frost, who was replaced after approximately three weeks with Bill O'Reilly. The current anchor is former Today anchor Deborah Norville, who took over for O'Reilly in 1995. Steve Kamer has been the show's announcer since its inception.

 

            In content the show might have been marginally better than its competitors but that wasn’t why I loved it so much. No matter how much it pains me to admit it today I loved Bill O’Reilly. The man is intelligent, articulate, and engaging on camera. He might well be one of the most skilled TV hosts on television. I am ONLY talking about his skills and delivery not the content of his message.

            Stop screaming at me, love him or hate him it’s true.

            I watched the show religiously until 1995 when O’Reilly left to host his own show on the brand new FOX News Channel.  I tried watching the show with its new host and while it was decent for what it was with O’Reilly gone the show lost it’d fire for me. So like so many other people I migrated over to FOX News and started watching the O’Reilly Factor (originally titled The O’Reilly Report).

 

The O'Reilly Factor

The O'Reilly Factor, originally titled The O'Reilly Report from 1996 to 1998 and often called The Factor, is an American television talk show on the Fox News Channel hosted by political commentator Bill O'Reilly, who often discusses current controversial political issues with guests. As of 2014, the O'Reilly Factor is the most watched cable news program in the United States.

 

Format

An example of The O'Reilly Factor's Talking Points Memo

The O'Reilly Factor is generally prerecorded, though on rare occasions it airs live if breaking news or special events are being covered. (i.e. presidential addresses that occur during prime-time) It is usually taped between 5:00 and 7:00 PM Eastern Time and airs weekdays at 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM. Some guests are interviewed before the "live to tape" period and are slotted in the program as appropriate.

 

O'Reilly and his producers discuss potential topics twice a week. A producer will research the story and book guests for O'Reilly, and an information packet will be produced with possible angles for O'Reilly to explore. For each show, O'Reilly, with the assistance of his staff, will produce a script with the words for the "Talking Points Memo" and "Tip of the Day" segments, and points of discussion and questions for the guests that will appear on the program. On February 2, 2009 the show launched in high definition and moved to the previous studio used by the Fox Report.

 

Radio talk show host Laura Ingraham is the current regular guest host, though Mike Huckabee, Juan Williams, Monica Crowley, Eric Bolling, and Greg Gutfeld have also filled in.

 

            For the first few years, really until about the time starting with the Monica Lewinsky scandal and culminating with the 2000 presidential election kicking into full swing, I was a loyal Facto viewer. I didn’t always agree with the things O’Reilly said, and that’s a good thing with anyone delivering news, but I enjoyed the show even more than his work on Inside Edition.

            Then things changed.

            Okay maybe they didn’t change on the show much or if at all. Maybe it was more me changing after becoming a husband and a father and realizing the world was not black and white and Libertarianism, the old school kind not the new school whack job bullshit, was a pipe dream on par with Communism.  Save your hate its true so deal with it or don’t but don’t bitch to me about it. I started seeing things I used to ignore or explain away.

 

            O’Reilly is a bully.

            O’Reilly has no actual beliefs or views of his own.

            O’Reilly hates poor people.

            O’Reilly is really an old school racist.

            O’Reilly is a liar.

 

            As George W. Bush came into power, and really he was a figure head for a group of businessmen and politicians, and the country moved further right it only got worse. Maybe the backlash against O’Reilly would have happened years sooner if not for what is without the defining moment of my generation.

            On a sunny September morning on live TV the Towers fell.

            After that the country I knew and loved morphed into something I no longer recognize in many ways. The charge for more governmental control and a global war was spearheaded by FOX News with O’Reilly at their head and the American people, terrified and looking for leadership, followed blindly. Even I was caught up in it for a few years.

            The old saying about power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely is one of the truest axioms ever coined. O’Reilly, as the face of the most watched cable news network backed by more money than a small nation and directly engaged in defending the administration, ascended. For more than a decade there was nothing the man couldn’t get away with saying. Don’t believe me? Here are just a few of O’Reilly’s worst quotes.

 

“The civil rights industry will not take on black crime problem because it would require black culture to change.”

 

“When was the last time you saw a public ad telling young black girls to avoid becoming pregnant?”

 

“I don't care about the Constitution!”

 

“I want to quote this— "On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and to my country and obey Scout law", on and on and on and on. I mean, God's in the first 10 words. So – why did you have to tell them you were an atheist if you didn't have any trouble reading the oath? Why didn't you just shut up?”

 

“And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's Restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same.”

 

“There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, "MFer, I want more iced tea." You know, I mean everybody was— it was like goin' into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb, in the sense of people were sitting there and they were ordering and having fun, and there wasn't any kinda craziness at all.”

 

"True Causes Of Poverty… Poor Education, Addiction, Irresponsible Behavior, and Laziness"

 

            After the financial collapse of 2008 and the election of Barrack Obama as president it only got exponentially worse. There are so many horrendous quotes to pull from the last seven years that I couldn’t decide on them. If you really want to experience the vitriol and hate for yourself just Google it, but make sure you haven’t just eaten. For almost twenty years O’Reilly was a seemingly unstable Juggernaut almost a force of nature.

            It’s safe to say in the years since about 1998 I’ve gone from loving O’Reilly, to tolerating O’Reilly, to feeling stupid for having admired O’Reilly, to finally hating O’Reilly. It’s reached the point in the last two years that just hearing his voice makes me want to hunt hobos in order to release my stress. I have a list of three people who if I ever meet them in real life I would have to seriously fight the urge to punch them in the throat.

            Bill O’Reilly is number two.

            On February 19, 2015 karma finally caught up with Bill O’Reilly. Maybe as a response to the lies told by NBC anchor Brian Williams (research it yourselves boils and ghouls because this thing is long enough as it is) the news site Mother Jones did something no other organization had ever done in a serious way, they declared war on O’Reilly. In the article Bill O'Reilly Has His Own Brian Williams Problem they took on the king of Cable News.

 

*NOTE: The O’Reilly entry on Wikipedia is huge and I am not pasting it here. That being said go read it because it’s a damn fascinating piece.*

 

Bill O’Reilly

Controversy

 

George de Mohrenschildt Claim

In his bestselling 2013 book, Killing Kennedy, and on Fox and Friends, O'Reilly claimed he was knocking at the front door of George de Mohrenschildt’s daughter's home at the moment Mohrenschildt committed suicide and that he heard the shotgun blast. This claim has been disputed by former Washington Post editor Jefferson Morley, who cites audio recordings made by Gaeton Fonzi indicating O'Reilly was not present in Florida on the day of Mohrenschildt's suicide.

 

In March of 1977, a young television reporter at WFAA in Dallas began looking in to the Kennedy assassination. As part of his reporting, he sought an interview with the shadowy Russian professor who had befriended the Oswalds upon their arrival in Dallas in 1962. The reporter traced George de Mohrenschildt to Palm Beach, Florida and travelled there to confront him. At the time de Mohrenschildt had been called to testify before a congressional committee looking into the events of November, 1963. As the reporter knocked on the door of de Mohrenschildt’s daughter’s home, he heard the shotgun blast [Emphasis added] that marked the suicide of the Russian, assuring that his relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald would never be fully understood. By the way, that reporter’s name is Bill O’Reilly.

 

(Josh NOTE: I have never inserted commentary into the Wiki pulls I add to these essays but this one time I’m making an exception. Several days ago CNN released audio of recordings of Bill O’Reilly proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that O’Reilly was in Dallas when the incident occurred.)

 

War coverage claims

On February 19, 2015, David Corn from Mother Jones broke a story reporting a collection of inconsistencies of O'Reilly when recalling his experience covering the 1982 Falklands War. On April 17, 2013, O'Reilly said on his show "I was in a situation one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands, (...)". In his book The No Spin Zone, he wrote "You know that I am not easily shocked. I've reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands." On a 2004 column on his website he wrote: "Having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands war, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash." Corn claimed O'Reilly was not in the Falklands, but in Buenos Aires and that no American journalist was in the Islands during the conflict. Also he pointed out that according to O'Reilly's own book The No Spin Zone, he arrived in Buenos Aires soon before the war ended.

 

On February 20, 2015, O'Reilly said on his show "David Corn, a liar, says that I exaggerated situations in the Falklands War" and that he never said he was on the Falkland Islands. O'Reilly went on to describe his experience in a riot in Buenos Aires the day Argentina surrendered. David Corn replied that they didn't claim O'Reilly "exaggerated" but rather that there were contradictions between his accounts and the factual record, and that the 2013 clip from his show proves O'Reilly did in fact say he was on the Falklands. David Corn told The New York Times “The question is whether Bill O’Reilly was stating the truth when he repeatedly said that Argentine soldiers used real bullets and fired into the crowd of civilians and many were killed.”

 

On September 2009, during an interview he said he covered the riots in Buenos Aires on the day Argentina surrendered. This is consistent with Mother Jones report claiming that he was in Buenos Aires but not in the Falkland Islands, but not with his own 2013 claim that he was "in the Falklands".

 

During an interview with The Blaze, O'Reilly said "And if that moron [Corn] doesn’t think it was a war zone in Buenos Aires, then he’s even dumber than I think he is." This characterization by O'Reilly is contradicted by seven journalists who were in Buenos Aires at the time and were CBS colleagues of O'Reilly, and who challenged his description of the city as a "combat situation" or "war zone."

 

The fallout from the coverage generated by the questioning of O'Reilly's Falklands War coverage saw claims made by O'Reilly made regarding his reporting in El Salvador and Northern Ireland questioned. Writing in his 2013 book Keep it Pithy, O'Reilly stated: "I’ve seen soldiers gun down unarmed civilians in Latin America, Irish terrorists kill and maim their fellow citizens in Belfast with bombs." In 2005 O'Reilly claimed to have "seen guys gun down nuns in El Salvador" and in 2012 said "I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head". O'Reilly and Fox News clarified that he had been shown images of the murdered nuns and Irish bombings but was not an eyewitness in either case.

 

            As of the writing of this essay (3-4-2015) O’Reilly has suffered no appreciable consequences for his actions. FOX appears to be backing their top dog regardless of the shots fired across their bow. Despite the increasingly vicious and obviously enjoyed attacks they have yet to really distance themselves from their thoroughbred.

            But the ship is definitely sinking.  More lies have been uncovered and many past and present journalists have turned on the polarizing O’Reilly and called him on his bullshit.

            What has O’Reilly’s response been?

            Mostly all he’s done is make himself look even worse. He has called people liars and guttersnipes. He’s threatened to put people in the “Kill Zone” and to come at them with everything he has. Basically he’s made things a hundred times worse than it already was.

            I fucking love it.

            I am more than aware that my love of his swift kick in the ass is unseemly. But I don’t give a shit. When a blowhard, bullying, patronizing asshat get’s their comeuppance I take glee in it. I don’t care what side of a debate they are in. I would LOVE to see someone find proof that Bill Mahr eats puppies but until that happens I will enjoy it and feel no guilt… now on to Laura Ingraham.

 

 

- Josh

 

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Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books (www.palladiumbooks.com) and Third Eye Games (www.thirdeyegames.net) before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press (www.gwspress.com). I also work for Fat Goblin Games (www.fatgoblingames.com). In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!