Bill O'Reilly vs. the Ipod People

|

News flash: Fox News ratings champeen Bill O'Reilly is putting on his best TJ Hooker and getting mad at hell at all those scuzzbuckets and low-life scum that stumble along with MP3 players, the post-Information Age's answer to soma, fer chrissakes:

So the USA is now entering an age of issue illiteracy. Older Americans still remember civics classes and geography tests and dinner table discussions about their country. Many younger Americans will never experience those things. Thus, as technology shrinks the globe, it is also providing an escape from the world. The iPod people can avoid real life constantly and entirely.

Our society is so intellectually undemanding that uninformed entertainers like the Dixie Chicks can comment negatively on foreign policy and be rewarded with a Time Magazine cover. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie can have a baby and receive more attention than the Senate vote on illegal immigration. And Barry Bonds can cheat his way to home run records and still command standing ovations in San Francisco.

The USA used to be a nation that valued knowledge and rallied around national standards. Now we have become Balkanized–each of us can easily create individual electronic fantasy worlds. Why face a world full of terror and confusing angst when you can drift off into iPod land?

You know, we've become so Balkanized, we don't even know what Balkanized means anymore (wasn't he that fake foreign guy on Perfect Strangers? Or was he Andy Kauffman's character on Taxi? Isn't that where the the band Franz Ferdinand comes from?)

Sure, sez King Bill, the punks today may be getting "get the news online. Okay, fine. But those internet headlines barely skim the surface of complicated matters, and many websites have absolutely no editorial standards. They print rank propaganda and libel all day long." Whole rant–as fiber-filled and rib-sticking as a bowl of Grape Nuts–here.

Bill O can take heart that sometimes the Internet actually prints useful correctives to print and broadcast media bullshit. Like, say, Bill's bogus claims about a certain Ms. Hanoi Jane Fonda.

NEXT: It's the Chicago Way

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. uninformed entertainers like the Dixie Chicks

    Bill O’Rielly said this. Bill O’Fucking Rielly.

  2. You know, we’ve become so Balkanized, we don’t even know what Balkanized means anymore?

    I don’t know what source O’Reilly would consider more reliable (other than himself, of course) given that I clearly recall hearing a talking head, er, television journalist once comment with a complete lack of irony “The former Yugoslavia is becoming balkanized.” You can’t make this stuff up, you know.

  3. Older Americans still remember civics classes and geography tests and dinner table discussions about their country.

    Like most of O’Reilly’s past gazing. It exists only in his imagination. Now, I’m not that old but I find it difficult to believe that my grandparents generation sat around discussing poitical issues constantly. I’m more incline to believe that like my parents’ and my own generations, they talked about the big issues while they were happening.

  4. Hey! How dare you impugn such a fine man.

    His show permits no spin. They boldly prove this by calling it a “no spin zone.” Therefore he does not spin but rather tells it like it is.

    Joking aside he’s actually got a point, but, as usual, confuses good trends with bad ones.

    (Gross Oversimplification Warning!) After all, the Balkans became a problem when people tried to force disparate ethnicities and cultures at gunpoint to live in some superstate wherein the group that dominated the state was able to loot those members of the groups that held little power. The politics of the Balkans has been driven for over a century by the dissolution of that superstate and its successors into smaller states. Where this splitting has been resisted there has been much violence. Where it has not been resisted, there has been much less violence. Where it has not been resisted at all there has been peace.

    In a similar vein, what Bill is decrying is civilization: people minding their own business, taking care of their own needs and not interfering with each other. You know, behaving the way free people are supposed to behave

    What Bill wants is a political society, where people are at each others’ throats with the expectation that the winners will be able to force the losers to do something that the losers don’t want to do.In a free society, Bill O’Reilly would have trouble doing naything more than reporting on minor league games. Only in political societies wherein people are forced into conflicts with each other do the Bill O’Reillies of the world prosper

    Personally, I would much rather live in a society where my neighbor wastes his time collecting Martina Sharaprova pictures instead of trying to get a regulation passed that controls what collor I can paint my house.

  5. I can even remember a time b4 phonesex.

  6. “One explanation is that Americans can now get the news online. Okay, fine. But those internet headlines barely skim the surface of complicated matters, and many websites have absolutely no editorial standards. They print rank propaganda and libel all day long.”

    Yeah, kinda like when O’Really? got the facts exactly wrong about Malmedy TWICE, and then, when the transcript showed up on the Faux News website, they had “corrected” his words?

    “So the USA is now entering an age of issue illiteracy.”

    The irony…it buuuurnnnnssss!

    “Many younger Americans will never experience those things. Thus, as technology shrinks the globe, it is also providing an escape from the world. The iPod people can avoid real life constantly and entirely.”

    Younger Americans experience those things, dingleberry. It just pisses you off that they might be able to multitask—i.e., discuss issues and listen to an iPod, both on the same day!

    “Our society is so intellectually undemanding that uninformed entertainers like the Dixie Chicks can comment negatively on foreign policy and be rewarded with a Time Magazine cover.”

    Right…yeah, I forgot that “commenting negatively” about the Omnipotent State is forbidden. The best part is that O’Really? has the gall to comment on the issue illiteracy of others, yet he is ignorant at best, a flat-out liar at worst. And now, he seems unable to grasp the concept of dissent, and how it is not evil.

    “Why face a world full of terror and confusing angst when you can drift off into iPod land?”

    I’m just curious: does Bill understand the concept of listening to music and doing other things, simultaneously?

    “Ultimately, mass electronic escape will lead to a very few exercising vast power over the distracted many.”

    Oh, yeah, thaaat’s gonna be the cause. Not “a slow but steady erosion of rights, and power being taken via force by the political class, enabled by a complacent public who cares more about partisan navel-gazing than the actual health of the republic”. No, not that. iPods. THAT will be the cause.

  7. I don’t see how the withdrawal from the society can be a bad thing. Going to the gist of Reilly’s argument, he’s more against said withdrawal than the means to achieve it (he only criticizes the means to be too easy to provide the goal). I see the current society as failing to provide me with what I want – privacy, security, stability – and so I have no qualms about not participating in the society as much as others would like me to.

  8. Sounds like the old farts of my parents generation who decried Elvis and the Beatles and performed their civic duties by enlarging the Social Security scam, the Great Society, and turning back the Red menace in Vietnam.

  9. As fun as it is to beat up on O’Rielly, fish in a barrel and all, is it really a stretch to say that it’s a bad thing that the Dixie Chicks’ opinion gets the cover of Time? I think it’s terrible. Why does anyone give a crap what they think? Similarly with Bradjolina’s baby getting all sorts of attention.

    Or is this one of those things where criticizing something automatically means you’re calling for Gov’t action and as a Libertarian, it’s not enough to let people be free to be idiots, you have to applaud them.

    I think our culture has an illness where-in it worships celebrities. I thinks it’s a terribly anti-intellectual trend. I also think that we do live in a culture of escapism. I wouldn’t put people in jail for it, of course, but is it so horrible to recognize it?

    PS, I don’t blame Ipods or technology, so on that, I think he’s way off-base.

  10. Wellfellow: I agree to a large extent. You get Tom Cruise on the today show to talk about psychology, etc. But I also don’t think celebrity worship is particularly new. Were I a declinist like gaius (what hapened to that guy, anyway?) I’d make some sort of comparison about celebrity love and the fall of Rome, but I’m not.

    I do think, however, that much like the “big man” cultures of Africa and Latin America, there’s a certain need deep in the psyche of people to have somebody in charge. As we don’t really have dictators in the United States (no supreme leader, no permanent figure-head queen) I think the cultural gap gets filled with celebrity gossip columns.

  11. “Our society is so intellectually undemanding that uninformed entertainers like the Dixie Chicks can comment negatively on foreign policy and be rewarded with a Time Magazine cover.”

    Do we even need to point out the irony here? If blowhards like Hannity, O’Reilly and Limbaugh had not insisted on making these girls’ remarks into such a big deal and crying “treason! Treason!!!” no one would have ever paid any attention to a few entertainers making a crack about the President. The Dixie Chicks should send O’Reilly a thank you note for helping get them on the cover of Time.

  12. I would much rather live in a society where my neighbor wastes his time collecting Martina Sharaprova pictures

    You see! This is what I mean about America’s uninformed youth! In the good old days, people would have know the name of the 2004 Wimbledon winner was “Maria Sharapova”!

  13. I think our culture has an illness where-in it worships celebrities. I thinks it’s a terribly anti-intellectual trend. I also think that we do live in a culture of escapism. I wouldn’t put people in jail for it, of course, but is it so horrible to recognize it?

    Doesn’t every culture have some sort of hero worship garbage? Come to think of it, societies whose heroes are political figures don’t seem to have been all that pleasant. In that sense, I’d rather have people obsessing about celebrities.

  14. I wish I could remember where I read it, but a while back I came across a news story from the 1920’s. The story describes what’s going on in the life of some contemporary celebrity, and how he’s being wined and dined around the world, and meeting with royalty and being mobbed by fans and all that. The story describes him as the most important person on earth at the time.

    His name? Beats the hell out of me. He was a flash in the plan.

    The lesson? Obsession with celebrity is nothing new. I imagine that once upon a time the winning gladiator was invited to the Sunday Morning Forums to opine on his favorite Senators. For all we know, the guy who first landed the role of Macbeth was invited to endorse his picks for House of Commons. “Verily, I tell thee, I liketh Michael Baker best, for he hath the wisdom to not involve us in a land war in the Americas.”

  15. Correction: “Flash in the pan.”

  16. I wish I was informed enough to believe that the Malmedy Massacre consisted of American troops slaughtering unarmed German prisoners. Like Bill O’Reilly does. And has reported on his show. Twice.

  17. “is it really a stretch to say that it’s a bad thing that the Dixie Chicks’ opinion gets the cover of Time?”

    You’d prefer, maybe, “Are There Angels Among Us?” redux?

  18. Thoreau said what I was trying to get at, but much more eloquently.

    I didn’t know about the O’Reilly/Malmedy thing, but it’s nice to know he got it exactly reversed. Why does Bill O’Reilly hate America? Does having to google the Malmedy Massacre make me an ignorant iPod person? Am I required to have encyclopedic knowledge of a war that ended ten years before my father was born in order for O’Reilly to like me?

  19. Irony, thy name is Bill O’Reilly.

  20. I think Bill meant to call the Dixie Chicks “unloofahed”. Or maybe “unfalafeled”.

    That said, it seems to me that those who opposed the war in 2003 were better informed than Bill was. Or Bush, for that matter.

  21. “As fun as it is to beat up on O’Rielly, fish in a barrel and all, is it really a stretch to say that it’s a bad thing that the Dixie Chicks’ opinion gets the cover of Time? ”

    Well, strictly speaking it isn’t because of their opinion, it’s the right wing’s authoritarian attempt to demonise and squelch them (and the death threats, record burnings, etc) that made them newsworthy.

    If the right wing had ignored them, there would have been no story.

    But as for their opinion itself, saying the King is a Fink is about as American as you can get.

  22. Irony, thy name is Bill O’Reilly.

    Take that back!

  23. Timothy, David, Thoreau,

    Of course, you are correct that this is nothing new. I’m rather inclined toward the Gaius worldview at times, so that may be where I’m coming from. I’d certainly be complaing about the stupid gladiator’s opinion had I lived then! I surely don’t want to see people obsess about politicians, either.

    Now, if we must worship celebrities, then, could we at least pick some better ones? Really, the way people fawn over Bono, my God! How difficult must it be to find a decent musician with something interesting to say?? Hell, I’ll settle for a decent musician.

    Anyway, my point was less about who people should admire, and more that O’Rielly’s diatribe isn’t as laughable as we might like. Like him or not,

    “Our society is so intellectually undemanding that uninformed entertainers like the Dixie Chicks can comment negatively on foreign policy and be rewarded with a Time Magazine cover. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie can have a baby and receive more attention than the Senate vote on illegal immigration.”

    this is still fairly true.

  24. Yes, because we all know that Dick Cheney and Karl Rove were in an underground bunker laboring away at crafting death threats aimed at the Dixie Chicks.

    I despise the right in this country almost as much as the left, but Jon, your attempt at broadbrushing the affair is laughable.

  25. Oh, also, the main reason the Dixie Chicks are on magazine covers is because they have a new CD out.

    If you look at a newstand, chances are any celebrity on a magazine cover has something new coming out. Any celebrity on a TV or radio show has something new coming out. That’s why they’re there – to sell you something.

    Even on NPR, when something new comes out you can watch it progress through NPR like a rabbit passing through a snake: a bit on Morning Edition, a bit on Fresh Air, a bit on All Things Considered, an appearance on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, etc, etc, etc.

  26. ??it’s a bad thing that the Dixie Chicks’ opinion gets the cover of Time? I think it’s terrible.?

    I suppose if you are a big fan of Time and not the Dixie Chicks.

    Anyway, the kind of people who ignorantly parrot the political whims of their favorite pop star probably aren?t going to take the time to line up at the polls. All the better.

  27. Issue illiteracy? Like knowing who massacred whom at Melmedy?

  28. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie can have a baby and receive more attention than the Senate vote on illegal immigration.

    Or certain news organizations give Darfur about 1/100th the coverage of one girl in Aruba.

  29. this is still fairly true.

    It is true, but I think it’s good thing that most people are more concerned with the business of their own lives, and getting a little entertainment(whatever form that might take) than being obsessed with politics all the time.

    It has also always been true. O’Reilly’s problem is that he claims there was some point where it wasn’t true. That instead of coming home and talking about what happened at work, playing softball, going out for a beer, or just listening to the radio, American families discussed the day’s political decisions. The past that O’Reilly frequently refers to never actually existed, not in any real sense. In the fifties that did happen, people were obsessing over things like Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe.

  30. “Our society is so intellectually undemanding that uninformed entertainers like the Dixie Chicks can comment negatively on foreign policy and be rewarded with a Time Magazine cover.”

    As opposed to Ann Coulter I suppose.

  31. What were the odds that attractive young women with successful singing careers might wind up on the cover of a magazine after saying something controversial?

  32. Maybe I’d listen to O’Reilly more if his show was available as a podcast.

  33. wasn’t he that fake foreign guy on Perfect Strangers?

    The first time I visited Chicago as a child, I was sorely disappointed when I did not see the loveable Balky Bartakamous there. Maybe he’ll be there next time I visit. (I hope I hope)

  34. I doubt you will, smacky. I think Cousin Larry bludgeoned him in a Lou Dobbs-fueled anti-immigrant rage.

  35. the problem is not machines, the problem is that people are stupid and consider news to be who the celeb of moment is fucking.
    and also news channels that consider natalie holloway to be newsworthy.

  36. Oh, also, the main reason the Dixie Chicks are on magazine covers is because they have a new CD out.

    That, and they’re hot.

  37. I’m not sure that people that read about and watch celebrity lives really consider it “news”. I think it’s more of an entertainment. It’s like watching a TV show only this one is ongoing and the characters are always changing.

    I don’t know anyone that votes based on what their favorite celebrity says either.

  38. ??the problem is that people are stupid and consider news to be who the celeb of moment is fucking.?

    Mmmm ? not entirely true. My wife is very smart, but is only really interested in celebrity news and the like. She is barely interested in political current events (more so w/ human interest stuff; earthquakes and such), and probably only votes because I drag her to the polls and fill her in on the candidates and issues.

    I think we would find a lot more folks involved in politics if we were a bit worse off. Folks who are content have no reason to vote or otherwise stir up trouble. That?s the catch with the feds buying their shit on credit. When the public gets the bill it?s too late to bitch.

  39. Dixie Chicks hot? Holy overstatement!

  40. I would just like to say that while I did indeed purchase the Time Magazine with the Dixie Chicks on the cover, I swear I didn’t read it for the articles.

  41. Hot?

    Is it just me, or does the one with the short hair, Something Maines? Anyway, is it just me, or does she have fetal alcohol syndrome?

  42. OK, who where thinks it’s a good thing that the Dixie Chicks got the cover of Time magazine for a one-line jab at Bush while on tour in England? Who here thinks that such a comment deserves anything — anything at all — besides an inside-page brief?
    Anybody care to defend that editorial decision?
    Bill O’Reilly is a self-assured loud-mouth, but he’s got a point here. We are, in fact, becoming a nation of highly intelligent, culturally savvy but historically ignorant people.
    Unlike O’Reilly, I don’t pine for the days of sittin’ ’round the cracker barrel, whittlin’ wood and discussing current events with grandpappy, but neither do I think it’s a good thing that half of all teenagers don’t know who our enemies were in World War II.
    Too bad O’Reilly, in trying to make this point, had to attack my iPod and the incredible technology that continues to liberate us from each other.

  43. I’m guessing that the younguns with the iPods aren’t the buying Time.

  44. We are, in fact, becoming a nation of highly intelligent, culturally savvy but historically ignorant people.

    When you say “becoming”, what do you think we were previously?

  45. OK, who where thinks it’s a good thing that the Dixie Chicks got the cover of Time magazine for a one-line jab at Bush while on tour in England?

    I don’t remember if they did, that was a while ago. I think I read the more recent story online (which is presumably what O’Rielly was referring to), and if I’m right, the point of it was to highlight not the Dixie Chicks specifically, but a general surge in protest music coming out at the moment, certainly a worthy subject.

  46. My iPod helps keep the hippies and homeless away; iPod for the win.

  47. My iPod helps keep the hippies and homeless away; iPod for the win.

  48. ?We are, in fact, becoming a nation of highly intelligent, culturally savvy but historically ignorant people.?

    I?m calling bullshit. I don?t have any evidence one way or the other (feel free to post some yourself), but it just doesn?t make sense. Take my grandfather; he graduated sixth grade and then went to work on his parent?s farm. Like many others of his generation, he had a few short years to indulge his education before he had to stand up and go about making a living. I enjoy far more free time and an unprecedented access to information, and likely have gained a better historical perspective through sheer accident than he had at my age through concerted effort.

    Another flavor of the ?good old days? canard. pfftht.

  49. “While some students may rely on parents to pay for their volunteerism ? for example, Putney Student Travel, a private company, offers a five-week summer program of seminars at Yale and a trip to Cambodia to address poverty issues for $6,990…”

    LOL! Addressing poverty issues, indeed. What a bunch of horseshit.

  50. Whoopsie, wrong thread.

  51. Whoopsie, wrong thread.

  52. Just for fun, let’s wander back through the years and see if we can figure out just when this country descended into a foolish preoccupation with celebrity, as measured by Who Was Worthy Of The Cover Of Time Magazine.

    10 years ago: Princess Di’s Divorce (Mar. 11, 1996)
    20 Years ago: Molly Ringwald (May 26, 1986)
    30 years ago: Paul McCartney (May 31, 1976)
    40 years ago: Broadway impresario David Merrick (Mar. 25, 1966)
    50 years ago: Marilyn Monroe (May 14, 1956)
    60 years ago: Fashion designer Elizabeth Arden (May 6, 1946)
    70 years ago: Shirley Temple turns 7 (Apr. 27, 1936)
    80 years ago: Film & stage actress Raquel Meller (Apr. 26, 1926)
    83 years ago: Stephen Sanford, owner of the first American horse to win the Grand National steeplechase (Mar. 31, 1923 – Vol. I, No. 5)

    So clearly the answer is “early in 1923.”

  53. The sweet irony of yet another pompous O’Reilly rant. Does he not understand that our society is also so intellectually undemanding that the onetime host of a tabloid TV show can comment negatively on any policy foreign and domestic and be rewarded with his own TV show. I haven’t been keeping track but I bet that Fox News has devoted more airtime to Natalee Holloway than foreign policy and illegal immigration combined.

    Also, did he unleash this rant before or after he shilled for his T-shirts and coffee mugs.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.