No I am not suggesting that Bill O’Reilly is a homosexual. Not that there would be anything wrong with that. Rather, that he is a moderate to conservative Republican who for some reason likes to refer to himself as an Independent. And while there is more effort on his part to be “balanced” than say Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow, he too falls short.
Here are two ways to look at this. One, is O’Reilly’s position on issues. And two, is the composition of his guests. Two(A) would be which guests he agrees and disagrees with most.
First, on the issues of the day. Which party does Mr. Bill side with or more closely align with on the following?
- The deficit?
- Job Creation?
- Use of military force? (He has been fair to President Obama when he does as President Bush did before him.)
- “War” on Christmas and Judeo-Christian values?
- Immigration reform?
- Gun control?
- Same sex marriage?
- The justice system & Supreme Court? (Jessica’s Law, trying terrorists on foreign soil versus U.S., etc.)
In some cases O’Reilly does walk a moderate line on social issues while still leaning Republican. In most others the distinction is clearly conservative/ Republican. Unless I’m misunderstanding the meaning of what it means to be politically independent, given the above, and no clear prominent positions where he is on the left, it’s hard to imagine O’Reilly being a true Independent. When it comes to who he will vote for in an election, it’s a fair bet that he votes Republican.
In 2016, if Hillary Clinton is running against Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, or whoever the Republicans put out there, my money is on O’Reilly voting for the Republican. And I’ll double down and suggest he’ll know that very early on in the process, (like as soon as the respective candidates win their primaries).
I challenge O’Reilly to do one of his unscientific FOX News polls and see who his viewers, (and guests), think he would vote for in a hypothetical 2016 Presidential match-up: Clinton, lets say Rubio, or Undecided. I’m thinking Rubio wins that poll over Clinton and Undecided in a landslide.
Let’s look at his guests. O’Reilly will have on two guests at a time with each representing a different point of view. Currently, he has a weekly segment called “Barack and a Hard Place”, with Monica Crowley and Alan Colmes. It’s not even close who he agrees with more. It’s the conservative, Crowley. Colmes, the liberal, is also more likely to be ridiculed, disrespected, demeaned and yelled at.
You can go through the years and find that O’Reilly will side with the Republican in any two-guest pairing a majority of the time.
This isn’t wrong in and of itself. In fact, his positions on the issues aren’t being debated here. Rather that it is disingenuous for him to refer to himself as an Independent given the clarity, confidence and boldness with which he holds and asserts his opinions.
O’Reilly used to have a segment: “Weekdays with Bernie (Goldberg) and Jane (Hall)”. They’d discuss the media’s treatment and response to political issues. Same deal as with Colmes. Goldberg, who O’Reilly was more likely to agree with, (taking the conservative position), gets treated with more respect and isn’t interrupted or challenged with the same voracity nearly as consistently as was Jane. Somewhere along the line they got rid of Jane and now Goldberg comes on alone. Where’s the balance?
You can go back to pairings of Kirsten Powers and Michelle Malkin to Juan Williams and Mary Katharine Ham, O’Reilly is consistent with who he sides with. The Republican. And just because he doesn’t think Obama is a socialist, doesn’t make O’Reilly an Independent.
O’Reilly also has individual guests that he interviews and debates. The dominant personalities in the run up to the 2012 presidential election were: Karl Rove, Dick Morris, Laura Ingraham, Charles Krauthammer, Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, and Brit Hume.
Not exactly a who’s who of Democrats. Oftentimes O’Reilly’s Democratic guests rotated and or were not as notable as their Republican leaning counterparts.
O’Reilly will play devil’s advocate with his conservative guests, but you do not see him get in their faces and shout like he has with Colmes, Barney Frank, and Geraldo Rivera. (When Rivera was defending a liberal position on immigration.)
If he does get loud or disagree with a conservative guest, like he did with Laura Ingraham on his April 2nd broadcast, it is usually over style and not substance. They usually agree on the heart of an issue but perhaps not in the way it’s being advocated for.
O’Reilly was defensive because he felt Ingraham was “tacitly” criticizing him for his use of the phrase “thump the bible”. They weren’t arguing over same-sex marriage, but the way in which those against it present their case.
To further illustrate this, on April 3rd, in response to a viewer emailer, who sided with Ingraham, and was framing same-sex marriage as a sin, O’Reilly stated to the emailer, “if you want to keep your country from going down the drain, be smart”. This is a reference by O’Reilly that the religious argument will not convert anyone on the same-marriage issue. What you can infer from that is O’Reilly may believe that the legalization of same-sex marriage will cause America to go down the drain.
If you say O’Reilly never has controversial conservative guests to argue with over substance, I believe Ann Coulter has been on his show a few times. And did I mention Glenn Beck? Have they never said anything worth, “an independent”, like O’Reilly, raising his voice over or being in vehement disagreement with?
For a conservative, part comedic and part serious political discussion, O’Reilly will have on: Dennis Miller, Adam Carolla, Greg Gutfeld and Bernard McGuirk. There is no weekly Democratic counterpart to this group. Could you see O’Reilly and Bill Maher mocking Republicans and having a jolly old, never confrontational, time with it– like he does with Miller at the expense of Democrats?
O’Reilly has a field producer, Jesse Waters. Waters generally scours the streets looking for uniformed liberals to make look bad. I guess all or most conservatives are informed and reasonable? Perhaps not week-to-week, but over time, shouldn’t a show hosted by an independent offer balance to these segments?
And when talking to or about liberals, O’Reilly oftentimes refers to them as “left wing loons”, or “far left fanatics”. There are no counter pet names for the right. He will point out that there are ideologues and bomb throwers on both sides, but the frequency and specificity of name calling and identifying as radical or loon, usually comes at the expense of the left. If O’Reilly were an Independent would this be the case?
When talking about liberal bias in the media, O’Reilly discusses two kinds. Intentional and subconscious. With the subconscious being a result of a journalist’s political leanings that just seeps into their work. I’m willing to give O’Reilly some benefit of the doubt that some of his bias is unintentional and a result of his passionate and authentic beliefs. But he and his staff are too intelligent and too good at what they do to not be aware of any of this.
Interestingly, since the presidential election, FOX dismissed Dick Morris, and reduced Karl Rove’s role. Democratic strategist, Bob Beckel, now has a regular segment and Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is making more appearances. This does help the show’s balance but doesn’t alter my premise. O’Reilly is an “Iino” (Pronounced: I Know, meaning, Independent in name only).
I do watch O’Reilly more than shows hosted by Hannity or Maddow because despite his slant there is more attempt at balance. However, I would never recommend getting your news from just one source.
What O’Reilly is not, is a blind ideologue. He will own mistakes (sometimes) and call his own on the carpet. (See the recent Michelle Backman flare up.) He’s passionate and confident in his beliefs, but most of the time he provides a forum for those who disagree to get their point across. Granted they must have gravitas to stand up to him when he’s in interrupt mode.
If O’Reilly was as biased or to the right as a Hannity or Rush Limbaugh you would have never seen a then Senator Barrack Obama on his program when he was running for President. And Obama must have been okay with it because he was interviewed by O’Reilly again at half time of the Superbowl when he was President. Further, you would not see former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney avoid O’Reilly’s show.
Other prominent Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton, that would never be interviewed by Hannity, do go on O’Reilly. And there are Republicans other than Cheney that avoid O’Reilly because they know even though he is more likely to side with them on the issues, he will still ask tough questions.
However, just because O’Reilly is not a blind ideologue, who interviews some prominent Democrats, while scaring off some Republicans; that too does not make him an Independent.
A question I’d like to ask O’Reilly is: who are the last six presidential candidates you’ve voted for? Any Dems or Independents in that group? How about Senators and Congressmen?
I would ask him not to dodge. I would say: no spin Bill! Come out of the closet. Admit it! You are a Republican.