It seems only yesterday that Bill O’Reilly, described me on air as a “great American.”
As I look it up, however, I see it was almost 4 years ago. I’d been stalked at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books by a 9/11 truther trying to videotape my conversations. After an escalating exchange of words, we had a final confrontation that ended with me smacking his camera.
At which point the confrontation took a Monty Python turn. The stalker – who was for the record bigger than me – called out some equivalent of “help, help I’m being repressed” and sought police protection, unsuccessfully.
Disappointed by the law, the stalker and his support group posted video of our encounter. A few days later, the item caught the attention of some O’Reilly Factor researcher.
Times change. I got a call from my inlaws about 8:30pm: turn on O’Reilly. The show was about to feature Bernie Goldberg, on the attack against my negative comments about Fox News on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources.”
I tuned in. Here’s Mediaite’s summary of what happened next:
CNN contributor David Frum caught Bill O’Reilly‘s eye yesterday on Reliable Sources, when he went after Fox News for being a bad influence and agent of misinformation in the 2012 election. O’Reilly didn’t understand Frum’s “beef” with the network, but Bernie Goldberg had an answer: Frum was merely “an intellectual who is frustrated because he doesn’t have the clout that you have.”
“Not that he’s an important guy, Frum,” O’Reilly noted as he asked Goldberg for analysis, but did note that it was a strange attack coming from a conservative. “They seem to be mad at Fox News,” he suggested. Goldberg had an answer to why this was the case: “there are two kinds of conservatives… intellectual conservatives, or something close to that– they don’t like the riff-raff.” Goldberg argued Frum was one of these intellectuals, and almost seemed sympathetic when asking O’Reilly rhetorically, “could you imagine how frustrating it must be to be an intellectual” who realizes “the riff-raff have more of an influence on politics and culture?” “They resent the fact that Fox News is an important player in the culture and, by and large, they’re not,” he concluded.
It continues in this vein for some while.
I won’t be the first person to make this point, and I won’t be the last, but still:
You’ve got to be dazzled by the capacity for double-think on display here.
On the one hand, Fox News are the despised riff-raff, the outsiders, the people unfairly dismissed as dumb and tragically excluded from all those magical Georgetown cocktail parties.
On the other hand, they’re the top, the nose on the great Durante, the dominant player in the political culture.
In the same way, Fox and talk radio claim to be staging an insurgency against a Washington Beltway Republican “establishment” – at the same time as Dick Morris astutely boasts on their air that the most important Republican primary is the one being conducted on the Fox News interview couch.
It’s some trick to believe both groups of things at the same time – and not only to believe them both, but to persuade a large TV audience to believe both those things too. Yet it’s done. As is another piece of double-think, this admittedly of more personal interest: the prolonged discussion of the irrelevance and unimportance of my comments about Fox. If they are so irrelevant and unimportant, gentlemen, why are you troubling yourselves over them?
Edit: This piece was originally published with minor errors that have been corrected.