Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The O'Reilly Factor

According to (via Atrios) the O'Reilly Factor had 2,200,000 viewers last Tuesday. I find this fascinating. Are all these two million plus people actually watching O'Reilly seriously, or is this the newest fad in really goofy things to do?

But of course they're serious. So are all the dittoheads salivating over every word Rush Limbaugh utters. And yes, there are times when I feel very strongly that trying to talk about politics in this country is so useless that I'd do better creating compassion camps for wingnuts.

I blame the schools. A school graduate should be able to analyze simple arguments and to see where evidence is missing. Or at least be open to learning about such analysis. It's not actually the right-wing bias of O'Reilly that worries me so but his total refusal to use evidence, facts, whatever you want to call them. If you want to see what I mean, consider the following:

FOX News Channel host and radio host does not seem to have been paying attention to anti-Kerry group 's accusations about Senator John Kerry's (D-MA) military service in Vietnam. Despite a flurry of media stories proving otherwise, O'Reilly erroneously claimed that members of the Swift Boat Veterans have not accused the senator of lying.
Speaking to a caller on the August 23 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, , O'Reilly described the anti-Kerry group's accusations as follows:
I think what they're doing is they're saying that in their experience, Kerry did X, Y, and Z. It's very -- it's nuanced [caller's name]. They don't say, "Well, he -- he lied about this." They say, "I didn't see any firing." Or, "I didn't see any Viet Cong."
The following are some examples of Swift Boat Veterans members accusing Kerry of lying about his service in Vietnam.
From the first ad sponsored by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which was narrated by members of the group:
Al French: "He is lying about his record."
: "I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart, because I treated him for that injury."
: "John Kerry lied to get his bronze star. I know. I was there. I saw what happened."
: "He betrayed all his shipmates. He lied before the senate."
From Swift Boat Veterans for Truth members' media appearances and interviews:
: "He lied about a war record in Vietnam, and he lied about his record in Vietnam, and we, more than anyone else in the world, we have the right to speak out about that record because we bought it with our blood and our service." [CBS, Early Show, 8/20 (video clip)]
: "I'm not quibbling about the award. I'm saying he lied about the account." [MSNBC, Hardball, 8/19]
: "It's a lie he's told over and over and over again. It libels everybody that commanded him. It's the typical prototype sort of war crime charge that John Kerry makes that is a lie." [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 8/10]
Bob Elder: "[W]e believe he grossly exaggerated and even lied about some of the circumstances under which certain awards were given to him." [CNN, American Morning, 8/6]

How do you have a conversation with someone who is incapable of understanding the principles of logic and how evidence is used? I'm not asking this from some pompous liberal angle; I really want to know. How can I talk to someone whose worldview is based on O'Reilly's rants?

The answer may very well be that no dialogue is possible, that we are too far gone for that. I sure hope I'm wrong here.