It's official: Bill O'Reilly is no longer watchable. At least I say so.
There was a time when Bill actually engaged in journalism and debate. Those days, alas, are all over. While there are segments of O'Reilly's program that do, almost purely by accident, managed to convey information, the remainder is simply given over to shameless self-promotion; of O'Reilly's books, of the personal attacks upon O'Reilly, upon the supposed effect which O'Reilly's program has upon the actions of the powerful. The problem, as I see it, is that Bill has become the center of everything, and the news gets somewhat skewed and often buried.
Want to ensure that you get attention for a trivial issue? Write an editorial which mentions Bill O'Reilly by name; Bill will make reference to it on his show. If you wish a little commentary on your commentary, mention Bill in a negative light --- he'll make you into a personal crusade.
In any case, when your program devotes weekly segments to examining "body language" and, invariably, you as host are having your body language analyzed in the context of your personal appearances with Stephen Colbert, David Letterman and Oprah, it's no longer just an examination of a slightly-interesting semi-science; it's now an advertizement of how visible Bill O'Reilly is, and how far he's risen in the pantheon of...ahem...television personalities. Bill is, perhaps subconciously, measuring himself against the giants in his industry and bragging about his stature, too.
It's pretty sad when the most interesting segments on the show as of late have been the monologues of Dennis Miller.
Speaking of unwatchable television, we come to Glenn Beck. On a good day, Beck is a poor-man's O'Reilly, but he does, in my opinion, have the quality of at least being willing to handle topics in a more than cavalier fashion. He often, I admit, turns me off with his smarmy uber-conservative smugness from time to time, but he does present an entertaining and informative show. Most nights.
Which leads us to what happens to Beck's show when he isn't there. Last night, Beck was replaced by one Michael Smirconish. It's enough to make one pine for O'Reilly.
Smirconish last night, in reference to the Anna Nicole Smith kerfuffle (and can can we please get back to something important on the news nowadays?), made the comment that Ms. Smith's baby daughter is perhaps better off with her mother dead. He delivered this gem of graciousness with an oily assuredness that he was right and justified in being so harshly judgemental, most probably because God contacted him, personally, about this very subject many times through the fillings in his teeth. At least that's impression his expression and evident self-assuredness in making such ridiculous statements gave.
Now, I will admit, the brouhaha surrounding Ms. Smith, and the circumstances surrounding her final days and death all have the typical salacious elements we've come to expect in such cases. However, if the Duke (Non-)Rape case taught us anything, and especially taught those in the responsible media anything, it was not to jump to conclusions. If Mr. Smirconish had irrefutable proof that Ms. Smith was a drug-addicted lowlife (like, say a coroner's report stating she died of an overdose, for example), then perhaps his opinion might be valid. However, we only have circumstantial evidence of Ms. Smith's drug use and the resulting behavior. While a reasonable person might assume, given the evidence, that Ms. Smith was a drug addict incapabpe of raising a child, we have no definitive proof of such.
In that regard, Mr. Smirconish should have kept his big, fat, yapper tightly closed about the woman's personal character and fitness as a parent. However, since Smirconish is one of the self-appointed defenders of 'merican society (i.e. Bible-thumping conservative) he feels he has the right to say whatever he wants, improper or not, because he's been granted the power of the Almighty to judge.
I seem to remember a quote...How did that go, again? Oh, yeah:
"Judge not, lest ye be judged....".