Say the words, the old white man with the chip on his shoulder. It rolls off the tongue like classical literature, something reminiscent of The Old Man and the Sea. And like the Hemingway story, the tale of the Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes and Fox News decades-long partnership could endure in similar fashion except it would evoke dark images of reprisal, corruption, bitterness and jealousy.
That’s because the main thing the newsman has wrought upon us, his biggest contribution to society left in his wake is his counterculture, dismissive and hateful viewpoint, fed to us in the guise of no-spin, no bull shit discussion.
As reported in Media Matters, “Fox News Bill O’Reilly has helped set the bar for the normalization and dissemination of right-wing hatred…” And, it’s that same coziness with the alt-right that now threatens to bring everything crashing to the ground. The problem is Ailes, O’Reilly and others still at Fox forgot something about the hateful demographic they were trying to invigorate and seeking to control; and that is that it will get under your skin and become a part of you.
In hiring O’Reilly, Ailes thought he was only tapping into a new movement of angry voters; rubbing shoulders with the alt-right version of conservatism only as a means to an end, the end being the growth of the Republican party, the retaking of Congress and the election of a Republican president. And now,after an extended period of indoctrination, they’ve finally succeeded on all fronts. But at what cost?
The most immediate debit shows in the state of the Union. It’s dark outside, folks. President Trump has done little to bring the country together but rather is doubling down on his courtship of the same extremism that got him elected. It makes you wonder, to what end? And the Republican leadership is more than willing to ignore the plain truth, that the country is gradually tilting off its axis as they help it along its way.
What we all are experiencing now is more sinister version of America. And the particularly scary thing is that most people are unaware of this shift in values. Unaware, or don’t care; I’m not so sure which. Even as the House seeks a third attempt at repealing their healthcare by removing a crucial piece of the legislation-ensuring folks with pre-existing conditions are covered-people ignore the obvious; that Republican leadership is not in the corner of the ordinary, common man. They see it as commonplace that a baseball player is taunted with racial slurs and pelted with peanuts in the outfield. Me, I see shades of the early 20th century; a time most reasonable modern people would think we should avoid rather than emulate. They see it as just another day in our humdrum lives when grown men square off against each other, throwing punches on an international flight; this on the heels of other troubling airline commuter issues.
On a lighter note, it’s a stark contrast to the hated Obama presidency that exuded light and hope, even in times of trouble. Many saw it as weakness, Obama’s refusal to react to North Korea’s redline crossing. Me, I saw it as simply trying to instill luminescence into a situation where before there was only darkness and worry.
I think about this as I read more and more accounts of ordinary citizens behaving badly. It’s the legacy of O’Reilly that’s enduring so far and while it does, it’ll carry us all along for the nauseous ride. And running this horrific amusement is his close friend, our president. At the same time, it’s like the collective nation is taking its cue from both of them and has a humongous chip on its shoulder that it’s daring anybody to knock off. And as Trump is goaded to act out on one world stage after another, the problem with that aspect of strength becomes glaringly clear. And that is at some point, somebody is going to step up and do just that. Then where will we be? In an even darker place, is where.