August 6th, 2008

wart

Tradition! Tradition! (Part 2 of my ongoing Culture Warrior commentary)

Okay, a few of you said you'd read ongoing comments on Culture Warrior, so I'm going to continue with them. It's a fairly short book, so I probably won't have all that many entries pertaining to it, but there will be some.

Chapter Two is about how pretty much everyone in the media is left-wing, and trying to advance the secular-progressive movement. I don't know a whole lot about most of the people he mentions, so I really don't have much to say about it. The third chapter is basically a valentine to Fox News. Come on, O'Reilly, you're in no danger of being fired. You don't need to kiss your employer's ass that much. But I've noticed that a lot of what goes on at Fox News consists of people yakking about how great their own station is. Maybe they're hoping that, if they say it enough, it'll come true. According to O'Reilly, FNC "allows traditional points of view to be heard, something CNN rarely does. Even on big breaking news stories like hurricanes and terror bombings, when no point of view is necessary, Fox News dominates." The word "dominates" also shows up in commercials for The O'Reilly Factor, and I think it's rather telling. He's a warrior, any point of contention is a war, and he's stomping all over the competition with his heavy iron boots. And the streets of progressive communities are running with blood, apparently. Bill goes on to say how, even though Fox News is largely conservative (duh), "there are also balancing voices on the left, like Alan Colmes, Geraldo Rivera, Greta van Susteren, and Juan Williams." Wow, we get a milquetoast who thinks O.J. Simpson was innocent, a guy who gives away troop positions and opens empty vaults, a woman obsessed with Natalee Holloway, and...okay, I'm actually not sure who Williams is. But even if the token liberals weren't the equivalent of trying to balance a bowling ball with a feather, I don't think it would matter that much. An interesting discussion doesn't just consist of people reciting their own sides' talking points. Most stories have more than two sides, and some really only have one. Fox News obviously isn't balanced, but even if it were, since when is that the goal of TV news? O'Reilly writes, "FNC says it is fair and balanced, and while the hard left rejects that description, millions of nonideological Americans believe it, which is why Fox News wins the cable news wars every single night." Hey, there's another violent metaphor. But the main reason I mention this quote is that it's awfully presumptuous of him to assume that his viewers are "nonideological." Isn't it more likely that people are watching the channel and considering it a good source of news because it's telling them stuff they already agree with (which, admittedly, is probably also the case for programs that lean toward other parts of the political spectrum)? Bill-O also mentions that he "scorched the Bush administration for its failure to secure the borders." I love how, when Bush actually shows a shred of compassion for once in his life, his supporters get pissed off about it.

Chapter Four is short, and starts with a statement that "most traditional Americans subscribe to the scriptural Ten Commandments brought down by Moses." Earlier in the book, he uses the fact that 84% of Americans identify themselves as Christians as an indication that traditionalists outnumber progressives. So does he think all Christians are on his side in this Culture War, while people who aren't members of any of the Abrahamic religions aren't welcome to join him? The rest of the chapter is mostly made up of O'Reilly ranting about The New York Times. He says that it was hypocritical of them to refuse to print the Danish cartoons that offended Muslims, but had no problem with printing a picture of the Virgin Mary covered in excrement. Okay, I actually see his argument here, although he seems to imply that the best course of action would have been not to print either, while I'd say they probably should have printed both. He also rails against a column called "The Ethicist" because its writer once said that turning in a crystal meth dealer wasn't a good idea. I can't say I really agree with this advice, but I think the columnist made a valid argument that "the war on drugs does more harm than the drug use it seeks to suppress." For O'Reilly, though, this answer is paving the way for anarchy (and yes, he actually uses that word).

Okay, that's enough for tonight. Tomorrow (well, probably tomorrow, anyway), I'll bring some holiday...sorry, CHRISTMAS cheer into this hot August by looking at the chapter on the War on Christmas.

Incidentally, I just finished Stephen Colbert's I Am America (and So Can You!) (yes, reading several books at the same time is the way I roll), and looking at it alongside Papa Bear's book really brings home how dead-on some of Colbert's parody is.
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