What Did Bill O’Reilly Do to Give a Woman a $32 Million Pay-Off?

Let’s imagine for a moment what you would have to have done to pay another person $32 million to go away and forget the whole thing? I don’t know what it was, and Bill O’Reilly, as usual, is screaming “bull[bleep]” and claiming that he is the real victim. But if a pig like Harvey Weinstein was in the habit of tossing $150,000 of chicken feed to shut up women he sexually harassed, it’s reasonable to think O’Reilly is into “either a dead girl or a live boy” territory.

Says Debra Katz, a D.C. attorney in a Huffington Post story this morning,

” ‘This is unprecedented’, she said. ‘It’s a shocking figure’. The settlement, Katz said, indicates that O’Reilly ‘felt extremely exposed’. ‘There was obviously strong and compelling evidence that had to be of a very embarrassing nature that he did not want to become public, and that’s why he’s paying this extraordinary sum’, she said. ‘You don’t pay a $32 million settlement if you’ve engaged in no wrongdoing’.”

The astonishing boorish-to-criminal behavior of guys like O’Reilly and his boss Roger Ailes, a mob of other Fox executives, Weinstein, movie director James Toback, Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski and on and on (and on and on) may actually have ignited something that produces real change … just when you thought progress and improvement were quaint notions held only by sweet nattering aunts. The #metoo movement has the feel of a cathartic event that if it doesn’t put an end to O’Reilly/Weinstein-ism, (of course it won’t), will at least continue to embolden women (and their lawyers) to drop the hammer more often than they have in the past.

I mean, when the astonishing machine gun slaughter of 58 people at a music concert In Las Vegas rates only a week’s worth of attention, because no one expects anything to change, the power of so many women collectively calling out the arrogant, diseased-by-power dudes who regularly make their lives miserable seems a far better bet for forward movement.

But back to O’Reilly, and the toxic, consistently misogynistic culture promoted in the right-wing media environment. $32 million is the kind of money you pay to someone who has the kind of irrefutable proof of behavior so heinous it guarantees your existential ruin. Not murder, and maybe not actual rape, but … well there was the, um, unusual mention of O’Reilly sending the woman in question gay pornography. I have no statistics on how many desperate guys get anywhere with the women of their desires by impressing them with their gay porn collection, but I’m thinking it’s in the low single digits.

Bill O’Reilly unmasked as a bona fide bi-sexual/closeted gay predator would be really … really … tough on the macho, “No Spin” branding campaign, wouldn’t it?

Josh Harkinson at Mother Jones wrote a fascinating piece last winter that bored into the psychology of the target audience for FoxNews, O’Reilly and Trump. (A comment on Weinstein in a moment.)

“Revelations of Trump’s sexist comments and his bragging about grabbing women’s genitals only helped forge stronger ties between the racist and sexist wings of the alt-right. After the bombshell revelation of the Access Hollywood tape, Spencer said it was ‘ridiculous’ and ‘puritanical’ to call Trump’s behavior sexual assault, adding, ‘At some part of every woman’s soul, they want to be taken by a strong man’. Far-right blogger RamZPaul responded to the Trump tape by saying, ‘Girls really don’t mind guys that like pussies, they just hate guys who are pussies’.”

His colleague, Kevin Drum, quoted that graph and reacted to it saying,

“A big chunk of the alt-right is populated by social misfits who have been repeatedly rejected by women and are bitter about it. This makes them suckers for leaders who assure them they aren’t misfits. What’s really happening—and this can be a very beguiling story—is that women toy with them and laugh at them as part of a deliberate ploy to emasculate strong men and keep them from their rightful leadership positions. Because of this, a bitter resentment of women runs through almost every strain of the alt-right.

“I don’t know if the alt-right is a truly important new development or just a passing fad—a new name for a lot of the same old resentments that have been around forever. But to the extent the alt-right is important, it’s worth knowing how central this particularly toxic brand of sexism is to the whole movement—even if it doesn’t often get a lot attention. This is also why it’s not right to simply call them racists or neo-Nazis. A lot of them are indeed that, but they’re so, so much more.”

Hollywood’s Weinstein problem is bad. The movie/TV industry in general has too few qualms about relating masculinity to violence and selling sexual stereotypes marinated in a lot of pretty juvenile male fantasies. #metoo will have a tougher time adjusting corporate/studio calculations of “what the public wants”. But I’ll bet gross-pig behavior will get more immediate and louder blowback than before.

But toxic masculinity — based on victimhood, grievance and domination — is a staple of The O’Reilly Diet Plan. A staple so lucrative and satisfying Bill-O and “scores” of other boys at FoxNews apparently became addicted to it.

Which leads me to Steve Bannon. Given everything we know about this manifestly damaged, bitter personality, how long do you think before we find out what or who was dissolved in acid in his hot tub in Florida?

Bonus link: A (possibly bogus) site claims Bannon’s joint, (supposedly occupied by his third ex) was used to cook meth and shoot porn videos.

You want to say, “That’s crazy.” But with this crowd everything is plausible.

 

Bye, Bye Bill-O. Schadenfreude So Sweet.

NEW BLOG PHOTO_edited- 3The deceptively lovely German word “schadenfreude” feels like it was made for Bill O’Reilly. If ever a guy deserved an ignominious demise, a real “Game of Thrones” shot-on-the-toilet departure, it is Bill-O, the biggest of cable TV’s braying, anti-PC “straight shooters”. A self-inflating TV “entertainer” whose Orwellian all spin-and-fantasy “No Spin Zone” was designed to inflame the self-pity, bogus victimhood and grievances of (mainly) aging white men, while piling up tens of millions of profits for his employers. So yeah, a lot of people are enjoying watching Bill-O take one to the chest and topple over, off the pooper (i.e. FoxNews), albeit clutching $25 million in bye-bye cash.

(Trevor Noah gets the overnight prize for the best of many gleeful takedowns.)

No offense to all the women he intimidated, pawed and leered at, but getting Bill O’Reilly for sexual harassment is a little like jailing Al Capone for tax evasion. I mean, great. The deal got done. Whatever it takes. But O’Reilly’s barely disguised racism and siren call to his audience of confused and embittered whites, stoking their antipathies toward the truly less fortunate was a far worse pollutant in our cultural waters than hitting on every woman who found herself marooned in his domain, wittingly or otherwise.

It’s a wholly good thing that O’Reilly’s downfall generates another round of talk about sexual harassment. The piggish behavior of entitled bullies like Bill-O is a universal disease, even as the FoxNews “empire” raised it to the level of a brand ethos. But the greater cancer that O’Reilly and so many others of the Fox “team” normalize(d) was the extraordinarily cynical concept of white Christian male privilege, of a moral standing based entirely on gender, race and religious orientation. It’s always been repugnant, but it is so deeply baked into our popular culture today it’s almost like we don’t see it anymore.

I had two conversations with O’Reilly over my years covering the media. Once in Minneapolis when he was on tour hyping “Inside Edition” and then years later in Hollywood at some press dog and pony show. (The other notable at that event was singer Jon Bon Jovi. Proving what a nerd I am I — tried — to chat up O’Reilly.)

The impression the first time was, “One of those guys.” A Sammy Glick character hyping a cheesy tabloid show as the next coming of Edward R. Murrow. The second time the impression was simply, “a jerk.” A guy who, now feeling the cushion of real money, couldn’t bother to engage in a conversation about cable news … at a cocktail party organized for the sole purpose of schmoozing the press. Bill-O had clearly decided he was beyond that stage of life. Or maybe he was looking for someone with more cleavage.

At the Washington Post Ruth Marcus unloads on the Fox culture for creating and enabling the O’Reilly/Roger Ailes frat house within and projecting its corresponding message to its audience. But watching O’Reilly over the years and the events of the past week I was reminded again of author Susan Cain’s research for “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” The experts she interviewed formed a consensus that big, narcissistic, possible sociopathic characters capable of dominating rooms and conversations hold sway over the more introverted among us purely because they talk the most and the loudest. Human nature lends undue credibility to such people, possibly because they are doing something most of us can’t, or won’t. Whether they possess better judgment or more valuable insights is secondary to the influence of their presence.

Hence a toxic flow of Bill O’Reillys, Rush Limbaughs, Donald Trumps and on and on … and on and on. (Many of the worst, the most toxic, appeal to the authoritarian personality, common people inordinately submissive to the rule of force, or personality in these cases.)

So as I say, “whatever it takes.” There’s delicious justice in women driving O’Reilly off the air, (until he reappears on Breitbart TV). But his piggishness toward women was only one facet of his and Fox’s sociopathic personality.

 

 

A Holiday Letter to My Christian Friends

Dear Christian Friends:

Cursor_and_happy_holiday_war_on_christmas_-_Google_SearchI confess, I say “happy holidays.” Not always, but pretty often.  But I promise, we are not at war.

For the record, these ARE NOT the reasons I say “happy holidays:”

  • No, I’m not a Jesus hater, or a Christian hater. Just because I don’t give Jesus’s birthday exclusive billing in every  single November and December greeting doesn’t mean that I am ignoring or disrespecting him or his followers.
  • No, I haven’t lost track of the “true meaning of Christmas.” I am fully aware that Christians celebrate Christmas to honor Jesus’s coming, and my use of the term “holiday” is not evidence to the contrary.
  • No, I’m not too afraid to stand up to “the PC crowd.” Trust me, I’m saying “happy holidays” of my own free will. I promise, there are no nefarious PC puppet strings controlling me.

These ARE the relatively benign reasons why I say “happy holidays:”

  • happy_holiday_bing_crosby_-_Google_SearchI’ve used the phrase my whole life. Remember the song “Happy Holiday?” That song was written in 1942 by Irving Berlin, not in the past decade by “the PC crowd.”  Point being: The phrase “happy holidays” has been bouncing around in my head for half a century.  It’s traditional.
  • The season is not only about Christians. I recognize that my holiday is not everyone’s holiday. Out of respect, I want to express best wishes to both my Christian and non-Christian friends, and “happy holidays” is an effective term for doing so.
  • It’s handy shorthand.  Finally, and most practically, there are a glut of holidays happening in the six-week “holiday season,” namely Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukah, and New Years. So “holidays” is an accurate, inclusive and handy umbrella term.  That’s particularly appealing to a lazy guy always looking for linguistic short-cut.

Oh and by the way, “happy holidays” and “merry Christmas” are hardly exclusive. After all, in the days closer to December 25th, I still say “Merry Christmas” to my Christian friends.

war_on_christmas_-_Bill_O_ReillyBill O’Reilly, and the other “War on Christmas” mongers on Fox News and conservative talk radio are working overtime to convince us that we are at “war.”  That’s nonsense.  My “happy holidays” greeting is not an act of “war” against anyone, any religion or any culture.  It’s merely a polite, flexible and traditional statement of well wishes in a pluralistic society. So how about we all lighten up about this “war on Christmas” nonsense, and enjoy the season together.

This Just In: Bill O’Reilly Full of [bleep]

Lambert_to_the_SlaughterMaybe the strangest thing about the still unfolding “Bill O’Reilly is a bullshitter!” story is that anyone with their wits still about them ever thought he wasn’t.

It is ridiculously entertaining to read David Corn’s Mother Jones piece, and now yesterday’s howler about Bill knocking on the door of a key JFK assassination figure at the very moment the guy inside blows his head off with a shotgun. Gripping stuff if not for the recordings of O’Reilly on the phone … from 1200 miles away. I mean, there’s a hilarious Ron Burgundy aspect to O’Reilly’s uber-manly tale of dragging an injured colleague to safety amid a murderous police rampage in Buenos Aires when in fact the “riot” was barely more than a routine demonstration, no one was killed and no CBS employee reported so much as a twisted ankle or required any level of medical attention.

I’d add that this is the stuff of full-on parody if it weren’t for the fact that Stephen Colbert built a career doing exactly that. (Can you imagine the delirium Colbert’s writers would be in with this run of red meat?)

Comparisons to Brian Williams’ self-immolation miss the central difference here pretty badly. Williams was employed with the explicit understanding that he was credible, trading only in the facts as best as NBC could report them. Bill O’Reilly is the key mouthpiece in Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes’ enormously profitable political campaign masquerading as a news organization. Williams’ viewers were justifiably disappointed to learn of his bizarre embellishments. O’Reilly’s viewers, I strongly suspect, do not care in the least what he has embellished or flat-out invented, as long as he continues to attack Murdoch and Ailes’ and their designated enemies.

With that in mind it’ll be easier to understand why FoxNews not only isn’t going to “investigate” O’Reilly’s superhero imaginings, and is instead gleeful at a fresh opportunity to attack the “guttersnipe liberal media” and threaten straight news pinheads with bodily harm. It plays directly into the fascinating psychology wherein ardent zealots confronted with information that unambiguously contradicts their beliefs double down on their erroneous thinking rather than concede and align themselves with reality.

Prediction: O’Reilly’s ratings will spike over the next month.

This incident brings two things back to mind.

1: Liberals take FoxNews far too seriously, and I fully admit my complicity on that point. For years I’ve fulminated myself into apoplexy at Fox’s shameless absurdity and cynicism, convinced that the network was an aggressive form of cancer soon to terminate all higher brain function among the credulous masses. But somewhere after the 2012 elections, when all of Fox-think was revealed to be astonishingly incompetent at both campaigning and campaign analysis, I settled down. Their bona fides, such as they are, are all but completely limited to an old, embittered demographic of rapidly diminishing electoral significance.

Here’s Frank Rich not long ago on the topic.

I suspect the irrelevance of FoxNews to the 300 million Americans who are not lapping it up 24/7 has something to do with Jon Stewart bailing on “The Daily Show”. FoxNews as a punchline is a settled, cliched commodity.

2:  Blogging colleague Joe Loveland passed this on yesterday. It’s the annual Pew survey on America’s most and least-trusted broadcast news operations. In the realm of what we’ve come to expect the survey’s authors write:

“Fox News is both the most trusted and least trusted name in news. 35% of Americans say they trust Fox News more than any other TV news outlet, followed by 14% for PBS, 11% for ABC, 10% for CNN, 9% for CBS, 6% each for Comedy Central and MSNBC, and 3% for NBC. It leads the way because of its continuing near total support among Republicans as the place to go for news- 69% of Republicans say it’s their most trusted source with nothing else polling above 7%.”

Think of that. 69%. Pretty well proving Murdoch and Ailes’ show biz genius at giving their people the campaign message they want.

But in the context of Bill O’Reilly’s naked bogus-ness, it also explains why he’ll suffer no reputational damage. Fox’s world is designed as an “us v. them” battlefield. O’Reilly is the high profile field marshall under constant attack from common enemies. To support Bill without equivocation is to be a loyal soldier.

Contrast that, as Joe pointed out, with the dismal all-in loyalty liberals have to their alleged message-bearer, MSNBC.

“It’s interesting that while Fox News and MSNBC are often thought of as equivalent, Fox News is by far and away the most trusted source of GOP voters while MSNBC is only tied for 4th among Democrats.”

The underlying point here is that liberals and conservatives affiliate with and consume partisan messaging in vastly different ways. Other psychological studies note conservatives’ far higher levels of trust in authority, e.g. Bill O’Reilly, and liberals’ elevated levels of skepticism toward leadership/herd thinking. One group embraces the minister-to-parish relationship. The other tolerates it in small doses.

Second prediction:  Bill O’Reilly will soon reveal that it was he who shot Osama bin Laden and to thunderous applause will vilify any left-wing guttersnipe who says otherwise.