By Alan W. Cohen
I am now in rehab. Yes, I was a Bill O’Reilly addict. And now I must go cold turkey. But as with all twelve-step programs, I must start with that admission. I have a problem. Almost every day at 7 p.m. my time, or when it repeated at 10, I watched. Bill O’Reilly kept me going. No, I was not a Bill O’Reilly dot com member. No, I was not a reader of his books, although his historical TV series Legends and Lies was amusing and interesting. I did not attend his frequent tours with Dennis Miller.
I often wondered how he did it all. But, as John Stossel wrote yesterday in his blog, Bill O’Reilly got too big for his britches. He was a cottage industry unto itself. Twenty years as the most watched TV show on cable might do that to anybody. True, his shows were becoming more and more about Bill O’Reilly and less and less about anything else. Still, I watched faithfully. And if I missed it because I had something else to do, I searched for his Talking Points on social media. I had to have my fix.
But in my moment of loss yesterday when I heard he was gone from Fox News, I began to consider all of the good things that Bill O’Reilly had done for me. Contrast The Factor with what Megan Kelly’s program had become before she mercifully left to join her fellow liberals at NBC. Megan Kelly would have nothing but for Bill O’Reilly, and rumor has it … Well, I won’t go there, because I have come to praise Bill O’Reilly, not to bury him. Anyway, Megan Kelly’s show was hideous in comparison. She would put on two Republican and Democrat mouthpieces who would spew their daily talking points without challenge. It just gave me a headache to listen to it. Bill O’Reilly refused to as well. He invented the No Spin Zone, the one place on TV (other now on Tucker Carlson’s show) where real reporters ask real questions, hard questions. In this way, Bill O’Reilly exposed the other networks for what they are, left wing hacks. And for that, he was hated.
Bill O’Reilly’s biggest contribution to our nation, however, was his war on political correctness. With the mainstream media in tow, leftists had adopted the view that everyone was a victim of free speech, something that has devolved into safe spaces and campus protests against conservative speakers. Bill O’Reilly recognized it for what it was. A Leftist Power Play. He called it out almost on a daily basis, and we addicts could not wait to get his take on whatever nonsense was spewing out of the crazies that were featured so prominently on the three big networks and CNN. Bill O’Reilly made it OK for his fellow journalists to challenge those that would threaten or ironically call others Nazis that disagreed with the Leftist viewpoint.
Like Julius Caesar, Bill O’Reilly loved his power too much. I often wondered what his life was like, so immersed in work. I know that he was divorced and he never talked about his family. What else did he have to live for? He was all about his job. He thought highly of himself, and perhaps that was a requirement for his success. Those of us who are willing to challenge the existing narrative appreciate him all the more, because he was willing to take on his detractors, and make himself the television icon that he became. Bill O’Reilly, you were and remain and inspiration to hard work and dedication to a core belief. It would have been so easy to get along with your peers, and live your life out as another TV reporter. You chose to be different. But, like Julius Caesar, the knives were ever present, waiting for the opportunity to strike, in search of the tragic flaw that would end you. Early on, I noticed how you chose your peons. They had to be blonde and pretty. I thought it was a contrast, but apparently it was about something more, a casting couch.
But I have come to praise Bill O’Reilly, not to bury him.
Alan W. Cohen is an author and blogger, retired from the practice of law after 25 years. His new book, Private Vows: The Case for Ending State Regulation of Marriage and Divorce is available on Amazon.
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