Killing Civility

We all know that cable news it mostly entertainment. You can't take much of it seriously. As a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, I like to hear both points of view and occasionally listen to Bill O'Reilly on Fox News.

Bill O'Reilly is the "big dog" at Fox News. When he delivers his "Talking Points" opinion, he is mature, measured and often makes a lot of sense. When he does an interview, however--usually with a blond young woman, coiffed, gowned and lip-glossed to the max--sense goes out the window. The first time the blond says something that Bill disagrees with, he interrupts and then talks over her for the rest of the interview until, at the end, when there is almost no time left, Bill gives her "the last word" . . . as a kind of booby prize. Indeed, she is a "booby" to put up with being interrupted and drowned out night after night. Sometimes, O'Reilly will interview two glam young ladies at once, and--following O'Reilly's lead--they too will start interrupting. Soon all three people are talking over each other, each trying to dominate . . . verbal chaos. Sometimes I wonder if there is a formal policy at Fox News mandating incivility . . . it's as if some executive in charge thinks that muddled up verbal conflict is entertaining. Entertaining? Not to me, it isn't!

Chaotic verbal conflict is simply poor communicating. The viewer can't understand what anybody is saying. Three people trying to get their points across by drowning out each other . . . how dumb is that?

In these interviews, manners and civility are trashed. The most obnoxious teenagers couldn't do a better job of being rude. Civility is one of the fundamental building blocks of civilization. Trashing manners and civility sets a bad example and helps to erode civilization.

After all the chaotic interviews are done, we finally get to the part of the show that should be titled, Shameless Self-promotion in which O'Reilly promotes his comedy gigs and his books (he is also a writer).

What a deal! A highly popular nightly "news" show--a good chunk of which is devoted to selling yourself and your books--is a PR dream come true. Talk about beaucoup bucks . . . Bill may catch up to Oprah.

Mr. O'Reilly's latest books have to do with killing:
Killing Jesus; Killing Lincoln; Killing Kennedy; Killing Patton and Killing Reagan.

His next book should be Killing Civility.

He's an expert.

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