Resentments

For the past 10 years or so, Bill O’Reilly has been on Fox News making a big noise about individuals and groups he despises in society. He’s the classic definition of a “player hater.” He loves to tear down, spit on, ridicule, berate, and verbally sodomize his targets all for what? Well, you’ll see…

I was reading a NY Times review of a book about O’Reilly entitled, The Man Who Would Not Shut Up: The Rise of Bill O’Reilly By Marvin Kitman, and what struck me were the following snippets from the review:

O’Reilly’s struggle isn’t about conservative ideas. It’s about parading his seething personal resentments in order to become the very thing he purports to despise: a celebrity.

“[He] attended strict Catholic schools, where he loathed the young swells who got to try out for the football team while he was shunned..”

“At the workplace it was somehow never O’Reilly’s fault that his abrasive style got him fired again and again.”

“O’Reilly’s career was rescued by a new father figure: Roger Ailes. The ruthless head of Fox News, Ailes made him into a star by giving him carte blanche to reinvent cable news on “The O’Reilly Factor,” which he did by dispensing with any pretense of objectivity, and verbally assaulting everyone from Bill and Hillary Clinton to the F.B.I. O’Reilly functions as a kind of secular priest, alternately exhorting and berating his vast congregation, holding up impenitent sinners for minute inspection.”

“But perhaps no one better portrays himself as a pugnacious champion of the little man than Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.”

This last snippet made me do a half-snort laugh. No real giggle, mind you. Just some forced air through my nose with a kind of shoulder shug that comes with the recognition of irony. And what’s ironic about O’Reilly standing up for “the little guy?” Well, for one he makes millions of dollars belching hot gas masquerading as political opinion on Fox News every weeknight. But he’s also taken a marketing cue from the very media-savvy elites he hates: he sells gear to his “little guy” fans. Yep, you can buy beach towels, mugs, bumper stickers, umbrellas, and other crap to outfit your office desk or home. The fact that he has a “vanity store” also beefs up the irony factor with one envisions the “real men” (who oddly enough, are also “little guys”) trolling O’Reilly’s website for “stuff” and perhaps fretting over the color or the style of a certain object of affection. Makes me want to toss my hands in the air and yell out in my best gay accent: “IRONY!”

(Sigh)

A long time ago, the German philosopher Nietzsche took Socrates to task for his method of questioning the the elite of Athens back in the day. Nietzsche argued that Socrates’ method of argumentation was motivated not for the search for Truth, but out of resentment for elites in society. For those who don’t quite remember, Socrates was very fond of creating “logic traps” to demonstrate that those who said they understood Truth or Beauty or whatnot really knew nothing. Well, if they didn’t know, then who did? You got it! Socrates did. In short, Socrates had a severe case of status envy. So he threw rhetorical rocks and covered his opponents in cleverly worded logic nets to demonstrate they were idiots who had no legitimacy in society.

Fast forward to 2007, and you’ll see the spectre of Socrates looming large in the Fox News cave.

–PK

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