Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dr Boyce Watkins on Bill O’Reilly: Giving Him His Props



Dr Boyce Watkins


Some have asked to see the video that angered Bill O’Reilly so much.  This was the first time he thought he could use his power to somehow harm me (which he did not).  Then, there was the second time in which we had tens of thousands of African Americans boycotting his corporate sponsors.  If you want to know if I regret coming after O’Reilly….the answer is absolutely not.  I also don’t hate him as much as people think I do.  I have a complex perspective on Mr. O’Reilly, which I will lay out in the following points:

1) I admit that I respect what O’Reilly has accomplished in media.  Although his show is full of silly spin and laughable perspectives (like that of Jesse Lee Peterson, a walking cartoon character who uses broken English to say “All da blacks is wrong”)…..I think that what O’Reilly has built in his media empire is clearly remarkable.  I can give credit where credit is due.

2) He is probably not as racist as he appears to be.  Once you get pigeon-holed on one side of a debate, you end up being locked into the same side of every argument, even if you know that your arguments are flawed and wrong.  That is why I’ve never declared myself to be a Democrat or a Republican and why I am certainly not always a liberal (some liberal ideals don’t make much sense to me).  When people tell me that they agree with everything I say, I tell them that they need to go back and find something I said that they can disagree with.  My goal is not to “pick a team”….it is to search for truth.  When you build a platform like O’Reilly’s based on spreading hate, you end up being forced to keep doing whatever it was that made you famous in the first place.  That is why I wasn’t very excited when my publicist told me that we may get invited onto the Oprah Winfrey Show.  I truly wondered if I wanted to be trapped by having to always appeal to the Oprah audience, a group that I would eventually be at odds with as a scholar.

3) CNN was jealous of O’Reilly.  The man had monster ratings and they couldn’t compete.  Fortunately, the election of Obama changed that.  Fox News is now as marginalized as they should have been before the election.

4) O’Reilly is bad for journalism, but represents a teaching opportunity.  With his underhanded tactics and outrageous spin, O’reilly has single-handedly reduced the credibility of so-called “mainstream media”.  But when I’ve watched his show, his style of presentation and use of visual imagery helps me to understand why those with feeble minds are attracted to his content.  Even when we become adults, we tend to like “loud and shiny things”, and Fox News is brilliant with their use of colors, “news alerts”, and loud music to get people to keep tuning in.  If I were teaching a class in journalism, I would let my students watch a few episodes on Fox to learn how television, media and advertising actually work.  You can even learn from your enemies, and I’ve learned a lot from Bill O’Reilly. 

5) O’Reilly is a petty, weak and internally insecure human-being.  He has a great deal of power, but he is probably compensating for some kind of deep insecurity that lies within his psyche.  I am sure he has trouble sleeping at night, as even he can’t possibly believe the BS that he spits onto the screen during each show.  It can’t be fun going through life with that many people hating you.  In fact, the idea that O’Reilly can endure this sort of hate is part of what makes me respect him. 

Yes, Bill O’Reilly is screwed up, but like the rest of us, he has a very mixed existence.

Click here to see the episode, enjoy!

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