Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Why do FOX viewers believe O'Reilly?

Bill o'Reilly has lied so many times that you'd think FOX viewers would understand that you simply cannot take what he says at face value. But he still has a following, which is simply stunning.

O'Reilly is perhaps the craziest pathological liar the right wing has (although we admit Ann Coulter could give him a run for his money). Not to mention the fact that he is a complete hypocrite and a purveyor of misinformation and myths.

O'Reilly's latest nonsense? This from Media Matters:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann once again named Bill O'Reilly [the] "Worst Person in the World," based on false O'Reilly claims, noted by Media Matters, that a Texas school district and the township of Saginaw, Michigan, enforced bans against red and green clothing during the holiday season.

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly once again earned the title "Worst Person in the World" during the December 13 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, this time for falsely claiming that the Plano Independent School District in Texas and the township of Saginaw, Michigan, enforced bans against red and green clothing during the holiday season.

Olbermann noted that O'Reilly claimed during the December 9th O'Reilly Factor that the Plano Independent School District in Texas "told students they couldn't wear red and green because they were Christmas colors." As Olbermann informed his viewers and Media Matters for America noted, Plano Superintendent of Schools Dr. Doug Otto denied any ban on red and green clothing in a statement.

Olbermann also awarded O'Reilly the title for making a similar false claim about the township of Saginaw -- noted by Media Matters -- which was refuted by township manager Ron Lee, "wearing his red shirt and his Santa Claus tie and sitting next to his Christmas tree in his office," as Olbermann noted.
I posted earlier this month about the numerous "holiday" references on O'Reilly's website, and the widely publicized FOX News Channel gaffe (selling "holiday" ornaments for "holiday" trees in its Christmas store.

But what's even scarier than O'Reilly himself is that people actually believe him and admire him as a hero.

Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat found out how crazy some of these people are after he wrote a recent satirical column pretending to agree with O'Reilly and Jerry Falwell:
Our annual debate about Christmas has gotten so absurd you can't even make fun of it anymore.

I know, because last week I tried. I wrote a column that was a mock letter to the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who is upset that "Happy Holidays" is replacing "Merry Christmas." I praised him for doing the Lord's will by suing and "kicking the butts" of any retail store that doesn't "heel to the Christmas spirit."

I whined that the nation's 231 million Christians were "lonely" and losing the "battle for Christmas." The proof, I wrote, can be found in Seattle's downtown malls, where "Jesus has been totally drummed out of the shopping experience."

"After we [Christians] are persecuted from the malls, how are we supposed to observe the birth of the Lord?" I lamented. "What's left for us? Just church? The family hearth?"

Now some readers thought the problem with this column was that it was poor satire. Or just not funny. Or simply inane.

All points well taken. But it was the rest of the response that knocked me over like a strong belt of eggnog. Scores of readers took the column literally. And then agreed with it.

I returned this week to find more than 200 e-mailers and 25 phone callers extolling me as a key bulwark against an atheist plot to steal Christmas.

One person thanked me for being one of the few journalists in the city to express a sentiment many feel deeply about. "I am so sick of 'Happy Holidays' as a greeting I could scream," the reader wrote.

"You are right on target about how Christmas is being taken from us," wrote another.

"God bless you," wrote another. "It's true we are at war, and we Christians better take a stand and be salt and light."

I made what I assumed were ridiculous statements. For example, I wrote: "This is a war. You're either for Christmas, or you're against it."

Yet down rang hosannas of praise. From Christians in Ireland, Canada and Hong Kong. From Christians who hadn't written to a newspaper before.

The pastor of Pomerado Road Baptist Church in California, Hans Nikoley, asked if he could reprint the "great article" for his congregation.

"Let's stay in the battle for Christmas," he signed off.

My reaction can be summed up in one word: Yikes.
Anyone who truly believes Christmas is "under attack" is deluding themselves. There is no threat to Christmas. There is nothing wrong with the greeting "Happy Holidays".

But there is a problem with misinformation and deliberate attempts to spread it. Conservative Christians are sputtering with outrage over imaginary perceived injustices. And it's getting really tiring.

When we have so many real issues to debate, this is the best they can do? Claiming that Christmas is in danger of being wiped out? Apparently, that's all they've got left in their arsenal. But progressives can't let this crap go unanswered.

The lying needs to be captured, inspected, and then pointed out. That's just what organizations like Media Matters are doing. And that's why Bill O'Reilly hates Media Matters so much.

Why do FOX viewers believe Bill O'Reilly? There are many different reasons. But one of the biggest reasons is that they don't expose themselves to anything that challenges what they hear from O'Reilly and FOX News.

The strength of the Republican Noise Machine is its ability to drown out the truth and other viewpoints. Every time Air America gains a new affiliate, every time a progressive activist starts a blog, every time an organization like Media Matters is started, we make inroads on the path to countering the Republican Noise Machine.

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