Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and the appeal of Fox News

I will admit right off the bat that I’m not a regular viewer of Glenn Beck’s or Bill O’Reilly’s programs on Fox News. I will also admit that I watch MSNBC much more often than The Fox News Channel. Nevertheless, I try to force myself to watch Fox News every now and then and listen to what these guys have to say.

After a few months of watching clips and videos of Beck’s and O’Reilly’s shows, I have to say I sort of understand their massive appeal (according to the dominating ratings they receive month after month). They are charming TV personalities who captivate a large audience with their ‘common sense’ approach. Their issues / discussion pieces do not rely on heavy research, but rather an over-simplified, A-B-C style, dizzying rhetoric that is designed to satisfy a general public that more often than not probably would not look further into the issues after watching their shows, and thus would would believe in the truthfulness and sincerity of these men.

For examples of these approaches, look no further than Beck’s chalkboard or O’Reilly’s “Talking Points” segment. Both of these methods are employed to simplify what would otherwise be very complex political issues that require pages (even books) of explanation in order to be understood.

While these have been my observations over the past few months, the video / article with which this piece is linked is very interesting in its own right. At the beginning of the discussion, O’Reilly asks Beck why the he seldom covers social issues such as same sex marriage and abortion, to which Beck responds “I think we have bigger fish to fry”, referring to the country’s more pressing political issues that require debate, and also noting that social issues are private / religious in nature and should not be interfered with by the government.

This is the highlight of the article, that Glenn Beck does not think that gay marriage is a threat to America. In my opinion, however, the interesting part came in the discussion that ensued, during which O’Reilly tried to point out Beck’s rather extremist political views (namely his belief that “the country is burning” and that he will soon feature a piece on the 1920s President Calvin Coolidge on his show). It was fairly clear that O’Reilly’s intention was to paint Beck as a radical, but Beck not only did not get serious and engage in real debate with O’Reilly, he essentially laughed it off.

No one can really deny that these two men are good entertainers, and that often times Keith Olbermann appears grumpy in comparison. But does charisma equal quality / sensible news and political commentary? How can the rhetoric approach of these men compare with that of Rachel Maddow’s, who provides in-depth analysis to every story she covers?

Maybe these men are genuine in their beliefs. Maybe they just do what they do to make money. All I can hope for is for the audience to be able to tell the difference.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Author: dky1

A graduated (but still caffeinated) student. I write mostly politics and movie reviews in the Third Cup blog, and some fiction, short stories, and gaming journal on the Loner's Diaries blog.

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