The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News cable channel has long been the show that liberals love to hate. Not that they don't also hate Sean Hannity, but he is offset at least in presence by Alan Colmes, while O'Reilly is a solitary lightning rod.
Well, he used to be. But for some time now O'Reilly has been ... off his game.
He has made comments regarding the War on Terror and the Battle for Iraq that can be construed as less than supportive of our troops - dismissively saying the war is lost - he has gone on the attack against some basic conservative groups that hardly qualify as subversives, most recently the Free Republic, and he has resorted to shouting matches with Geraldo Rivera in Jerry Springer-like segments.
(On a side note, an acquaintance went to high school years ago with Geraldo Rivera. But back then it was "Gerry." Things that make you go HMMMMMM.)
Back to the present, it has been quite some time since I watched the O'Reilly show with any regularity. I make every effort to watch Special Report on Fox with Brit Hume at 6 p.m., because there I get a comprehensive wrap-up of the day's news, some humor, and two panel discussions on current issues.
If I am channel surfing later in the evening, I might check on O'Reilly to see if he has an interesting guest, or if Michelle Malkin is guest hosting. If Michelle is on, I tarry much longer, but if O'Reilly is on and I am not interested in his guest, I move on and try to find a classic movie.
By many accounts, I am not alone in this. Many people who don't see themselves as conservatives, but certainly aren't liberals either, have been saying for some time now that they don't appreciate O'Reilly's lack of support for and faith in our troops or his departure from basic common sense, in an apparent and unsuccessful attempt to appear "fair."
The left is not fair. It preaches fairness, but only to give a false impression to people who don't have time or inclination to look more deeply into left-wing positions. Anyone with O'Reilly's reputation who attempts to kiss up to the left will get a positive response only for as long as it takes to destroy him, then he will be left on the shore like so much driftwood.
It seems that is where O'Reilly is heading.
Another issue with O'Reilly is the extent of his show preparation. Take for instance, this response from my occasional guest blogger who submits airline related information FROM THE FLIGHT DECK.
O'Reilly did a recent segment on airport security after a local television station in Arizona reported lax terminal security after midnight. Here is the response:
FROM THE FLIGHT DECK
One of the drawbacks of being a pilot is spending a lot of time in hotels where you usually find yourself watching the same tired old TV shows. The other night I was in this predicament watching the O'Reilly Factor, when he aired a segment about airport security in Phoenix, AZ.
I have become accustomed to the media not knowing it's elbow from somewhere else when it comes to aviation, but this case really irked the hell out of me!
The segment concerned the terminal security shutting down at midnight, until the early shift arrives at 4 a.m. In the meantime, a security guard stands at the access point to controlled terminal areas checking IDs, since only airport workers are allowed in these areas, although they don't go through metal detectors.
An airport issued ID is required to go through this checkpoint to enter the controlled areas. This apparently isn't sufficient for either the local reporters, or O'Reilly, but what should have been highlighted is the fact that to be issued an airport ID one has to pass a federal background check.
But according to the O'Reilly Factor the flying public is at risk because terrorists are nonetheless going to compromise these low-paid airport workers who are then going to sneak "something" into the secured area.
This 'conclusion' showed a horrible lack of preparation or research on this segment.
First, let's not gloss over the fact that 19 people completely changed the way the world flies on 9-11. Another 20 people who weren't even in this country made it necessary to restrict the amount of liquids that can be brought on a plane, when a plot to bomb 10 overseas flights was uncovered in England.
There obviously was little to no research on this issue because they missed the fact that airline pilots, many of whom are not very well paid either, usually bypass security altogether. There also are other airport employees who bypass security and they don't make much money either.
For instance, as was reported in the Orlando Sentinel earlier this month, a flight from Orlando to Puerto Rico had "contraband" smuggled on it which turned out to be illegal firearms and drugs.
A JetBlue Airways employee at Orlando International Airport is accused of accepting four handguns and two machine guns from an undercover agent posing as an international weapons trafficker. The weapons were destined for Puerto Rico, court records show.
His arrest was the second time in five months that federal agents identified airline workers at Orlando in plots to smuggle guns to the island.
If O'Reilly was serious about his pre-show research he would have found out about these incidents and disclosed how the guns made it on the aircraft in the first place. A complaint filed by the ATF alleged that the airline worker met with an undercover agent and agreed to smuggle weapons to Puerto Rico for $4,500.
Two things should stand out here. One, the worker wasn't paid much to commit a crime, and two, federal law enforcement was plugged into the smuggling ring. That doesn't mean the feds catch everyone every time, but it obviously is a lot harder to get a crime like this past them than O'Reilly would have you believe.
In March and April, FBI agents arrested five people suspected of being part of a ring that smuggled drugs and guns on flights from Orlando to San Juan. Those arrests prompted Congress to mandate a full review of security procedures at the nation's airports.
The truth is, except for senior pilots at the top national airlines, virtually everyone in the airline industry is underpaid these days. There will always be exceptions, but that doesn't mean there is a flood of anti-American sentiment that will send droves of ticket agents, baggage handlers, pilots and flight attendants into the arms of the terrorists.
O'Reilly, do some research, pal.
What this all boils down to is an ongoing disconnect between O'Reilly and his audience. His recent segments with the shouting matches, attacks on conservative organizations and poorly researched 'exposes' shows that he is scrambling to maintain relevance, but it appears he is clueless as to how to succeed.
I have a suggestion. Go back to basics. Remember the demographics, especially the political demographics of the audience that once watched your show faithfully. We know we can find Hate America diatribes anywhere on broadcast network news and talk shows, and in myriad left-wing webs sites.
We don't need any more of their rantings, unless it is just to hold them up as an example. What we need is a show that has no qualms about exposing the fallacies in the left-wing, pro-terrorist, pro-communist attacks. What we need is a show that tears them apart point by point.
That kind of show will attract a large and faithful audience. Anything less is a show that starts off with built-in obsolescence.
Heed this advice and the O'Reilly factor may regain its previous credibility. Heed it not, and the show may well end up being renamed the Malkin Factor.
Monday, August 06, 2007