Talk radio is entertainment

Bill O'Reilly, shame of Irish people everywhere, on talk radio:

Delightful. Now, I don't hold Mr. Maher to the same standard as The Washington Post because he's a comedian, a man who makes a living expressing a point of view. But apparently the president's point of view, more civility, is not being embraced by Mr. Maher.

Also, I've gotten a lot of mail asking me why I don't come down on right-wing talk radio, and it's the same thing: Talk radio is entertainment. People on there make a living expressing opinions. It's not a news forum; therefore the standards are not the same.

I guess whatever it is that O'Reilly does is not expressing his opinion.  Nonetheless, it's odd to me to classify "expressing one's opinion" as sufficient condition for entertainment.  Discuss.

3 thoughts on “Talk radio is entertainment”

  1. The common view seems to be that the news is divided into statements of fact and matters of opinion. The "real" news simply reports accurate factual information without adding any normative content, while the opinion news is full of normative content without the demand for accurate factual information. While the former is supposed to inform, the latter is only supposed to persuade, or perhaps less than that, simply emote. So, O'Reilly apparently does not think that "expressing one's opinion" can be concomitant with a statement of fact.
    Anyone who has taught an introductory philosophy course knows how hard it can be to get students to assent to the possibility that some opinions might be better than others, or that some things might not be just a matter of opinion, or that an opinion might also be true.
    Given that O'Reilly, like many people, is confused about the relationship between facts and opinions, it seems natural that he would consider anyone expressing an opinion to not have to be held to a standard of correctness, since by definition opinions are not capable of providing factual content. So, it's just the opinion of 99.9% of climate scientists that human activities are causing dramatic climate change. Or, it's just, like, my opinion that raping and murdering a child is wrong, but who am I to hold you to my standards?

  2. I agree that a lack of understanding of what an opinion is contributes to and allows for O' Reilly to make his argument. However, I think the main problem here is complex dishonesty.
    I know this will be beating a dead horse but O' Reilly, like the radio hosts, are aired on news stations. The news journalism industry has developed under this narrative of objectivity and unbiased reporting. So, there is a cultural expectation that news should be unbiased and objective. The infamous "Fair and Balanced" Fox News among other news sources perpetuates and utilizes this narrative to gain viewer ship, enlarge ratings, and gain more revenue. 
    This is very nice but we all know that objective journalism is not what we get especially when it comes to O' Reilly and other such figures. They are there because it is cheaper and easier to produce them to capture the attention and ratings than it would be to produce the volume of quality objective reporting (if there really is such a thing) needed to fill a 24 hour news cycle. 
    So in many ways O' Reilly is being honest, he along with the shock jocks are entertainers there to capture and gain the attention and ratings of the public. We should not take what they have to say seriously or at least not hold it to the standard of news worthy. (by virtue of it being opinionated it cannot be objective or unbiased thereby not living up to the industry standard/narrative)  
    However, it also this group of people who work for or are aired on news organizations that do not sell them as entertainers, they are people who speak the truth. They cut through bias and show us who the puppet masters are. Sure O' Reilly from time to time will say that he is not a reporter or his show is not a news show. However, the advertisement wing of the organization he works for will have a montage, which includes muted clips of his show and at the end call itself fair and balanced or O' Reilly himself will refer to it as that, but with out specifying which part of Fox News is the "Fair and Balanced" part.
    It is the object hidden in the open before your eyes, an open lie told to the public, a complex dishonesty. This way when you call them dishonest he can refer back to the times he has mentioned that he is not news; he is entertainment. Even though this entertainment message has been overwhelmed and drowned out by multitude of times that he has left  this message ambiguous or it has been presented otherwise.

  3. Interesting phrase, complex dishonesty.  On another note, a recent poll find people DIStrust Fox the most (though they were second over all in being trusted).  For the first time this poll include PBS, which was, oddly, the most trusted news org.  I don't think they were thinking of the MacGlaughlin group.

Comments are closed.