Tuesday night, Bill O'Reilly was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. They discussed politics, among other things. O'Reilly did what he usually does: offer his perspective based on...his perspective. So not much was new there, but when Leno asked O'Reilly a question about Governor Palin, my ears perked up. How would he respond? Remember, the Governor has made a few appearances on The Factor, which came to a halt after the time she basically told him to stop interrupting her and let her answer a question. Those who are familiar with O'Reilly know he usually does most of the talking while his guests try to figure out why he invited them on if he wasn't going to allow them to speak. Until Governor Palin indicated he needed to stop yapping, I had never heard anyone take a firm stand on Bill's habitual interruptions. That was Governor Palin's last appearance on his show, until recently. Perhaps it was sheer coincidence. Who knows? What we do know, though, is that after that day, he whined and complained for some time about that appearance and was less then complimentary when speaking about her--more so than usual.
Bill O'Reilly's response Tuesday night can simply be described as dismissive and condescending. I know you're thinking, "And this is surprising how?" It's not, but it does afford an opportunity to once again point out some things.
Here's part of the exchange:
Leno: Is Sarah Palin pretty much been eclipsed from all of this? Is she not a voice in any of this anymore?
O'Reilly: She has her niche audience, but the Governor is happy where she is on Fox News Channel making a fortune and shooting moose or whatever she shoots. [He laughs.]
First, did Bill actually hear Jay's question because he certainly didn't answer it? Leno asked if Governor Palin has a voice of influence in this political process. (It was not until after Bill responded that question that Leno asked about whether someone might "bring her in.") Bill's answer is that she is making a fortune and shooting moose. Really? Why didn't he answer the question Leno asked? Was he too eager to promote his own narrative? Also, one thing has nothing to do with the other, does it? One can be influential and work for Fox News at the same time, can't she? Isn't that what they expect from their analysts? I have a hard time imagining that if the same question had been asked about Charles Krauthammer, for example, O'Reilly would have responded in similar fashion.
Second, enough of this making a fortune thing. If people think that Governor Palin would sell out for money, they've missed it. They've missed her character and her history. Remember, she walked away from a good-paying job to expose corruption in Alaska. As she says, "In politics, you're either eating well or sleeping well." She's not for sale. She doesn't suffer from a lust for money, and making money has nothing to do with her ability to impact the national scene.
Bill O'Reilly somehow relegates Governor Palin to the position of hunter-gatherer, thereby disqualifying her from being able to make a difference. We know Governor Palin is a hunting enthusiast, and we certainly have no problem with that. However, his condescending suggestion that she's too busy loving hunting to have any real power is laughable. It continues to baffle me how people respond to and treat a former vice presidential nominee who offered herself up to serve her country. That's his answer about the influence of the first woman on a Republican ticket in a presidential/vice presidential campaign? Bill, you can do better, can't you?
His eagerness to dismiss the Governor also does not jive with the facts, and the facts illustrate that our presidential candidates seek Governor Palin's endorsement, that she can't go anywhere without someone poking a microphone in her face, that she's asked who people should vote for in primary and caucus states, that she's been questioned about a brokered convention, that she's been asked repeatedly to reconsider her October 5th decision, that Newt Gingrich is on record as wanting her to be a part of a Gingrich administration, that she brought down the house at CPAC, that she went to New York and did a plethora of interviews with people who wanted her take on this primary season, that phrases she's coined, like "fundamental restoration of America," routinely come out of Mitt Romney's mouth--who's the purported heir to President Obama's throne, and that causes like exposing crony capitalism all of a sudden became a topic of discussion in debates after she brought it front and center in current political discourse. Who's lacking a voice?
Furthermore, how many can boast of the intensity of support she has--loyal supporters who would go through hell and high water for her if she just said the word? Which brings me to my next point: this "niche" that O'Reilly refers to when asked about her influence...perhaps we should take a look at something: O'Reilly, who constantly reminds us of how wonderful he is and how many people tune in to watch The Factor, has a little over 511,000 Facebook friends. The washed up, money-grubbing, moose hunter from Alaska has almost 3.3 million. You do the math, Bill--and cut the bull.