It was posted almost ten days ago, but I just came across an interesting article by Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times.
In it, Ebert examines the bully-style tactics of Bill O’Reilly and how he, and other “news” figures like him are changing the way people not only receive their information, but the information itself.
I am not interested in discussing O’Reilly’s politics here. That would open a hornet’s nest. I am more concerned about the danger he and others like him represent to a civil and peaceful society. He sets a harmful example of acceptable public behavior. He has been an influence on the most worrying trend in the field of news: The polarization of opinion, the elevation of emotional temperature, the predictability of two of the leading cable news channels. A majority of cable news viewers now get their news slanted one way or the other by angry men. O’Reilly is not the worst offender. That would be Glenn Beck. Keith Olbermann is gaining ground. Rachel Maddow provides an admirable example for the boys of firm, passionate outrage, and is more effective for nogt shouting.
Ebert goes on to decry the way radio and television have changed — which struck me as a comment on “the good ol’ days” that I have no sympathy for — but his analysis of O’Reilly, and others like him, is spot on. The bottom line, in Ebert’s mind, is that the polarization in the media has to stop. I would have to agree.