Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bill O'Reilly, the Boss, and me

Until a year or so ago, Bill O’Reilly wasn’t a name I really knew. He hadn’t yet made any impact on my life ‘cause I have the good luck to be Canadian and am not subjected to Fox News except where it makes an appearance on the Daily Show.

About a year ago I was working at the world’s smallest and stupidest newsroom and the Boss had been bragging about talking to the presumably good folks at Fox. The Boss was very excited. I was not. I knew that Fox News was one of the great jokes in journalism. The sort of joke that really isn’t all that funny.

Overworked and simply counting the paychecks, I lacked the enthusiasm that I had had when I first started working there.

For a month or so, before I realized the boss was nothing more than a spoiled child in a chunky man’s suit, I believed what he told me and shared in the excitement of working in a newsroom.

Those days were over.

I watched the first Fox News clip that came into the office. It was Bill. He did a marvelous job of shocking me out of my work induced coma.

I think he was interviewing Cindy Sheehan, the lady who lost her son to the Iraq war and was now protesting said war. To call it an interview is wrong. It was a form of bullying that I had never witnessed on television outside of an after school special. Bill belittled her cause claiming that were her son alive, he would be very angry with this protest, and how dare she. The war was a raging success in all but the minds of those unpatriotic liberals who would probably have allowed the Nazis to win the second world war.

Perhaps because of the Fox claim of ‘fair and balanced’ reporting, O’Reilly gave Cindy the ‘last word’, which he preceded to talk over anyhow.

He does this with everyone he disagrees with. The only people allowed to have an actual last word seem to be military types and Republicans.

The idiot boss was phoning from his Blackberry every 5 minutes wanting to know the status of this brand new exciting clip from Fox. I warned him that it was not truly journalism and was certainly offensive.

‘Are you sure you want this up? We also carry clips from BBC and Reuters, I’m not sure this is up to the caliber of journalism you keep going on about.’ I said.

‘I agree with you about thirty percent, 80% of America watches Fox News, and that makes it important news. We want people to see both sides. What is the video clip about?’ said Idiot Boss.

‘It’s a piece by this guy Bill O’Reilly. It isn’t even journalism, he’s .....’

I got cut off by an exclamation of ‘RIGHT ON! PUT IT UP NOW! HOW LONG UNTIL IT IS LIVE? THIS IS GREAT! O’REILLY’S A BIG NAME,BIG NAME!- hold on, I’ve got another call’

And that is where I’d be left on hold until I realized that he had completely forgotten he was talking to his lowly video editor.

That is how the Boss talked, with made up numbers and overbearing exclamations. Idiot Boss also loved punching the air with a circular movement when he was excited. Sort of a modified Arsenio Hall whoop. I believe he developed this at his frat house where I’m sure he was quite popular.

I realized that he was not that much different from the moron on the computer monitor in front of me.

I was fired a few months later, but not before I was forced to endure O’Reilly drivel every morning. I learnt a lot through Bill and my Boss. Here is a short and incomplete list.

- Free Speech is important, but listening to it is not.

- Yelling your own opinions over the free speech is good way to make it go away.

- Never let facts prevent you from telling a good story. If someone questions your facts, yell out their personal shortcomings.

- Pointing your fingers at people violently is a fun debate technique and a good way to show off your expensive suit.

- No one ever questions statistics, they just assume that you have done your homework and must have read it somewhere. Make up your own.

- Don’t allow your lack of mathematical prowess get in the way of your statistics. Yelling will eventually silence your detractors and other purveyors of numerals and facts.

- Key words are important. Read the first chapter of important business and political books to get a feel for some new ‘it’ words. Repeat them several times in conversation. People will think you are current and in the know. Fun tip: magazines are a faster read and have more pictures. Keywords and quotes are usually repeated in large fonts somewhere in the layout. Use them.

- Quote big thinkers in media. Actually you only need to know one; ‘Media is the message’. It doesn’t matter that you can’t elaborate on that quote. Very few people can. However, it does show that you attended a class on media.

- Pretend to give a last word to your guest/employee, then talk over them until they give up.

- Comparing your opponent to a nazi after they have left is a good way to nullify any damage they might have caused your argument. Pointing out their hate conceals yours.

- People don’t like yelling and will eventually go away to avoid it.

If you have your own lessons learnt from various jerks, please do post them on my comments section. I firmly believe that assholes can teach us things too.

1 comment:

french panic said...

My favourite work asshole has taught me that treating colleagues with professionalism and respect doesn't apply if the colleague has visible tattoos and a "whacky" hairstyle (I may not comb my hair, but I sure as fuck wash it and make sure it looks presentable, unlike some folks I work with).

I have learned that some people are going to judge you based on your physical appearance and it is very hard for many of those people to change their minds once they have decided who you are. I have learned that things like politeness, prompt and professional responses to time-sensitive queries, graduate level education, a diverse work history and improving the productivity of one's department is useless if someone has already decided they know who you are.

A proven track record is viewed as a fluke. Or statistical anomaly. Or something.