In keeping with his belief in the free enterprise system, Washington Post columnist and Fox News commentator George F. Will on Wednesday issued this opinion on the deal between Carrier and Donald Trump over its plans to export some jobs to Mexico: “The problem is,” said Will on Fox News, “when you have in the Carrier case political power used to bring pressure upon a privately held corporation that has a fiduciary duty to shareholder value and drive them off political pressure from making economic decisions about economic assets, you are, in effect, at the end of the day, getting the federal government involved in capital allocation. There is a name for that. It’s called socialism.”
Foul! cried Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on his program “The O’Reilly Factor” on Thursday night. No way was that socialism, he argued. “Socialism, as George Will should know, is the government actually running the economy,” said O’Reilly. “Telling Carrier what they can charge for their products or what wages they have to pay their workers. That is socialism.”
The King of Cable News could have just chalked things up to an honest disagreement: Will feels that this level of governmental intervention amounted to socialism; O’Reilly didn’t. No big deal.
Except O’Reilly had a polemical scoop along with his difference of opinion: Will’s take on the matter wasn’t pure opinion; it was score-settling. In establishing context for Will’s opinion, O’Reilly noted, “Will despises Trump, feels that he is an intellectual inferior and even left, Will did, the Republican Party because of Trump’s nomination. Now, [it’s] certainly George Will’s right as both an American and an analyst to criticize not only Donald Trump, but any powerful person he wants. We have no beef with that. What is troubling, however, is that much of Will’s negative analysis is driven by personal animus.”
Amazing analysis by O’Reilly. There is no one in cable news with a greater eye for people’s sinister motives than this all-seeing man. When the media in the 2016 presidential election campaign ripped Trump for his statement that Mexicans are rapists, proposal to ban all entry into the United States to Muslims and his numerous bigoted actions, O’Reilly noted that mainstream journalists were simply out to get him. When outlets like Mother Jones (where this blog’s wife works), Media Matters and others exposed how O’Reilly had given deceitful accounts of his reportorial past, they were propagating a “far left” agenda. When this blog pointed out a significant factual error in the O’Reilly-Martin Dugard book “Killing Reagan,” O’Reilly noted on air that The Post “pays a guy to blog who simply attacks Fox News all day long.”
And so O’Reilly’s streak of motivation-nailing continues with Will. There is no way — not a chance — that O’Reilly’s own criticism of Will for being motivated by “personal animus” was itself motivated by personal animus against Will for having also criticized “Killing Reagan.” That clash dates back to 2015, when Will wrote in The Post that the book slandered Reagan. “You’re a hack,” ranted O’Reilly at Will in a much-analyzed segment of “The O’Reilly Factor.” Inconceivable that the thick-skinned O’Reilly could have allowed that long-ago incident to affect his posture toward Will.
Also easy to dismiss is O’Reilly’s personal history with Trump himself. They’ve known each other for three decades, and as viewers well know, they’ve shared many vanilla milkshakes on their outings. Back in January, O’Reilly attempted to convince Trump to participate in a Fox News debate by invoking their vanilla-milkshake balance of payments: “Would you do me a favor? Look … because I bought you so many vanilla milkshakes — I bought you so many vanilla milkshakes, you owe me,” said O’Reilly. Later in the primary season, O’Reilly even vouched for Trump’s integrity in an interview with rival Sen. Ted Cruz. “I’ve known him for about 30 years. I think he’s an honest man,” said O’Reilly. Being a Fox News icon and all, O’Reilly possesses the ability to put to the side such personal history and take an unbiased view of Trump, not to mention his critics.
Bill O’Reilly is America’s last honest man. As such, he bears the burden of pinpointing and denouncing the actions and corrupt motivations of everyone else, while his own are more pure than the driven vanilla milkshake.