Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An Open Letter to Bill O'Reilly

Mr. O'Reilly,

The O'Reilly Factor has been watched by me and mine for many years.  Gradually bad manners and uncivil discourse have become more common on the show.  These actions are hurting the body politic.

Ratings are important for the business of op-ed journalism.  Disagreement, drama, and theatrics are tools to maintain a viewership's attention.  Such actions get ratings, but easily become abuse.  There is a trend on The O'Reilly Factor towards disrespect for both people and truth.  Each time these tactics are used, a deeper wedge is driven between our citizens.  The public discourse is dragged down and our ability to work together harmed.  

Can not The O'Reilly Factor's causes be better served by other tactics?

Please stop calling people names. Robert Reich is not a "communist", liberals are not all "pin heads",  David Silverman is not a "fascist", and  Ron Paul is not "dumb". On the playground, children call each other names. As we mature we should grow out of this.

Please stop interrupting people.  Talking over people has become such a habit that it even disrespected the Office of the President, without any regard for proper decorum. Close minded people interrupt those they disagree with.  A healthy democracy requires that even a fool get chances to express themselves.

Please stop the ad hominem attacks.  Attack the idea and not the person.  Attacking the person disrupts healthy discourse and is a logical fallacy.  Ad hominem attacks on speakers are rarely warranted.  Belittling people when we believe them wrong belittles all involved. 

Please stop cherry picking facts.  When one looks at data and then comes to an opinion, one is searching for truth.  When one has an opinion and searches data that prove it, they disregard information that may show the opinions error.  Cherry picking data hurts ones credibility. A wise man struggles to find the truth.  A foolish man seeks evidence to prove his prejudice.

Is the money really worth tearing us apart a little each day?  Is that to be The O'Reilly Factor legacy? 

From this viewers perspective, it appears that the emotion of the moment too often overrides good sense and manners.  A TV host has a greater obligation to be master of their feelings and to search for truth.
Please sir, govern words with your mind and manners and not by emotion or prejudice.  

Kindness to people and humility before truth are strengths I hope we all strive for.   You can do better.  We, your audience, need you to do better.

Mark Bloom

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