On Thursday night, FoxNews’ Bill O’Reilly ventured where he so often does – the abyss of his ignorance – when he tackled the subject of mixed martial arts on the “Factor.” His guests for the segment were Bernard Goldberg, right-wing author and correspondent for HBO’s “Real Sports” program, and Jane Hall, a professor at American University who is also one of the panelists on “Fox News Watch.” Both of them, I am relatively certain, have never sat through an entire mixed martial arts event.
Of course, that didn’t prevent them from decrying the sport as “brutal”; a spectacle without any redeeming social value that shouldn’t be shown in prime time, or at all, for that matter, which would be an odd departure for a couple of purported First Amendment advocates, when you think about it.
O’Reilly was so rattled by the idea that CBS would put an Elite XC show – or worse yet, a minimum of four of them – on prime-time Saturday night TV that he evoked the little-used term “barbarity” to describe it.
Goldberg, the author of “Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right”, is an avowed enemy of liberals and the nanny state, yet he demonstrates once again that when it comes to advocacy for the liberties of individuals or groups, it doesn’t matter whether you’re coming from the left or the right, the degree to which you will defend any activity or behavior will still go only as far as the degree to which you like it, agree with it or identify with it. And no further.
As for Jane Hall, who generally looks like a deer caught in the headlights, and especially so when it came to this subject matter, if you put any weight on her perspective as it applied here, well, that’s your unfortunate shortcoming.
Both of the pundits agreed that when William Paley was the head of CBS, he used the kind of “standards” for programming that would have him “turning over in his grave” if he only knew that MMA had found its way to the Tiffany Network. It was indeed ironic that this segment came on the first day of the Masters golf tournament, because perhaps in the way of refreshing memories, one might want to point out that since the dawn of history, and with concessions that are unheard of anywhere else in televised sports, CBS has televised the Masters, a segregated tournament until 1975, emanating from the Augusta National Golf Club, which had to be dragged kicking and screaming into allowing a token African-American member in 1990 for the sake of political correctness and which still, despite numerous and vehement demonstrations from womens’ groups, refuses to admit female members.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton might want to speak up and thank them heartily for THAT standard.
Does anyone have to remind O’Reilly that Fox, the network group he toils for (not to mention CBS as well), uses the NFL as a cornerstone for its programming and has done so for a number of years, and that pro football is appealing enough to pay multiple billions of dollars for, not because it is safe and benign, but because it is dangerous, violent and – heaven help us – brutal? And that one might be waiting forever for MMA to rival the NFL, on a per capita basis, when it comes to permanently-damaged knees, arthritic joints, head trauma and the post-retirement dementia that sometimes goes with it?
I’ve yet to see an MMA show where a fighter was knocked out in the first bout and came back to appear in, say, the fourth or fifth bout. Yet, I’ve seen quite a few NFL games where quarterbacks like Troy Aikman suffere concussions (otherwise known as “knockouts”) in the second quarter, then came back in the fourth quarter, and not only does that come without the slightest hint of scrutiny from those who allegedly operate within certain “standards,” it is celebrated as a hallmark of the “spirit” in the competitor.
Put THAT in your hash pipe and smoke it, Mr. O’Reilly.
Oh, and a special shout-out to Mr. Goldberg in particular, who made the complaint that, once upon a time, “the American culture had standards” that don’t seem to exist anymore, and endorsed those “family” programs from the past, like “I Love Lucy” and “The Jack Benny Show.”.
Perhaps he needs not a “standard” reminder, but an extra special one, that on any given night, one of his “Real Sports” segments on HBO might come right before or right after an episode of “Taxicab Confessions,” “Real Sex” or “G-String Divas” – all wholesome family entertainment. Or better yet, maybe a rerun of “The Sopranos,” which last I looked, did not go out of it way to avoid “barbarity” (just ask Little Pussy, Richie Aprile and Adrianna LaCerva). And I haven’t seen him resign in protest. Have YOU?
Across the board, be assured that everyone is operating by the same standard, whether it be MMA, CBS, Fox, HBO, and/or yes, Bill O’Reilly and Bernard Goldberg themselves, who suddenly, when they knew it could sell, developed a “schtick” after long careers as bland, innocuous, and dare I say, rather “standard” reporters.
The “standard” is simple. It’s about ratings. It’s about book sales. It’s about merchandising. It’s about money. And it’s inclusive of whatever it takes to get there.
You might say it’s “standard” operating procedure.