There is a kind of cluelessness that is completely ironic in the fact that it is both common and utterly shocking at the same time. It is the kind of cluelessness that you encounter regularly, often daily, but simultaneously forces you to say, this person cannot possibly be that stupid. Your mind has trouble wrapping itself around the signs of apparent intelligence in that individual. The fact that they are standing upright, have the power of speech, they are dressed appropriately, and appear to be gainfully employed. Yet they said or did something that exhibited a complete lack of intelligence. Bill O'Reilly's "lynching party" comment rises to that level of cluelessness because it comes after the two week suspension of Golf Channel commentator Kelly Tilghman for making a reference to lynching about Tiger Woods, it comes after the incidence of nooses appearing in work places and hanging from the tailgate of a pick-up truck in the wake of the Jena Six protests, and after the president's unequivocal remarks during a speech for Black History Month at the White House that, "lynching is not a word to be used in jest."
And it makes you wonder, if just for a second, if Bill O could be that clueless, or if it is possible that he does these kinds of things on purpose? Did he say what he said about Michelle Obama with full knowledge and intent because he knew it would stir up controversy à la Don Imus and the, "nappy headed ho's," furor? Is Bill O'Reilly that smart? That crafty? After reading comments on this post at Daily Kos, and listening to clips at Media Matters, I got carried away and started to theorize that maybe Bill O is some kind of media Columbo. Feigning stupidity to boost his ratings, or create an Imus-like controversy in the middle of Barack Obama's presidential campaign by getting himself fired and then hired again on satellite radio for beaucoup bucks.
Both pictures of Bill O'Reilly are equally difficult to reconcile. Is the man utterly clueless or a media genius? And in either case what do you do about him? Do we give him what he's possibly asking for and definitely deserves, a full blown media controversy and demand that he, like Imus, be fired? Or instead do give him what would truly be hell for him, no matter which Bill O you believe to be the real one, ignore him completely. Stop writing about him, stop screaming about him, stop tearing our hair out about him. Because we who hold him in the contempt he deserves, give him far more than half the attention he gets, and raise his stature among those who love him. I believe the latter would hurt him most and give him what he most deserves, anonymity. On the other hand I hate to let the ass get a pass on something that is totally and inexcusably over the line.
Please share your thoughts in comments and as always....
-Fight the powers.