June 17, 2003 / 12:01 PM ET
BILL O’REILLY ENCOUNTERS THE NO-WEENIE ZONE
The Blogosphere is buzzing in response to Bill O’Reilly’s whiny complaints about the Internet. The problem with the Net, according to this Man Of The People, is that there aren’t enough bosses to protect the interests of famous people:
Nearly everyday, there’s something written on the Internet about me that’s flat out untrue. And I’m not alone. Nearly every famous person in the country’s under siege. . . .
The reason these net people get away with all kinds of stuff is that they work for no one. They put stuff up with no restraints. This, of course, is dangerous, but it symbolizes what the Internet is becoming.
Well boo-freakin’-hoo. O’Reilly’s schtick is as a tribune of the people against the powerful, but when people start writing about him, well, it seems they need to be brought into line, pronto. And O’Reilly demonstrates that he’s no paragon of fairness himself by first ignoring that the particular report he’s complaining about came from a newspaper (the San Francisco Chronicle) and not from “the Internet,” and then somehow managing to tie bad comments about his underperforming radio show to child molestation. Excuse me? Does this guy have an editor? Because it doesn’t show.
O’Reilly’s comments, unsurprisingly, aren’t playing very well on the Internet. If you follow this link it will take you to the Technorati Link Cosmos page that collects blog entries that link to O’Reilly’s screed. The responses aren’t very positive. James Lileks writes:
People who do not work for major media outlets are writing things without corporate or governmental restraints. This, of course, is dangerous. It’s what the Internet is becoming. Also, Iran.
Lileks is right about Iran. (Read this article about how Iranian bloggers are giving the mullahs fits. This one, too.) And although O’Reilly is no mullah, his frustration sounds a lot like what we’ve heard from them — this is just people writing what they think! There’s nobody to control them! It’s madness, I tell you!
Welcome to the real no-spin zone, Bill. Your whining sounds a lot like what we’re hearing from those European bureaucrats who are trying to bring the Internet under control because it’s a threat to their position. Is that the company you want to keep?
I predict that this dumb piece of O’Reilly’s, inconsequential as it is on its own, marks the beginning of the end. Not because, as Andrea Harris writes, “That sound you hear is the sound of thousands of “right-wing” bloggers changing their tv channel from Fox News to ... anything else.” But because this embarrassing “who are these little people to criticize the likes of me” bit indicates that O’Reilly has lost touch with the common man, and started to identify with the “famous people.” Hey, that was Donahue’s schtick. And we all know what happened to him.