Controversy, thy name is Bill O’Reilly. Early in his career at Fox News, critics might well have dismissed O’Reilly’s propensity to draw anger and criticism as little more than campy shtick. But these days, the saucy scribe seems to have refined his ability to get under people’s skin into a high-profile form of performance art, even garnering the ire of a fellow Fox personality during a television broadcast.
According to Salon, O’Reilly welcomed Fox Business host John Stossel to the April 14 installment of his highly-rated nightly show, The O’Reilly Factor, to discuss pressing issues of the day. An amicable conversation quickly turned to verbal parries and thrusts in a spectacle that seemed to catch O’Reilly off guard.
As previously reported by Inquisitr, O’Reilly has drawn fire for ramping up vitriol regarding the so-called “culture wars” over the course of recent weeks, often drawing lines of demarcation that some interpret as exclusively favoring viewpoints of whites and Christians. Indeed, it was this line of discussion that apparently irked John Stossel during his appearance on O’Reilly’s show.
Salon’s account of the dust-up suggests that Stossel was on edge almost from the get-go, dismissing O’Reilly’s assertions that there is a war on Christianity in America today, and referring to his counterpart as “just a 10-foot tall crybaby.” O’Reilly countered, maintaining that Christians are regularly on the receiving end of disrespect and political correctness, likening such instances to “being verbally killed.”
Mediaite noted that during the exchange, O’Reilly also claimed that secular-progressives attack religion in general “because it gets in the way of ‘unfettered abortion,’ gay marriage, and access to drugs.”
For his part, Stossel pointed out that the vast majority of Americans are Christians. He added that if there ever was an actual war on Christianity, American Christians seem to have already won.
Video from the exchange was posted online by a number of news and media outlets, including Fox News.
Give John Stossel an “A” for effort, folks. He went into the proverbial lion’s den and was unflinching in presenting his side of things. But then again, it’s exactly what you might expect from a guy who once received a legitimate, on-camera beat down from a professional wrestler twice his size. Stossel may have lost that particular fight, although he reportedly won quite a bit of financial compensation as a result of injuries sustained during that incident. Incidentally, John Stossel himself has unleashed more than a handful of controversial viewpoints over the years, such as a 2005 opinion piece for Town Hall in which he praised the rampant price gouging that occurred in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
Did John Stossel make a dent in Bill O’Reilly’s battle-hardened public persona? It’s highly unlikely, as O’Reilly has weathered far greater eruptions of hullabaloo during his storied exploits on the glitter box. From allegations of sexual harassment to accusations that he misrepresented his involvement in big stores like the Falklands War and the Assassination of President Kennedy, O’Reilly seems to emerge from scrutiny with more notoriety and personal brand-power than before.
There’s no indication that John Stossel’s apparent frustration with O’Reilly is an indication that Fox News is, as an organization, growing tired of the host’s caustic, outspoken approach to world affairs. It’s tough to imagine that the network is in any rush to make drastic changes to a veritable cornerstone of their evening lineup at any point in the near future.
It’s not so much a matter of trying to predict when O’Reilly will ruffle feathers again, as his penchant for polarizing his audience is precisely what makes him a compelling — and popular — personality. Perhaps the key, then, is regarding Bill’s technique as one small part of the country’s overall discourse while understanding that the next hot-button debate is always right around the corner. Such an approach would surely give new appreciation to the longtime sign-off of Bill O’Reilly’s fellow tabloid television alumni, Maury Povich: “Until next time, America.”
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