O'Reilly Factor mobilizes fellow "traditionalists" against a "secular-progressive movement" supposedly led by billionaire George Soros ("public enemy number one") and the liberal rhetorician George Lakoff. O'Reilly condemns the "erosion of societal discipline" flowing from an alleged "S-P [secular-progressive]" agenda of drug legalization, teenagers' rights, moral relativism, church-state separation, therapy instead of punishment for criminals and, above all, the "communist" freeloader's doctrine that the government should tax the rich to fund housing, health care and early-childhood education for the poor. None of this coheres well, but O'Reilly keeps fans stoked with red meat, including tales of?LU Christmas-bashers who wanted schools to stop teaching kids to sing carols, and permissive judges who go easy on child molesters. Too often, though, he feuds with personal enemies like "smear-merchant" Al Franken, Hollywood liberals, press critics and unnamed "black-hearted websites." As a result, his populist swagger subsides into kvetching ("Clooney's press agent, a guy named Stan Rosenfield, began badmouthing me and Fox News around Hollywood") and paranoia ("S-P power-brokers... will command their forces to attack me in every way possible"). More resentful and self-pitying than feisty, O'Reilly may be suffering from battle fatigue.
Forget the battle between liberals and conservatives. According to the anchor of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, the real action is the battle between secular progressives and traditionalists engaged in an epic struggle to dominate American culture. Though there is a high correlation between the liberals and SPs and conservatives and traditionalists, it is not absolute, and O'Reilly gives credit to the occasional liberal who stands up for traditional values by his measuring stick. He sees himself as Numero Uno fighting on the side of traditionalists in the front line of the culture war--the media. Rating major media figures, he gives high marks to the late Peter Jennings and low marks to Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw. O'Reilly takes to task conservative talk-show hosts, including Rush Limbaugh, for focusing on politics and ignoring the culture wars. O'Reilly also names names leading the opposing side: UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff, wealthy financier George Soros, and--the usual suspect--the€LU. O'Reilly outlines the battleground on a number of issues, including the celebration of Christmas, separation of church and state, and gay marriage. O'Reilly offers a "code of the traditional warrior," appealing to traditionalists to take the high ground in the battle and not indulge in the unethical tactics employed by the SP, including personal attacks and invective. Fans of O'Reilly will cheer; detractors will cringe. Vanessa Bush