Monday, October 1, 2007

O'Reilly vs. Burma

Here's an interesting post by Harry Shearer. I am BY NO MEANS a fan of Bill O'Reilly, but Shearer has a point here:

Screw Burma, Let's Talk About O'Reilly
Posted September 28, 2007 | 06:08 PM (EST)

Maybe I'm getting soft, but the notion that people halfway around the world are braving lifetime prison terms and possibly death for daring to peacefully protest against a brutally despotic government speaks to me. The notion that folks in Burma are trying everything -- email, cellphone, e-pigeon -- to evade the regime's attempts to close the country down to outside observation makes me want to pay attention. So why is it, given a story of people fighting for freedom against a fearsome military junta, that cable news far preferred this week to discuss the burning question: Is Bill O'Reilly really a racist? One can't be surprised that the subject might obsess Mr. O'Reilly. He, like media figures from Limbaugh to Stern, has figured out that, whatever the putative subject matter of the day, what his audience really cares about is the Great Him. What stuns me is the desire of everyone from Keith Olbermann (whom I like and admire) to Rick Sanchez (_______), and their management superiors, to devote hour after hour to the discussion of O'Reilly's comments on how little difference there was between a "black-owned restaurant" and an Italian restaurant in the suburbs. This is not a "slow news week". The Dems have tanked on Iran (which, to be fair, has gotten plenty of coverage), the president has tacked on climate change, and Burma is either experiencing the birth pangs of a new era or another crushing of its spirit. In the presence of the latter story, I'd be trash-canning the O'Reilly chatter soonest.

UPDATE: At least one commenter has opined that the Burma freeze-out on US cable news is because of the non-existence of video from the scene. That's easy to say if you're watching US cable news, because they're not showing any. But Al Jazeera English and BBC World have managed to get video--probably via cellphone--out of Rangoon.

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