Monday, May 18, 2015

O'Reilly is exposing the impotence of liberalism

Today we've learned that Bill O'Reilly has been accused of domestic violence against his wife. This should not lead to him losing his job. Neither should revelations that he's repeatedly lied about his reporting on the Falklands War. Neither should evidence that he lied about his account of George de Mohrenschildt's suicide. Neither should Andrea Mackris's sexual harassment lawsuit.

The fact is, O'Reilly should have lost his job long before any of this. In a capitalist economy subject to the demands of meritocracy, O'Reilly would have become a major liability for his employer long ago. In a world of rational liberal discourse, he would have no credibility with any audience. We should have never even heard of these scandals, because O'Reilly would have been fired sometime in the late 90s.

The reason that O'Reilly has not been fired is obvious: liberal media doesn't work. No amount of rational criticism, however substantiated or rigorously argued, can take away O'Reilly's credibility - because people are psychologically inclined to trust those who say things they want to hear. And no amount of boycotting or pressure on advertisers will seriously compromise his value to his employers. The people who watch his show will watch him no matter what. The people who advertise on his show will continue to advertise for him, or will be replaced by others who will.

After nearly two decades, liberals still don't seem to get this.

To be sure, some of the criticism is counterprop aimed at neutralizing misinformation for centrist/low-information voters. Some of it's agitprop meant to inflame outrage and the donations / turnout that comes with it. Some of the economic actions are just meant to impose a cost on O'Reilly's patrons -- one that won't stop him, but that may deter other investments. Obviously there is some strategic nuance at work here.

But one can't watch the inevitable calls for O'Reilly's head and miss the subtext: liberals still think they can make capitalist media work for them. This is probably the most damning criticism of his opponents he has ever managed; O'Reilly makes a mockery of liberalism every night, simply by keeping his job.