Perhaps the signature show on the leading news network on television is The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel. Reviled by liberals and not often held in esteem by conservatives, Bill O'Reilly is nothing if not at least an interesting character. He certainly has legions of fans who watch his show and buy his books. But in this highly partisan time in our history, where almost everything on television, in movies, online and even on your phone is political, The O'Reilly Factor first got traction more than a dozen years ago not by discussing politics — which it does more than the political shows themselves — but by examining cultural issues. Mr. O'Reilly has a concern for the debasing of the culture and, long before Glenn Beck, exposed the destructiveness of secular progressives and gave voice to traditionalists who respect values long the bedrock of a flourishing American society that became the envy of the world. He wrote a best selling book, Culture Warrior, about it and even has a "culture warrior" test on his Web site. The questions look like they come out of a Family Research Council survey.
Inevitably, his show got sucked into the political gabfest, but he reserves a weekly segment called "The Culture Warriors" that examines the debasing of society. It used to be instructive. Now it's useless. Whereas his original analysts were adversarial to the muck in pop culture that penetrates the innocence of children or leads to deleterious behavior, the bubbleheads he now employs as "warriors" are nothing more than culture appeasers. One, Gretchen Carlson (a former Miss America and Richmond news anchor), recently said she agrees with homosexual marriage and wouldn't say if she agreed with abortion. Yesterday, her substitute, Courtney Friel, couldn't, or wouldn't, say if she thought a Web ad with eight- and nine-year-old children using the F-word was a bad thing and, if that wasn't peculiar enough, the other regular, Margaret Hoover (a "pro-choice Republican" who also favors same-sex marriage) said she thought the ad was "funny." Children using the "F-word" is funny?
To be fair, Mr. O'Reilly remains true to his convictions. But he strains credibility by giving people who agree with the debasement of society the largest platform in cable news to dismiss its adverse affects, a pair who often respond with a rhetorical yawn and a nothin' to worry about snub. It's like asking an actor to review his own movie. If he wants people to disagree with him and debate, fine. Let's have at it. But he should not bill this pair as something they are not, which gives cover to those who can't wait to think of the next outrageous ad to produce, the next redefinition of marriage, or the next excuse for abortion on demand. If a warrior is one who is opposed to something and willing to fight against it, it looks as if they have already redefined that as well.
On the issue of the kids saying the F-word, Friel pointed out that the parents were apparently okay with it: "The parents all gave permission, and they were on set." Hoover said that the kids cursing didn't bother her in the end: "At first I was offended, and then I realized it was a big joke. And I laughed. It was funny." The Factor didn't think it was appropriate for the children to be saying things like that: "I would not let my 9-year-old do that. No way."