Bill O'Reilly's Free Speech
Litbrit has a post about free speech and Bill O'Reilly's series of inflamatory against George Tiller. I agree with Litbrit's assessment that O'Reilly's speech is protected. I question if O'Reilly believes half the opinions he spouts on his show. A man whom pals around with Jon Stewart and Bill Maher isn't as conservative as on The Factor. Maher publicly said so on his show.
Bill O'Reilly exists because conservatives create a market for shock jocks. The more outlandish the statement the higher the ratings. O'Reilly is his generation's Morton Downey Jr.
In the 1980s, Downey was a talk show host at KFBK-AM in Sacramento, California, where he established his abrasive and much imitated right wing, populist style, relentlessly deriding anyone who disagreed with him or had a liberal point of view. Downey's success, coupled with the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, laid the groundwork for more aggressive, opinion-based talk radio. His work led to the "trash talk" genre of Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Ricki Lake, Steve Wilkos and many more. His quarrel with fellow radio talk show host Wally George (with each charging that the other was not conservative) on George's talk show led to police tackling Downey to the ground. The man who succeeded Downey at KFBK was Rush Limbaugh.
Downey's largest effect on American culture came from his very popular, yet short-lived, syndicated mid-1980s television talk show, The Morton Downey Jr Show.
O'Reilly got into a shoving match with an Obama staffer and settled a sexual harassment case out of court. O'Reilly behavior would get him fired by most employees. Rupert Murdoch's bottom line is shock pundits creating controversy. Controversy makes people take notice. Ratings begin the spike. Journalistic accuracy and civil discourse take a back seat to the mighty dollar.
There will always be people like Bill O'Reilly. Ignorance and fear create a market for hateful speech. Education and tolerance is the best way to put O'Reilly out of a job.