Respectful Insolence

Richard Dawkins will be interviewed by Bill O’Reilly on the O’Reilly Factor on Monday, April 23.

Talk about walking into the lion’s den! I’m not sure this is such a good idea on Richard Dawkins’ part. The problem, of course, is that Bill O’Reilly blusters and yells and doesn’t let guests that he doesn’t like talk. I have to wonder if Dawkins knows what he’s in for. Even though he’s almost certainly capable of handling a bully when both are on equal terms, O’Reilly controls the microphone and the show; he won’t tolerate being slapped down the way he deserves. Being on The Colbert Report (basically a parody of Bill O’Reilly, for those few who aren’t familiar with it), as Dawkins was last fall, isn’t the same thing as subjecting oneself to the real thing. The best that can happen is that Dawkins manages to overcome these problems and mildly slap down O’Reilly, a pyrrhic victory at best (whoopee! Dawkins embarrassed a demagogue!), while the worst that can happen is that O’Reilly’s typical “spin” will drown out Dawkins’ message and, worse, make him look bad. I see no realy up side to Dawkins’ going on O’Reilly’s show.

Comments

  1. #1 Bronze Dog
    April 19, 2007

    Something I’d suggest for Dawkins, though I typically avoid even the tiniest amount of O’Reilly (I tend to either get my blood to 212^F or, like last time I watched him with my brother, nearly suffocate laughing at the first sentence that comes out of his mouth):

    If O’Reilly gets hot and bothered and starts shouting, stay calm, don’t interrupt his interruptions, roll your eyes, and look bored and disappointed. When O’Reilly quiets down, ask him if he’s done and interested in doing the interview.

  2. #2 wolfwalker
    April 19, 2007

    “Entertaining” like watching a train wreck in super-slo-mo, perhaps…

    I don’t have cable so I can’t watch it, but I probably wouldn’t watch it anyway. O’Reilly is just a gigantic waste of bandwidth.

  3. #3 J-Dog
    April 19, 2007

    On a level playing field, Dawkins wipes the floor with O’Reilly, and makes him like it, but on the Big Blowhard’s own show? Problematic at best, IMO. Dawkins is my hero, but on O’Reilly’s show, I’m afraid he won’t get a chance.

  4. #4 usagi
    April 19, 2007

    Simple, O’Riley gets higher ratings and Dawkins sells more books.

    Television is about one thing: money. Any value in the content is pure coincidence.

  5. #5 Ex-drone
    April 19, 2007

    To further Bronze Dog‘s suggestion, the book Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War On Journalism describes an incident where a young interviewee kept his cool as OReilly launched at him. It caused OReilly to spin out of control. OReilly got so mad that he abruptly ended the segment. Later, OReilly accosted the poor kid in the studio hallway and had security escort him out. Afterwards, OReilly claimed that the young man had accosted him and needed security for his own protection.

    OReilly reminds me of the Howard Beale character (the nutjob part; not the angry prophet part) in Network, in which TV executives debate putting Beale, a lunatic, on their news show, eventually choosing ratings over liability. The Fox Noise Channel should be held to account for exploiting a mentally challenged person, but then changing that employment policy would decimate the ranks of their on-air staff.

  6. #6 Chris
    April 19, 2007

    I have it: when he starts spewing his bullshit, just laugh. Grin at him and laugh. Do the opposite of getting pissed. THAT would throw someone who’s used to initiating a confrontation

  7. #7 Mr. G
    April 19, 2007

    I want to see how Dawkins Frames(tm) it. Will he infringe the property rights of others? Will frames overlap (where are the Dawkins/Mooney/O’Reilly boundaries?) Whose frame is bigger? Will we get to see it? Do we have to see it?

    I’m tense.

  8. #8 Barry A
    April 20, 2007

    I actually think it’s a good idea. It shows that Dawkins is relatively fearless in his convictions, if he’s willing to enter a debate on the visiting team’s turf.

    Good for Dawkins.

  9. #9 Orac
    April 20, 2007

    Will we get to see it? Do we have to see it?

    There is such a thing on a television set known as the “off switch”; so I guess the answer is: No, you don’t have to see it.

  10. #10 mr. G
    April 20, 2007

    No, you don’t have to see it.

    Very good. You sure cut to the heart of things. (No offense.)

  11. #11 olvlzl the Heretic
    April 20, 2007

    The only danger is that getting two egos that big that close could produce some kind of catastrophe. Having read lots of Dawkins, with his Oxford style of information manipulation, he’ll be able to handle O’R. It will be any editing that could cause trouble for him. Will it be shown unedited?

  12. #12 daenku32
    April 20, 2007

    I’m sure BillO’s editing crew will be working overtime cleaning up the interview. Since O’Reilly’s methods mimic those of the creationists’ (throw inaccurate opinions and call them facts) I think Richard should treat BillO the same way. Fortunately Richard has already done TV work other than Colbert Report so I think he knows how it works.

  13. #13 Mark Duigon
    April 20, 2007

    I saw Paul Gross (I think it was he) on O’Really talking about evolution. All I remember of the show was O’Really ranting about “That’s not science! There’s 24 hours in a day–now THAT’S science!”
    Maybe Dawkins can bring along a loofa to play with during O’Really’s rants.

  14. #14 olvlzl The Heretic
    April 20, 2007

    O’Reilly’s methods mimic those of the creationists’ (throw inaccurate opinions and call them facts)

    Bit like Dawkins last book, if you’ve read much on the topic of religion. Dawkins has gotten a free ride due to the general ignorance of his fans about the topic. There really isn’t much difference in their methods, just different ends of the same street.

  15. #15 boojieboy
    April 20, 2007

    Someone recently pointed me to this as a great example of how to defuse OReilly on his own show

  16. #16 donquixoteshorse
    April 20, 2007

    I can’t imagine Dawkins coming into this unprepared. I’d suspect that blowhardbillowlielly’s ego precedes him, and that Dawkins will be well aware of what he’s up against.That said the best part of Blowhard’s show, if there is a best part, is that it’s on opposite Keith Olbermann’s countdown on MSNBC and I can watch those little pieces of blowhard usually the strangely sentient seeming talking points which blowhard often refers to in the third person and the viewer mail at the end. This broadcast I might make an exception for I suspect Dawkins will hand him his head and make him like it

  17. #17 Joshua
    April 21, 2007

    If there’s one sure way to kill the “Richard Dawkins is an unreasonable, puppy-beating hatemonger!” meme, surely putting him side-by-side with a real unreasonable, puppy-beating hatemonger ought to be it.

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