Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Don't Even Own A Television: 'Those Who Trespass'

Ordinarily I'd assume that I did a good enough job last time selling you on my friend Jay W. Friedman's podcast. And I would likewise assume that the new page for podcast appearances I put up would be a sufficient resource for finding out where and when I'd droned on and on like an asshole about something. But this time I joined Jay to talk about Bill O'Reilly's Those Who Trespass, and nothing about O'Reilly comes easily. Except his women.

Here's the thing about Bill-O: despite Jay and I spending an hour busting on his godawful prose, his sexism, his casual racism, his uncritical love of police strong-arm tactics, his bunkum facts about David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani, his racialized image of crime, his historical clunkers, his incredible vanity, his stereotypical straight-outta-suburbia Irish-American fawning over the Ould Sod and his bad sex scenes, we could have gone on for another hour without breaking a sweat. Because he's really that awful in his fantasyland version of reality, too.

Jay touched on something in Those Who Trespass that I wanted to supplement with a bit from real life. In it, O'Reilly's Gary Stu character has a black friend named Jackson Davis, one who Bill's narration takes pains to describe as articulate. He's one of the good ones basically for no other reason than that he behaves like Bill O'Reilly's vision of a good white guy. And I really don't want anyone to walk away with the sense that this was an accident of bad writing.

For instance, here's what O'Reilly said on his show about going to the famous Harlem soul food restaurant Silvia's for a meal:
I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship.

...There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' ...You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all.
There's really no other way to say it except that Bill O'Reilly was stunned to see African-Americans act like people.

Secondly, we didn't have time for it, but I wanted to make two additional notes about Andrea Mackris' lawsuit against O'Reilly for sexual harassment: both his sexual creepiness and his obsession with the ability of the powerful to seek vengeance. In his horrifyingly fascinating profile of Fox News' Roger Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room, Gabriel Sherman writes:
In mid-April, [Mackris] joined O’Reilly for dinner at Milos, an upscale Greek restaurant a few blocks from the Fox studios. She told him she would return to Fox but only if he laid off the dirty talk. He agreed. “Of course,” O’Reilly said, according to her account, “because then you’d be working for me and I’d have power over you, so that couldn’t happen.” O’Reilly had other fantasies on his mind that night. He launched into a rant about his nemesis, Al Franken. “If you cross Fox News Channel, it’s not just me, it’s Roger Ailes who will go after you,” he assured Mackris. “I’m the street guy out front making the loud noises about the issues, but Ailes operates behind the scenes, strategizes and makes things happen so that one day BAM! The person gets what’s coming to them but never sees it coming. Look at Al Franken, one day he’s going to get a knock on his door and life as he’s known it will change forever,” O’Reilly said. “That day will happen, trust me.… Ailes knows very powerful people and this goes all the way to the top.”

“Top of what?” Mackris asked.

“Top of the country. Just look at who’s on the cover of his book,” O’Reilly replied, referring to Bush and Cheney. “They’re watching him and will be for years. He’s finished, and he’s going to be sorry he ever took Fox News Channel on.”

Mackris rejoined O’Reilly’s staff in July. A few weeks later, O’Reilly called her at her apartment on the Upper West Side after he had interviewed two porn stars and allegedly talked dirty to her while masturbating. Shortly after 11: 00 p.m. on September 1, O’Reilly called Mackris on her cell phone. Mackris returned the call a few minutes later. She turned on a tape recorder. She later said she told O’Reilly she was not interested but he steamrolled ahead. He explained he was watching a “porn movie” and “babbled perversely” about having sex with her. Mackris alleged O’Reilly was pleasuring himself during the phone call.

...The story line was a ready-made tabloid soap opera: here was one of Bill Clinton’s fiercest pursuers entangled in his own sex scandal with a female employee twenty-two years his junior. Even worse, O’Reilly—whose wife had just given birth to their second child a year earlier—was scheduled to promote his new book, The O’Reilly Factor for Kids. In one passage, he wrote: “Guys, if you exploit a girl, it will come back to get you. That’s called ‘karma.’” (Kindle Locations 5883-5883)
Anyhow, that's all grim stuff, but I promise the book is genuinely unintentionally entertaining. It's just that all the stuff that tries to be gritty and real is hilariously inhuman-seeming, while all the extreme stuff that O'Reilly writes as fiction is too uncomfortably grounded in the reality of his psyche. But, seriously, stop reading this.

Go listen to jokes.

(For those who prefer to listen to things via iTunes, the podcast is available here.)