O’Reilly: an obituary

I think it goes without saying that Bill O’Reilly isn’t really dead. I titled this an “obituary” because, frankly, I just always expected O’Reilly to die on the job, which is not so much a comment on the proximity of his demise, but more of a reflection of my inability to see the man retire. He has been on air since what seems like the beginning of time — his stint at Fox News alone has spanned more than two decades. For better or worse, the man has become iconic, and it’s difficult to imagine him off the air. And, in a way, calling this an obituary is quite fitting, because O’Reilly’s life is so inexorably connected to the anchor’s desk he occupied every weekday. So, now that he has been fired from his show in disgrace over his decades-long habit of sexual harassment, his absence from that desk and the air makes it seem almost like he has indeed passed away.

I confess, I’ve had a minor obsession with the conservative commentator sarcastically nicknamed “Papa Bear” by Stephen Colbert, by which I mean (1) I sometimes do a really bad impression of O’Reilly engaging in either mansplaining or homophobia and (2) I watch O’Reilly’s show occasionally — not every day, and usually not the whole show, but definitely more than a young left-winger is expected to (if you didn’t already assume intuitively as much, the average age of O’Reilly’s audience is a youthful 72). For the most part, it’s an intentionally masochistic/self-flagellating/self-abusive experience because, well, to…

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