Bill O’Reilly did his final O’Reilly Factor for 2016 on Tuesday night, and it was a doozy. It led off with a patented “Talking Points Memo” about those who want to abolish the Electoral College. Fox News viewers long ago got used to Bill using the phrase “Talking Points” as a substitute for the first-person singular. Thus when he said, “Talking Points believes this is all about race,” he meant that “I, Bill O’Reilly, believe this is all about race,” and — wait a minute: Did “Talking Points” actually say, “This is all about race”?
Oh, indeed he did. O’Reilly’s thesis is that abolishing the Electoral College and using only the popular vote to elect the president will lead to “presidential candidates simply campaign[ing] in the nation’s largest cities — New York, L.A., Chicago, Houston — and rack[ing] up enough votes to pretty much win any election.” In Bill-World, “largest cities” is code for “minority vote,” which in turn is code for “black and Latino populations,” which he believes vote as a mindless, uniform bloc for Democratic candidates. In fact, O’Reilly doesn’t even bother speaking in code anymore — he just comes right out and says it, asserting that a popular-vote election would “neutralize the largely white rural areas in the Midwest and South [and] assure liberal politicians get power.”
All year, O’Reilly has been amping up his attacks on the concept of “white privilege” as it is taught in universities and, increasingly, in pop culture venues. On Tuesday, he swerved into a crazily disconnected comparison, linking the Electoral College issue to his favorite bête noire: “White privilege … permeates almost every issue: that white men have set up a system of oppression, and that system must be destroyed.” He said, “Bernie Sanders peddled this,” as did Hillary Clinton and “the liberal media, all the time. … So-called white privilege: bad; diversity: good!” Summing up, Bill said, “The left wants power taken away from the white establishment, and they want a profound change in the way America is run.”
But, but, but, Bill: “The left” and the Democratic Party are not the same thing. Leftists who prattle on about white privilege are not the same people who hold power in the party. And look, please, at the Democratic leadership — have you seen a whiter group? Do you really think they’d abandon their self-interests to a new, nonwhite leadership? There’s nothing for you to fear here, Bill: The power structure will remain white. And where is this cadre of militant black or Latino Democrats leading a charge against whites? “Very few commentators will tell you that the heart of liberalism in America is based on race,” says Bill, who has apparently not been watching his new lead-in, Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Other TV outlets were quick to pounce. Over on MSNBC’s The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, the host and guests were gleefully crowing that O’Reilly “sounds like he was defending apartheid!” Loopy rhetoric on both sides.
The final O’Reilly Factor of 2016 also included a report on the truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that excoriated the German government for not using the word “terrorism” quickly enough. (Exactly how soon after any disaster occurs must everyone in the world use the word “terrorism,” Bill? How many minutes can pass before this becomes an offense?) And at the end of the hour, Bill patted himself on the back while noting that the “war against Christmas” was in far better shape — that is, more people, by some mystical calculation, are saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy holidays” — than in years past, thanks to his vigilance.
Happy holi — excuse me — Merry Christmas to you, Mr. Reilly. Let’s hope you get some well-deserved, much-needed rest.
The O’Reilly Factor airs weeknights at 8 p.m. on Fox News.