When will Ailes rein in O’Reilly?

Roger Ailes put Karl Rove on a short leash after his election night meltdown, but lets Bill lie about Ann Coulter

Topics: Bill O'Reilly, Fordham University, Ann Coulter, Fox News, Roger Ailes, Editor's Pick, Editor's Picks, ,

When will Ailes rein in O'Reilly? (Credit: AP/Frank Franklin II/Mary Altaffer)

I wrote earlier today about Fox boss Roger Ailes’ humiliation of longtime “contributor” Karl Rove. After Rove’s embarrassing meltdown on election night, when he tried to stop Fox from calling Ohio for President Obama, Ailes told his staff that any booker who wanted to use Rove had to get permission from a higher-up. Ailes apparently woke up and realized that peddling his audience self-soothing falsehoods is probably not the way to build a GOP majority coalition in this country any time soon. And it might even be bad for business, too.

But what about Bill O’Reilly? He had his own meltdown on election night, blaming Obama’s reelection on the disappearance of “traditional America” and “the white establishment.” A few days later he began an ongoing jihad against “secular progressives” and the “far left” that was as fact-free as it was vicious. I wrote at the time that O’Reilly seemed to be going the way of Glenn Beck, who lost his Fox show after his paranoia and anti-Obama vitriol became too much even for Ailes.

This week he went so far as to lie about his fellow entertainer Ann Coulter’s travails at Fordham University. In a bilious segment he claimed Fordham “banned” Coulter, when in fact the university’s student Republicans rescinded her invitation. While university president Father Joseph McShane indeed had criticized the invitation, he was firmly on record defending her right to speak and opposing any effort to “ban” her, despite outrage among campus liberals.

There’s evidence that someone at Fox News knows O’Reilly lied about Fordham. On O’Reilly’s personal website, where you can pay extra money for a dollop of extra bullshit with a “premium” membership, the headline on the Fordham hit piece says, “Fordham University bans Ann Coulter: Jesse Watters investigates why the conservative commentator was barred from speaking on campus.” But on the official Fox News site, the very same video bears the headline “Fordham University snubs Ann Coulter: Jesse Watters investigates why college cancelled conservative commentator.” Of course “snubs” and “cancelled” are more accurate than “banned” or “barred.” Somebody at Fox knows the difference.



What is Ailes’ excuse for letting O’Reilly slur the reputation of a local New York Jesuit university? I’ve made clear why I care personally about this story: My daughter went to Fordham, and got a great education. Although its leaders are conservative on social issues, they run a campus that’s dedicated to the free exchange of ideas. I’ve heard through the Fordham grapevine that although O’Reilly stooge Watters only interviews that made students look either stupid or biased or both, he interviewed Fordham students who understood the controversy and described it accurately – but, of course, the show didn’t use those clips.

A passionate rejoinder by Fordham student Nicholas Milanes is making its way around social media. Milanes notes Coulter’s history of homophobic idiocy – remember “Disown Your [gay] Son Day”? — explains the truth about her rescinded invitation, and defends his school and classmates. He says his parents are avid O’Reilly viewers. Maybe Ailes should read it. I’m reprinting it here, with permission.

Mr. O’Reilly:

My name is Nicholas Milanes. I am currently a senior at Fordham University, the school that your colleague, Mr. Watters, painted as a gated community of dunces through intensive editing and selective exposure in this video.  As you can likely tell from my tone, I take issue with your program’s overly-simplistic portrayal of my soon-to-be alma mater and of the controversy surrounding Ann Coulter’s invitation to speak at our campus. Presumably you needed to fill some time in your program, and so you sent the celebrated Mr. Watters off to the Bronx, a borough with which I’m sure he’s thoroughly well-acquainted, to lackadaisically film a few sleepy students walking to class and paint a simple enough picture of a complex situation for your viewers to swallow. Since it’s clear that you lack a proper research team, or simply prefer to gloss over such inconsequential details as our school’s population, administrative activity and recent history, allow me to elucidate the key factors that influenced the university’s backlash against Coulter’s invitation.

Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, Coulter’s invective makes regular use of hate speech that is particularly offensive to our student body. Among her store of racist, sexist and otherwise marginalizing terminology is a particular fondness for homophobic language. Had your research team done its job– I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt from here on out and assume that you do, in fact, have a research team–they would have found that Fordham is home to a large LGBTQ community. Given that Coulter’s comments more often than not tend to inflame and propagate homophobic sentiments rather than engage in mature, grounded discussion about her views and those of her detractors–exemplified most efficiently in her infamous “Disown Your Son Day” tweet — it stands to reason that the Fordham student body would strongly oppose the College Republicans’ actions.

In recent years, our campus has unfortunately been defaced with graffiti spelling out racist and homophobic slurs. These incidents have engendered fear and uncertainty among our ethnic minority and LGBTQ students in an environment where they are supposed to feel safe and at home. Into this threatened environment the College Republicans decided to invite a woman whose rhetoric propagates homophobic and racist behavior. You wouldn’t invite a Klansman to speak at Fisk University, nor would you invite Coulter to speak at Fordham.

Secondly, the headline splayed across your website–”FORDHAM BANS ANN COULTER”–is false. Fordham University did not ban Coulter. The College Republicans cancelled her speech in response to the backlash of the administration and student body. Your words regarding Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J.–which you coupled with footage of him speaking at a podium, a narratorial decision that I presume was meant to depict him as some sort of censorial fascist–are groundless slander. I quote McShane’s statement, which all students received via email:

“Student groups are allowed, and encouraged, to invite speakers who represent diverse, and sometimes unpopular, points of view, in keeping with the canons of academic freedom. Accordingly, the University will not block the College Republicans from hosting their speaker of choice on campus.”

As you can see, the text plainly states that the university decided not to take any action to censor Coulter. You also claimed that McShane “insulted” Coulter. I’m unsure, as there is nothing resembling an insult in the body of the email, but I believe this is what you’re talking about:

“To say that I am disappointed with the judgment and maturity of the College Republicans, however, would be a tremendous understatement. There are many people who can speak to the conservative point of view with integrity and conviction, but Ms. Coulter is not among them. Her rhetoric is often hateful and needlessly provocative—more heat than light—and her message is aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.”

McShane is simply stating what is already known. Coulter, a self-branded “provocateur,” seeks only to inflame, not to discuss.

This, thirdly, is the primary difference between Ann Coulter and Peter Singer, who Mr. Watters branded a proponent of infanticide without delving into the complexities of his viewpoints. While we may disagree with Singer’s views, Singer presents his opinions and ideas in a logical, thoughtout manner. The impetus behind Singer’s appearance at Fordham was discussion. Fordham’s founding Jesuit principles emphasize a need for discussion between proponents of varying viewpoints. It is by understanding these viewpoints that we Fordham students can come to embody the principle of cura personalis, the idea of individualized attention and care for others. Coulter’s speeches do not elicit discussion. She does not present her arguments in a rational manner open to debate, nor do her principles in any way supplement our Jesuit education.

I understand that in the current oversaturated media landscape, it’s of utmost importance for programs such as yours to paint the simplest possible narratives for viewers to gobble up piecemeal, rather than slowly consider the various complexities of any given “newsworthy” situation. This occurs in liberal and conservative media alike. However, I would expect the producers of a program with as vast a viewership as yours to feel some degree of responsibility to its viewers and its subjects. In turning the news into cheap entertainment, you have made my school the butt of a poorly-conceived joke and subsequently insulted its every student, professor and administrator. Your lackey, Mr. Watters, scoped out the most dubious-looking students he could find and held them up as representatives of a student body comprised of over eight thousand undergraduates. You then proceeded to call us all idiots.

Mr. O’Reilly, my parents–avid viewers of yours, in fact–and I are drowning in debt so that I can earn the best education I can–an education deserving of my parents’ sacrifices and my grandparents’ sacrifices. There are countless others like me attending Fordham University. We are not mudslinging toddlers who simply wanted to plug our ears and scream. We are not idiots. We are individuals who took action through expression of our opinions–a method of action fundamental to democracy. If you are indeed as committed to lauding patriots and honoring those who champion democracy as you claim to be, you will apologize for the deeply ignorant assault you leveled against me, my place of learning and my classmates.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have exams to study for.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Milanes

 

 

 

 

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>