Just ask Bill


Alden Graves

Tammy Wynette had one of her biggest hits in 1968 with a song called "D-I-V-O-R-C-E." I guess the world tended to be a lot less pretentious then. I’ve never been a big fan of the Gwyneth Paltrow school of ice water acting. Given the fact that I still miss Wynette, I probably don’t need to state that I’ve never warmed much to Coldplay.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m going on about, Ms. Paltrow, who parleyed an Oscar 16 years ago into countless magazine covers, and her husband, Chris Martin, who is Coldplay’s lead singer, have decided to call it quits after 11 years of marriage. When you attain the pinnacle of celebrity that these two have reached, however, you can’t use a word as mundane as "divorce" to describe such a momentous event.

If Tammy were alive today, she might have to wrestle with "Our C-O-N-S-C-I-O-U-S U-N-C-O-U-P-L-I-N-G becomes final today." It’s quite possibly the only reason that I’m glad she is gone. The phrase probably won’t endure in pertinence to failed marriages among twits, but it might find a real future in railroad yards.

In other entertainment news: "We will always tell you the truth." So saith Mr. Bill O’Reilly while he did one of his pronouncements for the faithful that was more glutted with self-serving syrup than a seven-year-old would pour over a stack of pancakes. The Wise Old Man of Fox News was commenting on the disappearance of Flight 370, the Malaysian Airlines wide-body jet that vanished on March 8 after departing Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. O’Reilly knew where the plane was a week ago and he could have spared the relatives and friends of the 239 people on board all the agony of apprehension if they had just listened to him.

You are probably asking yourself why the rest of the world was held in suspense for so long, if people as far removed from the investigation -- not to mention reality-- as the fair and balanced folks at Fox knew what happened to Flight 370 almost from the outset? To what point was the attenuation of the tragic drama? Why spend millions of dollars, expend thousands of man-hours, and extend the misery of hundreds of people when they knew what had happened to the plane all along?

Mr. O’Reilly thinks it all was a disgraceful ploy to wring tears out of a tragic story and, in a classic pot and kettle moment, he castigated the media for resorting to such low tactics. At opportune moments like this, the media traditionally assumes the role of the Frankenstein monster to the right wing’s peaceful Alpine villagers.

It was the media that manipulated the governments of concerned nations into mounting a Barnum and Bailey scale search for the missing jet. Australia and China were very concerned about the amount of flack that President Obama is getting about Benghazi and were happy to do their part in a concerted effort to distract the world. Welcome to truth as it is spun in Fox News World.

This has been a great time for "I told you so" from noted also-rans. Two headliners on the plush seat circuit, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, both knew that Putin wasn’t to be trusted. Mr. Romney privately expressed concern that the Russian president might have designs on the Cayman Islands and Palin wondered if Putin would impose new restrictions on snowmobiling in the Crimea that would "really tick Todd and his friends off."

O’Reilly’s smug "We told you so" finale to the jetliner story very likely originated in the office of Roger Ailes, the former Republican operative who is now installed as the president of the fair and balanced Fox News Channel. I know that it is a fundamental precept of Rovian politics that, if you repeat something often enough, it assumes the appearance of truth. I wonder how many times someone would have to hear "fair and balanced" to lend any credence to the words when they originated in the mind of a man who once worked for Richard Nixon, the DeMille of dirty tricks.

But, just so this troubling little fact doesn’t slip through the cracks of Mr. O’Reilly’s sanctimonious pose as Truth’s Messenger, he is, first and foremost, a highly recompensed mouthpiece for Rupert Murdoch. Among the battalion of past outrages committed by the Murdoch media empire in its seemingly unquenchable quest for profits was accessing the voicemail of a 13-year-old child who was abducted and murdered in 2002, giving her parents some hope that she was still alive. So much for sanctimonious posing.

In a related story, Mr. O’Reilly disclosed that he is studying the last flight plan of Amelia Earhart and will let his viewers know what happened to her on his next show. Conceding that, yes, it will mean another week of wondering for Earhart’s descendants, but the final disclosure of her whereabouts will probably hype his ratings, so what’s the big deal after all this time?

Alden Graves is a Banner columnist.


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