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April 9, 2007

America Has Bigger Problems than Rosie O'Donnell


On December 20 of last year, "The View" co-star Joy Behar made an offhand joke in which she compared then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to Hitler. Later that night, conservative media pontificator Brent Bozell appeared on Fox News's "Hannity and Colmes" to complain that "not one single person [from the Democratic side] has denounced Joy Behar for what she said."


The implication, of course, was that Democrats had not denounced Behar because they agreed with her that Rumsfeld was in fact comparable to Hitler. But the more likely reason for the lack of reaction on the matter was that most Democrats, in the nine hours or so between when Behar's comments aired and when Bozell's did, probably hadn't watched the show or even heard about it.


Perhaps the Democratic elite simply aren't big fans of "The View," or even if they are, had spent that nine hours doing whatever it is elite Democrats do, rather than watch it. Or maybe, if they did see the show, they didn't consider what Behar said to be the massive, calamitous threat to the republic that Bozell did. 


We went through this same silly dance again last week, when Rosie O'Donnell, another co-host of "The View," made some more controversial comments about President Bush and other administration figures. In recent weeks, O’Donnell, among other statements, has questioned the official story of the 9/11 attacks, blamed the British soldiers themselves for the recent hostage crisis in Iran and alleged that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s recent confession to plotting the attacks was coerced.


If you've watched Fox News at all in the past two weeks, you've probably heard all about this. Because, in an Anna Nicole/War on Christmas-like display of single-minded newsgathering, FNC's prime time opinion shows have devoted their energies to little else.


At a time when the United States is at war, a presidential election is in full swing, and while a lot of other major stories are taking up our time, America's most-watched news channel is concentrating primarily on some comments by a low-tier former actress/comedian who is one of four panelists on a daytime talk show. As a result, the dissemination of O’Donnell’s opinions has been multiplied many times, along with near-constant demands that ABC fire her.


This hit a low point Thursday night, when Bill O'Reilly started screaming about a "media blackout" by non-Fox outlets who had not given sufficient attention to the O'Donnell "scandal." O'Reilly, you'll remember, is the same man who reacted to Danny DeVito's drunken talk show appearance last year, also on "The View," by concluding that "liberal anger" is "out of control."


Yes, a big part of Fox's formula is to keep their audience supremely outraged at all times, usually at something some Hollywood celebrity has said or done. But with O’Donnell, this bizarre mixture of condescension and class resentment has been deemed more important even than issues of war and peace.


This is how I feel about this "Hollywood celebrities" situation in general. Hollywood figures are very often going to spout off about politics, and very often, they're going to sound dumb while doing it. I feel the best thing to do, when someone of little political significance says something stupid about something they know nothing about, is merely to ignore it. Why such spoutings are worthy of such extreme outrage is something that I continue to not understand.


Am I defending Rosie? No, not really. In fact, she's long been one of my least-favorite media figures in America. I don't agree with much of anything she has to say about Iraq, terrorism, 9/11 or the British hostages, and the way she says it (that constant pierced whine) may be even worse than what she says.


I admire her advocacy on behalf of same-sex marriage and adoption, yes, but that in no way qualifies her to make grand geopolitical pronouncements and be taken seriously. Her barely literate blog posts, which are seemingly read and quoted only by right-wing bloggers, don't help her case either.


But if you have a problem with Rosie, the best thing to do is to not watch “The View.” That’s what I do. And next time a minor Fox News contributor says something “controversial” – as happened on “Red Eye” last week, when (according to Slate) host Greg Gutfeld joked that fans of “The View” “should be put to death” – I don’t think liberals should act as though a crime against humanity has taken place. I think, as with O’Donnell and Behar, they should criticize it once, and then just ignore it.


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