Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wishing Well

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It's no secret to my readers here that I've never had much use for Fox News host Bill "Falafel" O'Reilly. But MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has made his feud with O'Reilly a regular feature of his show "Countdown." He's repeatedly listed O'Reilly as one of the top contenders in his "Worst Person in the World" segment, never letting up on O'Reilly's reputation for bullying and sexual predation.

Fox News, for its part, has responded by -- wishing Keith well.

What's this, you say? Is Fox News -- that hotbed of hysterical bashers of anything-not-Bush and one of the last places to take Ann Coulter seriously as a pundit -- actually acting with some class?

Well, no. Not exactly. See, Fox News has turned "we wish him well" into its signature kiss-off, according to recent stories on NPR and The Associated Press. In Olbermann's case, Fox News' PR flack said, among other tidbits, "We hope [Olbermann] enjoys his paranoid view from the bottom of the ratings ladder and wish him well on his inevitable trip to oblivion."

Oooh, snap! And as with any good talking point, Fox likes to use this one over and over. When NBC's Tim Russert had the audacity to suggest that Fox was getting preferential treatment from the White House, Fox's PR flack shot back, "Tim's sour grapes are obvious here, but at least he's not using his father as a prop to sell books this time around. That said, we wish him well on his latest self-promotion tour." (Ever notice how Fox seems to think having written a book is cause for scorn?)

Or take this shot at actor and Oscar-nominated director George Clooney: "It's obvious he needs publicity considering his recent string of failures. We wish him well in his struggle to regain relevancy." (Ever notice how much time Fox spends responding to people it claims are irrelevant?)

Of course, as a Southerner born and raised, I'm familiar with our own homegrown version of Fox's "wishing someone well." Except here it's called "blessing his heart." Like "we wish him well," "bless his heart" can have a meaning that actually is complimentary. Example: "I went over to granny's house and mowed the lawn for her." "Well, bless your heart!" "Bobbi Sue won the spelling bee." "Well, bless her heart!"

But it's also the tag line you can add to the worst insult to make it look like you're not being catty or mean. "Bless her heart, that girl's ugly as a mud fence." Or "That boy's dumber'n a box of rocks, bless his heart."

Maybe it's my own Dixiecentric outlook talking, but it seems to me that "bless his (or her) heart" needs to be used more widely, especially among feuding members of the media.

Take for instance, the recent O'Reilly radio show in which a caller, "Mike from Orlando," mentioned Olbermann's name. ("Mike from Orlando" is actually Mike Stark, whose Web site "Calling All Wingnuts" gleefully recounts his on-air run-ins with right-wing radio hosts.) Now, some radio hosts would have been happy just to hit the cutoff button and move on. Not our Bill. "We have your phone numbers, by the way," O'Reilly warned. "So, if you're listening, Mike, we have your phone number, and we're going to turn it over to Fox security, and you'll be getting a little visit."

Now, the way that was phrased, it sounds -- well, a little freakin' nuts, is how it sounds. I mean, does O'Reilly think Fox Security's coming to knock down the doors of those who irritate him? Think of how much better it would sound like this: "Mike, we have your phone number, and we're going to turn it over to Fox security, and you'll be getting a little visit, bless your heart." Doesn't that sound less insane?

And because fair's fair: Keith Olbermann, you should feel free to toss in a couple of "bless your hearts." Like for instance, on a recent show where you noted that O'Reilly's ratings were trending down while MSNBC's were trending up, it wouldn't have killed you to put it this way: "Bill, seriously, it's slipping away from you. You don't know what to do. You can't even lie well anymore bless your heart."

I'll even take my own advice. Republican icon Ann Coulter recently criticized the "Jersey Girls," the widows of 9/11 victims who've pushed for a fuller investigation of pre-9/11 intelligence failures, saying they're "enjoying their husband's deaths." So I can say, "That Coulter girl is meaner and crazier than a frying pan full of coked-up rattlesnakes on a hot stove. Bless her heart."

Thank you for listening, and I wish you well.


Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

"So, if you're listening, Mike, we have your phone number, and we're going to turn it over to Fox security, and you'll be getting a little visit."

That's pathetic.

Tori Lennox said...

*wandering over from The Good Girls Kill for Money Club*

I mean, does O'Reilly think Fox Security's coming to knock down the doors of those who irritate him?

That alone would be a full time job for their security. :D

Richard said...

Let's go knock on Bill's door--I'll bring the tar, you bring the feathers!

James Lincoln Warren said...

Three southern belles are sitting on the veranda sipping mint juleps. Beulah Mae flashes her new cocktail ring in front of her two friends.

"Mah husband loves me so much, he bought me this heah li'l ole ring with a three carat emerald," she says.

"That's so nice," Hannah Belle replies.

"Well, mah husband loves me so much that he bought me that theah brand new Mawsaydees-Bends yondah, in which I drove mahself ovah heah today," says Tallulah Rae.

"That's so nice," says Hannah Belle again.

Beulah Mae and Tallulah Rae exchange incredulous looks, and finally Beulah Mae bursts out with, "Hannah Belle, honey, didn't your husband evah do anything to show you how much he loves you?"

"Well, now that I think on it, he did send me to charm school."

"Charm school?" Tallulah Rae scornfully asks. "What good is charm school?"

"Well," replies Hannah Belle, "they taught me theah to say 'That's so nice' instead of 'Fuck you, bitch!'"

Bless their hearts.

Steve Allan said...

I think Keith Olbermann's comments on O'Reilly and Coultergeist are hilarious.

Kim Mizar-Stem said...

I personally enjoy O'Reilly because every time he opens his mouth he shows the "thinking" world just how stupid he truly is, bless his little cold, dark, black heart!

Kristy said...

Dusty, dear, if you keep giving our Southern secrets away I might have to turn your phone number over to Redneck Security, and you'll be getting a little visit. Bless your heart.

Louise Ure said...

As a Southern (Arizona) girl myself, I'm quite comfortable damning with the faint praise of "bless his heart" or even "that poor sweet thing." But I just can't bring myself to do it for the Coultergeist. She isn't sweet and she has no heart.