03 May 2007

American fascism, exhibit C

Proving they can dump more than just useless waste into the world's population, my alma mater has conducted a study (pdf) on Bill O'Reilly and propaganda, comparing Mr. Loofah favorably (in a sense) to the original American Fascist (and original talk-radio gasbag) Fr. Charles Coughlin. (Boldface mine in all cases.)
Research question 2 asked how often fear was a dominant frame in O’Reilly’s
discussion of issues. The answer is that O’Reilly used a fear frame in over half (52.4 percent)
of the commentaries. Related to this is research question 3 that asked specifically about
cases where the fear frame is invoked. Specifically, how often was the restoration of order
principle present in fear frame cases? When O’Reilly invoked the fear frame, he offered
resolution to the threat in only 1 percent of cases. A frequent target of O’Reilly is
the ACLU. In one commentary (1 March 2005) he called the ACLU ‘‘flat out dangerous. It
panders to its far-left base by portraying the USA as a bad country, giving terrorists aid and comfort, as it holds America to an impossible standard.’’ After listing what was wrong with the ACLU, O’Reilly ended the commentary with ‘‘Get the picture? It is awful.’’
Most role-players were bad (58.2 percent). In fact, all of the 22 identities were
described as bad at some point in this census of ‘‘Talking Points Memo’’ episodes. Leftleaning
media made up the largest portion (21.6 percent) of bad role-players with media
without a political leaning in second place (12.2 percent). When it comes to evil-doers
(those who are supremely bad), illegal aliens (26.8 percent) and terrorists (21.4 percent)
constituted the largest proportions.
Celebrities were bad more than half the time and victims less than a third of the
time. They were also good, but not often. O’Reilly acknowledged the goodness of ordinary Americans far more often as a group than in individual reference. The group was never evil, whereas individuals were. Both groups and individuals emerged mostly as victims* more so than any other identity category. They were framed as bad with similar frequency.

Left-leaning media as well as media without an identified leaning, political
organizations associated with the politically left, and Democrats were the four entities
with the highest frequencies of being bad. Together they represented 53.7 percent of
those framed as bad and were further scrutinized for reasons (see Figure 2). Left-leaning
media were bad for an assortment of reasons: most prominently for criticizing the
President (35.5 percent) and for their apparent anti-Americanism and affront to Fox News Channel or O’Reilly (17.7 percent each). The bad categorization of Democrats was derived mostly from incompetence (30.8 percent) and unpatriotic behavior by not supporting President Bush (23.1 percent) and anti-American (19.2 percent).
The best [role-players] of all, the US military, achieved goodness through its battle against terrorism. Americans as a group were good mostly because they upheld social norms but also because they were competent citizens. The criminal justice system earned the good
label by upholding social norms and being competent. The Bush administration achieved
goodness through fighting terrorism, upholding social norms, and serving the American
people with competence.
Four groups emerged as the most prominent villains in O’Reilly’s world. At the top of
the list are the media*specifically those that O’Reilly framed as politically left but also
outlets he referred to without mentioning political leaning. These media outlets comprised
28 percent of all villains, primarily because of their lack of support of President Bush and
their disregard for O’Reilly himself. Second is the political left*including political
organizations that O’Reilly labeled as left as well as Democrats and other politicians
who were referred to in vague terms such as ‘‘politicians’’ or ‘‘Congress.’’ What earned
them O’Reilly’s contempt is their apparent moral corruption and incompetence while
daring to criticize the President. Third is a collection of foreigners, including terrorists,illegal aliens, and the citizens and leaders of countries abroad who, according to O’Reilly, all pose a physical threat to Americans. In fourth place are members of the academe, who were framed as anti-American violators of social norms. Overall then, the political left was constructed as a shady bunch who is a nuisance to those in power. Yet, foreigners are those who should be feared for their direct physical threat to America. Academics, somewhat similar to the political left, were put in a frame of moral unsteadiness*but they were most clearly traitors to American ideals.

I think that's more than enough direct quotes, but I heartily encourage reading the whole study (it's not long.) Thanks to Alex Blaze of Bilerico for pointing it out.