Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

Curated knowlege, trenchant insights & witty bon mots

Frank Rich on ‘The O’Reilly Factor for Lesbians’

The NYT’s Frank Rich takes a look at the harassment lawsuit levied against Fox News star Bill O’Reilly and its link with the “outing” of already-out Mary Cheney, lesbian daughter of U.S. veep Dick.

It involves a complaint by Andrea Mackris, an associate producer on The O’Reilly Factor. She accuses O’Reilly of having “an obsessive interest in vibrators, phone sex and, most persistently, erotic scenarios involving pairs of women,” according to Rich. News of the suit came out on the same day as the final presidential debate: Oct. 13.

Details available at The Smoking Gun.

The bad news for Fox is not only that its most bankable cable star could end up in the third-tier broadcasting oblivion of William Bennett but also that Fox News, handed the kind of story it lives for, could not (or, more precisely, would not) turn it into a mediathon, complete with legal analysis from Greta, Gloria Allred and Jeanine Pirro. So the network made do instead with the parallel soap opera of Mary Cheney.  …

To understand what strange game is playing out here, you must go back to the equally close 2000 election. In the campaign postmortems, Karl Rove famously attributed his candidate’s shortfall in the popular vote to four million “fundamentalists and evangelicals” in the Republican base who didn’t turn up on Election Day. A common theory among Bush operatives had it that these no-shows had been alienated by the pre-election revelation of Mr. Bush’s arrest for drunk driving years earlier.

The current Bush-Cheney campaign clearly believes that for these voters, Mary Cheney’s sexuality could be a last-minute turnoff equivalent to Mr. Bush’s D.U.I. history. When Rich Lowry of National Review said on Fox that “millions and millions of people” were not aware that Mary Cheney was gay until Mr. Kerry brought it up, it was clear just which four million he was talking about. Mr. Kerry, his critics all speculate, was deliberately seeking to depress voter turnout among Mr. Rove’s M.I.A. religious conservatives by broadcasting Mary Cheney’s sexuality to them for the first time.

… The deployment of homosexuality as a nasty campaign weapon has long been second nature to Mr. Rove. In the must-read article “Karl Rove in a Corner” in the November issue of The Atlantic, the journalist Joshua Green exhaustively researches the tightest campaigns of Mr. Rove’s career and exhumes the pattern. As Mr. Green reminds us, George W. Bush’s 1994 gubernatorial race against Ann Richards “featured a rumor” that Governor Richards was a lesbian. Gay whispers have also swirled around Rove adversaries like a rival Republican campaign consultant in the 1980′s and a 1994 Alabama judicial candidate who was branded a “homosexual pedophile.”

Those are a few key excerpts, but I really would urge you to read the entire version of The O’Reilly Factor for Lesbians.

Thu, October 21 2004 » Main Page, Media