The O'Reilly Factor
Media Analysis Presentation: Nazhat Amiri
- This media analysis presentation will cover the analysis of The O'Reilly Factor, a cable television news and political talk show on the Fox News Channel hosted by Bill O'Reilly, in the context of how it portrays race and racism.
- The analysis of The O'Reilly Factor is extremely important because like every news source, the public has the expectation to receive unbiased and truthful reporting. The news has a great deal of influence on the knowledge and outlook of citizens, especially regarding what we think of other society members.
How Much Do You Know About "The O'Reilly Factor"?
- The O'Reilly Factor is a television news and talk show focused on discussing current political issues and controversies with guests.
- The creation of the show was influenced by the beliefs and values of the Republican Party. It caters to the right wing ideology and audience. The show is aired on Fox News Network, which is known for having a consistent conservative philosophy.
- The structure of the show is very similar to its competitors within different news networks, such as CNN and MSNBC, however The O'Reilly Factor is unique because it is marketed towards republicans and conservatives in it's ideology.
- The intended audience, based on the show's subject material, presentation and ideology, is white adults. Specifically, the show has a large senior citizen following, with the median age for the audience being in the 70's. (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/05/most-people-who-watch-bill-oreilly-are-over-70.html)
ANALYSIS FINDINGS AND RESULTS
How are people of different races portrayed in "The O'Reilly Factor"?
- The O'Reilly Factor is a political/news television show and at times directly discusses race topics, however the findings of the analysis are based on the overall portrayal of the show (may they be discussing a race issue or not).
- The television show is hosted by Bill O'Reilly, who himself represents the intended audience of the show, older white male. As a result, the television show majority of the time includes guests who are white and connect with the audience. This has the tendency to reinforce the stereotype that older white individuals are on the right wing and conservative because the show is dominated by white guests and staff.
- There are instances within the show when individuals of different color and background are brought in to discuss news topics. Nevertheless, in my analysis, there is a trend that individuals of color are majority of the time brought in when the issue of discussion involves race. For example, if the discussion is in regard to the financial market of the nation, the guests brought in to provide a viewpoint on that are white. However, if the discussion is in regard to undocumented immigrants or Black Lives Matter movement then guests from different races are invited to the show.
- As a result to the previous bullet point, this is a negative portrayal. It communicates to the audience that individuals of color are not impacting or knowledgable about overall issues within our society. The show brings in guests of color when the issue deals with that community, which normalizes white people but makes colored individuals feel as they are not known and need to be brought in to have an insight into their world. This also limits the amount of diversity within the show, as individuals from Asian, Hispanic and Native American ethnicities are rarely seen.
- The physical portrayal of all individuals on the guest, white or colored, is positive. In different types of media, such as cartoons or films, the physical presentation of individuals can reinforce stereotypes. For example, by using outfits or exaggerating physical attributions, it can strengthen stereotypes. However, because this is a political tv show, everyone is physically portrayed respectfully as themselves.
- The pictures and videos used on The O'Reilly Factor do tend to reinforce stereotypes and support the right wing ideologies. The show will use videos and pictures that support their stance on the issue and market towards their audience. For example, when discussing the Trayvon Martin Case, the show utilized pictures of him that stereotyped him as a "ghetto" kid and reinforced the thoughts of its audience. There were pictures of him wearing a Hollister shirt, which is a brand highly worn by white Americans, but those pictures were not shown.
How is racism portrayed in The O'Reilly Factor?
- The issue of racism is discussed within The O'Reilly Factor, at times directly or around an event that created a racism controversy. For example, the Freddie Gray events were discussed on the show and this resulted into a conversation of race and racism within America. It is during these conversations where individuals from different races are brought in to give their viewpoint.
- The show definitely does not ignore the topic of race and does discuss it, but seems to characterize it as something that is not an issue within our nation and something that is being used as an "excuse" by minorities within America. During the events of Baltimore riots, the television show used the images to reinforce stereotypes that blacks are violent and uneducated, rather than discussing the issue without bias.
- In the link provided below, Bill O'Reilly is seen discussing race and very often this is how the show presents race, rather than directly talking about racism within the country and if it is an issue or not. There were little to no instances in my analysis when the solution to racism was discussed. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8A_Afk2-z4)
SO WHAT? WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
How is The O'Reilly Factor influencing society?
- The O'Reilly Factor is negatively influencing the society. It is reinforcing stereotypes and creating negative assumptions for people of color, directly and indirectly.
- As the show brings in guests to discuss topics that do not involve race, this indirectly sends a message to it's audience that individuals of color are not as well aware and educated of the nations issues.
- The shows audience is majority white and through the show they receive an insight on the lives of individuals from different races. It is through the news the audience receives its knowledge of different communities and creates its own perceptions. If the audience is hearing the comments from Bill O'Reilly as shown in the youtube link above, then they generalize on the entire community and feel that is how all black individuals are.
- As the show presents images of events that portray a community or an individual from a community in a negative manner, rather than providing biased reporting of the event, it creates hatred in the minds of the audience and society. For example, during the Trayvon Martin case, pictures of Trayvon that made him look more "ghetto" were used to backup their conservative ideology and reinforce the stereotype of black people.
- Additionally, because The O'Reilly Factor does not directly discuss racism and how to solve this issue within the nation, it influences people to only notice racism and to see how minorities use it as an "excuse" rather than trying to see the reasoning behind it and how we can work together to solve. The show keeps on ignoring that racism is a problem and this carries on towards their audience as well.
What are the consequences of The O'Reilly Factor for society?
- The consequences of racism and race discussed within The O'Reilly Factor is definitely perpetuating racial hierarchy. It is encouraging and reinforcing the current racial hierarchy that whites are above others.
- The show and the host has received criticism throughout the past years of being racist and that is a valid concern. The show lacks diversity and has made stereotypical and racist comments while on air.
- Additionally, the show has had instances when they bring individuals of color and utilize them to talk negatively about the specific colored community. There have been reports that Fox Network and Bill O'Reilly have paid African American guests to say certain things about the African American community that supports the right wing ideology and would be considered extremely racist if they had presented this information through a white individual.
- The show and the network upholds the current racial hierarchy and what makes it even worse is that the show does not encourage it's audience to solve racism. It almost pushes them to bring it up and ignore dealing with it. As shown in this youtube link, Bill O'Reilly is seen sending a message to Oprah and the audience to ignore racism. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpo9cCOlsF0