I'm not sure who takes Bill O'Reilly seriously. Much like Nickelback, I've never actually met anyone who copped to liking him, or, at the very least, thinking he was anything more than just another interchangeable talking head with more lung power than intellectual capacity. But apparently, he knows how to accurately rate his scope of influence better than I do.
From a recent interview with Newsweek:
"I have more power than anybody other than the president, in the sense that I can get things changed, quickly. I don't have to go through the legislative process; I don't have to do any of that. I can just bring it to the people, and say, look, this has gotta be dealt with."
Bill's obviously got huge ratings night after night, but I kind of think he's overestimating the scope of his influence here. It's a bit like Kanye's "voice of a generation" quote — being the loudest and most shrill doesn't necessarily mean you have anything to say, just as being the top talking head on cable news doesn't mean you have any kind of real power.
But, ye gods, maybe he's right. Looking at someone like Sarah Palin, who's garnered far more influence and power through her full-court media press than by doing any actual politicking, it's actually a stirring argument for the power of Media Personality as Leader.
Not to mention the Tea Party, whose dearth of actual ideas and policies is superseded by their populist rhetoric at every turn.
It seems to me that people, confronted with such a dizzying array of material from such a wide variety of mediums, are clamoring more and more towards ready-made opinions that they can raise a fist to — exactly the market that O'Reilly and his ilk tap into.