Stand By Your Man: Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and the Life of Brian

by Professor Ruth O’Brien & Frederic D. O’Brien (a.k.a. Fred Schwarz, Deputy Managing Editor, National Review)


Am I surprised NBC suspended Brian Williams? Am I surprised Bill O’Reilly is being backed up? Nope.

After growing up Republican in what is now Tea Party territory, I know there is one word for Fox’s Roger Ailes — and that’s “relentless.” There’s also a song sung in Bakersfield – and that’s “Stand by Your Man.”

This said, no one stands by their man if he doesn’t have the proper title of “professional provocateur.” And worse, you must be authentic. And for Bill O/Reilly that can only mean one thing – he practices what he preaches – the Politics of Hate. # Prof. Ruth O’Brien


Wow, Bill O’Reilly’s a blowhard? Who could have seen that coming? It does appear that he has exaggerated and embroidered some events from his past, though perhaps not on the heroic scale we’ve seen from Brian Williams. If O’Reilly were still a reporter, we could expect a reprimand or suspension like the one Williams got from NBC News — not because any degree of honesty is required to read words off a teleprompter, but because news operations like to preserve a pretense of trustworthiness. The thing is, O’Reilly makes no claim to be an impartial or scrupulously honest and thorough reporter. He’s just a political commentator with a gift for oversimplification and inflammatory remarks, like dozens of similar personalities on the left and right. And in that line of work, the habit of overstating things is practically a requirement. # Fred O’Brien

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About Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see

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