Conservative TV host Bill O’Reilly is making it crystal clear what he thinks of the people who watch his show. He thinks you’re idiots.
Just listen to what he’s been saying about “Late Show” host-in-waiting Stephen Colbert, and that’s absolutely clear.
O’Reilly thinks you’re too dumb to understand satire. That you’re so simple-minded you don’t get that Colbert has been playing a character, satirizing right-wing TV hosts like O’Reilly since “The Colbert Report” debuted in October 2005.
Or, worse yet, that you’re so lame-brained that you will refuse to watch Colbert on CBS because he made fun of O’Reilly on “The Colbert Report.”
I thought O’Reilly had a sense of humor. Clearly, that impression — gained in interviews with him — was wrong.
I’ve also met and interviewed Colbert. He’s a nice, thoughtful, funny man. The Colbert we’ve been watching on Comedy Central is part him, part the character he created.
Conservatives can understand that just as well as liberals.
O’Reilly’s biggest problem with Colbert seems to be that Colbert makes fun of him. And that Colbert got a big, new job and O’Reilly did not.
O’Reilly is the guy who, when CBS announced that Colbert would succeed Letterman as host of the “Late Show” in 2015, issued this statement to Time magazine: “I hope Colbert will consider me for the Ed McMahon spot.”
(For you kids under the age of 40, Ed McMahon was Johnny Carson’s announcer/sidekick on “The Tonight Show.”)
And yet he followed that up by using his Fox News Channel show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” to opine, “It’d be hard to fathom that 40 percent of Americans that describe themselves as conservative will watch Colbert.”
I’m willing to bet a good number of folks who describe themselves as conservatives are smarter than that. Smart enough to reject the charge O’Reilly leveled against Colbert on “The View” — that he’s “a mouthpiece for the far left.”
They’re smart enough to realize the Colbert on “The Colbert Report” was a guise, and the Colbert we’ll see on the “Late Show” will be a different guy.
O’Reilly is never one to let facts get in the way of his opinions, however. According to a 2012 Pew Research study, Colbert’s viewers are 45 percent Democrat, 38 percent independent and 12 percent Republican. (O’Reilly’s own audience was measured at 52 percent Republican, 30 percent independent and 15 percent Democrat.)
O’Reilly has had what seemed a rather humorous feud with Colbert over the years; now he just looks crazy jealous.
By the way, Colbert is scheduled to be Letterman’s guest on the Tuesday, April 22, edition of the “Late Show” (10:35 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2). Circle that on your calendar.
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.