Jewish World Review May 5, 2003 / 3 Iyar, 5763

Bill O'Reilly

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Let's misbehave



http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Perhaps the most profound change in American society over the past 40 years is how bad behavior is processed. When I grew up in the 1960s, bad boys and girls were usually held accountable for their misbehavior, punishment was almost a lock, and very few scandals resulted in profit participation.

Today, all that has changed. In the latest of a long line of rewards for questionable activity, Monica Lewinsky has been hired to host a prime-time television program called "Mr. Personality." Since Ms. Lewinsky has no prior TV experience, one can assume that the only reason she is doing "Mr. Personality" is that she did Mr. Personality, if you know what I mean.

Monica's employment follows a long list of people who have profited from notorious incidents. G. Gordon Liddy has a syndicated radio show, Oliver North works for Fox News, Wynona Ryder is doing commercials fresh off her shoplifting conviction, Robert Downey Jr. got a role on "Ally McBeal" right out of drug rehab. The list goes on and on.

Even Paula Jones, who made a federal case out of sexual harassment allegations against then Governor Bill Clinton, was paid six figures for showing her figure in Penthouse magazine. After seeing those pictures I wanted to sue for sexual harassment.

Jessica Hahn and Tonya Harding also made some good money in the aftermath of their scandals. Many rappers will tell you the more they are busted by the police, the bigger their recording contracts. R. Kelly has a hit album after being charged with sexually abusing a minor.

The message here is that American society really doesn't care how anyone behaves and that some in corporate America will reward tawdry behavior all day long. Believe me, this situation is not lost on children. They see Monica scoring in the media, and they know exactly how the play was made. Surely TV programs starring Anna Nicole Smith and Ms. Lewinsky send a signal that the USA is a place where hard work doesn't really matter if you are ready to marry an 89-year-old guy or exceed your internship job description.

While it is true that we Americans love a story of redemption, contrition is not needed to capitalize on scandal. Few of the infamous ever admit wrongdoing, and it is certainly not required by those who hire them. No, the only thing that is required is a famous name, and it really doesn't matter how you become famous just as long as you are.

You would think that the National Organization for Women (NOW) would be outraged over Monica's "Mr. Personality" gig. First of all, aren't there any women in America who are actually qualified to host a reality program of this kind? Who actually worked for years developing communications skills? Where is NOW on this?

In fact, where is anybody on this? I know these TV programs are culturally insignificant, but there is a larger issue here. Isn't there?

Unfortunately, very few of us care about the issue. Americans are numb to tawdry actions because we see so much of them and the celebration of boorishness has now been elevated to a level the decadent Roman emperors would have enjoyed. The result is that America unquestionably has become a coarse society, a country where crude can be very profitable. And we're not talking oil here.

File the hiring of the infamous under freedom of expression. The Constitution gives us all the right to profit from our mistakes. And never has the business of bad behavior been better.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.

Up


04/28/03: No pain, no gain?
04/21/03: We stand of guard for thee
04/14/03: The spoils of war
04/07/03: When the truth is a casualty
03/31/03: Yes, you're entitled to your uninformed opinion
03/24/03: That's the way it isn't, Walter
03/17/03: This loyal Catholic believes that, humanistically, the Pope is one of the many Saddam enablers
03/10/03: The new Nazis
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02/24/03: A peace of the action
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12/30/02: Global double Crossing
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12/23/02: Finding offense where none is intended is a form of selfishness
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09/03/02: Let's misbehave
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07/15/02: Reaching critical mass
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07/01/02: Charity begins at home
06/24/02: Spinning a tale and the case for "Stupid White Men"
06/17/02: Blank those Europeans!
06/10/02: What does Bono want from us?
06/03/02: On fighting evil
05/28/02: A Tale of Two Churches
05/20/02: Crimes against humanity
05/13/02: Silence of the lambs
05/06/02: Hide the children
04/29/02: 'Paul, Paul, Paul!'
04/22/02: Barbarians in the Church
04/15/02: Pray for peace, polish the weapons
03/11/02: Do no harm? Time to spank "Dr. Phil"
03/04/02: Promoting the general welfare
02/25/02: Who's responsible?
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02/11/02: Buy dope, fund terror
02/04/02: Back room deals
01/28/02: From boom to bust
01/21/02: The Fairness Doctrine
01/14/02: Hey, Paula, take it to the bank and hush up
01/07/02: And justice for none
12/31/01: All that's left
12/24/01: Santa is appalled
12/17/01: Fight the power
12/10/01: The black challenge
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11/19/01: The sign of the Cross
11/09/01: Hollyweird strikes back
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07/30/01: The big picture on Condit-Levy
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05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
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04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
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03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
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01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate