When the news broke that David Letterman’s replacement for the Late Show was going to be Stephen Colbert, conservatives across America collectively let out a huge groan and attempted to keep themselves from throwing up in their mouths with varied degrees of success. While 40 percent of the population identify as conservatives, the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not this demographic will switch the channel on Stephen Colbert because of his political ideology?
Bill O’Reilly, perhaps one of the most famous and popular conservative pundits in the country, believes that conservatives will not turn on CBS to watch Colbert try to fill the enormous shoes of David Letterman. O’Reilly seems to have an ax to grind with Colbert, as he believes that the root cause of the destruction of America falls squarely on the funnyman’s shoulders. That is strange, however, as most clear, level-headed citizens think that a radical leftist president and a Congress infiltrated by Progressives attempting to control every aspect of the economy are to blame for the sad state of the union. The character assassination continues as O’Reilly told viewers that Colbert was an ideological fanatic, bent on deceiving the masses.
The problem here is that the melodramatic, albeit impassioned, rhetoric coming from O’Reilly is ridiculous. Yes, it is true, a lot of conservatives will switch the channel when Stephen Colbert comes on after the local news. They have every right to change the channel or shut off the television if they so choose. On the other hand, to call someone who is passionate about their belief system a “fanatic” is silly. People from the left do this all the time, writing off anyone who speaks passionately and boldly for freedom as a kook or a “right-wing nut job.” Since the left uses these tactics as a means to discredit the ideas of conservatism, why would liberty-minded folk want to do the same thing?
One cannot claim to be for freedom of speech if he or she wants to silence the voice and opinions of those who are in opposition to their viewpoint. Many of Colbert’s audience would go so far as to claim that O’Reilly was a dangerous fanatic who is responsible for the destruction of America. It is silliness. What makes living in a free republic so beautiful is that there is room for all to voice their views and opinions without fear of being silenced. Now, that is not to say that O’Reilly wants Colbert off the air or censored, as he more than likely does not think that at all. The point is that it is okay to disagree with a person’s worldview, political ideology, and religion, but emotionalism should be kept to a minimum. When someone leads with their emotions, rather than attempting to have an educated, civilized dialogue, it appears desperate. If O’Reilly really wants to see Colbert lose his sway over popular culture, then he should spend more time countering his worldview with fact, and creating new ways of communicating those facts in an entertaining way that engages younger viewers.
O’Reilly is entitled to his opinion, and no one has a right to silence him. That being said, he should be cautious to make empty accusations against those who hold a differing worldview. Rather than waste time worrying about Colbert, why not spend the time revamping a show that has become associated with an older demographic, to catch the attention of a younger generation who needs to hear the truth about liberty and freedom? Will conservatives turn the channel on Stephen Colbert? Most likely, yes, they will, but Colbert will probably not miss the ratings, seeing as how he practically owns all of the viewers in the demographics that conservatives so desperately need to reach.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell