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Est. April 5, 2002
October 15, 2015 - Issue 625

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There Are No Hungry Children
In America, Says Fox’s O’Reilly


"According to the Fox News pundit,
if there are any children who go hungry
in the U.S., it is their parents’ fault. 
Besides, he declared last week, any
statement that there are hungry children
in the U.S. is 'a total lie.'"

Some say that Bill O’ Reilly’s head is in the sand, but his head is in a much darker place.

According to the Fox News pundit, if there are any children who go hungry in the U.S., it is their parents’ fault.  Besides, he declared last week, any statement that there are hungry children in the U.S. is “a total lie.”

The Fox fast talker, who often shouts over the people he is purporting to interview, must live on another planet.  What can be expected from someone who professes himself to be an expert on everything?

Having been raised in a white suburban middle class household, he might not ever have been exposed to those who are in need and never went out of his way to find out how the most vulnerable people live, in the U.S., or anywhere, for that matter.

The man who makes in the neighborhood of  $16 or $17 million a year and is worth an estimated $50-$60 million can spend as much on a single lunch as a family of four can spend on an entire month’s worth of food stamps.  To anyone who is not exposed to at least an occasional 10 minutes of Fox News, O’Reilly’s attitude is astounding.   Even those whose only news source is network television news know that there are hungry people in the U.S. in abundance.  O’Reilly doesn’t believe it.

There are 15.3 million children who live in households in which parents struggle to put food on the table, according to  There are gradations of food deprivation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):  marginal food security, low food security, and very low food security.  Definitions of the last two are:  Low food security means reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet and little or no indication of reduced food intake.  Very low food security means reports of “multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.” 

The last description formerly included the word “hunger,” but it was changed by a panel to note disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake…that means hunger.  It means that there are millions who meet those criteria for what used to be called hunger and millions more children who are subject to all of the ills of hunger or low food security.  O’Reilly doesn’t believe it.

His job as a Fox “anchor” involves inflating the greatness of the U.S., making sure that all of his viewers are aware that “America is the exceptional” nation, that it is exceptional in every way.  He’ll tell you he’s a patriot and all of his followers should be patriots, as well.  By O’Reilly’s lights, being a patriot means never seeing the seamy side of life in America and all of the ills that go with it.  In fact, anyone who points out any of the myriad flaws of the country is unpatriotic.  O’Reilly doesn’t believe in American flaws.

O’Reilly and his like all across America are the bedrock on which all of the Right Wing politicians base their opposition to every social program at every level of government:  unemployment insurance, food stamps, Medicaid, Women Infants and Children (WIC), jobs programs for the working class and lower middle class, student educational funding (including loan forgiveness and free tuition for all public colleges and universities), and many other programs at the state or federal level.

Basing their opposition on the utterances of O’Reilly and the many other hate talkers on AM radio in every community, there appears to be no program for the benefit of the people which is not opposed or killed by politicians in the process of debate in either (or both) house of Congress.    There are many know-nothings who serve their time in Congress who are products of their districts, which apparently have a majority of know-nothings in the electorate.  These representatives and senators don’t have to know much about any of the issues.  They simply listen to O’Reilly or to AM radio talkers, and vote on the bills accordingly. 

This is why for eight years, not much effective legislation has been passed by Congress.  On the part of the Republican opposition in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, for eight years (the length of President Obama’s presidency), there has been an effort only to keep him and his party from accomplishing anything.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell famously said at the beginning of Obama’s first term that the Republicans’ main goal was to make sure that this interloper was a one-term president.  They failed in that goal, but did not fail in making Congress a nearly complete failure for two terms of Obama’s presidency.  Since Congress was in the possession of its extreme right wing, the Republicans did win, in a manner of speaking.  It’s just that the people were made the losers, since the country trails other developed countries in so many ways.   And, there is little hope that the current disarray of Republicans will ever result in a party that has a single idea that will solve even one of the many problems the country faces.

Influence of the vast Right Wing political juggernaut has resulted in inability of the so-called political leadership in resolving two of the biggest problems facing the nation: racism and climate change.  O’Reilly doesn’t believe either one exists and so his followers do not believe either exist.  (Remember American is exceptional).

As Steven Colbert satirized O’Reilly on his Comedy Central television program (he recently started a new show, on CBS, in place of David Letterman}:  “I don’t see race.”  By the same token, O’Reilly doesn’t see climate change.  O’Reilly doesn’t see race or hunger or climate change and, therefore, for his audience, these issues do not exist.  His audience consists mostly of old, angry white men (with some old white women) and these are people who vote in every election and are voting their pocket books and their rage.  They outnumber those who only vote sometimes, and it is these same sometime voters who want to solve these major problems.  

Nobody is asking O’Reilly to go to the nearest soup kitchen or food pantry to see hunger first-hand and it is not likely that he would do so.  He would say that the parents are to blame and everybody should figure out a way to survive in the current economy.  Never would he give credence to the high real unemployment rate (some economists have speculated that it is at least double the official figure) and he would deny that there is an income and wealth gap that would shame some developing countries.  O’Reilly doesn’t believe these things, and he is not alone in his belief.

Nothing will stand in the way of perpetuating the illusion that this is the exceptional nation and that nothing is wrong, or could be wrong.   Because the media are so powerful and they pervade every aspect of society, the illusion apparently is right in the front of the minds of a majority of Americans, or they would not send to Congress the quality of the people who are elected.

These things do not last forever, however.  Even O’Reilly, who stands at the top of the heap for cable network punditry (some call his style bullying), cannot last forever. He and all of his copiers in both television and radio are already in decline.  His demographic (the median age of his audience is 72) is fading, as is that of others who deny reality and appeal to the base emotions of people.  And, maybe the people are getting tired of having hatred and resentment being fed to them every day.  It tends to wear people down.  Don’t count on it, though. 

Perhaps, they take the route of illusion and lies to justify how much they are paid and how they live.   They all make lots of money doing what they do and, since what they do is not anything that they learned at the dinner table or in their churches and temples, there might be something gnawing at them, something that tells them that it is wrong to try to justify the existence of an evil such as child hunger. 

The answer is to deny that it exists, just as structural racism doesn’t exist and the very real danger to the planet of climate change does not exist.  O’Reilly and the other dispensers of disinformation and prevarications will continue, because they just cannot give up fattening at the table of the oligarchs, who want things as they are and the O’Reillys of America will do their bidding, as long as they get a piece of the action. 

It’s like the great 19th Century French novelist and playwright, Honore de Balzac, in his novel Pere Goriot, wrote: “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.” Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

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