started calling him on Crossfire, in the hilarions pretense that henwas a red-blooded American male) despises everyone to thenright of William F. Buckley, Jr. (and that covers a great deal ofnterritory), he takes the trouble to inform himself on the details.nWhen the usual people were sniffing out Mr. Buchanan’s “antiseniitism,”nKinsley told his debriefers that Pat’s insensihvit}’nhad occasionally offended his Jewish sensibilities, but he hadnnever detected any hostilit)’ toward Jews. Wrong answer.nApart from Bob Novak—a specimen of antediluvian journalismnwho belongs in a museum next to poets who knownhow to rhyme and women who know how to cook—there arenfew talking heads left on television who are capable of givingnsuch wrong answers. Most shows are dominated by part)’ flacksnwho long ago gave up even the pretense to independence. Tonsee Bill Press pretend to spar with Mary Matalin or Tucker Carlsonnis a little like watching two rasslers trash-talking each othernbefore the match.nThe part)’ badge seems to have been pinned a little less securelynon Chris Matthews, Jesuit schooldays did not allownhim to stomach Bill Clinton’s lying (though one wouldnhave thought the Jesuits would have taught him how to arguenhis way around perjur)’), but once the Lewinsky affair was over,nMatthews obediently trotted back to the corral that Tip O’Neillnhad put him in so many years ago. At his most docile, though,nMr. Matthews exudes an urban Mick grittiness that seems outnof place among the prett}’boys of celeb IV—people like, say,nTucker Carlson, renowned (according to the misnamed FOXnNews webpage “Men Behind the Spin Room”) for his bow tienand his wit. We have all seen the bow tie.nCarlson is never memorable, and his allegiance to the GOPnorthodoxy does not allow him to rise even to an originally badnidea. He is to journalism what Leonardo di Caprio is to acting,nand his adolescent voice and soft-as-a-spaniel’s hair would makenhim perfect—if he could sing opera—to play Cluck’s Orfeo.nNot to be confused with anyone who has ever been to annopera is Bill O’Reilly. A veteran of tabloid television (he spentnyears on ABC’s Inside Edition), O’Reilly is now the hottestncelebrit)’ of talking-head television, beating out Larr)’ King innthe ratings. O’Reilly works hard at his job and is a .skillful interviewernwho can pulverize a Democrat’s stone wall as effectivelynas a pneumatic drill.nThough Brit Hume and Fred Barnes wear more impressivenneckties (which goes a long way with me), O’Reilly has earnednhis ranking as dean of broadcast news at FOX. Unfortunately,nhe seems to have fallen for his own conceit that he is above leftnand right, a simple man using common sense to defend your averagenworking guy, because he’s not about ideology, etc., etc.nTranslated, this really means: “Because real TV celebritiesnhave better tilings to do tiian to make up their minds about rightnand wrong, I prefer to pick and choose my positions from bothnsides of the Chinese menu of Republican-Democratic politics.”nCautiously steering his way among the barges in the mainstream,nO’Reilly attacks Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson for beingncrooks but would not dream of questioning their basic principles,nmost of which he seems to share. He wants to take awaynyour guns and SUV but probably would not want to raise yourntaxes to pay for the regulations.nO’Reilly shares tiiis inability to think through an issue withnvirtually ever)’ otiier talking head. TV is a place where you cannsee Bill Kristol or—get this —David Gergen representing tiienconservative side, but not Sam Francis, Joe Sobran, or TomnBethell; the left gets represented not by Alex Cockburn but bynthe Nation’s editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, who can barely winnan argument witii Rich Lowry. hi a medium where ChristophernFhtchens conies across as a dangerous extremist and DavidnBrooks is too intellectual, Francis and Cockburn would scarenthe bejesus out of the producers, and either one could have BillnPress and Fred Barnes for breakfast without killing his appetite.nO’Reilly, though he may be almost as ignorant, is far smarternthan his competitors, and he reveals his intelligence by not makingnthe show about news or controversies (and certainly not ideology).nWliat exactly is the factor in The O’Reilly Factor? Answer:nThe O’Reilly, a character loosely based on one WilliamnO’Reilly who grew u]) in Levittown and kicked around local andnnehvork newsrooms for many years. Part of the attraction of thenBill O’Reilly character is the combination of cockiness —he’snanother smart Mick from the streets—and humility. He has (sonfar) managed to avoid die Rush Limbaugh tra]3 of suggesting tonhis fans tiiat they are envious losers leading drab little lives whilenEl Ruslibo is a celebrit)’ among celebrities. To accomplish thisnfeat, he has to remind his viewers eonstantiy tiiat he is just an averagenguy like them, someone who does not want to get boggedndown in the “minutiae” (one of his anti-elitist code words) of anquestion. He even brings in someone less educated than him —nthe mysterious Arthell—to chastise him for arrogance and badnmanners. It is as if Henry II went on a cam|3aign to attack dienChurch but had to travel around with a group of monks tonscourge him publicly everv’ week for the murder of Thomas anBecket. Of course, if O’Reilly were really humble, he wouldnbring on a serious antagonist, but I do not expect to see Taki innArthell’s chair any time soon.nSo long as O’Reilly is interviewing other celebrities, his performancenas Bill O’Reilly is almost letter-perfect, but as soon asnhe begins to read off the teleprompter for one of his “TalkingnPoints” editorials, he sounds like a local TV news anchor doingnCharley’s Aunt at a dinner theater. Arthell ought to tell him thatnsitting and reading a script is not the O’Reilly thing at all: Henshould switch to a stand-up monologue with a live audience.nConsen’atives, with tiiat wonderfully naive optimism tiiey alwaysndisplay in the face of their unbroken .string of defeats andnfailures, take heart from the success of such media editorialists asnRush Limbaugh, Tony Snow, and The O’Reilly. In the meantime,nthe leftist news industr)’ goes on, day after day, manufacturingnnon-information, inflating non-events (like airline crashes)ninto headline stories, and misreporting even tiie most trivialndetails of everyday life until these anti-focts can be assembled intona major piece of propaganda like church arsons, violencenagainst homosexuals, father