My mother just called to complain that Bill O’Reilly’s interview with the Preznit was less than she’d expected. Talking to her jelled something about O’Reilly in my mind for the first time. You can pretty well predict how an O’Reilly interview will go: if he thinks you are bringing in new viewers, he likes you, and you get a softball interview. If he figures you are going to bring along his usual audience, then you get a tough interview, and if he sees you as someone his regular audience — “the folks” — don’t like, he does his best to make it hell, proving his toughness by shouting you down, and in extremis, even cutting your mic.
So today it struck me: O’Reilly is a self-important middle manager. If he sees you are “above him” in stature, someone who makes him look good by being on the screen with him, he’s obsequious. If he sees you as beneath him, then he expects deference.