In the first interview Richard Dawkins is on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor. Keep in mind that Dawkins is there promoting his book ‘The Magic of Reality’ which is a book about science for young people. Having not the read the book myself, but based on the title, I’m not going to pretend that there isn’t at least an implicit hint of a “science is right and other explanations are rubbish” tone. However, this is far from an atheist/antitheist book for kids. Even if that were true, what would it matter? A science book promoting scientific and rational thought over supernaturalism is not offensive. Entire books of the Bible are offensive, provably incorrect and potentially damaging in instilling that worldview on kids and adults. In any event, the level of discourse with Bill O’Reilly is idiotic, in no small surprise due to the host. O’Reilly doesn’t care about anything other than confronting Dawkins based on previous arguments and Bill’s personal disdain for atheism. His objective is not to facilitate a discussion about the book or the author. It’s Fox News. There is a predetermined agenda all the way. His condescension towards Professor Dawkins is only overshadowed by his sheer arrogance and ignorance. His “gotcha” moment is so pathetic that it hurts to watch. I watched this video twice in order to write this post and I can barely function from the mind-numbing stupidity of it all and the my absolute disdain for this man, his network, its viewers and anyone that thinks like him. I must move on.
Conversely, in the BBC Newsnight interview (forgive me, but I do not know the host’s name) there is a much more civil, inquisitive tone and set of questions. The question of science and atheism versus myth and religion is handled without being petty, threatening, angry or stupid. All the things Bill O’Reilly perfectly represents. The BBC Newsnight program’s objective is to provide the audience with Dawkins' motivations for writing it. The BBC is actually concerned with getting the details of the book right because someone in his audience may actually read it.
Fox News has no such responsibility, nor does it care to, since few in their audience would consider reading a book that might create cognitive dissonance. Fox viewers have no desire to challenge their preconceived notions and deeply held beliefs that reading a science book may accomplish. And yes I am well aware that I am saying that about a children’s book.
The problem I wish to express here is that the discourse in America is no longer civil or rational. It is all agenda driven which, inherently, requires that facts are ignored from argument to argument and talking point to talking point. Fox News, as the most watched “news” program in the U.S. can no longer criticize the “mainstream media.” They are the mainstream media and none of us are better for it.