Good rid­dance, Rosie O’Don­nell

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Bill O’Reilly

Three weeks ago, I wrapped up my col­umn on Rosie O’Don­nell by stat­ing: “Launch­ing per­sonal at­tacks on Don­ald Trump is one thing. Ac­cus­ing your coun­try of trump­ing up 9/11 and com­mit­ting war crimes is quite some­thing else. Rosie O’Don­nell has cast her fate to an ill wind. Noth­ing good will come of it.”

That piece of prog­nos­ti­ca­tion was easy, and when Rosie an­nounced her exit from ABC last week it was no sur­prise. As Ms. O’Don­nell be­came in­creas­ingly un­hinged on television and in pub­lic ap­pear­ances, the Dis­ney Com­pany, which owns ABC, found it­self in an im­pos­si­ble po­si­tion. Dis­ney has one of the most en­dear­ing images in cor­po­rate Amer­ica, and one em­ployee was ran­sack­ing that im­age. Any­one who knows any­thing about the cor­po­rate cul­ture knew the ice­berg col­li­sion was loom­ing ever closer.

The ship re­ally be­gan list­ing af­ter Ms. O’Don­nell ap­peared at a chi-chi women’s award lun­cheon and launched into an ob­scene tirade against Mr. Trump. Scores of cor­po­rate power bro­kers wit­nessed the em­bar­rass­ing dis­play, as did some teenaged girls who were re­ceiv­ing col­lege schol­ar­ships from the “Women in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions” group. De­spite stren­u­ous spin­ning by Rosie’s han­dlers, Dis­ney re­al­ized that not even Peter Pan could fix this one. The amaz­ing thing is that Ms. O’Don­nell lasted so long. Never in the his­tory of Amer­i­can television has one per­former alien­ated so many peo­ple. Rosie com­pared “rad­i­cal” Chris­tians to Mus­lim ter­ror­ists. Rosie an­nounced that no Amer­i­can Catholic should be al­lowed to be a judge be­cause of the Church’s con­dem­na­tion of abor­tion. Ms. O’Don­nell ac­cused Pres­i­dent Bush of com­mit­ting trea­son. The hits just kept on com­ing.

For those of us in the television in­dus­try, it was fas­ci­nat­ing to watch. While Don Imus was fig­u­ra­tively burned at the stake, and Ann Coul­ter ex­iled from po- lite so­ci­ety for us­ing a gay slur, Rosie kept rolling right along with For­tune 500 com­pa­nies pay­ing her way.

The low point for me came when Ms. O’Don­nell was de­fend­ing Alec Bald­win. She looked into the cam­era and said that she, too, cursed at her kids. Al­most in a panic, Bar­bara Wal­ters said, “but you hug them af­ter­wards.” Rosie quickly said she did. The truly bizarre thing about the curs­ing state­ment was that some in the au­di­ence ac­tu­ally ap­plauded when Ms. O’Don­nell said it. I was stunned. I looked at the tape five times. What the deuce was go­ing on?

Here’s how I process all of this. Rosie O’Don­nell is a far-left in­di­vid­ual who has the sym­pa­thy of many who be­lieve what she be­lieves, in­clud­ing some in the main­stream press. Un­like Mr. Imus and Ms. Coul­ter, Ms. O’Don­nell’s anti-Bush, anti-con­ser­va­tive tirades were use­ful to the rad­i­cal left. If Ms. O’Don­nell’s opin­ions could be­come main­stream, then other rad­i­cal bomb throw­ers could get away with a lot more on the tube.

Thus, while Fox News and a few news­pa­pers cov­ered Rosie O’Don­nell’s wild ad­ven­ture, most of the other me­dia ig­nored it. The same me­dia that had feasted on Mr. Imus and Ms. Coul­ter.

In the end, the ev­ery­day folks got Rosie, al­though I do be­lieve she isn’t sad about leav­ing ABC. Ms. O’Don­nell is a wo­man who wants 100 per­cent af­fir­ma­tion; dis­sent is not tol­er­ated in her life. Dis­ney knew that Bar­bara Wal­ters and the com­pany, it­self, were both tak­ing a pub­lic opin­ion beat­ing, and enough was enough. Rosie re­al­ized that Dis­ney was no longer thrilled with her act and wanted out.

And so this colum­nist has reached or­a­cle sta­tus, at least for this week. Say good­night, Rosie.

Bill O’Reilly is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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