The former host of The O'Reilly Factor wants us to remember that people who are old like him barely matter
Does anyone remember who Bill O'Reilly was?
We probably shouldn't talk about him in the past tense. He's still alive, after all, though probably not for much longer. He's only 70, so he could live another 30 years, and probably someone in the world would be happy to see him still shuffling about, mumbling about writing another Killing So-and-So book, but most of us can see that he's on his last legs. How else could you explain the idea of a man who was once considered a sharp political commentator speaking dismissively about the deaths of tens of thousands of people?
That's exactly what O'Reilly did when calling in to Wednesday's episode of The Sean Hannity Show. Referring to the COVID-19 pandemic that is currently ravaging the hospital system in New York City, Hannity and O'Reilly started out by pining together for a return to normal life, which prompted O'Reilly to find an optimistic angle, saying, "We're making little steps. Bernie Sanders, you know, he's—he's gone, that's really good for everybody."
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It's unclear what O'Reilly might have meant by that—if he felt that the Vermont senator dropping his bid for the Democratic nomination was a positive move in terms of Trump's reelection chances, Joe Biden's shot at the nomination, or just for the country in general. While it seemed to be a complete non-sequitur, perhaps O'Reilly was under the impression that Bernie Sanders' campaign was somehow responsible for the spread of the coronavirus—when people get on in years, it can be hard to tell what they're even talking about.
But after that brief tangent, O'Reilly managed to get back on topic, producing some figures downplaying the on-going tragedy in a way that almost seemed to suggest that the disruption of familiar routines was actually the bigger issue: "The projections that you just mentioned are down to 60,000, I don't think it will be that high. 13,000 dead now in the USA. Many people who are dying, both here and around the world, were on their last legs anyway." As always, O'Reilly is demonstrating the pinnacle of emotional restraint by keeping things in perspective
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The "projection" he mentioned is the current estimate for the eventual US death toll from the coronavirus. While it's not clear if that figure will include the deaths that are currently being left out of the total count, 60,000 is significantly less horrifying than previous estimates, which put the expected fatalities closer to 100,000. The fact that Bill O'Reilly happens to think 60,000 is still an overestimate cannot be attributed to any expertise in medicine, epidemiology, or statistics, so the best bet is that he's simply confused—as tends to happen to people who are barely clinging to life. It's good to know that when Bill O'Reilly passes—whether that's a week from now, a year, or twenty years—his loved ones can skip the mourning process and shrug their shoulders because, however he dies, he was old anyway. He was on his last legs.
We can leave aside the fact that many of the people who have already died as a result of contracting the novel coronavirus have been in the prime of their lives. O'Reilly would seemingly acknowledge that those cases deserve our sorrow. His point is just that most of the people who are dying are old like him, and therefore not really worth getting that upset about. If we look at Italy, for example, the death rate for people in their 40s who contracted the virus is less than 1%, while with people in their 70s (like Bill O'Reilly) the virus has killed nearly a quarter of the infected. But they're old anyway, so no big deal. Right, Bill?
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The overall message seems to be that if you've ever lost a loved one who was old, you were wrong to get upset about that. They were on their last legs anyway. And if that seems like a heartless, cruel message, please keep in mind that—before he was outed as a serial sexual harasser and removed from Fox News—Bill O'Reilly once hosted the highest-rated show on cable news. These days he is a c-list radio personality.
In other words, he is mentally and physically a hollowed-out husk of his former self—withered away and rapidly deteriorating. We can either wait for him to die, or accept that his life is already devoid of value and start ignoring him now. He's on his last legs anyway.
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