Satire

Bill O'Reilly Is "on His Last Legs Anyway"

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.

Jeff Hortillosa

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Austin-based musician, actor, and director Jeff Hortillosa drops his EP, The Horticulture Vol. 1 as a companion to his new film War Monkey.

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As more people lock into necessary self-isolation, people are developing new identities outside of the realms of their ordinary realities. Different groups of quarantined folks are emerging as we settle into this new normal. Which one are you?

1. The vampire

Your daily sleep schedule is around 5 AM to 2 PM. You're no longer a person; you're a creature of the night. You haven't put on jeans or seen the morning sun in weeks. 2 AM is when you come alive, and the sunrise is your best friend.

2. The organizer

You have eight mutual aid docs and seven community slacks open on your computer at all times. You just got back from dropping groceries at your neighbor's door and are vigorously washing your hands in preparation for a group Zoom call about the upcoming rent strike.

3. The self-care wizard

You know that quarantine is a time for self-improvement and you're set out to manifest it. When you're not making Instagram graphics about your morning routine or meditating, you're teaching $40 Zoom seminars about manifesting your best life and burning sage to cleanse out the pathogens.

4. The livestreamer

You're a musician, artist, or jokester who can't deal with letting your art go unseen by the world for more than a few minutes. Your livestream has quietly become your life, filling the void that the stage lights used to. Who are you outside of the glow of others' attention? You don't want to know.

5. The screen-timer

When you're not playing Animal Crossing, you're watching and tweeting about Netflix's Tiger King. Your screen time has tripled since you started quarantine, and now you feel that you're more real online than in the real world. You just started a TikTok channel for kicks and spend hours each evening taking screencaps from sh*tposting groups about how horny you are and posting them on your Instagram story, but really you're just happy to have unlimited, 24/7, judgment-free access to your video games. When the data wars come, you'll be the hottest commodity, because your entire identity has been spread around the Internet; but for now, you're in glassy-eyed heaven.

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6. The doomsayer

You obsessively read The New York Times and relay ominous facts to unsuspecting family members and coworkers on group Zoom calls. You have read every single coronavirus story ever published and only want everyone to understand the pure hopelessness that you feel. When you're not reading the Times, you're reading the Post, and when you're not reading that you're reading Trump's Twitter feed. You're a masochist through and through, but… at least you're informed?

7. The hermit

You're not happy about the virus, but you're more than fine with the opportunity to stay inside. At the time of the apocalypse, you won't notice because you'll be indoors, in the dark. Away from people. Like you always wanted. Eventually, someone will find you in your moss-covered cabin and will try to ask you about the secrets of the universe; but, until then, you can relish the sweet sound of silence.

8. The prophet

You know that now is the time that the world has been waiting for, and you are ready to self-actualize and emerge as the leader of the post-virus realm. When you're not reading your own books over livestream, you're preparing your cult manifesto and waiting for the right moment to share the revelations you've always known with the wider world. You've taken to growing out your beard and wearing long flowing robes.

9. The chef

You are pouring your life into cooking. Chopping onions is your therapy and mangoes contain the truth of the universe.

10. The alcoholic

You're just like the chef, except alcohol (or perhaps coffee) has become the meaning of life. Day drinking? A go. Night-drinking? Also a go. Liquor stores are essential businesses, right?

11. The hoarder

You were the one who stole all the toilet paper from your local grocery store in the early days of panic, but you didn't stop there. You waited until the store restocked, then you sprang. You're on your way to your bunker right now, your truck filled up with only toilet paper.

12. The person who actually has sh*t to deal with

Maybe you're a healthcare worker or a grocery store clerk. Maybe you're sick or have to take care of kids. Maybe you can't pay your rent because the government in the richest country in the world won't pay for it, even though you've been calling to ask for a rent freeze for weeks. Either way, we are sorry, you deserve better, and you are the true heroes of this scenario—which is not going to become an apocalypse, but which has asked so much of you.