A structural hermeneutics of The O’Reilly Factor
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- Norton, M. Theor Soc (2011) 40: 315. doi:10.1007/s11186-011-9143-7
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There has been a significant rise in opinion and talk-based programming on American cable news channels since the mid-1990s. These news analysis programs are often politically partisan in their interpretive approach. This article examines one of the most prominent and popular of these shows, The O’Reilly Factor using the theoretical tools of structural hermeneutics. The program produces a radically simple and partisan schema for interpreting the news, but to do so it relies on the constructed persona of the host, a complex underlying meaning structure formulated around binary oppositions, and a number of rhetorical techniques. The show simplifies, but is not itself simple. To simplify the news in a way that suggests partisan conclusions that still seem relevant rather than cartoonish, individual episodes and segments of the show frame issues in terms of a meaning structure that leads strongly to partisan conclusions, but affords an appearance of the reasonable consideration of diverse views. It is suggested that this kind of deep analysis of meaning structures is important for making sense of how news analysis programs and mediated partisanship function as a cultural system.