Stossel Punctures O’Reilly’s Curmudgeonhood

Stossel Punctures O’Reilly’s Curmudgeonhood February 28, 2014

Bill O’Reilly delivered a predictable “those damn kids these days” rant on his show recently and John Stossel, a fellow Fox News host, rightly took him to task for it. He points out, correctly, that every generation says the same stupid thing about the next one.

America’s most popular cable news host is upset. “Marijuana use, video games and texting (are) creating major social problems,” says Bill O’Reilly. “This is an epidemic that will lead to a weaker nation!”

Give me a break.

Crotchety old geezers always complain about “the kids.” The Boston Globe frets about “Idle Trophy Kids.” The New York Post asks if millennials are “The Worst Generation?” Older folks (my age) complain that young people spend so much time texting each other that they can’t communicate. And because they spend hours playing violent video games, violence is up.


It’s true that kids today play incredibly violent games like “Halo” and “Grand Theft Auto,” but as the games’ popularity increased (over the past 20 years), youth violence dropped 55 percent. In Japan, kids spend more time playing violent games, and there’s even less violence. And in America, despite media hype, there are fewer school shootings now, not more.

Kids “can’t communicate” because they text all the time? Recently, kids invented Facebook, YouTube, Firefox, Groupon, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and so on. They communicate something.

Inevitably, we older people misunderstand new ways young people do things – we are frightened by the risks and oblivious to the benefits.

If O’Reilly had been on TV in the ’50s, he would have ranted about comic books causing juvenile delinquency. The Senate actually held hearings in which the public was instructed that Superman “embodied sadistic fantasies … injurious to children. … ”

It’s amazing that we never learn from history. No matter how many generations have to listen to their parents drone on endlessly about how their kids are lazy and shiftless and so much less moral or ambitious than they are, they still turn around and do the same thing to their kids. Lather, rinse, repeat. Me personally, I think the young people today have it all over my generation. I feel hopeful because younger people today are less bigoted and more engaged in trying to improve the world than I was at their age.

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