The Internet has drastically changed the way news reaches the public, but our leaders have not figured that out yet. When something happens, word almost instantaneously reaches millions of people and the event is defined by bloggers, many of whom have an agenda.
So misinformation and false analysis is instantly out there and sometimes widely accepted by Americans getting their information from machines.
For example, Americans have turned against the war in Iraq because it is widely perceived as being a losing cause. But is it really? On the Middle East, most Americans have no idea why Hezbollah even exists or who's winning the conflict. And why are we paying almost a buck more for a gallon of gas this year than we did last year? What exactly made that happen?
Unless you watch cable news or read a good newspaper, and those are rare, you'll have a hard time figuring out this dangerous and complicated world. That's where an effective leader comes in. Not only do our elected officials have to make policy, they now have to clearly explain it themselves. And they must do it over and over and over, because we're a distracted bunch.
Long gone are the days when FDR could reach most of the nation on the radio with his fireside chats. Gone are the days when Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley could nightly define the world for the American public.
Now if a president wants the folks to support him, he must be a teacher, a persuader. He must sell his policies to a public that's often confused. In other words, our leaders must fight the machines.
That is a daunting task, but it is Leadership 101 in the Internet age.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
I almost fell down when I saw an article in the London Independent newspaper praising FOX News and me. As you know, that's highly unusual.
But Nick Ferrari, a London radio guy, likes us and we appreciate it. Mr. Ferrari actually said I was smart. Stunning.
And on the intelligence front, a new study by the Pew Research Center says "The Factor" has one of the smartest audiences watching any news program. Now we knew that, but it's nice to see it confirmed.
Also in July, FOX News was the fifth-highest rated cable network in the country. CNN was 24th, MSNBC 36th, right behind the Japanese movie channel.
Somebody please tell all of that to Buffalo News TV critic Alan Pergament , who continues to bash FNC, which of course, is ridiculous but very common.
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Bill O'Reilly currently serves as the host of FOX News Channel's (FNC) The O'Reilly Factor (weekdays 8PM/ET), the most watched cable news show for the past 13 years. He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York.