Skip to comments.Wallace v O'Reilly: 'No Spin'
Posted on 09/26/2004 5:00:49 PM PDT by Former Military Chick
(CBS) Who is Bill O'Reilly? Is he a patriot? A blowhard? A braggart? A bully?
Well, it turns out, there's a lot more to him than any of that. When Correspondent Mike Wallace sat down with him recently, O'Reilly said it was going to be the last time he would talk about himself on TV. And he began with a surprise.
"You know, you're responsible for this O'Reilly deal," he said to Wallace. "And I always tell everybody, 'You got a problem with me? You call Mike Wallace. He's responsible for the O'Reilly deal.'"
"What are you talking about?" asks Wallace.
"When I was growing up, I didn't care about the news at all. I had no interest in the news. But my father liked you," says O'Reilly. "No spin. And I said, 'That guy, he's pretty interesting because he's giving people a hard time.' Which is what you did. So then, when I got older, there were three guys that I watched: you, Howard Cosell and Tom Snyder, because Snyder knew how to work that camera. You were the three. So youre responsible."
Wallace called O'Reilly on his constant finger pointing. "I can't stop," says O'Reilly, who does a lot of pointing on his nightly Fox News Channel program, "The O'Reilly Factor."
Does O'Reilly enjoy the arguing? Does he enjoy taking on people on his show? "Sure. It's a battle of wits, who's the quicker draw intellectually," says O'Reilly. "I enjoy the joust. And I think people enjoy watching the joust -- one of the reasons we're real successful."
"The O'Reilly Factor" is the highest-rated hours on any cable news channel. O'Reilly told Wallace that over 20 million people a week watch the show. But there are millions more who hear him on 420 radio stations.
He's also a syndicated columnist and a best-selling author - his fifth book comes out next month - all of it made possible by the enormous success of his cable show.
The concept was simple enough: bring the Op-Ed page to television. "The OReilly Factor" was all about opinions, O'Reilly's opinions. And the Factor Formula works. It's made him incredibly popular, and incredibly unpopular too.
"When I tell people I'm gonna do a profile of O'Reilly, 'Oh, wonderful, wonderful. Don't let 'em off the hook. Go get 'em. Bring 'em down. You're the guy who can do it,'" says Wallace on reaction to his interview with O'Reilly.
So why do they want to bring O'Reilly down? "I don't know who you hang around with," says O'Reilly. "I suspect they're 'pinheads,' but I dont know for sure."
People dislike O'Reilly because of statements like these:
"I'm more angry about it than you are!"
"What about George Bush? He had nothing to do with it."
"Why did you have to tell them you were an atheist? Why didn't you just shut up?"
"That's not an interview," says Wallace to O'Reilly. "That's a lecture."
"Oh, I lecture, where I'm a commentator. We went back and did research on the last six years of 'The Factor.' Do you know how many times I told people to shut up? Six. Three times in anger and three times just, 'Ahhh, he didn't want to shut up about things,'" says O'Reilly.
"My program, my house. You're disrespectful in my house, you're putting things out there that are defamatory in my house, you're gonna get taken to the cleaner."
And outside his house is no different.
On Tim Russert's cable show last summer, O'Reilly was paired with The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
O'Reilly: You are in with the most vile form of defamation in the country. You are pandering to it, and I resent it, sir.
Krugman: Well, we resent you, too.
But his most notorious encounter developed last year at a book fair, when he took on humorist Al Franken about a book Franken had written that said O'Reilly had lied publicly on a number of occasions. Franken also used a splotchy picture of him on the cover.
O'Reilly: writes in his book, he tries to make me out as a liar...
Franken: "no, no, no, no that's..."
OReilly: Hey, shut up! You had your 35 minutes! Shut up!
Franken: This isn't your show, Bill.
Their very public battle was about a number of things, one of which was that O'Reilly had said he was an Independent. Franken showed that he'd actually registered Republican.
O'Reilly: He is a vicious, and that is with a capital 'V,' person.
What upset him more that Franken called him a liar, or that he proved it? "Proves it, bull," says O'Reilly. "He's a character assassin. Why lower yourself to that kind of a discourse?"
So why does it make him so upset? "Because it's dishonest, it's parasitical. And its character assassination," says OReilly. "Why wouldn't I get upset?"
But right or wrong, O'Reilly likes to get upset. He was raised Irish-Catholic in Long Island, N.Y. This son of a middle-class accountant says his dad was an underachiever who came to blows with him as a teenager. But his dad made him scrappy, which has served him well in his career.
He worked his way through college painting houses. And his first job in TV was in a small market, Scranton, Pa.
"Not like Maria Shriver, with all due respect to her. Nice woman who started in Los Angeles. Why? Because her name is Maria Shriver," says O'Reilly. "O'Reilly starts in Scranton, Pa., with the coal miners. I loved it. My folks."
"Give me a break," says Wallace. "Why are you comparing yourself all of the sudden with Maria Shriver?"
"Because I'm telling you that this road I took had to be taken," says O'Reilly. "There was no other way to do it."
For the record, Shriver started in Philadelphia as a low-level assistant. As for O'Reilly, his career took off in 1996, when the fledgling Fox News Channel bought his idea for a high-energy Op-Ed TV show. By 1998, it was a bonafide hit, must-see-TV for the conservative right.
A month ago, at the Republican convention, the old boys club there, including Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich, welcomed him with open arms.
Some folks would expect this reception for O'Reilly, a favorite of conservatives. But what you don't expect are his views, which sound more like they're coming from a Democrat.
OReilly says hes pro gun control, against the death penalty, and supports civil unions, not just for homosexuals, but "for everybody."
He says he's for gay adoptions as a last resort: "I'd rather have nice, responsible gay home than the system for kids. What else?"
And about the environment? "Governments gotta be proactive on environment," says O'Reilly. "Global warming is here. All these idiots that run around and say it isn't here. That's ridiculous."
But there's more. He supported President Bush on the war in Iraq, but declared that he would never trust the Bush administration again if no weapons of mass destruction were found.
With none yet found, O'Reilly grilled the president on Saddam Hussein's chemical arsenal in an interview last week that hasn't aired yet.
And Iraq is why the O'Reilly finger is increasingly being pointed at the Bush White House. "A huge mistake was made in underestimating the aftermath of Saddam," says O'Reilly.
"I think Rumsfeld has to take the responsibility there, because he's the defense secretary and it looks like he didn't have a clue that this was gonna happen. But, just like a baseball manager, I think he should take one for the team."
As for the president, O'Reilly says he hasnt made up his mind yet.
"You're going to vote for George W. Bush," asks Wallace. "Oh, yeah," says O'Reilly.
"You think he's a great president, right," says Wallace. "Wrong," says OReilly. "I'm one of those Independent, man. I'm open to be persuaded right away. I've known Kerry for 25 years. He's a patriot. I'm listening to what he has to say."
What does he think about the men from the swift boats who have been bad-mouthing Kerry?
"Awful. It's terrible," says O'Reilly. "It makes me sad that this happens."
And one more surprise. He doesn't consider himself part of what he calls "right-wing radio."
What does he think of talk show host Rush Limbaugh?
"I respect Limbaugh for basically making a success out of himself and putting on an entertaining program. But he's not a primary source of information, or shouldn't be," says O'Reilly. "He's an entertainer. I'm a journalist who provides a program that is entertaining."
Still, he says he's just a regular guy from Long Island, despite the fact that he makes an estimated $10 million each year from TV, radio and print.
"You're addicted. You are addicted to the power. You are addicted to the money," says Wallace. "You are addicted to the fact that I am Bill O'Reilly, and everybody knows it."
"Dr. Phil is back. How did he get in the room? You're crazy," says OReilly. "I couldn't care less about Bill O'Reilly being known in Iowa. Doesn't matter to me. I don't throw my weight around. I'm not partying with Puff Daddy. I'm not cuttin' a line. I'm not drivin' a Mercedes Benz."
Again, for the record, his wife has a Mercedes, but he says he won't get in it. Bottom line though, he is one of the most provocative news figures in America. And for him, that's enough.
"I'll never win any awards for stuff I'm doing now," says O'Reilly. "Because the intelligentsia who distributes the awards thinks that I'm misguided. I'm a barbarian. I am a Hun."
Does it bother him?
"No, I love it," says OReilly. "I love to be the outsider."
© MMIV, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.
I never got why so many Republicans and conservatives like (d) O'Reilly. I mean yeah, he does ask libs some tough questions - and had a famous shouting match with that idiot Franken last year - but he is pretty much a blowhard and all you have to do is watch him for 10 minutes to know that he is not a conservative.
I am surprised there was enough room for Bill's big head on the TV screen. He is so full of himself. He thinks he made the Fox Network. It was the people turning to an alternative source after years of BS from the Big Three and CNN that made Fox what it is today not Bill O'Reilly. Anyone could have been sitting in that chair.
I can't wait until the day he leaves Fox for a big deal at some other network. We can all watch the new network's ratings go nowhere fast.
This is just flat out wrong. Rush provides more detail, more solid information on topics in the news than any other radio host I've ever heard. O'Reilly's comment (that and his calling Rush "right wing") tells me that he rarely, if ever, listens to Rush.
Anyone else think O'Reilly is full of himself?
I'm watching less and less of FOX lately. I used to have the TV tuned there 24/7, but lately I've been watching other things (HGTV, History Channel etc.). It started with tuning out for OR, and then forgetting to turn it back after his show because they air it twice. Don't bother to write the smuck and tell him you're not going to watch anymore, he gets a kick out of it, just turn him off.
O'Reilly and Wallace: YECCH!!! Proof positive that water rises (or sinks) to its own level. I'd put money on his auditioning for the SeeBS anchor job. I have to lay in a big suply of anti-nausea pills to get through the upcoming "interviews" with the President. Brit Hume should have gotten them.
If he stops talking about himself, there will be nothing but dead air on the O'Bloward Factor. Sorry, I couldn't read the rest of the piece.
The replies will tell me all I need to know.
LOL. The verdict is delivered by ratings. We don't know yet. Bill O'FenceSitter isn't very popular on FR, but that does not necessarily translate into ratings disaster.
O'Reilly is an uppity piece of trash. The sooner he goes down, the better.
Yes. At the top of this web page, click on the title that has the caret (^) after it. It links to CBS's site.
Or Mash Here <--
Verdict: Nobody watches CBS, and for those who do, maybe a couple hunderd thousand have not watched BOR and may be interested engough to watch.
For BOR it was only a pontential ratings boost.
I still watch a lot of Fox. I also watch CNN, MSNBC and even some broadcast news. (You gotta keep an eye on these guys, even if it is ugly.) Fox is no different than any number of other "new" things. In the beginning everyone works hard to show how good they are, and to gain new fans. Inevitably, over time, standards drop and self-preservation takes its place. It happened with Rush. Ultimately, it is about self-promotion, above all else. I just agree with Rush and most of the Fox talent, including, to a lesser extent, O'Reilly. I would go so far as to say, if even John Kerry were to adopt positions that I agree with (which is not likely, and could you ever believe him?), I would consider voting for him. Just like anyone else, I want those who agree with me to have power, even if I otherwise don't care for them. Fortunately, those who largely agree with me are also more agreeable.
I stopped watching him months ago and I ain't goin back.
"He is all over the place in regards to his beliefs and I think he has to many ties to the mainstream media."
---it's called SPIN plain and simple.
The only reason CBS would put on a profile of BOR is that they know he will disavow some of the quote-unquote "gospel" of conservatism. Global warming? You betcha. Death penalty? No way. Swift Vets? Liars one and all. John Kerry? Known him for 25 years.. wotta guy.
Laura Ingraham was right in her guest spot. BOR has forsaken the very people who made him #1 and is now trying to go "mainstream". He is trying, in some self-delusional way, to make himself appear warm and cuddly to the left.
As if the left would EVER embrace him, no matter what.
But the fact he put down the Swift Vets so gracelessly, and found room to diss Rush Limbaugh as well just shows where BOR is now coming from.
You learn more in 10 minutes listening to Rush than you do in watching one month of the OR Factor on Fox.
And dont hold your breath for any kind of profile of Rush on 60 minutes right now. The left wing media would rather scratch their own eyes out than put on a REAL conservative.
O'Reilly is all ego, and unlike a real professional, he can't hide it. That is why he can't last, and people like Mike Wallace do. Limbaugh and Hannity are there too.
Limbaugh has the capacity to teach, which he does, if you are able to overlook his enormous ego. Hannity could be put on tape and played every day, and no one would be the wiser. He has begun to believe he is a wise man.
I'm glad I didn't bother watching 60 minutes. I would much rather listen to Rush than to O'Reilly. I'm sure Kerry, his good friend, will come on his program. Who cares?
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