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.
**O Reilly ping**
When my beloved return from his tour in Korea, he had said he was spoiled on the FOX news channel. Which wasn't carried in Maryland or the following duty station, OK.
However close to the elections 2000 we got a dish and he was able to show me how terrific the network was.
But, frankly when I saw O Reilly and the way he projects rudeness not thinking one bit of either the guest or viewer, well my interest slowly went down.
I am not sure what party he is .. I think he uses it to be flip flopping himself.
Anyway I can leave him.
If O'Blowhard actually believes it, he's an ignoramus;
If he doesn't, he's a pandering little worm.
Either way, Bill O'Reilly needs a fleet of Swiss psychiatrists to "observe" him.
Heck, I thought he was bounced off the air!
O'Really reminds me of Boortz in some respects. Although I can stomach listening to Boortz most of the time.
O'Reilly is on westwood one, it is owned by Viacom, that owns CBS. Once again 60 min. plays to one of their own.
"Say howdy to the Dixie Sluts on yer way down"
the ego of that prig....hope he falls fast and hard.
Well said....like an Open Mind:...."usually empty".
Please FReepmail me if you want on or off my FoxFan list. *Warning: This can be a high-volume ping list at times.
Great post. I too have been thinking what is he hiding? There is more going on here.
He also said he believes in Global Warming. Now who's the Pinhead. I wont be watching him anymore.
O'Reilley considers himself an undecided voter.
enough said. he's a moron trying to be nuanced and coy.
The guy has 2 million viewers and he feels it necessary to insult 60% of them?
Pray for W and Our Troops
As for me...I will not watch Bill O'Really again!
He can't be trusted. He plays to the MSM.
Especially since he thinks H is a "right-wing bomb thrower."
Does anyone smell gas? Or, maybe gasbags.
Ann Coulter used and abused him and bit off his head and spat it out when she was on the no spin zone... Out'ed him fully as a wolf in sheeps clothing... Wallace out'ed him as one that talks, says NOTHING... like Wallace himself, another poseur.. Laura Ingraham did it too.. O'Really is just a macho Katie Couric who is herself just a feminine Richard Simmons..
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