Skip to comments.O'Reilly's tragic flaw
Posted on 05/13/2002 9:31:31 AM PDT by Goldi-Lox
O'Reilly's tragic flaw
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Posted: May 13, 2002 1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Geoff Metcalf
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- © 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
Bill O'Reilly's hissy fit on the air with Don Imus has done more damage to the O'Reilly package than 50 Matt Drudges.
The last time I wrote about an O'Reilly-Drudge dustup, Bill told me, "I don't need radio." And that is true, but as I wrote previously, he obviously wants it.
O'Reilly had done a magnificent job positioning himself and his Fox "O'Reilly Factor" as a bastion of "no spin." He had crystallized himself as the guy who would ask the hard questions and not accept obfuscation, tangential diatribes or classic political spin. However, when he became the subject of scrutiny and criticism he totally soiled the sheets. He had an opportunity to demonstrate class, calm under pressure and style and he blew it, big time.
Bill could have ignored the Drudge stories, manufactured plausible deniability for whatever the marketing suits at Westwood/Viacom were doing to clear the radio show, and focused on what he does best.
Like an unfaithful spouse caught in the act, he could have denied it, denied it, denied it. Eventually those who love him would believe him because they want to.
Drudge's announcement that WOR in New York was being paid $300,000 to carry the show was and is shocking. The KABC kiss of $250,000 in outdoor advertising from VIACOM was a tad less egregious but equally embarrassing. The fact they couldn't even get any station in D.C. to carry the show even for $200,000 adds insult to injury.
However O'Reilly could have detached himself from the questionable conduct of the executives trying to place his show and taken the high road. "I do the talk show; other people do the business stuff" should have been his line. Instead he had apparent brain flatulence and went ballistic on the air with Don Imus and mimicked Alec Baldwin calling for Henry Hyde to be stoned to death. "There is no other cure than to kill Matt Drudge," O'Reilly charged on the "Imus in the Morning" radio show on Wednesday.
Hey, Drudge didn't bribe stations to carry his show. If Bill were true to his image and positioning he'd be ranting about the suits who were so desperate to place him they resorted to reducing him to the level of vanity radio (that's where a host buys the time from a station to clear a program). Broadcast ministries and alternative medicine programs have enjoyed huge success buying access.
If a Paul Begala, James Carville, or Strobe Talbot were caught in the controversy Mr. No Spin Zone is in now, O'Reilly would be ripping them a new sphincter in the middle of their chests.
Talk radio audiences are remarkably loyal. It normally takes three to five years to develop a station or a program. Even if a talent equal or superior to Rush Limbaugh is presented to audiences, it will take time to build and maintain an audience. Overnight success in talk radio does not happen. The field is littered with the remains of high profile wannabes like Alan Dershowitz and Mario Cuomo.
By the way, the product radio sells is not the on air talent. The talent is the vehicle for building and maintaining audience. That is the product the audience. Advertisers pay money to deliver their message (selling soap or cars) to the audience. Sparing you the lecture of psychographics, the bottom line in broadcast radio's business model is:
Talent builds and maintains audience. Sales department sells time in program to advertisers. Advertisers pay money to place their sales pitch in front of audience. Rush Limbaugh redefined talk radio. He did it the old-fashioned way, one station at a time. He's come a long way from the $24,000 a year Paul Aaron paid him on KFBK in Sacramento. However, whether you love Rush or hate Rush, he earned his success.
O'Reilly earned his success on Fox News. However, that success is not necessarily immediately transferable to other media. Rush didn't do well on TV. Dr. Laura bombed on TV.
I recently spoke with several national radio syndicators about the O'Reilly roll out. All the supposed experts disagree with me.
I said O'Reilly would stick with the radio thing for a couple of years. When the reality check kicks in that he will not dethrone Rush, he would then bail and probably claim Fox demanded he devote his full energy and talent to what they are paying him big bucks for.
The experts say he'll be gone from radio within a year.
There is one wildcard that frankly no longer seems likely. If or when Rush were to decide to retire and play golf, O'Reilly could and probably would fill the vacuum created by the loss of Limbaugh. However in the wake of Rush's improved medical condition and the resultant improvement in the quality of his program, Rush ain't going anywhere soon. If he chooses, Rush Limbaugh will become the Paul Harvey of our generation, pontificating to my grandkids.
William A. Mayer at PipeBombNews.com was much harder on O'Reilly than I. "First there is the loony tunes aspect of O'Reilly's seeming descent into madness on Imus. This is conduct bordering on the bizarre, especially for a graduate of the staid halls of Harvard, whose cool dissection of sandbagged guests, is legendary. Such a reaction seems to lend considerable weight to the veracity of Drudge's allegations if not O'Reilly couldn't have chosen a more damaging reaction."
The sad reality is, that at least for a while, O'Reilly and "No Spin Zone" seem to be mutually exclusive concepts.
He seems to think that by SAYING he cares about the FOLKS we're goinna BELIEVE he cares. HAH! Not me. I can smell insincerity, and ego-drive a thousand miles away, and his stench is particularly bad. Here's a guy who'd stop on a dime to look at his mug on a mirror, causing a major traffic accident, and be unaware of anything but himself. YUKKKK!
Also, I think that Drudge should have been offended that O'Reilly came on his show and lied to him and his audience. The news that the execs are paying for this show to be a success and that many local talents are being fired or bumped will create animosity towards O'Reilly as well.
That was a cheap shot at PH. The man puts out more 'interesting' news in a 15-minute broadcast than RL puts out in 15-hour week.
I agree with you on BO. Can't watch him.
O'Reilly, the sage of Levittown, never had any of these qualities.
Proof? Next time you watch an interview, whether with friend or foe, keep score with a pen and a piece of paper. Every time BOR asks a question, draw a circle (be quick) and, if he interrupts BEFORE the guest can finish his answer, draw a line (backslash) through the same circle. By "interrupt," I mean, "abruptly speak over," in such a fashion that, if your teenage kid did that to you, you'd smack him. At the end of the interview, you will find very few clean circles.
BOR can be entertaining and I have no real problem with his ego. It is just that he is not very good.
Well well well, when I thought my dad was dead, here are his wisdom words coming out. I have always been annoyed by the Is and the me's in the US, and I thought it was because I was a foreigner raised by an old Euro fart, but it seems the old man was right after all. There is something annoying indeed when people self paint themselves to an audience. It invariably turns into the cult of man.
But not always. Sean Hannity has done well in both media. O'Reilly will do OK, but his big mistake is going head to head with Rush. No way are Rush's listeners going to switch to Bill.
BTW I think you're off base with the criticism. So he's got a big ego and wears nice suits and talks about the ordinary folks. So does Rush. So what? He does a great job at what he does. Just because he's successful now does not mean he can't relate to the "ordinary folks".
Finally as far as his remarks on Imus, I haven't heard the cut but it sounds to me like he trying to make light of it. And I doubt anyone who doesn't read Drudge report ever heard of it.
IMHO that is exactly why he is a good interviewer. Most of the pols he will bloviate endlessly on their talking points without answering the question. They don't get away with it on O'Rielly. That's why it's the No Spin Zone.
he is conservative far more often than liberal, and his show reaches lots of people. Lots of people who could be wooed to our point of view with a little exposure to it.
O'reilly is certainly not perfect, but he is still a big asset to conservatism.
As an alternative, I recommend to anyone, watch and listen to Imus (where BOR stepped on his johnson) when he does an interview. IMO, he is a Master. It is fairly obvious that Brian Lamb (Booknotes) and Imus are each other's heros.