Every so often I enjoy blogging about people who interest me and knew it would only be a matter of time before mentioning the conspicuous, and mildly eccentric, Bill O'Reilly, cable television's greatest political commentator. My first memories of Bill date back to shortly after graduating high school, when I watched him as a host on a new show called Inside Edition. He had an honest demeanor and spoke with sincerity and conviction; which ranked Bill as my favorite anchor at the time. Six years later, Bill stepped up to the Big Leagues to host his own program on the Fox News Channel called The O'Reilly Report; which would later be renamed as The O'Reilly Factor.
I've been a loyal viewer of the show since the late 90's and hope to provide readers with a few pros and cons of the *humble correspondent at the helm. (Something compelled me to use an asterisk before the word humble.) My aim is to furnish objective information for you to take in as part of your own due diligence. It has always been my belief that there is something to be learned from everybody. Even the bad things provide awareness on what not to do. When making my assessment of O'Reilly, I knew that the positives would far outnumber the negatives. Therefore, I will tailor my list of positives to the criteria that will help you to thrive in your own career and possibly life. Keep in mind that avoiding some of the negatives will also help.
Bill O'Reilly: The Pros
1. Pedigree - Bill was raised in a humble and modest environment; which further encouraged him to stay disciplined, bust his hump, and become a self-made success story. O'Reilly recognized the importance of a good education and how he needed to build his to prosper. After graduating with his BA degree from Marist College, he entered the real world and taught high school for a few years. Bill's thirst for knowledge continued with an MA degree in Broadcast Journalism from Boston College and a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard. O'Reilly is also an avid reader; which keeps him continuously learning and further strengthens his credibility as a key influencer and source for sound information.
2. Work ethic - In order to be fully accountable for every spoken word, Bill not only does his homework to prepare for each show, he also provides his own writing. This is definitely not easy to do, but it is the best way to uphold the full integrity of his message. When you see the words No Spin Zone hit the screen, understand that Bill does everything within his power to mean it. He not only goes to great lengths to see that viewers are getting a true account of the complete story, he also does not report on facts he can't prove. O'Reilly embraces the belief that knowledge was meant to be shared. His diligence goes far beyond The Factor and has propelled him numerous times as a New York Times #1 selling author of books designed to help captivate and educate adults and children. (O'Reilly's latest best seller is pictured to the left adjacent to another fantastic, lesser-known book.) It should be very clear that Bill didn't rise to the top by chance. Any opportunity that came O'Reilly's way was only seized by his strong work ethic and unyielding commitment to better himself. This reminds me of a very simple quote from another extremely disciplined and pertinacious individual ... "You don't just accidentally show up in the World Series." -Derek Jeter. O'Reilly didn't just accidentally show up in the ratings as number one.
3. Expert communicator - Wait! I know what you are thinking. "How can a guy who is always yelling and cutting people off be considered as an expert communicator?" As one who has spent many years developing the skill of communication, let me tell you that there is more to O'Reilly's aptitude on the subject than what meets the eye. In order to keep The Factor fair and balanced, Bill maintains a most politically diverse group of guests. In many cases, Bill's guests aren't as prepared as he is or simply choose to evade his specific questioning. With an abundance of meaningful content in queue Bill affords zero time for guests to filibuster, which forces him to act as the stern timekeeper. To the contrary, Bill slows down the excited guest who inadvertently speaks a slew of acronyms that viewers may not follow. O'Reilly's goal isn't just to discuss a topic, it's to allow viewers and himself to fully comprehend what's being said. For this reason, Bill is also an active listener. Despite his quick tongue, he does not listen with his motor running (always thinking of what he's going to say next). His retort is always specific to what was just said. These skills, coupled with the obvious ones of speaking clearly and his keen ability to make complex information digestible, continuously demonstrate how O'Reilly has mastered the art of communication. What's more, fans of The Factor now span across five generations.
4. Loves what he does - There is no denying the fact that Bill O'Reilly loves his job. Greatness often comes to those who do. Whether contesting a point or touching on a subject that bursts him into laughter (Miller Time consistently drives this), his genuineness and passion for the job always shines through; which helps position The Factor as the most watched cable news show. O'Reilly is religious and never reluctant to reveal beliefs or show gratitude. He wears his heart on his sleeve and takes his job very seriously, always holding himself accountable to perform at his highest standard. Bill's success did not come overnight. In fact, like many of us, he started at rock bottom and spent years paying his dues in less than ideal jobs. However, that never stopped O'Reilly from staying true to his core values. He kept a positive attitude and had faith that his ambition and integrity would lead him to exactly where he wanted to be in life. This charismatic kid from Levittown, NY, is the perfect example how each of us is capable of living the American Dream.
5. Great humanitarian and philanthropist - O'Reilly is no stranger to charity and has given and raised big money to many of them. There are actually too many organizations for me to try to list, so click here is you want the rundown. Bill's exceptional charitable deeds are tantamount to the message he delivers on The Factor each show. O'Reilly provides viewers with a daily tip of the day, as well as a new vocabulary word to learn. These little tidbits of information may appear to be small, but his intent is to help viewers better themselves by a tiny amount each day. A few baby steps in the right direction equates to one large step over time. O'Reilly prides himself on living his personal brand and I fully respect that. Bill has cracked the code to sustained greatness and prides himself on helping others to do the same.
Bill O'Reilly: The Cons
1. Frequent bloviating - If you haven't yet seen O'Reilly in action then you may find the occasional toot of his own horn or pompous chatter to be off-putting. The fact that I have been a viewer for many years and absolutely loved his autobiography has made me more tolerant of the act. In fact, by knowing exactly where Bill is coming from, I can often predict when his next comment will be a bombastic one. In Welcome to the Big Leagues, I discuss the importance of keeping score, as nobody else in the workplace will. However, I also explain the value of knowing when and how often to light your scoreboard. O'Reilly never shies away from touting that his show or books are number one, or how he was right on an issue. With Killing Patton to be his 11th number one best selling book, the highest-rated cable news show, an eight-figure income, and a very long history of demonstrated accomplishments, Bill's success speaks for itself.
2. Alleged intimidation technique - In job interviews it is recommended for the hiring manager to sit in front of a window, where the natural light can illuminate his presence and provide him with the upper hand. On one occasion where O'Reilly was interviewing Jon Stewart, Jon called out the fact that Bill's chair was so much higher than his and how small he felt. Personally, I am not a huge fan of Jon's work but his comment may have merit. Stewart later retaliated during a live debate by having a lift installed at his podium; which created a hilarious scene. Bill has the talent and brains to go up against anybody. He thrives at eye-level during all presidential interviews and when promoting his books on various talk shows. If Stewart's accusations are true, and Bill takes a higher seat on his home turf, that would be very inappropriate and unwelcoming of him. At 6'4 Bill towers over most of his guests, so it just may be that Stewart is completely off-base and there are no shenanigans here. You'll have to tune into The Factor to judge for yourself.
3. Generalizations and shots below the belt - On few occasions, Bill can over-generalize about certain places or groups. For example, I do not think he could ever say the city, San Francisco, without preceding or following it with the word "loons". I moved to the Bay Area from New Jersey and appreciate the beauty of San Francisco, where I lived when attending graduate school at USF (a Jesuit Catholic University). There are far too many exceptional people, companies, innovations, schools, restaurants and a plethora of other great things to come from the Bay Area, to list. Pinheads, confused and misguided people exist throughout our entire nation, so it's very difficult for me to take any gripe against San Francisco, as a whole, seriously. Bill is a winner with a very powerful voice, I expect the most and best from him; which includes the ability to always take the high road. But to O'Reilly's credit, he never looks to escape accountability and always sets the record straight by admitting when he is wrong or apologizing for those times when his passion clouds objectivity. One thing to know about high achievers is that many are harder on themselves than the worst criticism of the most harshest critic. I've heard Bill sincerely regret certain actions even several years after making them. Also, for the last time Bill, The Kelly File is not a "little show".
As you can see from my assessment above, the numerous Pros on Bill O'Reilly far outweigh the few Cons. My recommendation to supporters of The Corporate Rookie who are unfamiliar with O'Reilly is to "Take Him". Start by reading A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity, and then watch The O'Reilly Factor for the next two weeks. After that, please compare what you see to the information and reporting you get from the other cable news shows, and then make your own assessment.
Even if you hate the news or politics, I encourage all of you to get engaged and have a voice. Start with baby steps. Our country needs intelligent and competent citizens now more than ever. Jesse Watters has made a good living exploiting this. As a nation, we will be faced with incredibly difficult challenges for many years ahead ... Our economy, debt, world influence, healthcare, national security, oil dependency, need for green technology, individual rights, and the overall wellness and prosperity of the American people will not just correct itself. We don't just accidentally become a great nation. For Americans to rise once again, it will be up to each of us to accept personal responsibility for our actions, work diligently to educate ourselves, and call-out the evildoers whenever we see them. Everything and anything is possible with an educated and motivated population. May you always be BOLD enough to articulate your thoughts with conviction, and FRESH enough to create new, game-changing solutions. Bill O'Reilly is doing his part, don't drop the ball on him!
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