William James O'Reilly, Jr. (born September 10, 1949) is an American television/radio host, author, syndicated columnist, and self-proclaimed "traditionalist" political commentator. He is the host of the cable news program The O'Reilly Factor. Prior to hosting The O'Reilly Factor, he served as anchor of the entertainment program, Inside Edition.
In 1980, he anchored his own program on WCBS-TV in New York where he won his second Local Emmy for an investigation of corrupt city marshals. In 1982, he was promoted to the network as a CBS News correspondent and covered the wars in El Salvador and the Falkland Islands from his base in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He later left CBS over a dispute concerning the uncredited use in a report by Bob Schieffer of riot footage shot by O'Reilly's crew in Buenos Aires during the Falklands conflict. (A 1998 novel by O'Reilly, Those Who Trespass: A Novel of Television and Murder, depicts a television reporter who has a similar dispute over a Falklands War report. The character proceeds to exact his revenge on network staff in a series of graphically-described murders.)
In 1989, O'Reilly joined the nationally syndicated King World (now CBS) program Inside Edition, a tabloid/gossip television program in competition with A Current Affair. He started as senior correspondent and backup anchor for British TV host David Frost, and subsequently became the program's anchor after Frost's termination. In addition to being one of the first American broadcasters to cover the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, O'Reilly also obtained the first exclusive interview with murderer Joel Steinberg and was the first television host from a national current affairs program on the scene of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
In 1995, O'Reilly was replaced by former NBC News and CBS News anchor Deborah Norville on Inside Edition. He then enrolled at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he received a Master's degree in Public Administration. After Harvard, he was hired by Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of the then startup FOX News Channel, to anchor The O'Reilly Report. The show soon moved to a new time slot, and was renamed, The O'Reilly Factor.
O'Reilly's radio program reaches 3.25 million-plus listeners and is carried by more than 400 radio stations. According to the talk radio industry publication Talkers Magazine, O'Reilly is #11 on the "Heavy Hundred", a list of the 100 most important talk show hosts in America. Conservative Internet news site NewsMax's "Top 25 Talk Radio Host" list selected O'Reilly to the #2 spot as most influential host in the nation.
The O'Reilly Factor and O'Reilly's talk-radio program, The Radio Factor, focus on news and commentary related to politics most of the time.
He has coined the term "traditionalist" when describing his points of view on various topics, saying the term is not limited to the normal party lines, although his commentary generally supports conservative viewpoints.
O'Reilly has long said that he does not belong to or identify with any political party. In 2000, however, The New York Daily News determined that he was registered with the Republican Party in the state of New York. He said that there had been "no box to fill in" to register as an Independent; in fact, the form did have a box labeled "I do not wish to enroll in a party." Since this disclosure, he has registered as an independent.
In a 2003 interview on NPR, O'Reilly said:
Over the years, O'Reilly has been criticized by or had disputes with a number of public figures including Al Franken, Bill Moyers, George Clooney, 50 Cent, Rosie O'Donnell, Arianna Huffington, Mark Cuban, Nas, Joe Scarborough, and Keith Olbermann, sometimes in response to commentary by O'Reilly. Progressive media watchdog organizations like Media Matters for America and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting have criticized O'Reilly's reporting on a variety of issues, accusing him of distorting facts and using misleading or erroneous statistics.
O'Reilly is considered the main inspiration for comedian Stephen Colbert's satirical character on the Comedy Central show The Colbert Report, which features Colbert in a "full-dress parody" of The O'Reilly Factor. On the show, Colbert refers to O'Reilly as "Papa Bear."
On October 13, 2004, O'Reilly filed a lawsuit against O'Reilly Factor producer Andrea Mackris, her lawyer Benedict P. Morelli, and Morelli's law firm for extortion, contending Mackris had privately threatened to charge O'Reilly with sexual harassment unless he paid her more than $60 million (USD). Later that same day. Mackris filed a complaint of sexual harassment against O'Reilly. Mackris claimed that O'Reilly had made sexually explicit phone calls, including a "vile and degrading monologue about sex." O'Reilly denied engaging in any physical or sexual assault or "offensive touching." He also alleged that Mackris' motives were financial and political in nature. According to newspaper reports, O'Reilly likely paid Mackris millions of dollars as part of a settlement, whereby both lawsuits were dismissed, but the terms of the out-of-court agreement are confidential. The lawsuit was dropped on October 28, 2004.