Gentleman Bill O'Reilly.

Gentleman Bill O'Reilly.

Gentleman Bill O'Reilly.

Media criticism.
March 15 2004 1:19 PM

Gentleman Bill O'Reilly

He's taken the cure and stopped telling people to shut up.

About six months ago, I documented Bill O'Reilly's propensity for bellowing "Shut up!" on his Fox News Channel program, The O'Reilly Factor. In recent years, Bill has dealt the rude rebuke to a peacenik, an atheist Eagle Scout, gays and lesbians who wanted to talk about their sexuality, a Fox colleague (Dick Morris), and an editorial page editor. He's even demanded that people not appearing on the show zip it (Jimmy Carter, Tom Daschle, Alec Baldwin, the Dixie Chicks), entire countries (Canada and Sweden), all Americans (once bullets started flying, he wanted folks to stop debating the Iraq war), both political parties, and supporters of Bill Clinton. O'Reilly, you recall, lost it famously in public at the Los Angles Book Fair in June 2003, bawling at Al Franken, "Hey, shut up! You had your 35 minutes! Shut up!"

New Yorkmagazine asked O'Reilly if he'd seen the Slate article shortly after it appeared:

"I don't read Slate!" he snapped. "Why would I read that?" Some people, we pointed out, consider it a legitimate news venue. "I read 10 newspapers a day!" he barked.

I'll take O'Reilly's word that he never saw the article. But a Nexis search of Factor transcripts reveals that in the interim he's arrested his Tourette's-like tic, declining to tell any person, country, or inanimate object to put a plug in it. He's become a gentler, more gracious talk show host—when not smirking, interrupting, or sarcastically dismissing his guests.

******

Advertisement

What's the cure for the other O'Reilly maladies? Send your ideas to pressbox@hotmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)