Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bill O'Reilly Let's You Know

Loaned to me by my good friend Graydon, I just finished Bill O'Reilly's book Who's Looking Out for You. It was an enjoyable read but the premise of the book was a little hard for me to swallow. From what I gathered, the purpose of it was to evaluate different influencers (media, government, church, etc) of people's lives and evaluate them to see if they are really "looking out" for the American people. The main problem I had was the harshness he recommends towards relationships that are not personally beneficial. For example, he applauds Shaquille O’Neal for shunning his deadbeat dad. I'm not going to condemn Shaq for being hurt, but I do not admire his lack of forgiveness. Bill O’Reilly has a very good guy vs. bad guy outlook on life. No doubt he is one of the good guys. A story from his personal life explains it perfectly:

Anyway, on a trip to Colorado for a little rest and relaxation, I told the guy how much he owed for the hotel room that he and I were splitting. He paused, and then asked to see the bill. Okay, fine, I showed him the bill. Then he questioned why he should pay half of the parking charge. Well, since I had paid the entire car rental fee—and he was riding around in that car—I had assumed the car parking fee would be split.
Now some people might have argued, tried to understand, or even become bitter. Not me. I just walked away. If the guy had later apologized, I might have dealt with him again. But he did not. And since a person who doesn’t trust you cannot possibly look out for you or even be a friend, there was no further common ground on which that man and I could stand. He was history" (pg. 29).

Pretty rough for a guy he had known for fifteen years. It was clear throughout the book that Mr. O’Reilly saw friendship as a tradable good. You be nice to people so they will be nice to you. You should look out for other people so later they can look out for you. The moment that ceases to be true, you are to exit the relationship. For a devout Catholic he doesn’t seem to value sacrifice.

But it wasn’t all “look out for number one” nationalist mumbo jumbo. There is also a great chapter on race relations. And I appreciate that sees himself as a media watchdog. I truly believe that he tries (and often succeeds) at looking out for the American people regularly on his show, The O’Reilly Factor. He is even a fan of my favorite newscaster John Stossel, so he can’t be too bad.

I think overall this book didn’t resonate with me because I am already pretty pessimistic about the media, the government and celebrity’s ability to look out for me. Also, he really pushes personal discipline and individual righteousness (two things with which I’m uneasy). He says that “the ability to do the right thing most of the time will make you successful.” Sorry Bill, I don’t agree (or even think that’s possible). And finally, I’m not sure if he is speaking to the right audience. Do Americans really need to be told to look out for themselves more?


  1. Wow, this was a lot nicer than I expected.

  2. Yeah, if I had written this, the review would have been more like...

    "Bill O'Reilly is both a tool and sexual predator. But the book makes surprisingly good kindle."

    Maybe that was a bit extreme. Maybe.

  3. Clearly the Scotts are not big fans of O'Reilly. Anyone going to stick up for him?

  4. ::cricket:: ::cricket::

  5. Graydon6:58 PM

    Of course, I need to stick up for my man, Bill...

    Honestly I can't argue many of your points because it's been so long since I read this particular book (high school, I believe). If I was going to argue your take on how he views relationships, I would probably say that from what I've heard from and read about Bill, he is very cautious about his friendships, and apparently, also very loyal to his friends. For a man with his type of job, I would imagine that you would really have to trust your friends, because there are so many people who try to damage his reputation and credibility. I certainly am not that ruthless with my friendships, and luckily people aren't that ruthless with me in return, because I probably wouldn't have too many friends! But I can see his point as to why he would be a lot more picky with his friendships, with regards to his line of work and protecting his family. Ultimately, Bill can choose his friends based on whatever criteria he wants. I believe the overall point of that story is that his "obviously" didn't have Bill's best interests at heart, so Bill deemed him to be a selfish friend, thus not "looking out" for Bill, hence the title of the book, and so forth. Obviously the story is somewhat harsh, but it fit with the theme of the book, and plus Bill has a perfect right to choose his friendships in any he wants.

    Bill definitely pushes personal discipline and individual righteousness, as keys to success. I would probably define success differently than Bill, but I at least understand what he's trying to say. Being disciplined and trying to be honest and do right by others can't have too bad of a result, can it? He's trying to propose a general way of life that will result in fair, respectful treatmeant of others for most people regardless of race, religion, gender, etc. If you're trying to reach the masses in the way that that he is, then he has to speak in such a way that most people can get on board with his ideas. So he proposes the simple of idea of being honest, working hard, and doing right by others. He believes that will result in high quality of life, and I can't say I disagree with that.

    I think the point of the book was be more selfish and look out for yourself more, as you assert in the last line of your blog, rather the point trying to be made is to be more aware that the people that act like they are "looking out for you", may really be only looking out for themselves. He's encouraging people to be skeptical of the media, hollywood, and those in power, in such a way that it will result in accountability for those in power. People are not engaged enough in what's going on in the world, and the result is an abuse of power. I believe Bill's ultimate goal is to those in power, in check. So with "Who's Looking Out for You," he's trying to shine a light on those people, and encourage the American people to do the same.

  6. Graydon (cont)6:58 PM

    The main reason I listen to and watch Bill is for information, not necessarily for life principles. I believe that he tries to be fair, and doens't adhere to any political party (he's a registered independent). I've heard him be praise Democrats, and chastise Republicans, and vice versa. From a news commentator, that's very rare, and lends him a lot more credibility than other commentators. Now I'm not stupid, I realize he is probably more sympathetic to the Republican cause, so I'm always aware while I'm hearing him opine. However, most of what he tries to do is offer commons sense solutions to problems that don't promote any idealogy. He actaully proposes solutions, discusses them with members of all political persuasions, and has more of a dialogue than a list of complaints and attacks. You get a lot more perspective on the news when you tune in to Bill because of all of the opinions and perspectives that you will hear debate the issues. Bill may rub people the wrong way, but he asks direct questions, and he usually gets direct answers, as compared to the usual political bilge that you hear. For this reason, he obviously he would like to think that he's looking out for the American people, and thus why he wrote the book.

    Bill's new book "A Bold Fresh Piece Humanity" comes out in September...sorry I had to throw that in there...ahhh the life of being a Bill O'Reilly apologist.

  7. Some great points Graydon.

    Understandably Bill O'Reilly's life is harder in different ways than ours for simply being in the spotlight. So I can cut him a little slack for being cautious about the company he keeps (something Obama has clearly had to pay for).

    Also, I'm not hating on personal discipline (in fact it is something that could greatly benefit my life), I'm just sensitive to people who think they are the good guys.

    "he proposes the simple of idea of being honest, working hard, and doing right by others." But is this idea even worth discussing? I mean, not really original enough for a book deal if you ask me.

    But like you I appreciate O'Reilly's motive to "asks direct questions, and he usually gets direct answers."


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.