Bill O’Reilly, author and host of Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor”, is no stranger to controversy.

His show, which airs daily on Fox News Channel at 8 P.M. (n.b. primetime), is a lightening rod for critics, like the 2004 documentary Outfoxed, that claims that O’Reilly and his fellow FNC compatriots push, to an extreme degree, a conservative message in their programming. O’Reilly has been criticized for things like name-calling; a 2007 piece from the Wall Street Journal blog the Numbers Guy, compared O’Reilly’s rhetoric, unfavorably, to Father Charles Coughlin. The Indiana University School of Journalism, found in 2007 that in O’Reilly’s editorials, he called either a person or a group a derogatory name once every 6.8 seconds, on average.

O’Reilly found himself in another minor controversy, when his 10th book, Killing Lincoln, was removed from sale at Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, after a study, conducted by Rae Emerson, the deputy superintendent, recommended that the book not be sold at Ford Theatre’s bookstore, due to erroneous errors within the book. A minor rift, considering that the book was sold in its gift shop in the ground-floor lobby.

O’Reilly, however, probably benefited more from the publicity than Ford’s Theater. On his show the next day, O’Reilly raised Cain about his book, ending by saying that, “Our enemies are full of rage at that success. We also know the media lies at will these days with little accountability.” Note the strong language he uses here: Our, enemies, and the phrase “the media lies at will these days.”

Since we are learning to be journalists, and know the effort put behind producing news, and maintaining a reputation, surely at least that last statement should make you cringe.

Hold up, I imagine you complain, but O’Reilly is a pundit.

Yes, that’s true, and I’m glad I imagined that you complained. However, he’s a pundit with a master’s in broadcast journalism (from Boston University), and influence, he was watched by over 3 million people last week, according to Nielsen. We have to remember that pundits can play a big role play in our political system, since, like Father Coughlin, he holds a large and influenceable audience.

So what, I imagine you complain again, this has been going on for years, it’s old news.

That is also true. Yet, he is not any less influential, and his ratings are just as high. And his influence and ratings net him a lot of money. In 2010, Newsweek made a list of the most affluent “political figures”, ranking them according to their estimated 2010 salaries. O’Reilly came is fourth, making an estimated $20 million. (If you were wondering, the three who made more than him were Rush Limbaugh ($58.7 million), Glenn Beck ($33 million), and Sean Hannity ($22 million.)

Now, as 2012 is approaching, it only figures to get worse, with a Congress seemingly at a stalemate, and as partisan as ever. If you noticed, the 2007 year in particular, was a time where a lot of vitriol came from O’Reilly. It is not perhaps a coincidence, that it was also just before the previous presidential election. And it is this kind of rhetoric from a streamlined conservative base that has the potential to kill Obama at the polls.

This was featured on O'Reilly's show back in 2007 (Courtesy of the Huffington Post)

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