The O’Reilly Fact_or_Opinion?

Posted on April 22, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

By: Holly Murphy

In the last two years, the United States has faced drastic political and economic changes—some for the better, others for the worse.

But amidst it all, one problem has remained unmoving: The O’Reilly Factor continues to be the number one most-watched cable news show in the U.S. Naturally, this prompts the inevitable question: Are U.S. news watchers receiving “adequate” information? Where are the values in proper, diverse news coverage these days? It goes without saying that autonomous, aggressive and, hell, even critical media are fundamental to a well-versed public. But perhaps mainstream media, namely The O’Reilly Factor, are a bit too smug with the economic and political powers that they should be protecting. Mergers in the haughty news industry have clawed and scratched towards public support and absolute coverage, further constricting the continuum of viewpoints that have access to mass media.

And now, conglomerates such as News Corporation have compromised independent journalism and diverse coverage

These claims, though partial, should be taken with a grain of salt because after all, The O’Reilly Factor (and Fox News Channel in general) is committed to being “fair and balanced.” 

History/Context

For those who may not know, The O’Reilly Factor is an American talk show featured on the Fox News Channel. The show has been blessed for fourteen years with political commentator Bill O’Reilly, who often discusses (berates) current hot political and social issues with various guests. The producers will often times conduct “pre-interviews” with these guests, only, of course, to predetermine their specific stance on the issue. The O’Reilly Factor first premiered in 1996, along with the FNC—that’s almost fifteen years! Since then, the show has been commonly denoted with a conservative, right-wing bias. FNC is owned by the Fox Entertainment Group—a subsidiary of News Corporation, the word’s second-largest media conglomerate. News Corporation, to no surprise at all, was founded by far-right partisan Rupert Murdoch

Production

The O’Reilly Factor is written and produced by David Tabacoff, who previously worked for ABC News. The show is aired for exactly 43 minutes, continuing on its 11th season this year and is now 4,321 episodes deep. In 2001, the ratings grew exponentially high, and since then, the show has become the number one most frequently watched show on cable network—just barely surpassing Larry King Live. The show itself is not a parody (unless you want to argue that it parodies biased journalism), but it has become increasingly popular to spoof The O’Reilly Factor in recent years. In fact, Stephen Colbert makes a living off of the absurdities and blunders of Bill O’Reilly. 

The show has featured several infamous guests, which includes Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Tanya Acker and of course his nemesis, Jon Stewart.

Distribution

The O’Reilly Factor is distributed through FNC, but is also accessible through audio podcasts available on iTunes for free downloading. Episode clips are also distributed on the FNC website, and are accompanied by Fox News advertisements. Clips and viewings are also accessible through YouTube. In 2000, O’Reilly wrote The O’Reilly Factor—a book which narrates similar thoughts and views as the show does. The book can also be purchased in an Audio CD version, which Bill narrates himself. 

Synergism

The O’Reilly Factor has progressed into a rather vast commodity, extending to quite a large audience—even to kids, in his 2004 book titled The O’Reilly Factor for Kids. Most importantly, the show has commoditized O’Reilly into a social icon himself: he is fierce, ruthless and “unafraid to speak the harsh truth.” He is the voice of reason for far too many and has embodied the conservative ideology into a social norm.

However, it does not begin to stop there. 

In fact, there is an entire Bill O’Reilly online store dedicated to selling merchandise such as mugs, clothing, hats, home decor, pens, lanyards, pencils, doormats, pins, books and bumper stickers available to consumers worldwide. The irony of it all is that the products read “American Patriot,” as if what Bill O’Reilly says is what it means to be a patriotic American. Additionally, FNC has franchised its’ own online shop that too sells Fox News merchandise. Shouldn’t presenting the news be enough?

Clearly The O’Reilly Factor—or on a broader scale, the Fox News Channel—has become a synthesized commodity that is much more than presenting news: it is an ideology, a philosophy and a lifestyle. 

Consumption

Despite the fact that the show clearly possesses conservative undertones, it still seems to rock the charts in comparison to its counterparts and less-conservative competitors. In the last year, the audience has increased almost 37% and is now averaging around three million viewers. In fact, the show’s consistently high ratings have grown significantly stronger since the White House’s alleged feud with Fox News. Nonetheless, the audience demographics have remained unswerving with an age range of between 25-54, with mostly male viewership. Though the show is committed to informing the public, its’ high ratings and consistent viewership are also representative of the entertainment and interest factor.

The O’Reilly Factor

Mainstream Media

Bill O’Reilly in book format

“unafraid to speak the truth”

White House’s alleged feud

25-54, with mostly male viewership

Mergers

Fox News Channel

Jon Stewart

Rupert Murdoch 

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    This blog explores the political and economic factors involved with The O'Reilly Factor for J412

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