Bill O’Reilly is and has been a journalist, columnist, weatherman, news anchor, news correspondent, author, and television host.
He is best known for “The O’Reilly Factor,” a television program that shattered cable news ratings records.
He used that platform not only to sell books but also to create a TV personality that is a household name.
Love him or hate him, O’Reilly has always delivered a unique voice that people find compelling.
From all his roles throughout his years as a political commentator, he has clearly built enormous wealth, but can Bill O’Reilly’s net worth really be $85 million?
Table of Contents
- Before Bill O’Reilly Was Famous
- How Bill O’Reilly Became Famous
- Bill O’Reilly Inside Edition
- Bill O’Reilly: “The O’Reilly Factor”
- Bill O’Reilly Books
- Bill O’Reilly Sexual Harassment Claims
- Bill O’Reilly Wife and Kids
- How To Build A Bill O’Reilly Net Worth
Before Bill O’Reilly Was Famous
Bill O’Reilly, Jr. was born in Manhattan on September 10, 1949, to William James, Sr. and Winifred Angela.
In 1951, the family moved to Long Island, where Winifred and William had their second child, Janet.
As a high school student, O’Reilly was the varsity hockey goalie, and he was familiar with legendary musician Billy Joel whom O’Reilly referred to as being a hoodlum at the time.
O’Reilly began attending Marist College in 1967 where he was a football punter at the club level and also a reporter for the school newspaper.
He majored in history, earned academic honors, and studied abroad for a year in London. He even played semi-pro baseball for the New York Monarchs for a while.
O’Reilly became an English teacher in Miami for a time. In 1973, he began attending Boston University and eventually he earned a master’s degree in broadcast journalism.
During this period, he worked for various newspapers and was even a classmate of Howard Stern.
Later, as the “Inside Edition” host, he earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.
How Bill O’Reilly Became Famous
Bill O’Reilly’s career began as a reporter and even a weatherman before he eventually switched to an anchor for WNEP-TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
O’Reilly later took an anchor position at WFAA-TV in Dallas, Texas, where he was recognized for excellence in investigative reporting by the Dallas Press Club.
Then, he moved to KMGH-TV in Denver, Colorado, where he earned an Emmy Award for his coverage of a local aircraft hijacking.
O’Reilly has been a “7:30 Magazine” anchor for WCBS-TV in New York, where he won his second Emmy.
He has been a CBS News correspondent and has covered wars in El Salvador and in the Falkland Islands.
In 1986, he joined ABC News as a general assignment reporter appearing on many different broadcasts.
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Bill O’Reilly Inside Edition
O’Reilly’s first big break came when he joined “Inside Edition,” which is now more of a tabloid-gossip TV program hosted by Deborah Norville than the show it was created to be.
The original host, David Frost, was fired just three weeks after the debut of this news-oriented program due to poor ratings, and Bill O’Reilly was hired as Frost’s replacement.
O’Reilly’s most notable moment as the “Inside Edition” host was being among the first American broadcasters to cover the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.
His show’s team was also among the first on the scene during the Los Angeles riots of 1992.
In addition, O’Reilly secured an exclusive interview with infamous murderer Joel Steinberg, and that piece garnered a lot of attention and very high ratings.
His most viral moment as the “Inside Edition” host would come years later. In 2008, a video from the 1990s “Inside Edition” set was posted to YouTube.
The video was originally labeled “Bill O’Reilly Flips Out,” and it shows him cursing at co-workers as the team struggles to pre-record some closing lines for the show.
Bill O’Reilly: “The O’Reilly Factor”
Perhaps no aspect of O’Reilly’s career has contributed more directly and indirectly to his net worth than this show.
Roger Ailes hired O’Reilly in 1996 to host “The O’Reilly Factor,” which was originally named “The O’Reilly Report.” The show ran on Fox News for more than 20 years with Bill O’Reilly as the host.
When O’Reilly was abruptly forced out of his position with the show, his contract had paid him $37 million over the previous year, and he was paid $25 million by the cable news giant as he walked out the door.
“The O’Reilly Factor” took an approach to politics that was polarizing from the start. However, it was also compelling, and it attracted an audience that continued to grow and post ratings that topped cable news.
There are many moments that made the show iconic, loved, and hated. For example, post-9/11, O’Reilly condemned the American Red Cross for perceived failures, which gained ever-greater coverage when actor George Clooney accused him of being irresponsible.
In 2002, O’Reilly’s coverage motivated Pepsi to drop hip-hop artist Ludacris from ads over accusations that Ludacris glamorized drugs, guns, misogyny, and violence.
The show played an important role in coverage during the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and throughout the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
O’Reilly also used the show as a platform for controversial topics, such as the “War on Christmas” and secular progressives.
Bill O’Reilly Books
Bill O’Reilly has been a prolific writer throughout his career, including as a syndicated news columnist featured in newspapers that include the New York Post and Chicago Sun-Times. He has also written and co-written at least 15 books, some of which have contributed greatly to his net worth.
What many people may not realize is that O’Reilly’s first foray into writing a book was a fictional novel published in 1998 titled “Those Who Trespass: A Novel of Murder and Television.”
However, it has been his real-word, politically charged books that have earned him the most notoriety and great financial success.
“The O’Reilly Factor” (2000)
“The O’Reilly Factor: The Good, Bad, and Completely Ridiculous in American Life” is the book that put O’Reilly on the map as a political author.
This is a diverse book that travels from one topic to the next as the author explores what he feels is absurd about American culture, politics, and socioeconomic dynamics.
“Who’s Looking Out for You?” (2003)
“Who’s Looking Out for You?” is a book that Publisher’s Weekly called an “inspirational guide to life’s most basic quandaries.”
In this text, O’Reilly takes on the people and groups that don’t, and perhaps can’t, look out for you.
This includes the government, the elite media, the church, ideologues, and more.
“Culture Warrior” (2006)
“Culture Warrior” is among the best-selling, most influential, and most polarizing books by O’Reilly. It was first released during what was arguably the height of his popularity.
This is O’Reilly at his brashest, arguing that a fierce culture war is underway.
He defines that war as secular progressives versus traditionalists, and the author explores in great detail what this means for those who favor traditional values.
“A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity” (2008)
“A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity” is a memoir by Bill O’Reilly that goes as far back as 1957 when he was a third grader at St. Brigid’s parochial school.
The book is about exploring the people and places that made O’Reilly who he is, and critics have applauded the self-deprecation and humor found within its pages.
“Pinheads and Patriots” (2010)
“Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama” continues where O’Reilly left off with his high-profile interview of Barack Obama in 2008. It was released at about the halfway point of Obama’s first presidential term, and it analyzes Obama’s first 18 months in office.
It explores how the author perceives his American core values being disrupted by a shift within and toward the left.
The Killing Series (2011-2018)
In 2011, Bill O’Reilly collaborated with American author and historian Martin Duggard to pen a nonfiction book titled “Killing Lincoln.”
Spurred by the O’Reilly name and by “The O’Reilly Factor” platform, the book was so successful that it gave rise to a series that now has eight volumes at the time of this writing:
- “Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever”
- “Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot”
- “Killing Jesus: A History”
- “Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General”
- “Killing Reagan: A Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency”
- “Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan”
- “Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence”
- “Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History”
“Killing Lincoln” (2011) and “Killing Kennedy” (2012) are particularly notable. While both earned criticism from authoritative historians, the books were hugely popular and became part of the cultural lexicon.
“Killing Kennedy” inspired a National Geographic docudrama and eventually a TV film starring Rob Lowe.
“Old School” (2017)
“Old School: Life in the Sane Lane” explores American values from an old-school versus new-school perspective.
Co-written with Bruce Feirstein, the authors argue that social justice and so-called “snowflakes” are wrongly trying to convince you that the traditional way of life is an oppressive one.
Sexual Harassment Claims
Bill O’Reilly has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace on multiple occasions, which at times included threatening the alleged victim’s career.
The first major incident was in 2004 and involved Andrea Mackris, who eventually reached a settlement and dropped the charges. The details of the agreement are not known, but in 2017, the New York Times reported the settlement was $9 million.
In the wake of Roger Ailes being fired in 2016 due to a sexual harassment lawsuit, Juliet Huddy – a former Fox host – accused O’Reilly of harassment.
Fox News settled this case by covering her legal fees and by paying her $1.6 million. Later in 2016, a lawsuit against O’Reilly was filed by Andrea Tantaros.
In 2017, The New York Times reported that Fox News had settled five different sexual harassment lawsuits against O’Reilly, which presumably included the Tantaros case.
At this point, more than 60 companies withdrew advertising for “The O’Reilly Factor,” which was more than half the program’s advertisers.
On April 19, 2017, Fox News released a statement that O’Reilly would not be returning, and the network re-branded and re-hosted the show.
Bill O’Reilly Wife and Kids
Bill O’Reilly has been married once. He married Maureen McPhilmy in 1996, and they divorced in 2011.
The couple had two children while married. A daughter named Madeline was born in 1998, and a son named Spencer arrived in 2003.
In 2015, Madeline’s court testimony indicated abuse of Maureen by Bill, which O’Reilly denied.
In 2016, Bill O’Reilly lost his bid for custody of both his daughter and his son.
How To Build A
Bill O’Reilly Net Worth
The path to fame for Bill O’Reilly was long and arduous. He earned his stripes working roles as diverse as weatherman, investigative journalist, correspondent and anchor, not to mention his numerous college degrees.
It’s no mean feat getting to the top of cable news as the top-ratings anchor but the good news is you don’t have to be a superstar reporter to build your own handsome net worth, even if it doesn’t rival Bill’s!
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