Born in New York City in 1949, Bill O'Reilly is a talk-show host and journalist who began his television career in local news outlets around the country. As a correspondent, he won several Emmy Awards before moving to Inside Edition, a popular "infotainment" program. When FOX News launched, he was hired to do his own program, called The O'Reilly Factor, which featured conservative commentary and interviews and quickly became the most watched cable news program. O'Reilly is also the author of several books, including Killing Lincoln (2011), Killing Kennedy (2012) and Killing Jesus (2013).
Early Life and Education
William James O'Reilly Jr. was born on September 10, 1949, in New York City, to parents William James O'Reilly Sr. and Angela "Ann" O'Reilly. When he was a boy, his family moved to Long Island, where O'Reilly attended Catholic school. After high school he attended Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and studied history and spent his junior year abroad at the University of London. In 1971 he graduated with honors and moved to Miami, where he taught high school for two years before enrolling at Boston University to pursue a master's degree in broadcast journalism.
O'Reilly's television news career began in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and included stints at local news stations in Dallas, Denver, Portland and Boston. In 1980 he returned to New York to anchor his own program, and then joined CBS as a news correspondent. In 1986 he moved to ABC News, where, during his three-year tenure, he received two Emmy Awards and two National Headliner Awards for excellence in reporting.
O'Reilly's career took a turn in 1989 when he joined the nationally syndicated show Inside Edition. For the next five years, Inside Edition was the highest-rated "infotainment" program in America. After six years as its anchor, O'Reilly left Inside Edition to earn yet another master's degree, this time in public administration at Harvard University.
Upon leaving Harvard, O'Reilly was hired by the start-up FOX News Channel to host his own show, The O'Reilly Factor. With hard-driving interviews and blunt commentary, O'Reilly dealt with the nation's hottest issues in an atmosphere described by him and his show's producers as the "No Spin Zone." In 2001, The O'Reilly Factor became the country's most watched cable news program. Shortly thereafter, O'Reilly expanded his media presence to include a weekly syndicated newspaper column and a national radio show called The Radio Factor, which ran from 2002 to 2009.
With his direct style of commentary, O'Reilly became increasingly known for his controversial statements. One such example occurred during a discussion on the talk show The View, during which he said, "Muslims killed us on 9/11." Co-host Whoopi Goldberg condemned the statement, pointing out that O'Reilly should have been more specific, rather than just generalizing the attackers as "Muslims." Goldberg and fellow co-host Joy Behar walked off the set. Barbara Walters, the primary host of The View, did not approve of the walk-out, but did not condone O'Reilly's statement either. O'Reilly defended his comments.
When not in front of the TV cameras, O'Reilly writes books. His published titles include the nonfiction best sellers The O'Reilly Factor (2000) and The No Spin Zone (2001) as well as the novel Those Who Trespass (1998). He has also released the controversial historical thrillers Killing Lincoln (2011) and Killing Kennedy (2012), which sold millions, topped the New York Times best-sellers list, and were adapted into a movie by the History Channel. In the fall of 2013, O'Reilly released Killing Jesus Despite the book's title, O'Reilly insisted that it focused more on history than it did on religion or spirituality.
Controversy has followed O'Reilly not just in his professional career but in his personal life as well. In 2004, Andrea Mackris, one of his show's associate producers, filed a lawsuit against O'Reilly for sexual harassment. She alleged that O'Reilly made several sexually explicit phone calls to her in which he described his fantasies to her and advised her to use a vibrator. The New York Daily News reported that O'Reilly agreed to pay Mackris anywhere from $2 million to $10 million to settle the suit. O'Reilly denied all accusations and stated that he did what he needed to do in order to close the matter in the best interests of his family.
In 1996, O'Reilly married Maureen McPhilmy, and together they had a daughter, Madeline, and a son, Spencer. A contentious separation took place in 2010, however, with a divorce following the next year. McPhilmy later alleged that O'Reilly used his connections and financial-donor influence with the Nassau County Police Department to launch an internal affairs investigation into McPhilmy's Nassau County detective boyfriend, whom she later married.
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