MEDIA PROFILE: Controversy is a definite factor in O'Reilly'ssuccess - Bill O'Reilly, host of 'The O'Reilly Factor,' Fox NewsChannel's most watched show, has never been shy about voicing hisopinion or asking the tough question...

Confrontational talk show host Bill O' Reilly doesn't suffer fools

gladly and unless your client has something provocative to say their

chances of being booked on The O'Reilly Factor may not be much better

than Al Sharpton's 2004 presidential bid.

"We're looking for items that are emotionally charged, visceral,

political or controversial," said Amy Sohnen, senior producer of The

O'Reilly Factor.

"Or anything that hasn't been picked up and played to death by everyone


Khristine Bershers, media relations manager for the Heritage Foundation,

a public policy think tank, has placed several analysts on the show.

"You should be able to guarantee that your person has a definite opinion

which he or she can passionately defend - nothing irritates O'Reilly and

his staff more than a wishy-washy fence-straddler."

Pulling in an average of 1.1 million viewers a night, The O'Reilly

Factor, regularly trounces competition Larry King Live and is the top

rated show on the Fox News Network. About 55% of the show's viewers are

women, while only 45% are men - blowing apart any belief that The

O'Reilly Factor is nothing more than a raging testosterone fest.

O'Reilly is having his media heyday right now. He was featured on the

cover of TV Guide in June and his book, The O'Reilly Factor, is

currently No. 28 on The New York Times Bestseller List (it was as high

as No. 1 last year).

But what's the appeal of the rough talking O'Reilly? Whether taking

George W. Bush to task over whether Jesus would have believed in the

death penalty or asking investigators to dig into Jesse Jackson's

fundraising practices, O'Reilly paints himself as every man, asking

questions that other newscasters shy away from.

"He appeals to the average Joe," said Sohnen. "Not many people are in

the six-figure (salary) range and a lot of newscasters tend to forget

that their audience is mainly working class. O'Reilly doesn't talk down

to his audience and he asks questions that he feels his viewers really

want to know."

"O'Reilly likes a bigger picture. Don't just pitch an item," said

Valerie Walston, director of broadcasting for public policy

organization, the Cato Institute, who has placed several guests on the


"Tell the producer what your story says about the education system or

healthcare in America or government intrusion," adds Walston. "Your

issue has to allude to a bigger social problem or story."

A combustible energy also pervades the story meetings, which happen

twice a week. The show is planned a month in advance, but the producers

are well aware they may have to change guests to incorporate the hot

news of the day.

Sohnen has practical advice for those people hoping to get on the


"Keep it simple. O'Reilly is quick to decide whether a topic will work

or not and the more a subject has to be talked about, the quicker it is

to get the ax." Questions to ask when pitching the show: "Would this

appeal to your parents?" and "Why should O'Reilly's viewership care

about your client?"

Jeff Ingram, senior account executive at Ein Communications, says: "You

have to watch O'Reilly's show. One of the people I got on was Norm Sober

who wrote a book called A Corporate Form of Freedom." Ingram adds:

"Anything that can piggyback off of existing stories and anything that

challenges the establishment, O'Reilly is interested in."

As for the conservative reputation that the Fox News Network seems to

have, Sohnen says that O'Reilly is open to guests from across the

political spectrum - they just have to be able to defend their point of


"You don't have to appeal to a partisan agenda to get on the show," says

Sohnen. "Whether you're on the left or the right, Bill will give you a

fair hearing. He just expects you to be able to back up your



The O'Reilly Factor

Address: 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036

Tel: (212) 301-3000 (Fox News Channel)

Fax: (212) 301-5147


Senior producer: Amy Sohnen

Assistant producer: Kristin Lazure, 212-301-3252 (e-mail:

Booker: Dan Cohen, 212-301-3041 (e-mail:

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