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“People get comfortable with ‘personalities’ like Oprah and Johnny Carson. I don’t want to put myself in that category, but they like programs to be consistent,” says O’Reilly, 62, who has kept Fox News on top of the primetime cable-news ratings for 136 consecutive months as of the end of March.
That leaves O’Reilly, who was born in Manhattan and raised on Long Island, well ahead of his MSNBC and CNN competition. “There is an authenticity that we bring every night,” he says, adding that the quick pace of his show has become an O’Reilly Rule. “A long time ago, I told my staff that the reason we’d beat Larry King, who had the highest-rated cable show 13 years ago, was we’d be a lot faster. That’s how I beat him.”
O’Reilly knows that he also affects Hollywood’s bottom line: “We can help a book or movie. Can we hurt them? I don’t do that, unless it’s egregious.” Redacted, a feature bankrolled by Mark Cuban about the Iraq War, “put the U.S. soldiers in a bad light,” he says, citing an example of when his show “pretty much killed” a movie.
As for what he sees as the “liberal media’s endorsement of Barack Obama,” O’Reilly “won’t endorse anyone. I’m tough on Romney; I’m tough on Obama,” he says. “My opinion, of course, is always there. We try to let the best debater win.”