Bill O'Reilly Adds His Own Spin on Fox News and Trump in New Book

Bill O'Reilly - The O'Reilly Factor The FOX News Channel - Getty-H 2017
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The anchor, who was pushed out of the cable network in 2017, dishes about his former employer and its relationship with the president in a new tome.

Bill O'Reilly, the former "King of Cable" on Fox News, has a much smaller media footprint these days. Since being forced out of the network in 2017 amid the revelation that he paid millions of dollars in settlements to women who accused him of misconduct, O'Reilly has hosted a daily podcast on his website and has recently started doing a radio segment called The O'Reilly Update.

But, for a new book out Tuesday called The United States of Trump, O'Reilly leaned on his decades of friendship with the president to score an exclusive interview with him. The book also includes notable anecdotes and observations about his time at Fox News.

In the acknowledgements section of the book, O'Reilly gave credit to former Fox News executive Bill Shine, who served as President Donald Trump's deputy White House chief of staff for communications until resigning from the administration earlier this year. "I owe a debt of gratitude to Bill Shine for primary source material, including access to the president himself," O'Reilly wrote.

Here are the most interesting revelations from O'Reilly's new book, as reviewed by The Hollywood Reporter:

About Fox News and Trump

— While interviewing Trump on Air Force One, O'Reilly writes that Trump got distracted by television sets playing Fox News — "especially when the chyron indicates the discussion is about him."

— Trump asked O'Reilly, "What do you think of [Fox News anchor] Bret Baier?" O'Reilly responded, "Nice pocket hankies," and tried to change the subject. Later, O'Reilly writes that Baier "is the face of Fox News Channel's hard news operation, anchoring a daily one-hour program that is efficient and honest. He is also 'safe.' That means he will not do or say anything that might raise some hell."

— On the network's hosting of the first Republican candidate debate in August 2015: "Roger Ailes selected Megyn Kelly as one of the debate people because Fox needed a woman journalist on the panel, and he knew that Megyn had the ear of the Murdochs, who own Fox News. She was what they call in the entertainment business the 'it girl.' She had access to the very top of the corporation — a rarity for an employee."

— O'Reilly pitched Ailes on letting him co-moderate a 2016 debate. "No," Ailes responded, "because we'd like to host another debate sometime this century."

— O'Reilly said there was tension between Kelly and "the men," Baier and Chris Wallace, in the run-up to the first debate: "She knew she was a primetime queen, and was in no mood to be a team player. Baier, Wallace, and the producers were tentative around Megyn, knowing how much power she had within the organization."

— When Kelly pressed Trump on the insulting comments he has made about women, Ailes — who was watching the debate at home in New Jersey — "bolted upright and said, 'What the fuck is that? I can't believe she's doing that!" (O'Reilly attributes the anecdote to Ailes' wife, Beth.) O'Reilly says that Ailes called debate producer Bill Sammon — "Ailes was furious over the Kelly question because it was making his life a living hell."

— Ailes asked O'Reilly to mediate the conflict with Trump, who said he planned to sit out the network's Iowa debate: "Privately, Ailes does not want this fight because he knows a good portion of FNC's audience favors Trump. He suggests to Megyn Kelly that she refrain from publicly commenting on Trump, which she basically does. More than anything, Roger wants this controversy to die, but it will not. ... Based on my long acquaintanceship with Trump, Ailes asked me to speak with the candidate privately, putting forth that the debate was important to America and that he should attend."

— O'Reilly writes that Jeb Bush's presidential campaign rejected invitations to appear on his show "almost every time."

— "The Trump campaign was often annoyed with me because I would not put its surrogates on my broadcast. As I told them, if I wanted zombies, I'd watch The Walking Dead."

Decoding Trump

— "He is essentially a loner, with few close friends." 

— When O'Reilly asked Trump how his childhood helped shape his view of this country, the president responded, "Who cares?" Later, Trump said of his childhood: "When I look at what's going on today, I think I was a beautiful child, a perfect child. What I did was a different level of misbehavior than what you see today — I would say really rambunctious as opposed to really big misbehaving."

— Trump got sent to military school as a child because he "bought some switchblade knives on his clandestine trips to [Manhattan], which he then hid in his room."

— Trump said his parents watched television news "religiously," adding that "they were usually tuned to CBS" and "the great Walter Cronkite." He added, "I'd watch because my father would always watch. If I was in the room, I'd automatically be watching Walter Cronkite." (Trump also said that Cronkite began to resemble his father, Fred Trump: "It was almost like your father was doing the news.")

— Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., told O'Reilly of his father: "I don't second-guess because there's always a method to the madness with him." Of his grandfather, Don Jr. said he "never understood my father's vision. Fred had that Germanic thrift. ... I mean, his house was nice, probably one of the nicest homes in Jamaica Estates, Queens. But it was still Queens."

— According to Don Jr., when he visited his grandparents as a child, Fred Trump would tell his grandson, "Let's go collect some rent! ... He would do that. I was five, six years old. And he took me along because he literally did not know anything other than what it was like to work."

— Donald Trump Jr. told O'Reilly that he's never heard his father admit that he made a mistake: "What he will do when he is wrong, and he knows it, he'll make small talk, and he's not a small talk kind of guy. And I'm like, 'It's okay, you can say you're sorry.' And he'll say, 'What are you talking about?'"

— Trump on military intervention abroad: "I would say that I am an absolute hawk. But that doesn't mean I'm a hawk for the wrong things. I am somebody that is very militaristic. ... But if you're going to be doing something [militarily], you've got to do the right thing."

— Writing of Trump's time in office, O'Reilly says: "Since entering the White House, he has gained a considerable amount of weight. However, he does not diet or exercise much, believing that any significant weight loss would change the look of his face, which he does not want."

— "After dinner, Mr. Trump often watches the cable news opinion shows. ... Donald Trump has no hobbies other than golf and is not an avid book reader or movie watcher. The only film the staff can remember him viewing is Midnight Express, the 1978 story of a young American imprisoned in Turkey on drug charges."

— "Donald Trump is not going to change. He will not modify his behavior, stop tweeting, or begin wearing jeans. He will stay the way he is until the grave."