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O'Reilly book review in New York Times

Reported by Chrish - January 14, 2007 -

Well, sorta. He's complained in the past that they don't review his books, so this is the next best thing: a review of “The Man Who Would Not Shut Up” by Marvin Kitman, a television critic for Newsday. Most notable (to me) is the revelation that O'Reilly's contract with FOX is "said to be in the neighborhood of $50 million", which completely disqualifies him from his "one of the folks" posturing. Hell, even if it's only half that he is no more "regular" than the liberal millionaires he excoriates nightly for their elitism.

From the review:

"...no one better portrays himself as a pugnacious champion of the little man than Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.

That pugnacity has earned O’Reilly a small army of detractors, who have referred to him, among other things, as a thug, fraud, gasbag, windbag and demagogue. The Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who, along with Frank Rich and Paul Krugman, has made it something of a pastime to tangle with O’Reilly and vice versa, branded him a new Joseph McCarthy and Father Coughlin. All of this may be more or less true and titillating, but it is probably beside the point. The more interesting question is: How did he do it? How did O’Reilly, an unemployed has-been only a decade ago, turn himself into a moneymaking empire, complete with a Web site offering “Spin Stops Here” doormats, beach towels, bumper stickers, license-plate frames and coffee mugs, and “The Rain Stops Here” umbrellas for $37.50 — not to mention the minor matter of a Fox News contract said to be in the neighborhood of $50 million?

In “The Man Who Would Not Shut Up,” Marvin Kitman, a veteran television critic for Newsday, seeks to explain O’Reilly’s astonishing ascent. Kitman, who conducted numerous interviews with O’Reilly and his relatives, friends and co-workers, has performed Boswellian prodigies of research. If you’ve been wondering when exactly O’Reilly yelled at his wife, Maureen, for profligately ordering a bottle of sparkling water at a restaurant, Kitman is your guy.

But he aims for more than that. Kitman states in his preface that as a liberal, he relishes the chance to set the record straight about O’Reilly. He adds that via his own Newsday columns “a kind of mentoring has been going on over the years, as he has assimilated my ideas with his own and put them into practice.” Kitman does a remarkably good job of telling the story of O’Reilly’s turbulent life in clear, crisp prose. Still, if this book isn’t a valentine, it’s something of a mash note. Kitman maintains that O’Reilly is a potent (and welcome) antidote to the pap served up for decades by the television industry. What Kitman really ends up revealing, however, is that O’Reilly’s struggle isn’t about conservative ideas. It’s about parading his seething personal resentments in order to become the very thing he purports to despise: a celebrity."

Read the entire review right here.