Fox News Channel host and WorldNetDaily columnist Bill O’Reilly is irate over published reports that he’s looking to challenge Rush Limbaugh’s radio broadcast, and is pulling back from plans to become an on-air radio talk-show voice.
“I have to say, I’ve never, ever been as angry,” O’Reilly told a national television audience last night.
News that the top-rated cable analyst was secretly pitching a deal to become a radio broadcaster was first reported earlier this week by the Drudge Report.
But once the plan became public, O’Reilly – who is currently on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands – telephoned substitute host John Kasich on The O’Reilly Factor last night to express his shock.
“It’s pretty hot down here, but not as hot as I am after reading Matt Drudge,” O’Reilly said. “We were all caught by surprise. I just thought it was such a vicious, vicious assault by Matt Drudge on me, designed solely to hurt me, by the way – no other reason.”
O’Reilly said he felt Drudge had implied the TV host was trying to exploit Limbaugh’s recent announcement that he was going deaf.
According to the original report by Drudge: “It is not clear if O’Reilly views the Limbaugh franchise as weakened and vulnerable since Limbaugh announced earlier this season that he has lost his hearing, or if the timing of the O’Reilly move is simply a natural progression of his media success.”
The Rush Limbaugh Show is three hours in length, and with an estimated 22 million listeners per week on over 600 stations, it’s the highest rated program in the history of radio. Drudge reported that O’Reilly was seeking a two-hour broadcast beginning at noon Eastern time to go head-to-head against Rush.
Limbaugh himself gave no indication he objected to O’Reilly joining the broadcast club. To the contrary, he welcomed it.
“It is a capitalistic society; competition is good for everyone,” Limbaugh said on his Monday program. “I’m excited about it.”
In fact, Limbaugh stated he would even provide O’Reilly assistance in his radio quest. “If we can help him get any stations, he should call us!”
O’Reilly, who has some radio experience filling in on WOR-AM in New York, said no deals had been struck, though Drudge stated a deal was reportedly imminent.
“I’ve told my people to stop all radio talk,” O’Reilly said in the wake of the recent public disclosure. “If this is causing Rush Limbaugh any angst at all, I’d rather not do any kind of radio. So we’re going to pull back and I’m going to talk to Mr. Limbaugh and see where it goes.”
O’Reilly went out of his way during his phone call to blast Drudge, even referring to a confrontation with the online reporter.
“If this were 200 years ago, there would have to be a duel – and believe me, I’d win,” O’Reilly said.