My recollections of the late, great Bill O’Reilly

By Joseph Farah

Everybody in the media business has a Bill O’Reilly story.

I have a few, but here’s my favorite.

In 2000, O’Reilly began making waves on Fox News. I didn’t know him, but I cold-called him for a meeting in New York to see if I could figure out what made him tick.

He welcomed me and a small delegation from WND into his office, showing some curiosity about WND.

“How would you describe WorldNetDaily?” he asked.

I responded: “Fearless, credible, independent.” (It was our slogan.)

“Independent!” he said. “That’s me. That’s how I describe myself.”

And that’s how we hit it off.

At one point in the hours-long conversation, I asked Bill what he was hoping to accomplish in his career. What were his top goals?

Without missing a beat, he rattled off the following:

  • “I want to have the No. 1 show on cable.”
  • “I want to have the No. 1 best-selling book in the nation.”
  • “I want the fastest -growing syndicated column in America.”

In short order, I explained how WND could help achieve all three of those objectives.

The plan was for him to begin writing an exclusive weekly column for WND, which I would arrange to get syndicated nationally. We would use the column and WND’s marketing resources to promote his first non-fiction book, “The O’Reilly Factor.” He would sign copies, which we would sell exclusively in WND’s online store, and he would promote the autographed copies on his TV show.

“Synergy,” I explained. “We will introduce you to WND’s audience of 8 million unique visitors – independent people who would love your show, books and column.”

The experiment was mind-bogglingly successful, if I do say so myself.

But, more interesting than what I thought was what Bill told me only 90 days after we started the program.

One day he called me unannounced. (By the way, we talked regularly throughout the book campaigns. And he was incredibly generous with the promotions of WND’s autographed copies. In one day, we sold more than $40,000 worth of books, and we sold directly 60,000 copies of the first book and 55,000 of the second.)

“Farah, I just wanted to tell you that you accomplished everything you said you would accomplish that day in my office,” he said. “The show is No. 1. The book is No. 1. And the column is No. 1. I remember conversations like that. I want you to know that.”

Those were words I never expected to hear from Bill, even if they were true. But that really happened.

He suggested we work together even more closely.

What did Bill have in mind?

You have probably heard of “Factor gear,” the hats and shirts and other items he promoted on his Fox News show.

Bill’s idea was to make WND the place to buy all of it – exclusively!

I was honest with Bill.

I said, “Bill, Fox is never going to allow you to sell that stuff on WND. They’re going to want to own all that. You belong to them.”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I want you to be on a call with me when I pitch it to the top Fox execs. I have a lot of clout.”

So I got on the conference call. It was just as I expected. Bill did the pitching, introducing them all to me. There was almost dead silence on the part of the top-tier management team. I knew that idea was going nowhere.

A few months later, Fox introduced “Factor gear” – available one place and one place only: Fox.

Bill and I remained friends for some years. We had another huge success peddling his second non-fiction book. It also went to No. 1.

But, a few years later, I was told WND would no longer have a small ownership stake in his column.

Then, later, he called to tell me he was starting his own website and the column would appear there first.

I told Bill that didn’t sound like much of a partnership anymore. I bid him farewell.

And this week, we all bid him farewell – some of us fondly, others not so fondly.

For myself, I wish him well.

Get Joseph Farah’s new book, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians, and the End of the Age,” and learn about the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith and your future in God’s Kingdom

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