Bill O’Reilly has built his media empire on his blunt, short-tempered approach to interview guests who won’t give him straight answers to his questions, but during a telephone interview on ESPN Radio Monday, the Fox News host appeared to show that the shoe does not fit comfortably on the other foot.
As can be heard in the recording above, O’Reilly became indignant and hung up the phone when ESPN Radio host Dan Le Batard asked him questions about O’Reilly’s longtime nemesis Keith Olbermann, and then asked him to name the greatest shame of his career.
O’Reilly, the longtime host of the Fox News flagship talk show, The O’Reilly Factor, was interviewed by Le Batard as part of O’Reilly’s promotional efforts for his latest book Killing Patton, which presents O’Reilly’s personal theories regarding the death of legendary World War II General George S, Patton in a 1945 auto accident.
While most of the interview went according to plan, with Le Batard and O’Reilly exchanging lighthearted banter about the book and about the high points of the 65-year-old Bill O’Reilly’s career, the ESPN interview veered down an unwelcome — for O’Reilly — path when Le Batard asked him to comment on a fact about O’Reilly’s past revealed by ESPN TV personality Keith Olbermann.
The always controversial Olbermann, prior to his current ESPN assignment, hosted a popular program on Fox News rival MSNBC cable news network, Countdown With Keith Olbermann. A mainstay of that show was Olbermann’s near-nightly attacks on O’Reilly, in which Olbermann would frequently point out what he said were factual errors and distortions in O’Reilly’s nightly Fox News broadcasts.
While Bill O’Reilly had long stated that he was a varsity football player in college, in 2005 Olbermann pointed out that the school O’Reilly attended, Marist College, in fact had no football team. O’Reilly played on a student club football squad.
When Le Batard brought up that nine-year-old Olbermann revelation, that’s when O’Reilly grew churlish, telling the ESPN that he refused to comment on statements by “smear merchants.”
Bill O’Reilly rarely, if ever uses Oblermann’s name on the air, referring to him primarily as “a smear merchant.”
Le Batard, after reviewing some of O’Reilly’s career highlights, asked him about some of the lowlights as well.
“Is there anything in your career that brings you shame?” Le Batard inquired of O’Reilly. “Anything that you’ve done that you’re embarrassed of?”
After O’Reilly answered “nope,” Le Batard continued to press the point, asking what incident caused O’Reilly the most “unrest.”
“I’m not gonna get into any of that stuff,” O’Reilly responded. “So if you guys have another question, I’m good. If not, we’ll say good bye.”
When Le Batard continued on the same course of questioning, O’Reilly said, “We’ll see you guys!” and hung up — just as the ESPN host began playing audio of an infamous incident from O’Reilly’s earlier stint as host of the tabloid TV show Inside Edition, during which Bill O’Reilly lost his temper and shouted expletives into an open microphone.