Shut the F*** Up! The Second-Most-Powerful Man in America is Talking

By Barry Nolan | Boston Magazine |

The truth, though, was that Shawn had spent most of his first month bound to a futon all day, every day. He was constantly sexually abused. His abductor terrorized and threatened to kill him if he ever told anyone who he was. Shawn would later say, “There wasn’t a day when I didn’t think he was just gonna kill me.”

All of these details became public, and O’Reilly was widely criticized for “blaming the victim.” But he never apologized for what he’d said. He never acknowledged he was wrong.

What does all this have to do with being a raging narcissist? I get in touch with John Gunderson, one of the country’s leading experts on personality disorders, to find out. Gunderson, the director of psychosocial and personality research at McLean Hospital in Belmont and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, tells me that a primary characteristic of narcissistic personality disorder is a lack of empathy. Gunderson — who, again, was talking generally rather than about O’Reilly — says people with NPD “seem to disregard or dismiss what ordinarily would evoke concern or sympathy.” Furthermore, he says, it’s “difficult for them to apologize. If they make a mistake, they would be ashamed of it and more apt to withdraw, or to just never mention it again.”


Narcissistic Behavior: “Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.”

In 2004, a Fox News producer named Andrea Mackris filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment against O’Reilly, her boss. Mackris had worked for O’Reilly for a total of four years, in two separate stints, booking guests for The O’Reilly Factor. The suit was loaded with alleged quotes from dirty O’Reilly phone calls, including one in which he fantasizes a shower scene and confuses a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine with a loofah. “So anyway I’d be rubbing your big boobs and getting your nipples hard, kinda kissing your neck from behind…and then I would take the other hand with the falafel thing and I’d put it on your pussy but you’d have to do it really light, just kind of a tease business….”

Mackris alleged that O’Reilly repeatedly propositioned her and her friends and masturbated while talking with her on the phone. He also allegedly threatened that if any woman dared to claim sexual harassment against him, he would “make her pay so dearly that she’ll wish she’d never been born. I’ll rake her through the mud, bring up things in her life and make her so miserable so that she’ll be destroyed. And besides, she wouldn’t be able to afford the lawyers. I can endure it financially as long as I can. And nobody would believe her, it’d be her word against mine and who are they going to believe? Me or some unstable woman making outrageous accusations? They’d see her as some psycho, somone unstable. Besides, I’d never make the mistake of picking unstable, crazy girls like that.”

The suit was settled in two weeks for an undisclosed amount. Unsurprisingly, researchers have discovered a link between narcissism and sexual aggression. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concluded that narcissistic males are “more punitive than other men toward a woman who refused them some sexual stimulation that they had anticipated.” Huh.

  • Norm

    This article was spot on! I’ve never seen the attraction to O’Reilly and unfortunately my own mother is one of them. I expect you will soon be one of his pinheads or, I’m sure, considered a terrorist.

  • Rick

    1. There is a line where your free speech rights become “tortious interference”. He may be a jerk but you were messing with the guy’s livelihood. Mouth writing check that body can’t cash? People who proudly proclaim their membership in MENSA obviously have no problem with asserting their opinions. Pot, meet kettle.
    2. For an article about what an a-hole O’Reilly is, there sure was a lot about the author (and little new about the subject). Is looking pathetic a new job hunting skill that I missed? Let it go. Sometimes the jerks win.

  • John

    Mr. O’Reilly says he is the second-most-powerful person in the United States (or was it the world?). So he can hardly claim not to be a public figure. I am not a lawyer, but I understand that in our democracy public figures give up some legal rights in exchange for their fame and power. They have less entitlement to sue for libel. He is fair game.

  • David

    Great article. And all this time I thought O’Reilly was just an asshole. The personality disorder fits perfectly, though. Bullies and loudmouths have alway had a way of getting to the front of the line. When a person has no empathy for anyone, he doesn’t care about the negative effects of his actions and words. If O’Reilly lives a thousand years, he’ll never understand how little value he actually has. He’s really just a bad clown taking up one of the rings in the Fox circus. You should wear O’Reilly’s hatred of you like a badge of honor.

  • Lynne

    This article took a lot of guts to write. Thank you Mr. Nolan for your dedication to speaking the truth, no matter how unpopular.

  • Mike

    Rather whiney tone from a guy that admits he was a jerk when he was on top. O’Reilly is a right-slanted bully but with, “…88% of political contributions from supposedly impartial network television reporters, producers and other employees in 2008 went to Democrats” (WSJ S. Moore 2/7/12), his show is closer to the truth than anyone on the major networks. Making politicians & pundits uncomfortable is the essence of journalism.

  • jack

    If O’Reilly (indeed) has an excess of negative personality problems, then the author shows his own juvenile, petulant personality issues. Grow up.

    Do we know (or care) if a top surgeon, teacher, or professional has bad personality issues, or do we value his work ethic & quality of his work more? All O’Reilly tries to do is inform people about certain issues, and debate them a bit. There’s precious too few on the air doing that these days, so I welcome all such voices. I disagree with some of his views, but I admire his work ethic. We’d be a better nation if more people had that core value.

    And why no mention of O’Reilly’s numerous death threats (& to his kids)? Talk about fair & balanced. LOL.

  • Donald

    Nolan obviously has an axe to grind, but the world of “journalism” would be a lot better off without the likes of O’Reilly, and I always knew there was something I did not like about Emily Rooney.

  • Richard

    Despite exclaiming newly-found humility, Nolan’s piece smacks of sour grapes and professional jealousy. Hey, if telling a bloated narcissist like Madonna to shut up makes one a narcissist also, then sign me up. The repulsive egomaniacs he exhorts to be silent could benefit from his advice.

  • Charles

    I suspect Nolan’s grandstanding at the Emmys wasn’t about Bill O’Reilly as much as it was about creating buzz for Barry Nolan. He probably thought he’d come out of that dustup looking like a hero – but that’s how narcissists think.

  • Howee

    What was the point of this screed, besides Nolan seeking to vicariously glom on to O’Reilly’s fame? Yeah I know, “proper” Bostonians are supposed to disdain folks like O’Reilly (and one wonders how many of these folks have actually read/listened to him, rather than depending upon MSNBC, HuffPo, or other outlets for their opinions.) Nolan simply comes off as a jealous crank, and with a healthy level of pompous self-importance of his own.

    Boston Magazine, you can do better.

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