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

By Barry Nolan | Boston Magazine |
Narcissistic Behavior: “Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.” 

Getting axed from Comcast was a humbling experience. I am a financially poorer man now, for sure. But since then, life has been good by all the metrics that really matter. My children, now young adults, remain proud that their dad stood up to a big-mouthed bully. I treasure that respect. I love my wife more than ever for her unwavering support. I learned to keep saying true things out loud.

I also learned to live more modestly. With fame, you begin to believe you didn’t just get here by some lucky accident — which is all it is: luck. You come to believe that this was always your destiny. I look back on some of that now, and it makes me cringe. I want to say to the people I might have offended, to all the people who brought me fruit, to the program manager I argued with over the taxi ride, “I’m truly sorry.” And to the person I once was, “Get over yourself.”

O’Reilly, clearly, hasn’t. He once warned comedian Al Franken that “One day he’s going to get a knock on his door and life as he’s known it will change forever. That day will happen, trust me.” Actually, O’Reilly was right about that one. Franken’s life did change forever. He’s now a well-respected U.S. senator.


Narcissistic Behavior:  “Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her.”

One week after Newsweek profiled O’Reilly, the magazine turned its lens on Roger Ailes, his boss and the head of Fox News. Ailes, a former Nixon and Reagan political consultant, tossed off a few grenades in the piece, including this one. “O’Reilly hates Sean [Hannity] and he hates Rush [Limbaugh] because they did better in radio than he did.”

Now, Ailes is a master media manipulator, so I’m sure he had a good reason to stoke the fires between his television personalities. But it’s no surprise that O’Reilly hates two men who do exactly what he does, and sometimes even better: He hates being a loser, being second.

There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to be the best — the world runs on ambition. But there is a huge difference between wanting to excel at a task and hating those who might be better at it. When you’ve had one of the highest-ranked cable shows for more than a decade, hating radio guys comes across as pure, unbridled envy.

Look, I’m no psychiatrist, but it’s clear that, never mind the five required for a diagnosis, O’Reilly regularly displays all  nine behaviors of narcissistic personality disorder. That’s not a happy observation, though. It leaves me feeling sorry for Mr. O’Reilly, a man who once got me fired. Oh, he’s still successful, rich, and famous. But he is also heedless of the truth, indifferent to suffering, petty, peevish and vengeful toward the powerless, and generally lacking empathy.

I tried to contact O’Reilly for his comment. He refused to return my calls. I do, however, anticipate getting his take not long after this article is published. I expect it to come in the form of provocative questions hollered at me by The O’Reilly Factor camera crew that ambushes me as I walk out the front door of my home.


  • 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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