Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly has become a major name in political commentary over the years as the host of The O'Reilly Factor. He's scored big interviews with influential political figures on both sides of the aisle, and he doesn't look like he'll be slowing down any time soon. Anybody who has caught his show since its premiere way back in 1996 probably knows that O'Reilly has developed the habit of occasionally talking over those he's interviewing, which can lead to some confusion on camera. According to O'Reilly, he has a reason why he sometimes changes the course of conversation. Here's what he has to say:
It depends who's talking. You know I could sum up what's happening pretty quickly. So if I don't see A) specifics, B) they're answering the question being asked, then I'm going in getting them over to where I want them. Because people's concentration spans are very short. It's not like it used to be.
Bill O'Reilly explained why he deliberately talks over his guests at times in a chat with Adweek, and it makes sense that he would have to use different interview tactics with different individuals. Presidential candidates prepped by their staffs are certainly going to interview differently than non-celebrity pundits, and O'Reilly has had folks who aren't necessarily well-practiced with press outlets appear on his show. Each episode is only one hour and usually features an awful lot of opinions from O'Reilly and others; perhaps he just can't take the chance that an installment will be derailed by too many tangents.
Given that we live in an age of social media and news feeds that update as fast as we can refresh on our devices, many of us do have expectations for getting news quickly. Bill O'Reilly is of the opinion that the advent of the smartphone has meant that he and his team at The O'Reilly Factor need to keep the news moving in order to keep viewers' attention spans engaged. There's not too much that's engaging about somebody losing focus on camera, and he's only gotten more practiced at it over the years.
The O'Reilly Factor isn't exactly suffering in the ratings, so Bill O'Reilly is definitely doing something right to keep his audience tuning in on a regular basis. The show has been the top cable news show for sixteen years; O'Reilly probably won't be changing his tactic of talking over certain guests any time soon. Why would he mess with what's working for him?
In addition to discovering what works for Fox News, Bill O'Reilly has made a name for himself outside of The O'Reilly Factor in recent years. His pseudo-feud with Jon Stewart while Stewart was host of The Daily Show gave O'Reilly some exposure to viewers who probably were not in his demographic at Fox News, and his series of Killing books have been huge hits. National Geographic has even produced adaptations of Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, and Killing Jesus. The next book will be Killing the Rising Sun, which will be released in September of 2016.
Between the presidential election, the release of Killing the Rising Sun, and his regular duties with The O'Reilly Factor, we should count on seeing plenty of Bill O'Reilly in the news in the coming months. He's not going anywhere. Who knows? Maybe he has another sixteen years talking over people as the top cable news host ahead of him. He's already nailed a way to interview that clearly works for him. Only time will tell.