Why Is Bill O'Reilly Suddenly Obsessed With Celebs?

Talk-show blowhard knocks Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Aniston to get press...big surprise

By Leslie Gornstein Aug 28, 2010 2:02 PMTags
Bill O'Reilly, Kim KardashianNancy Kaszerman/ZUMAPress.com; Ramey Photo

Why's Bill O'Reilly suddenly so interested in young Hollywood—Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian? Jealous?
—Abe, Montana, via the inbox

I suspect that Bill O'Reilly is obsessed with me, so he singles out every celebrity in my column. I would even offer proof from Billo confirming this obvious fact, but I'm told he's on vacation and "unreachable."

Still, there's a probable method to his need to criticize Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber (on their flirtatious Elle shoot) and Jennifer Aniston (over statements about motherhood):

Bieber may be one of the youngest celebrities O'Reilly has ever targeted, but he isn't the only one by far. John Cusack found himself in O'Reilly's crosshairs after the actor made a commercial criticizing John McCain.

O'Reilly has also expressed interest and admiration for Miley Cyrus, calling her the "biggest commercial phenomenon since Elvis Presley," and has attacked George Clooney for his involvement in a fundraiser for victims of the 9/11 attacks.

"It's just common sense that if you talk about a celebrity, you're going to attract more viewers," says Dr. Paul Levinson, a media and communications professor at Fordham University. "O'Reilly and his producers know that, and it's one of the reasons why he's No. 1 in the ratings."

The tactic appears to be working.

O'Reilly made his remarks about the Elle shoot on Aug. 19, to about 3 million viewers. The number of viewers was about the same the following night. That may not sound significant, until you consider that the next night, Aug. 20, was a Friday; O'Reilly's numbers usually dip on that night. The previous Friday, for example, his audience was about 2 million.

"O'Reilly and his producers clearly keep their eyes out for stories that he can use for his political agenda and issues," Levinson tells me.

"He offers himself up as an arbiter of morality and defender of the rights of men, and these sorts of issues are really the perfect ones for him too address."

So how long until I end up in the center of O'Reilly's crosshairs? Any guesses?

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