Bill O’Reilly Thinks Obama and Trump—’If He Wins’—Will Be 21st Century Legends

Plus, how he's expanding his empire


Who Bill O'Reilly

Current gig Anchor of the The O'Reilly Factor and executive producer of Legends & Lies

Age 66

Twitter @OreillyFactor

"I don't want to insult you," said Bill O'Reilly as I took a seat in his 17th-floor office late last month, "but I have to sign these plates. But my attention is going to be right on what you're saying."

O'Reilly has just finished taping his nightly show (Donald Trump was a guest), and now he's back in his corner office promoting his top-rated Fox News weekend show, Legends & Lies, while using the time to autograph hundreds of pages for his forthcoming Killing the Rising Sun—the sixth book in the Killing series—about the final months of World War II in the Pacific. Barnes & Noble book signings do not happen in Bill O'Reilly's world. There are more than 12 million Killing books in circulation. "First run on Rising Sun is a million and a half," O'Reilly said proudly. "Costco alone took 400,000."

But this is just one aspect of the Bill O'Reilly empire. The history buff turned his passion into a best-selling business that has spawned film adaptations and a Fox News historical series that O'Reilly appears in and executive produces.

Adweek: Legends & Lies is in its second season. What's your role as executive producer?

Bill O'Reilly: I go over the outline of the series in the beginning with [production company] Warm Springs and I say, "Look, this is what we're going to do." They get a writer who whips up the script and then it comes to me. It's the same thing on the movies—I just got back from the Killing Reagan set … I went down and talked to Rod Lurie, the director, and said, "Look, are you guys going to depart from the script?" And they said a few places and we sit down and talk about it. So that's what the executive producer does.

Legends & Lies opens with a slate that says, "News is the first draft of history … but legends take longer to develop." Who, living today, will be written about in 100 years and be considered a legend of the early 21st century?

For sure Barack Obama. Certainly a legacy guy. A lot will be written about him. Good and bad. Trump maybe. If he wins, certainly. But even if he doesn't win, what he did was so extraordinary that people will be looking at it. Hillary Clinton. I'm not sure. Bill Clinton. Not sure. George Bush the younger, probably not.

Season 1 focused on the Wild West and Season 2 highlights the patriots. Where do you want to take Season 3?

Civil War.

Already sketched it out?

Already sketched it out. Ken Burns did it so well—you just can't top Ken Burns. So I'm not even going to try. What we're going to do is find stories that haven't been told.

You've covered your share of political conventions. Are these two going to be like anything you've seen before?

I think it's going to be boring.

Really? Why? 

Because there's no drama. Hillary's going to get up there and she's going to be coronated. Maybe there'll be some Bernie fans. And he'll get his night to speak. I don't see any drama there. Other than vp, which I think is going to be an electoral college move rather than an ideological move. But I could be wrong on that. Then on the Republican side, vp is the story.

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