Bill O’Reilly has been a proponent of many things throughout his time at Fox News but the one thing that everyone–even his staunch rivals at MSNBC–can agree with him on is that opinion-based news programming works. In a recent discussion at Boston University, O’Reilly told a crowd at the Metcalf Ballroom there, “If you are going to do a straight newscast in primetime, you are going to lose.” And the numbers back him up on this.
According to the latest ratings figures from Nielsen, “The O’Reilly Factor” had 4 programs in the top 40 programs on cable TV last week. The top program on the list ranked 14, making it the fourth highest rated non-scripted program behind ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” and “Sportscenter,” and USA’s “WWE Raw.” In a list dominated by Nickelodeon and USA, “The O’Reilly Factor” was the only entry from a cable news network. During last week, the Fox News Channel ranked third in primetime, just behind USA and ESPN, and well ahead of rivals MSNBC (26) and CNN (28).
It is likely that O’Reilly will figure more prominently in next week’s figures, which will account for Monday’s program that featured an interview with former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs. In the interview, O’Reilly drummed up support for, what Dobbs referred to as, “advocacy journalism.” “Every show that doesn’t have an opinion is dying. It’s dying,” O’Reilly stated, referring to CNN. “Campbell Brown is getting murdered. Larry King has declined like 80 percent. Anderson Cooper’s getting hammered. So they want more of the same? They want more of that? Does that make sense to you as an economic guy?” (Video here).
Dobbs, for his part, was demure in his answer, saying, “I’m just talent.” This caused O’Reilly to press forward, emphasizing, as the Nielsen numbers have, “Opinion’s what works. That’s what works.”