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O'Reilly's Ridiculous Factor

September 25, 2000|Howard Rosenberg

"The Rosenberg Factor."

I'm writing this column in the ridiculous style of "The O'Reilly Factor," a ridiculous new book written by Bill O'Reilly, ridiculous host of "The O'Reilly Factor," a ridiculous interview series on the Fox News Channel.


Bulletin: I hate eating peanuts stomped on by people wearing muddy combat boots. I hate miniskirts on men. I hate going to a restaurant and being punched in the mouth by a waiter wearing brass knuckles. I hate sitting in bird doo. I hate being in a closet with someone who has just eaten beans. I hate walking barefoot in ketchup. I hate snot that isn't mine. I hate everything I don't love. I hate haters. I hate . . .

Ridiculous note: Before writing about O'Reilly's book--which is part cleansing memoir, part cockamamie lecture that accommodates no gray areas or ambiguity--I had to read it.

Calling O'Reilly opinionated is like calling a hemorrhage a slow drip. This is the Joe Isuzu of books, 214 pages reading like they were written by someone who had spent the night drinking 214 cups of coffee. As if all humankind were breathlessly waiting, O'Reilly uses his book to unburden himself of everything in his brain--some of it appearing as "notes" or "bulletins" or "time out" responses to listener comments--as he miraculously stretches this rubber band of self-adoring thoughtoids into something the length of a book.

Bulletin: I like cheap shots.

Note to me: I love you.

Every chapter title ends with "factor." One of my favorites is "The Ridiculous Factor," where, after polishing off two of his favorite targets, Bill Clinton ("What a ridiculous waste!") and Atty. Gen. Janet Reno ("ridiculous, incompetent . . . "), he lists one after the other Larry Flynt, Charles Manson, the movie "South Park" and NBA ticket prices, en route to his much-anticipated views on skin piercing.

"While tattoos are silly enough, piercing is ridiculous."

Just how silly are tattoos, by the way? Find out in "The Bad Factor," where O'Reilly discloses also why he's teed off about, in this order, U.S. airlines, rice cakes, sport-utility vehicles, Roseanne, NFL gear, steak tartare, Leonardo DiCaprio, onion-flavored potato chips, Warren Beatty and abortion before reaching the fertile topic of Barbra Streisand as an actress.

"Can't knock her singing, except for some misguided screeches, but as for her acting, please."

Note to O'Reilly: Please.

Bulletin: People who puke all over you? Hate 'em.

And what is it about onion-flavored potato chips that just ticks O'Reilly off, FYI? "They are bad for you. And they are also bad for the plants and humans you breathe on after eating these vile things."

As for "The Good Factor," meanwhile, O'Reilly icons include Bill Cosby, Aretha Franklin, Gene Hackman, Elvis and Dennis the Menace, to name just a few. If you're as curious as the rest of us to know "the most gripping thriller" O'Reilly has read, it's "Shibumi" by Trevanian. If you're dying to learn what he believes to be "the finest sports novel ever," it's "North Dallas Forty" by Pete Gent. "Don't rely on the movie," O'Reilly orders. "Find the book and read it." Or else.

Not that he doesn't praise a bunch of movies here, including "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and its star Alec Guinness, along with its sequences depicting "captured soldiers tortured by being forced to stand in the hot sun."

O'Reilly may have been standing in even hotter sun, of course, when erroneously lauding the work of David Niven in this movie. Niven wasn't in it. Perhaps O'Reilly means Jack Hawkins.

Bulletin: I hate movies with British actors who look and sound alike.

How does O'Reilly keep any of this straight? He has William Safire as "the smartest newspaper columnist I have ever read," Mike Royko as "the toughest," Dave Barry as "the funniest." As for Pete Hamill, O'Reilly has "never read a better columnist . . . " Just not very smart, tough or funny?

Bulletin: "The Rosenberg Factor" agrees with "The O'Reilly Factor" on one thing. Sushi? No way.

Reader time out: "Hey, Rosenberg, where does an uninformed dummy like you get off making fun of a brilliant thinker like Bill O'Reilly? I'm one guy who thinks he's the greatest. (B.O., Long Island, N.Y.).

All right, B.O., it's only because I believe in fairness that I'm allowing you to insult me in print. Oh, I could play hardball and rebut your ridiculous charge that I'm an uniformed dummy by calling attention in "the factor" to my numerous awards and academic degrees, to my enormous following and to the powerful people who despise and fear me because "the factor" sees through their ridiculousness. But that would be giving myself and "the factor" the last word, which I refuse to do.

I'll say just this: From the tenor of your comments, it's obvious you're someone who secretly wears black lace panties.

Bulletin: Don't mess with "the factor."


Howard Rosenberg's column appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He can be contacted by e-mail at

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