I was thinking that I really ought to do some kind of Thanksgiving weekend post, and I finally found my topic. I’m thankful that I’m not Bill O’Reilly, the conservative pundit, and that my readers are smarter than his!
It’s amazing how much email we get for Bill O’Reilly. And it’s gotten worse since we put up the Satisfaction widget on oreilly.com. It bemuses me that someone can come to a web site that’s clearly selling technology books and conferences, and still ask questions about the O’Reilly Factor, Bill’s show. We don’t get questions about O’Reilly Auto Parts, the Fortune 500 company, or questions for David O’Reilly, the CEO of Chevron, so I can only conclude that, unlike customers of these other notable O’Reillys, Bill O’Reilly’s viewers can’t read. We’ve been moving all the Bill O’Reilly questions over to the O’Reilly Factor page on Satisfaction, but I still see them all as they come in (since I see all the posts to our Satisfaction page.)
One complainer writes:
Is this just a website to make more money for O’Reilly????? How can I get in touch with him? This is very important!!! I am more interested in the news than in buying something. Please contact me.
Sorry, wrong O’Reilly.
Meanwhile, over on the real satisfaction site for O’Reilly Media, we see one reader who has the opposite problem:
Just a quick note: For the longest time I wouldn’t visit your site because I thought you were The O’reilly Factor LOL
And I remember Rael Dornfest telling me that he once sat next to someone on a plane, who, when he learned Rael worked for O’Reilly, told him “I hate your boss,” and started ranting about Bill’s sexual harrassment of employees. Rael was glad to tell him we’re not that O’Reilly. But I wonder how many people do mix us up.
It’s sad. Especially since we like to think that, while we’re focused on technology and not on politics, “fair and balanced” is indeed a key part of our brand appeal. For the other O’Reilly, it appears to be only rhetoric. Apparently, when he was on the Colbert Report, he almost admitted as much, saying “This is all an act.” He said it in the spirit of Colbert, but I suspect it’s true. So many of the TV pundits are engaged in theater, which is why Colbert’s send-up is so refreshing. But it’s amazing how many people take the O’Reilly Factor as gospel.
I also note that O’Reilly, and his employer Fox News, are quick to censor and redact any bloopers that bloggers catch them on. My various Google and Yahoo! alerts also pick up Bill O’Reilly stories. I recently clicked through to one such story, and saw that the YouTube video was no longer available…
Meanwhile, we get some real humdingers showing how out of touch with reality some of the O’Reilly Factor fans are. This one came in to our customer support email alias rather than Satisfaction:
I have read in The Onion newpaper, that Bush has cut off diplomatic relations with Congress. I found this to be unbelievable and I thought it would be illegal! Can you check it out and see if it is true? How can you run a government and not talk to the Congress??
Not only can Bill O’Reilly’s fans not distinguish between a technology publisher and a right wing pundit, they can’t tell that the Onion is a satire! Or else they are just trying to yank his chain. (But someone smart enough to do that would know that oreilly.com is not theoreillyfactor.com.)
Over on the other side, I’m sure we cause some heartburn for Bill O’Reilly. I remember a few years back, when our familiar tarsier was on the cover of Publisher’s Weekly, Bill O’Reilly apparently called up to complain, asking “What the hell is my name doing on the cover of your magazine with a picture of a monkey?”