When Bill O’Reilly went to Fox News looking for work in 1996, Roger Ailes, chief of the startup cable network, asked him whether he could avoid getting into fistfights in the hallway.
O’Reilly was known in the business as a born broadcaster but one whose career had been defined by pique.
As an anchor at a Boston station, he’d once grabbed a disagreeable management consultant by the necktie and dragged him across the newsroom.
At Fox, O’Reilly channeled his rage into the self-designated role of national sentry, with the nightly mission, as he puts it, of “protecting the people” against an assortment of malefactors (who tend to be representatives of the bicoastal “liberal elite”).
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