Book Review: Who’s Looking Out for You? by Bill O’Reilly (2003)

I have read O’Reilly’s first two nonfiction offerings (The O’Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad, and the Completely Ridiculous in American Life amd The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America), so you can expect I’m somewhat a fan of O’Reilly’s message. Be that as it may, you should know that I don’t fully appreciate, in an O’Reillyriffic way, his television show; as a matter of fact, I drew attention to my recent personal record of watching forty minutes of his sixty minute show. I don’t even bother with his radio show. So my enthusiasm for all things O’Reilly is somewhat tempered.

His books, though, and in particular this book, captivate me. Contrary to what his schooling and his valuable work experience with CBS, Fox, and so on, bring him, he’s a better read than a watch. He gets to elucidate his points in far greater detail than when he’s got a two minute Talking Points Memo or five minutes to spar with someone with an opposing viewpoint. Still, The O’Reilly Factor is nice, and The No Spin Zone drops a lot of names, but this book is the masterwork of them all.

The title question frames the message. Who’s looking out for you? O’Reilly contends that none of the power structures out there, from the government to the media, really have your individual goals and best interests in mind. Of course not; those institutions really aren’t about your best individual interests, but they often act as though they are, so it’s a point that we the people need to remember.

Of course, even though I agree with his points in the book, O’Reilly has a couple things to with which I contend. First of all, he’s a blowhard. He even illustrates this in the book when he quotes himself disagreeing with an opponent and calling him a pinhead. However, I get the sense that he knows the role he’s playing, that he is a bit over-the-top. Kind of like Rush Limbaugh speaks with a tongue-in-cheek in many cases. I don’t get that sense with many opposing viewpoints, from Michael Moore to Molly Ivins and Barbara Ehrenreich.

Second, O’Reilly asserts that he’s on your side. Well, no, but thanks, Bill. I know enough to know you’re suspect as well. You don’t know me, and you might crusade for an idealized collection of people you know as the little guy, but unless I know you personally, I still see you through the filter of MegaOther–that other person who speaks to many people anonymously and individually. So you might be good to your friends, and you might be good for me as you pursue your audience, but I don’t put all my faith in trust in you, Bill.

I know you’ll understand.

Still, gentle blog reader, I’d recommend this book highly. I have given it as a gift this Christmas to a family member I value highly. So although I won’t give it to all six of you regular readers (especially since Heather can just read mine), I’ll give you my honest opinion that it’s worth reading.

Take it for what it’s worth. I’m only looking out for my personal integrity as a reviewer. You might not even like it.

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