O'Reilly lied about his own ratings; blasted WSJ for reporting the truth


FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that his nightly TV program, The O'Reilly Factor, attracts "about five million viewers inside the United States." O'Reilly also called a July 20 Wall Street Journal article, which reported the program's ratings accurately, "a lie."

From the July 20 broadcast of the nationally syndicated radio program The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: You know, The Wall Street Journal has an article today about the attacks against FOX News, and they said well, Bill O'Reilly's nightly program only gets two million viewers. That's a lie. That's just not true. We get about five million viewers inside the United States, every night.

Though Nielsen Media Research releases ratings to the public only for the top ten cable shows for each week, the fact that The O'Reilly Factor does not appear on this list is enough to prove that the show does not attract five million viewers. For the week of July 12 through July 18, Nielsen reports that the tenth highest-rated program on cable television was USA's The Dead Zone, which attracted just under four million viewers.

The Wall Street Journal article (subscription only) that O'Reilly mentioned reported that "Fox News's top-rated program, 'The O'Reilly Factor,' only attracts about two million viewers on an average night." While Media Matters for America does not have direct access to Nielsen's data on The Factor, previous news reports have consistently cited data that roughly matches the Journal's estimate.

  • The New York Observer (7/12): "Cable TV's top-rated The O'Reilly Factor reached two million viewers, or less than 1 percent [of the U.S. population]."

  • The Baltimore Sun (6/29): "The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News' top-rated program, typically pulls in nearly 1.9 million viewers."

  • The Washington Post (5/12) "[MSNBC host Keith] Olbermann's show drew 309,000 nightly viewers in April, according to Nielson figures, and O'Reilly's "Factor" on the Fox News Channel drew more than 2.2 million."

  • USA Today (5/7): "The O'Reilly Factor is the most-watched cable news show, with close to 3 million nightly viewers. Fox News also boasts the five top-rated cable business shows."

  • The Washington Times (4/1): "With 2.2 million viewers, 'The O'Reilly Factor' is top of the [cable news] heap."

  • The New York Post (3/26): [CNN anchor Paula] Zahn's show ... is reaching a mere 619,000 homes, compared to 'The O'Reilly Factor' at 2.437 million, the latest numbers show."

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