He's been called America's most controversial talk show host.
Bill O'Reilly is the No. 1 draw on FOX News and self-proclaimed "crusader against evil."
In his latest book, A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity, he shows how his Catholic faith and working-class upbringing helped shape his worldview.
O'Reilly spent 12 years in Catholic school and this time gave him a strong sense of right and wrong.
After graduating with a degree in History from Marist College in New York, O'Reilly spent two years teaching English in a tough Miami high school. He says the experience was invaluable, but sensed there was a bigger stage waiting for him.
He received his master's in journalism from Boston University. The year was 1973 -- Watergate and Vietnam were in the headlines and O' Reilly was quickly making a name for himself on campus. He later made a successful transition to television working in several major markets as an anchor and reporter before becoming the host of the nationally syndicated news magazine Inside Edition. He created The O'Reilly Factor while attending Harvard 12 years ago.
CBN News Senior Reporter Wendy Griffith interviewed O'Reilly at the FOX News studios in New York where she got to take her turn in the "No Spin Zone."
Read the text of the CBN News interview below. Click the player to watch the entire interview and also check out the "web extras" on this page.
Griffith: How did you get the title for your new book A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity?
O'Reilly: Well, Sister May Lurana, my third grade teacher, thought I was a little thug, and ran down one day when I was misbehaving, I can't remember what I was doing, probably dipping some little girls pig-tails in the ink, but she ran down to me and said, 'William! You bold fresh piece of humanity.", gave me a whack on the back of the hand. I got a good book title out of it, my self-esteem was destroyed and now I can blame her for the way I am today.
Griffith: You had a pretty normal childhood growing up on Long Island. What were your parents like?
O'Reilly: My father was a naval officer in WWII, tough guy, my grandfather was NYPD, a beat cop and then worked in the harbor, Irish-Catholic all the way down the line, my mother came from the Kennedy & Drake clans… so we were working class people but my parents were educated.
There were the Catholic school guys and the public school guys. In the beginning there wasn't that much difference, but as we got older, the Catholic school boys had more boundaries, we were all wild! All wild… but as you got into 12, 13, teen-age years, public school guys would do things that we wouldn't do, language. that kind of thing."
Griffith: So your Catholic faith kind of kept you out of trouble?
O'Reilly: Yeah. There were a lot of rules. A lot of rules.
Griffith: Do you consider yourself someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus?
O'Reilly: I don't look at it that way. My whole theology is based upon what I believe I'm here to do on earth. I believe I was given talent. I don't believe it just happened because a meteorite crashed into the world and all of this is just luck. I believe I'm here for a reason, that I was blessed with talent.
Griffith: What do you think the reason is?
O'Reilly: The reason is, what I'm doing now on The Factor -- I'm trying to fight the good fight, I'm trying to keep the bad guys from breaking out and harming people, trying to tell the truth as I see it, and I'm using my talents to try to help children, we got Jessica's Law passed against the child molesters. All of those things I think I'm here to do.
Griffith: Tell me about this photo of you from 1969. You look so handsome, but very pensive. (It's a photo of O'Reilly getting ready to board a ship for his first trip abroad.)
O'Reilly: I was going over, my third year in college to study at the University of London. I was a little apprehensive, and I was kind of a brooding Irish guy and figured I'd do a little 'Brando' on the boat and do the picture and that's what you're seeing there."
Griffith: What is the secret to your success?
O'Reilly: I'm just a regular guy! And I got here overcoming tremendous odds and people understand that I'm looking out for them.
Griffith: You are the No. 1 cable news talk show host on the planet?
O'Reilly: By far!
Griffith: And very humble (laughter).
O'Reilly: That's something I've got to work on, that's why I go to church, I've got to work on the humility thing.
Griffith: What's a bloviator?
O'Reilly: A bloviator is someone like me, who's just a motor-mouth, who kind of just goes on. You know?
Griffith: Did you create that word?
O'Reilly: No. But I brought it back. I like words like popinjay and pithy and I bring them back. but here's the beauty of it, I get paid big bucks for being a bloviator. If you can get that job -- take it!
Griffith: People seem to really love you or not like you very much? Why is that?
O'Reilly: Anybody who has strong opinions is going to be a polarizing opinion figure, anybody. It's funny, the far-left despises me and the far-right does too, anybody in the extreme. I respect Barack Obama. That drives some conservatives crazy. I think the man has accomplished extraordinary things. Is he going to be a good president? I don't know. What's my job? I'll watch every move he makes.
Griffith: Do you think America's best days are ahead?
O'Reilly: Yes I do. I think we're going to get out of this recession as a stronger economic country and I think the traditionalists like me are going to win the cultural battles because we have common sense and goodness on our side.
Griffith: You devoted an entire chapter in your book to overcoming fear? Why is this important to you?
O'Reilly: That's the key to life, overcoming fears. And a lot of people do it through religion and that's a good way to do it. When stuff is out of your control, you say, "I'm doing the best I can here Lord, help me!" And that's a tremendous benefit to those who believe, those who don't believe, they don't have that.
Griffith: Anything you'd like to say to Pat?
O'Reilly: Merry Christmas! No "Happy Holidays" here, we're going right for the Christmas deal Pat, thanks for having me on!
*Originally broadcast on December 18, 2008.