Saturday, October 16, 2004
Stress in the workplace: Is Bill O'Reilly going mad?
Physical symptoms include—
- increased susceptibility to colds and other infections
- muscular tension
- backache and neckache
- excessive tiredness
- difficulty sleeping
- digestive problems
- raised heart rate
- increased sweating
- lower sex drive
- skin rashes
- blurred vision
Emotional symptoms frequently noted are—
- feeling that you can't cope
- short temperedness at work and at home
- feeling that you've achieved nothing at the end of the day
- eating when you're not hungry
- losing your appetite
- smoking and drinking to get you through the day
- inability to plan, concentrate and control work
- getting less work done
- poor relationships with colleagues or clients
- loss of motivation and commitment
Perhaps because it is less common, the list omits another sequela of workplace stress—stark-raving madness.
As I read the transcript of Bill O'Reilly's radio show from last Wednesday, I began to fear that just such an outcome has been visited upon Bill.
He feels under threat—
You know we live in a treacherous world. Particularly those of us in the public eye. And I talked about this a little bit but not a lot over the past year or so, that we get lots of threats against me here at FOX News and Westwood One [syndicator of O'Reilly's radio show]. And most of the threats come in [a] physical manner, we're gonna kill him or hurt him or get his family or burn his house down, and -- you know, whatever.
This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of. Who would want to hurt Bill?
But it's not just the physical fear that's torturing him, it's the mental anguish—
And then the other category of threats are basically -- we're gonna destroy your career. We're gonna say something bad about you to the press. We're gonna defame you. And you all know about the books and all of that, that have been out -- you know. And those threats have been intensifying over the last six months as we get stronger and stronger. And after the interview with the president and the story on 60 Minutes, they became a crescendo of, particularly in
Classical paranoia with delusions of grandeur.
O'Reilly then speaks of the lawsuit that he has had to file "against a Manhattan law firm and an attorney, and a woman who are trying to extort $60 million from me and FOX News." And it is here that the anxiety overwhelms him—he breaks into what the psychiatrists like to refer to as a "florid schizophrenic excursion."
.... And I have no idea what they're gonna say about me, because I haven't been served with anything, and I don't know what -- I know who these people are, and they're not very nice people. But I don't know what it's gonna come down to. But I'm sure it's gonna be nasty. I mean, $60 million -- as far as I know I was never at the Neverland ranch with Michael Jackson, so we have to rule that out, right?You see that I am not making this up.
But Michael Jackson needs that kind of money.
Why are "they" after him? Because he's so great and powerful—
About a year ago there was a guy from the Midwest who was tracking down old friends of mine, college buddies, things like that -- old girlfriends, and he was offering them a cashier's check on the spot of $25,000 if they would sign an affidavit attesting to something that I had done, and he had like three or four choices. It was a multiple-choice affidavit. He did X, he did Y, he did Z. All right? If you sign, you get $25,000 on the spot. Now, FOX lawyers, we got tipped by friends calling me and saying this guy's doing this, here they are -- we've tracked 'em, we found 'em okay? And FOX lawyers took care of them.
But that's the kind of stuff that's goin' on. Why is it going on? That's the next question. It's going on because we have now become -- FOX News, and The Factor, and Westwood One, and all of that -- pretty much the most powerful voice in the country as far as public affairs are concerned because we combine a tremendous television audience with the radio audience, where a million people every second we're on the air, are listening to the radio program.
And you know it's funny, The New York Times wrote that even -- that Dan Rather had twice as many viewers than O'Reilly's presidential interview with Bush. That's just not true. You know, I mean, we had the same amount of viewers watching Dan Rather as watching that interview that day that we ran it, the first day.
But be that as it may, everybody knows the power of the books, the column, the radio, the television and they -- people who don't like me, and they come from primarily the left, all right? We believe that the people behind this lawsuit are on the left. But on the right, too, I mean, I get a lot of lunatic-fringe right people screaming and yelling. And they want to do anything they can to destroy the voice. They want us off the air. They want FOX off the air; they want O'Reilly off the air; and the other commentators they don't like.
So his enemies are not just from the left. They're from the right as well. In fact, they're everywhere.
He compares his case with that of another great name in broadcasting—
I do expect that I will be, over the next week or so -- get the Rush Limbaugh treatment. I'll get it. They'll do whatever they wanna do and -- you know -- and then you gotta decide what you think is legit.
I've been looking over a list of triggers of work-place stress to see if I could determine the cause of Bill's discomfort. To my amazement, every item in the list seemed to some degree to hold true, though some—which I have marked with an asterisk—really stand out—
- lack of control over work*
- excessive time pressures
- excessive or inflexible working hours
- too much or too little work or responsibility*
- confusion about duties and responsibilities*
- lack of job variety and interest
- inadequate training and possibilities for learning new skills
- poor work/life balance
- difficult relationships at work***
- lack of support and lack of contact with colleagues
- organisational confusion, restructuring, job change*
- uncertainty over job prospects***
If Roger Ailes, President of Fox News, has an ounce of humanity left in him, he will give poor Bill some time off—and I don't mean just a week. This poor man, so tortured by his own demons, is due for an extended R&R.
Foreplay with a loofah? (updated)