I Tried and Failed to Learn Manners from Bill O'Reilly's Children's Book

Who better to teach me when to say "please" than a Fox News host, who was just ousted from Fox News after reports of settling multiple sexual harassment lawsuits?

Apr 21 2017, 1:30pm

Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

While Bill O'Reilly met with the allegedly woke Pope Francis and dealt with reports that Fox News planned to fire him over sexual harassment accusations, I read his New York Times bestselling children's story Give Please a Chance. The conservative news host co-wrote the picture book with best-selling murder mystery novelist James Patterson, whose publishing company Jimmy Patterson also released the collaboration. It is unclear why Patterson has entangled himself with O'Reilly in the name of the word please.

The title drew me to the 56-page hardcover; what hilarious audacity of O'Reilly to call his work Give Please a Chance. O'Reilly's other books mostly revolve around the death of Jesus and/or have the word killing in the title regardless of whether or not the book's subject was murdered (see: Killing the Rising Sun and Killing Reagan). O'Reilly's current public image also serves as the antithesis of decorum. He mocked congresswoman Maxine Waters's hair, calling it a James Brown wig, and has been dealing with sexual harassment allegations over the past few weeks.

O'Reilly's representative previously sent Broadly his client's statement denying all sexual harassment allegations (he has settled at least five cases according to the New York Times), but it still takes hubris for someone accused of such deeds—regardless of the claims' veracity—to write a book about manners. It's the publishing equivalent of Michael Jackson performing "Heal the World" with a group of kids four years after settling for over $10 million with a child molestation accuser.

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That said, many people claim I could use some finishing school. My boyfriend says I can act rudely to his friends, and my father and a boss at a previous employer told me I could "catch more flies with honey." (Why would anyone want to catch... more flies? I have wondered.) So I decided to give O'Reilly and Patterson's guide a chance.

I drove to the Grove, the popular Los Angeles mall that resembles Main Street USA—but is across the street from a Whole Foods and the apartment building where Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag once lived—and took the escalator straight to the children's section. I approached an employee wearing a green sweater, nervous to ask for a Fox News employee's book in the middle of Hillaryville. "Excuse me," I asked. "Do you have the Bill O'Reilly picture book?"

She looked me up and down with the disdain Southern Californians reserve for conservatives. "Do you mean Give Please a Chance?" she asked.

"Yes!" I shouted, raising my voice as I often do when embarrassed. "But it's not for me. It's for a relative."

Believe it or not, once upon a time, James [Patterson] and I were both kids.

She led me to a pile of untouched O'Reilly/Pattersons. I picked it up and ran to a deserted aisle, where nobody could see me. I flipped open the book, expecting to find a religious parable about manners—a tale that could get me interested in politeness. Instead, I found a note from O'Reilly qualifying his expertise in manners:

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"Believe it or not, once upon a time, James [Patterson] and I were both kids. Life was much easier in those days because there were rules most Americans followed. Holding the door for someone. A nod and a hello. Even just saying, 'please.' Most kids did those things back there, but now there is confusion in many places. James and I believe we can bring that civility and compassion back into the world. Let's start today with our children, by encouraging them to say that wonderful, magical word: please."

In other words, O'Reilly knows the rules because he was a child once, and he longs for the old America but doesn't define what that entails other than kids saying, "Please."

I continued reading, ready for a parable about killing bunnies or killing whatever O'Reilly would be killing in his latest book, but the first page was a drawing of a boy holding a dog. The illustrator had drawn the word please over the image. The image reminded me of the drawings in Bill Cosby's children's book, My Big Lie. The next page included one sentence: "Can I keep him?" The next page followed the pattern, an illustration of a child with the word please over it followed by a page with one simple sentence.

I wondered, This is supposed to make me say, "Please?"

For the sake of accuracy, I continued reading till the end, and I found dozens of similar pages. An image of a girl licking a bowl. "Please," she asks. "Can I lick the bowl?" A girl whose face is covered in cake asking, "Please, can I have seconds?" A girl in a misshapen ensemble begging, "Please, can I dress myself today?" A picture of a kid on the toilet who has ran out of toilet paper—it goes on and on.

After finishing the children's book, I did not want to say "please" more than I already do. The book also did not make me want to learn more manners. If I am on the toilet and ran out of toilet paper, I would scream. I would want toilet paper ASAP! Why wait to clean yourself? Also, even if I was allowed seconds, I would ignore them. Nobody likes a glutton. It seemed ridiculous that O'Reilly would concern himself with morals while he's rude on television five nights a week. Perhaps, if we have learned anything from the multiple sexual harassment celebrity scandals over the past few years, it's not to take advice from men who shout their morals on national television.