Fox Finally Fires “The Factor”–O’Really?
“Fox News has officially cut ties with Bill O’Reilly. Through the network’s parent company 21st Century Fox, the Murdochs issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon: ‘After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.’” That’s from Breitbart.
Breitbart had earlier reported bad news for O’Reilly: settlements for sexual harrassment.
A Fox News contributor came forward to level more sexual-harassment allegations against deposed chief executive Roger Ailes on Monday, two days after it was revealed the network’s most popular on-air personality, Bill O’Reilly, has settled multiple complaints about his own behavior with women.
The reason for his dismissal? It wasn’t the charges. It wasn’t even the many millions of dollars they had paid to shut the women up. It was the many more millions they were losing in advertising—and a crescendo of additional ad flight.
As outrage grows over the sexual harassment accusations surrounding Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, 62 advertisers have now pulled their commercials from the pundit’s popular show, The O’Reilly Factor.
The decisions come after a New York Times report that five women received about $13 million from O’Reilly or Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, to settle accusations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior by O’Reilly. The women were paid “in exchange for agreeing not to pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him,” according to the Times.
The irony is that morbid curiosity had actually increased O’Reilly’s ratings—like when people stop to stare at a car crash.
The O’Reilly Factor host has helmed two telecasts since The New York Times broke the news that he’s settled numerous claims of sexual harassment while at the network — several of them within the past year. More than 20 advertisers (and counting) have since pulled spots from the network’s crown jewel, but ratings are up. On Tuesday, O’Reilly Factor topped all of cable news with an average 628,000 adults 25-54 (cable news’ targeted demo) and 3.76 million viewers. That’s an audience increase of 20 percent from last Tuesday. Compared to Monday, when O’Reilly Factor was also up week-to-week, the show brought in more viewers — though a smaller share of the demo.
NewsMax reminds us that Megyn Kelly left Fox, partially because of O’Reilly.
Kelly complained in an email about O’Reilly’s comments, four people with knowledge of her reaction said. The email warned that O’Reilly’s remarks could intimidate other women who had experienced harassment.
Later that night, though, O’Reilly continued to scold Kelly’s claims, saying on his primetime show that “if you don’t like what’s happening in the workplace, go to human resources or leave.”
NewsMax notes the irony of O’Reilly’s new book, in which he says how to treat women.
“Old School,” published last week and in the top 10 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list, includes a section titled “No means no” and urged those on dates to abide “the Old School tenets of respect and responsibility.”
NewsMax had reported that O’Reilly had caused a rift in the Rupert Murdock family that owns Fox.
“There’s a split. Rupert Murdoch, the patriarch of the family, is inclined to try to keep O’Reilly,” [Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine] said. “What I hear inside Fox News, the word is they do not want to be told what to do by The New York Times. There’s a sense that Murdoch doesn’t want to be pressured into making a decision.
“His sons, especially James Murdoch, who are trying to take the company in a more forward-looking direction, are saying, listen, this is a stain on our name. We need to move on, cut ties, and try to bring in a new face.”
And, of course, nothing is as simple as it seems, according to NewsMax. O’Reilly was complicating a Murdock multi-million-dollar media deal in Europe.
Even before Fox News officially fired Bill O’Reilly on Wednesday, the sexual harassment allegations against the host were casting a shadow over a controversial $14.5 billion media deal in Europe.
The O’Reilly crisis was being cited in 21st Century Fox’s latest effort to take control of the pan-European broadcaster Sky, a media property the Murdoch family failed to buy in 2010, according to Variety.
Meanwhile, US Rep. Maxine Waters says O’Reilly should go to jail, according to the conservative Washington Times.
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters says Fox News host Bill O’Reilly “needs to go to jail” over sexual harassment allegations.
Waters is not the only one saying O’Reilly “needs to go to jail.” An attorney for a former Fox staffer agrees, according to Breitbart, on the grounds of human rights.
An attorney for a former Fox News contributor is calling for an independent investigation of sexual harassment allegations against host Bill O’Reilly. Lisa Bloom represents Wendy Walsh, a former Fox News contributor who says she lost a segment on “The O’Reilly Factor” after she refused to go to O’Reilly’s bedroom following a 2013 dinner in Los Angeles. She’s seeking an investigation by New York City’s Commission on Human Rights.
What’s next? Well, as the Fox personalities fall off, the big winner is Tucker Carlson, who has moved to 7 pm and 9 pm, and now the prize primetime slot—O’Reilly’s 8pm.
What about O’Reilly? Where will he go next? The Hill ponders that question.
Despite being the top-rated cable news host for the past 15 years, the opportunities appear surprisingly thin.
CNN? –No chance.
MSNBC? –Insert joke here.
His former home at CBS News? –Try again.
His former home of ABC News? –Absolutely not.
A walk across the street to NBC News for a reunion with Megyn Kelly? –Rhetorical question.
So what’s left? Some right-leaning outlets are looking for a big name.
Newsmax is a possibility. The network has a studio in Manhattan and may be looking for a big name. . . But is owner Chris Ruddy willing to pay the kind of money O’Reilly would ask for? Even at a 50 percent discount, we’re still talking approximately $9 million per year and a PR headache to boot.
One America News Network, the San Diego news outlet that gave conservative firebrand Tomi Lahren her start, is also a possible landing place. OANN is independent, family-owned (see: no shareholders to answer to). . .Again, the question is: Are the owners, the Herring family, willing to make a big investment at the risk of advertisers being shamed or boycotted by left-wing activist groups?
There’s one more casualty in the O’Reilly drama: Donald Trump. Trump’s groupies don’t care what he says, but to the majority of Americans, Trump’s blind (and unequivocal) support of O’Reilly is another blot on Trump’s credibility, especially considering his own record with women. Note this, from the conservative Washington Examiner:
President Trump on Wednesday defended Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, who has found himself engulfed in controversy after a report that he and his network have paid out millions of dollars to settle sexual harassment claims.
. . .Trump said he believed O’Reilly was innocent of any accusations of wrongdoing. “I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person,” Trump said of O’Reilly. “I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled,” Trump added. “Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”. . .
O’Reilly and Fox have settled several claims with women at the network who have accused the anchor of inappropriate sexual behavior. The settlements totaled about $13 million, according to the report. . .Roger Ailes was ousted as the CEO of Fox News after facing similar claims. In an interview with the Washington Examiner last summer, Trump also defended Ailes.
Maybe it’s time to bring out a paraphrase of the old Bill Clinton line: “It all depends on what the meaning of ‘wrong’ is.”