Bill O’Reilly is planning a big move and you won’t believe who else is involved.
For the past three months, cable news has found itself without one of its biggest names: Bill O’Reilly. On April 19, 2017, Fox News announced that they had let O’Reilly go, thus ending a remarkable era of conservative television.
This era began in 1996 when billionaire Rupert Murdoch made CNBC President Roger Ailes the founding CEO of his new cable news channel, Fox News. As one of his first moves as CEO, Ailes hired the young host of the tabloid show Inside Edition to be the host of Fox News’s first prime time political news show, his name: Bill O’Reilly.
O’Reilly’s show, “The O’Reilly Factor”, quickly turned into a smashing success for the network, becoming the highest rated primetime show on cable television. For the next two decades, The O’Reilly Factor would top the overnight ratings day in and day out, beating out whatever competition CNN or MSNBC threw their way.
With the O’Reilly Factor driving ratings, Fox News quickly became a powerhouse. Their brand of conservatism filled a void in the media ecosystem. People across the country, specifically between the two coasts, felt that the mainstream media ignored them. They felt that the mainstream media no longer reported the news from the perspective of a neutral observer, but rather presented the news from a biased liberal perspective.
This created a void for a different type of media company, something new and different that would report the news from a fresh perspective. Roger Ailes realized this and filled this void by turning Fox News into a conservative media powerhouse. Led by Bill O’Reilly, Fox News hosts railed against political correctness and what they perceived as the rest of the media’s liberal biases and mischaracterization of conservatives. With this formula in place, Fox News, with Bill O’Reilly as its star, quickly became the biggest cable news network in the country,
However, the two decades of dominance enjoyed by Fox News began to crumble in 2016, when anchor Gretchen Carlson accused Aisles of sexual harassment. This led to other former and current female Fox News employees coming out and accusing Ailes of sexual harassment as well. With a public relations crisis brewing, Ailes resigned from Fox News on July 21st, 2016, receiving a $40 million exit payout along the way.
If Fox News hoped the resignation would be the end of the PR crisis, they were sorely mistaken. In April 2017, the New York Times reported that Fox News had shelled out $13 million in settlements since 2001 to five different women who accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment and threatened to sue. While O’Reilly fought back, the claims and the pattern of harassment they suggested proved too much even for Fox News, who had stood by him for years. On April 19, in an announcement marking the end of an era of complete cable news dominance, Fox News announced that Bill O’Reilly had been let go.
What’s Happening Now:
Since being let go, O’Reilly has unsurprisingly remained active in conservative media circles. He hosts a regular podcast titled “No Spin News”, on his website, billoreilly.com, and weekly on Fridays he joins conservative media personality Glenn Beck’s radio show.
However, it seems this is not enough for O’Reilly, who according to reports is angling to get back on television.
As The Blaze reports:
“Former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly is reportedly talking to longtime Fox host Sean Hannity about teaming up to bring their storied success to a new television network.
According to New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, who is one of the most connected journalists covering Fox News, O’Reilly is in talks with Hannity to join Sinclair Broadcasting, a conservative-leaning news network that has a massive reach.”
While it is not surprising that O’Reilly wants to get back on television, the fact that he is trying to poach Sean Hannity is, as O’Reilly and Hannity are not known for being good friends. In fact, they have some significant bad blood built up over time, as Gabriel Sherman explains.
I’m skeptical though of an O’Reilly-Hannity alliance because the two had a lot of bad blood from their time at Fox News
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) July 23, 2017
No matter how unlikely, O’Reilly and Hannity bolting to Sinclair Broadcasting would be a huge signal of intent on the part of Sinclair. With widespread distribution already in place, Sinclair owns the second most local television stations in the country, O’Reilly and Hannity could bring Sinclair into the big leagues in terms of national influence.
Having seen Fox New’s evolution into a juggernaut behind O’Reilly, Sinclair might just be trying to see if they can catch lightning in a bottle. Twice.
H/T: The Blaze