In their statement today announcing that Bill O’Reilly will not return to Fox News Channel, Rupert Murdoch and his sons said, “We want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.”
I call bullshit.
This is a company that quietly and secretly paid $13 million to several women to settle charges that O’Reilly had sexually harassed them in the workplace. Fox had no qualms about keeping him on the air after those payouts. It was only when those settlements became public, and other women came forward with similar claims, and — most importantly — advertisers started withdrawing their spots from “The O’Reilly Factor,” that the network panicked.
So, this had nothing to do with morality and everything to do with money. What a surprise.
Don’t expect anything about the tone of Fox News Channel to change without O’Reilly. Just as Rush Limbaugh has been imitated by dozens of other conservative blowhards on radio. O’Reilly was the blueprint for every loudmouth hypocrite on television. He felt it was his place to publicly tell the world the right way to act while privately acting the wrong way. He’s a bully, a misogynist, and the kind of person who isn’t liked by anyone who works with him. O’Reilly set the standard for what Fox viewers expected from the network: pomposity, hatred of the Clintons and Obama, vitriol about liberals, fear-mongering, and lies offered as facts regardless of a lack of evidence. No wonder Trump think he’s a great guy who could do no wrong.
There’s already speculation about where the toxic O’Reilly will land next. You can rule out CNN and MSNBC. There may be some smaller right-wing cable outlet you’ve never heard of that wants him, but they could never pony up enough money to make it worth his while — and who would they get to advertise on his show? O’Reilly could go it alone with a live-streamed internet show he sells via subscription, but that seems pretty low rent for a guy who flew as high as he did for so long with the number one show on cable news.
My guess is that he won’t reappear with anything resembling “The O’Reilly Factor.” He’s almost 68 years old and amassed enormous wealth during his Fox run and with his books (his publisher can’t be thrilled with losing the free promotional platform his primetime show offered).
Bottom line: now that the big, bad bully has had the magic carpet pulled out from under him, he’ll return to Earth and skulk away, muttering something about how all those women he wanted to screw did exactly that to him.