Fox News host Bill O'Reilly won't be on the air tonight and it's possible he may never return.
O'Reilly is taking time off for a vacation that was ostensibly pre-planned, but sources who spoke to New York Magazine say James Murdoch doesn't want to see him return.
Fox News co-president Bill Shine has been working hard to keep O’Reilly, sources said. But O’Reilly’s future is in the hands of the Murdochs. “It’s up to the family,” the senior Fox News staffer said. The Murdochs are presently divided over how to handle it. Two highly placed Fox News sources say 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch would like O’Reilly to be permanently taken off the air, while his father, Rupert, and older brother, Lachlan, are more inclined to keep him. (A spokesperson for the Murdochs declined to comment.)
Fox News has hired an outside law firm to investigate Bill O'Reilly, but that feels like a formality. They already knew who and what he is. Furthermore, the law firm retained by Fox also investigated former chief Roger Ailes who was fired last year.
The accusations against Roger Ailes were very serious but, in addition to the accusations against Bill O'Reilly, over 50 companies have pulled their advertisements from The O'Reilly Factor at the cost of tens of millions of dollars. It would be reasonable to estimate that Fox is currently losing money on O'Reilly prime-time slot.
It remains to be seen if O'Reilly will remain at his post, but if he is let go it would be the end of an era. O'Reilly's brand of conservative confirmation bias has dominated in ratings for many years. O'Reilly's talking points commentary segment (seen above) more or less tells conservative viewers exactly what they want to hear and confirms all of their feelings on a nightly basis. And that's been a gold mine for Fox, but apparently not anymore.
There's no doubt in my mind that we wouldn't even be considering this possibility if dozens of companies had not pulled their ads from The O'Reilly Factor. It's all about money. Fox has no moral integrity.