Fox News Channel

Is Bill O’Reilly Finished?

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

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.

  • mnpollio

    I would love to see his sorry ass thrown out. However, if there is one thing we have learned, it is that these uber-wealthy old fart white Christian conservative douches never go silently into the night. If Fox gives him the boot (and that is a big if), look for him to reconstitute himself somewhere else and bleat about his being the victim of persecution from the Left because that is what O’Reilly does best – bully people and then whine about persecution when called out on it.

    Plus if he is ousted, the mind reels as to what worthless talking head will take his place to continue the sorry cycle. Like the mythical Hydra, you cut off one head of the conservative echo chamber beast and another equally vicious one grows back in its place.

  • muselet

    The decision is going to come down to dollars, naturally. If Bill O’Reilly’s ratings don’t drop—or drop and rebound—he’s golden, and Fox News Channel will willingly accept somewhat reduced revenues, regardless of the views of James Murdoch. On the other hand, if O’Reilly’s ratings collapse, he’s out, regardless of the views of Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch.

    The complication is that O’Reilly just signed what’s been described as “a multi-million, multi-year” renewal of his contract with FNC. Considering how long he’s been there and how important his show is to the channel’s ratings and image, the early-termination clause will be brutal.

    I’m reminded of how FNC took the hit on ad revenues and let Glenn Beck drift into irrelevancy before declining to renew his contract. Lots of people in and around 21st Century Fox must be wishing for that kind of tidy resolution now.

    –alopecia

    • JMAshby

      They paid Roger Ailes $60 million to go away, so I don’t think a termination clause will deter them if they think O’Reilly has become dead weight.

      • muselet

        I agree. As I say, it depends on what O’Reilly’s ratings and ad revenues do.

        –alopecia

  • Crossing fingers and toes. Even if they replace him with someone as bad (couldn’t be much worse) this guy needs some karmic justice and he needs it now.

  • swift_4

    Does it matter? They will fire him or not based on money, not morals. And if they fire him, they’ll put someone just like him in that slot. Years from now we’ll be reading about the sexual harassment suits against that guy.

  • Aynwrong

    Im

  • ninjaf

    One can only hope. When will these knuckle draggers learn that even modern “big business” knows where their bread is buttered on these issues?