Two weeks ago we talked about how Bill O’Reilly had suddenly announced he was going on vacation and speculated he might not return. Last week we learned he’s officially out.
O’Reilly held the top-rated show in cable news for almost 20 years. That run came to an embarrassing end on Wednesday as Fox News forced him out after the disclosure of a series of sexual harassment allegations against him and an internal investigation that turned up even more.
As one NYTimes commenter puts it, “This is an odd one. Who would have thought at the same time Donald Trump was elected president, both Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly would be shown the door at Fox News.”
But anyone who thinks this is Fox News coming to its moral senses should probably think again. This is likely a purely revenue based decision. Most brands had pulled ad support out of O’Reilly’s show in recent weeks.
Folks from inside Fox News say there has been a culture of harassment, one that Ailes built over the decades. It’s the same culture that caused rising star Megyn Kelly to jump to NBC. And most of the Ailes leadership group at Fox News are still in place.
This development will no doubt cause a major shift in cable news ratings. Tucker Carlson will take over O’Reilly’s 8 pm slot starting tonight. If this awkward final sign off of ‘The Factor’ is any indication, it will be interesting to see how Fox News’ ratings trend in 8 pm slot.
O’Reilly’s contract says he’s entitled to one year’s salary, about $25 million, upon his exit.
The story that led to O’Reilly’s demise was a report published by the NYTimes.