Bill O’Reilly announced last night on his Fox News show that he is going on vacation, prompting speculation that the spring break from the “no-spin zone” could be of a permanent nature.
As The O’Reilly Factor concluded, the host explained that “Around this time of year, I grab some vacation because it’s spring and Easter time,. Last fall I booked a trip that should be terrific. Not going to tell you where it is but…I’ll have a full report when I return.”
O’Reilly, who recently signed a new, long-term contract with the network, is due to return to his anchor position on April 24.
New York magazine, which seems to have good intel about the inner workings of Fox News, indicated, however, that “according to four network sources, there’s talk inside Fox News that [last night’s] show could be his last.”
“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,” and the Murdoch family is divided over how to proceed.
According to one Fox News insider about O’Reilly’s status, “The assumption is that he’ll exit in a non-embarrassing way,” the publication claimed.
“Severing ties with [ex-CEO Roger] Ailes was a shock to the system for Fox News, which he led for 20 years to great heights of viewership and profitability. The mounting pressure to make a decision on O’Reilly’s fate could deliver an even bigger shock to the bottom line of parent company 21st Century Fox,” Variety noted in alluding to the Ailes July 2016 departure over sexual harassment claims.
The powerhouse O’Reilly Factor which airs at 8 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, is the longtime top-rated show on the very successful cable network and across the entire cable news universe, generating about $450 million in advertising revenue in the past three years.
Bill O’Reilly is currently subject to an internal investigation by a law firm after the New York Times reported that he or his employer paid out $13 million to confidentially settle sexual harassment claims by five women. After the Times published its account, another woman complained on FNC’s anonymous hotline. Advertisers have been bailing on his show in droves since the Times-published allegations, switching their commercials to other Fox News shows.
In a statement in which he neither confirmed nor denied any of the specifics of the Times article, O’Reilly acknowledged that he put to rest some controversies for the sake of his family because he is vulnerable to negative publicity. The new complaint against him also comes after O’Reilly’s statement mentioned that no one had ever lodged a complaint against him on the hotline.
The star anchor reportedly earns about $18 million a year from Fox News (and that doesn’t include royalties from his best-selling books and other income streams).
While O’Reilly’s future seems to be up in the air, his on-the-air TV ratings are surging, Squawker explained. “The O’Reilly Factor has been the most-watched program in the cable news landscape for 14 years, recently clocking its highest-rated quarter ever,” Deadline Hollywood added.
Writing in The Hollywood Reporter, media analyst Michael Wolff suggests that there may be an element of opportunism, both financial and political, in the Bill O’Reilly allegations.
“What has been revealed is not evidence nor an admission of guilt but details of payments settling complaints against O’Reilly — not a small distinction. You can assume maximal guilt, which the Times and other Fox haters do, or you can assume, as many lawyers do, that when there is money to be had, plaintiffs come out of the woodwork…The liberal hope is that media pressure will continue to force advertisers to reject O’Reilly (no matter that liberals have frequently been aghast when conservatives have urged advertiser boycotts of liberal media).”
As part of an interview with Motto, Fox News personality Melissa Francis remarked that her interactions with Bill O’Reilly have been positive. She added that sexual harassment is a big problem throughout the media industry rather than just a Fox News issue.
“Other powerful women at major networks have also talked to me since everything has happened at Fox and identified people at their networks who are also doing inappropriate things. As I watch other networks where I know there are predators throw stones at us, I kind of sit there and wait for their time to come.”
Do you think that Bill O’Reilly is done at Fox News?
[Featured Image by Jeff Christensen/AP Images]