Fox News has one of the biggest things going in news today with Tucker Carlson at the helm of a nightly show, but Fox continues to view O’Reilly as the glue holding together their weeknight lineup. It looks like the time has come for Fox to take that leap of faith and go full speed ahead with a Tucker Carlson era as Fox braces themselves for the fallout of Bill O’Reilly’s alleged deeds, which cost them millions in payouts.
Just about every journalist who has made it to Fox during weekday evening hours in the last decade were billed as part of O’Reilly’s lineup. From Greta Van Susteren to Megyn Kelly and beyond, they either came before O’Reilly’s show or they followed it when advertised by Fox. No one show stood alone with O’Reilly perking up the prime time ratings. From where the viewer sits today, it looks as if the tide at Fox might be turning.
Today, Fox has Tucker Carlson, whose intellect allows for some superior sparring with today’s headline makers. Another plus is that Tucker lacks the need to use his show as a construction site for building up his own ego. This is something that O’Reilly has the tendency to do, as he prides himself over believing he is always correct and lets the viewers know it. Tucker doesn’t appear to have a need to always be right, like O’Reilly, which is seen as a breath of fresh air by many folks today.
Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that five women received payouts in a settlement after accusing Bill O’Reilly of verbal abuse and harassment. This must have curled some toes over at Fox when the Times also conveyed how this report “suggests a pattern.” They explained that the pattern consisted of O’Reilly using his influence to “pursue sexual relationships” with women at the Fox News station.
CNN writes that although that story “stung” for the Fox executives, it “was not surprising,” as Fox was aware the New York Times was investigating and that the story was in the works for months. CNN reports that “Fox braces for fallout” from the Bill O’Reilly scandal, as this may have opened the floodgates for more women accusers to step forward.
CNN brings up a good question: If this was anyone else besides Bill O’Reilly, would they still be with Fox or tossed out the door? O’Reilly did help in a major way to build Fox News into the top destination for primetime news, but the origin to his fame is now ancient. Could it be that the folks at Fox have been so concerned about keeping O’Reilly and his ratings that they are missing the dawning of a new era on their own network — an era that is already attracting mega viewers?
Tucker Carlson emerged with his own primetime spot on the heels of Megyn Kelly leaving Fox, and something happened. He became the face for Fox viewers during the week, with O’Reilly playing second fiddle to more and more Fox News fans today. It seems Tucker Carlson and Jessie Waters are the two major Fox celebs who have caused more and more viewers to gravitate to the network these days.
According to the Hill back in January, Tucker Carlson’s primetime spot, which was vacated by Megyn Kelly, skyrocketed in ratings. Carlson nearly doubled Kelly’s ratings, and some might say that he made Kelly’s ratings look like those of an amateur in comparison. It was back in January when the headlines blared how Jesse Watters premiere “blew two major networks out of the water,” which was reported by the Independent Journal Review.
Fox has two major hits, but yet they worry about keeping O’Reilly no matter what he brings to Fox with his alleged extracurricular activities. It just might be time to start a new Tucker Carlson era. How could Fox go wrong with Jesse Watters in the Carlson evening lineup if O’Reilly decided to retire?
The executives that make up the Murdoch media empire are not standing right next to O’Reilly during this scandal, they are only standing “near” the iconic anchor. They are just close enough to renew his contract, but not getting too close by mounting anything resembling a defense. They are also “anticipating that more women will come forward with allegations against O’Reilly,” reports CNN.
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Apparently, the Times started investigating this story during the summer about the settlement made on O’Reilly’s behalf with these five women. Their article has gone through a lengthy legal review process before ever gracing the pages of the New York Times, reports CNN.
The story was slated for the Sunday news, and on Friday, one of O’Reilly’s lawyers “threatened consequences.”
According to CNN, the lawyer released a statement, saying, “We are now seriously considering legal action to defend Mr. O’Reilly’s reputation.”
O’Reilly’s contract with Fox had already been renewed, at about $18 million a year, by the time this story hit the news.
Now the game of “wait and see” begins when it comes to O’Reilly’s viewers. Will they be able to look past O’Reilly’s settlement against the five women and, as CNN suggests, any more that may possibly come forward?
O’Reilly released his own statement about this story on his website. He claims the settlement was put in place because he wanted to spare his children from the lawsuit headlines that would undoubtedly spawn from this. He wanted to bypass this being hurtful for his offspring to see. Most parents could see why someone would do this, but with O’Reilly being so famous, didn’t he think that the settlement would make the news sooner or later? Those headlines he wanted to avoid are blooming everywhere today.
Reports indicate that there is not what some would call an overwhelming amount of support to keep O’Reilly in place over at Fox. Two of the Fox executives, who preferred to remain unnamed, said that the controversy bubbling up over the Times report has prompted them to take a “wait and see” approach.
This could also cause some dissension in the ranks of the Murdoch family as Rupert Murdoch, the elder, is running things at Fox, but his sons have a hand in things there. James and Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s sons, “have signaled interest in reforming the company.” But it was Rupert’s decision when it came to signing another contract with O’Reilly. The two have had a business affiliation for the last two decades.
O’Reilly going on with the show unscathed might not look too stellar for Fox. Female journalists like Andrea Tantaros and Gretchen Carlson are gone, along with Bill Ayers after they accused him of inappropriate behavior with another group of women at Fox. Why wouldn’t the cable network clean the entire house and not just the corners that wouldn’t effect the ratings? Probably because they are just about pinning the success of Fox on O’Reilly, but some might argue that this is antiquated thinking.
They have Tucker Carlson, so there’s no time like the present to build a new generation of viewers who would gravitate toward Carson and his colleague Jesse Watters. Tucker Carlson has already broken through O’Reilly’s weeknight lineup as a star in his own right.
Fox worried about Megyn Kelly jumping ship, which was evident by the exorbitant amount of money they offered her in a contract to stay. Now, months later, it is safe to say nothing happened; her viewers went to Carlson and his viewership has since doubled that of Kelly.
When Glenn Beck’s show was ripped from Fox’s suppertime hour, they survived. What makes them think O’Reilly is their only bread and butter? Carlson would take over in no time with Jesse Watters completing the star power in the evening lineup. While the era of Tucker Carlson has already started, plucking O’Reilly from the lineup would allow the Murdoch boys to get their wish of “reforming the company.”
[Featured Image by Richard Drew/AP Images]