It is being reported that Fox News will announce that Bill O’Reilly is history, and the big sticking point in exit negotiations is whether or not O’Reilly will be allowed an on-air goodbye to his audience.
Gabriel Sherman is reporting:
The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end. According to sources briefed on the discussions, network executives are preparing to announce O’Reilly’s departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24. Now the big questions are how the exit will look and who will replace him.
Wednesday morning, according to sources, executives are holding emergency meetings to discuss how they can sever the relationship with the country’s highest-rated cable-news host without causing collateral damage to the network. The board of Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, is scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the matter.
Fox News didn’t suddenly grow a conscience. The decision to give O’Reilly the boot comes down to cold hard cash. Without the ability to sell advertising on the highest rated program on cable news, the Murdochs couldn’t justify keeping O’Reilly. The Fox News host would still have his job if his advertisers had stayed. This is a network that paid off and covered up years of O’Reilly sexual harassment, so they aren’t firing him now because it is the right thing to do. Bill O’Reilly is getting fired because he is hurting the bottom line.
None of the potential replacements for O’Reilly have his loyal audience. Fox News is going to take an overall ratings hit. The O’Reilly Factor was a big reason why Fox News was still number one in the cable news ratings.
With O’Reilly gone, it will be interesting to see if MSNBC finally pulls the trigger on their long-rumored move of Rachel Maddow to 8 PM ET. Maddow could easily become the top-rated host on all of cable news from that time slot.
Bill O’Reilly is history, and Fox News’s era of ratings dominance may be coming to an end.