New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman has new information on the apparently impending exit of Bill O’Reilly.
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.
Sources briefed on the discussions say O’Reilly’s exit negotiations are moving quickly. Right now, a key issue on the table is whether he would be allowed to say good-bye to his audience, perhaps the most loyal in all of cable (O’Reilly’s ratings have ticked up during the sexual-harassment allegations). Fox executives are leaning against allowing him to have a sign-off, sources say. The other main issue on the table is money. O’Reilly recently signed a new multiyear contract worth more than $20 million per year. When Roger Ailes left Fox News last summer, the Murdochs paid out $40 million, the remainder of his contract.
This amounts to a wholesale cave job by FNC. They knew what they had in O’Reilly and they chose to stand by him all these years. Now a little bit of advertiser pressure spurned on by the usual suspects who never liked O’Reilly to begin with…and poof! Their spines disappeared.
Look, I am NO fan of O’Reilly. He’s been bad for cable news (though good for ratings). But let’s be honest. He’s just become the latest convenient fall guy for what appears to be an institutional problem that goes straight to the top of the network…a problem that replacing Roger Ailes obviously has not fixed.