It seems the falling out between Fox News and its former top draw, Bill O’Reilly, was shorter than advertised. While Bill is not back on the network, he did stop by for a few segments with Fox’s new top guy, Sean Hannity.
So, how is O’Reilly doing amid trying to retrofit his career in the wake of a nagging sexual harassment scandal? He seemed positive and upbeat chatting with Hannity, as the pair talked about where O’Reilly’s career is now, and how they used to compete against each other.
“I’m here, I’m alive, and the spin stops here…” O’Reilly opined at the onset of the conversation. He followed that up by saying he “should have” gone after the organizations which targeted his advertisers after the harassment allegations were announced.
It was that push and the response of those advertisers that primarily lost O’Reilly one of the biggest jobs on TV media. When The New York Times published a piece claiming Fox had paid out millions of dollars through the years to alleged O’Reilly harassment victims, activists took direct aim … at the pundit’s advertisers. So, it wasn’t all the money Fox paid that led to O’Reilly’s ouster. It was that public embarrassment and the likelihood of losing a lot more than they paid out in advertising revenue.
Twenty years on the air at Fox and O’Reilly was given the bum’s rush without even being allowed to plead his case or say goodbye to his audience. But that didn’t stop Fox from heavily pushing his reunion with Hannity.
The network claimed it was all part of O’Reilly’s current book tour, but it’s tough to believe it wasn’t also a bit of a litmus test to see how the public would react. Sure, O’Reilly has been on NBC and will be on CNN to promote his book. But neither of those networks showed him the door six months ago.
There was also the fact that, at the end of the conversation, Hannity invited O’Reilly to come on back anytime. Could this just be former colleagues going through the motions, or is Fox actively wondering if there is any life left in their formerly very lucrative cash cow?
O’Reilly’s appearance didn’t stir up any of the activists who lobbied to get him fired. So, has the issue mellowed enough to bring O’Reilly back from time to time as a recurring guest? Jury is still out, but the public’s reaction will be very interesting to watch on this one.