Bill O'Reilly Back at Fox News – for One Night Only?
Tuesday evening saw the return of Bill O’Reilly to Fox News – for the first time since the channel’s #1 host was ousted five months earlier. It wasn’t exactly triumphant, but it may have come close. The occasion was a prominent guest spot broadcast live from Fox News studios on Sixth Avenue in New York City on Sean Hannity’s 9 P.M. E.T. program.
O’Reilly has been laying relatively low since he was forced out of his job at Fox News last April 19, the result of a boycott of his show’s advertisers arising from rekindled published claims of sexual harassment courtesy of the New York Times. In addition to spending his summer days at the beach, O’Reilly has been doing a daily podcast of political commentary at his Website and he has recently promised an expansion of his site’s paid premium offerings. He has appeared weekly on Glenn Beck’s radio program and twice in the past week on Sean Hannity’s radio show, and given a few print interviews.
Tuesday night at Fox News HQ in midtown Manhattan was something different, however – in effect, a return without prejudice to the “scene of the crime.” The crime being, in the view of several unnamed Fox News female employees reportedly interviewed for a September 26 print story at CNN, O’Reilly’s alleged harassment of female co-workers for which he was not punished except for losing his lucrative job. For his part, O’Reilly probably holds the view that any “crime” there entailed Fox firing him without allowing him to defend himself or to say goodbye to his 3 to 4 million regular viewers. (O’Reilly has maintained his innocence of any wrongdoing and none of the charges leveled against him in the media has ever been proven.)
Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on Fox News Sept. 26, 2017
In any case, the welcome afforded to O’Reilly on Tuesday night seemed to be genuinely warm and the studio crew could even be heard laughing at one point as Mr. No Spin Zone made an inside joke.
Hannity’s program Tuesday night itself was unusual. There were only three, instead of the usual six, commercial breaks during the hour, allowing for a more uninterrupted dialogue. O’Reilly had at least 25 minutes total to chat with Hannity, instead of the usual three to four minutes per guest. And the subjects of their discussions were mostly serious.
Before the host and his guest settled down, however, the first of the three segments with O’Reilly got off to a light start. O’Reilly congratulated Hannity, who has replaced O’Reilly as the most popular program host at FNC, for beating their mutual nemesis, leftist darling Rachel Maddow, in the ratings Monday night in the first Hannity-Maddow head-to-head matchup.
O’Reilly: “Last night, Hannity kicked MSNBC's butt!”
Hannity: “No, no, we can say ‘ass.’ He's taking over, five seconds in.”
O’Reilly: “Stop. Didn't beat that woman, didn't eke by – slaughtered her.”
Bill O’Reilly at the start of his interview with Sean Hannity Sept. 26, 2017
Among the topics to come was the controversy engulfing the National Football League and many of its players. True to his “no spin” reputation, O’Reilly tended to cut to the chase and get down to business right away.
For this viewer, after the past five months of enduring – or not watching, as the case may be – the previous program at 9 P.M. – one totally unsuited to prime time – The Five, this Hannity-O’Reilly encounter was unexpected fun. And even somewhat enlightening.
And full disclosure: I was never a great fan of Bill O’Reilly during his 20 ½ years on the Fox News Channel. I usually found his shtick a bit too much to take. “No Spin Zone,” and yet he coddled President Obama and many liberals like Austan Goolsbee as “stand up guys” just because they’d appear on his show. (And why wouldn’t they agree to go on Fox? For many years the channel was far and away #1 and had more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined.)
But now, five months have gone by since O’Reilly left, and things in the MSM have only gotten worse. Orders of magnitude worse. As O’Reilly told Hannity, the media are no longer objective. And not only that: the vast majority of mainstream media now – broadcasting, Internet, print, newspapers, wire services – are all in the tank for the Shadow Government, the Deep State, and God knows who or what else. The only exceptions in the big media are independent conservative talk radio and Fox News.
The Hannity-O’Reilly encounter was all the more interesting because the two principals had not exactly been fans of one another during their mutual 20 ½ years with programs back-to-back in prime time on the Fox News Channel. One week ago, when O’Reilly appeared on Hannity’s daily nationally syndicated radio program, the host noted this fact – that the two of them had not been close, because they didn’t see each other that often and because of “the competitive nature of our business.” But now, Hannity told his listeners on September 18, he and O’Reilly had started to talk.
Over the course of time, we realized we had a lot more in common than we probably ever realized. Bill O’Reilly I think is a victim in many ways of this liberal effort to silence every conservative voice.
On Tuesday as we exchanged emails, Hannity called my attention to a new action by his enemies – in this case, the usual suspect Media Matters for America – to try to have him fired. And what could possibly merit this latest effort to censor Hannity? The simple fact that he had the gall to invite O’Reilly on his program to begin with – Mr. O’Reilly, apparently representing in the eyes of radical leftist organizations the latest persona non grata in the left’s growing pantheon of blacklisted individuals who do not hew to the Deep State party line and who therefore should not be seen or heard.
After Hannity’s Tuesday night program aired, a keyword search of “Hannity O’Reilly” in fact returned a selection of new articles at Media Matters’ website attacking both O’Reilly and Hannity and, as Hannity told me, attempting to light a fire underneath another sponsor boycott effort to get Hannity fired from his Fox News hosting gig.
All day before the Hannity-O’Reilly program aired, Media Matters was monitoring the Fox News Channel minute-by-minute and reporting every promotional mention of Hannity’s upcoming program they could find, as in this article time stamped four hours before Hannity’s program.
Fox News goes all in promoting Bill O’Reilly’s return to the network on Hannity
Months after O’Reilly was fired for sexual harassment, Fox executives welcome him back with open arms
The Fox News “welcome” could hardly be described as “with open arms.” It was rather more typical of what would be afforded to any major upcoming guest. Moreover, the fact that O’Reilly appeared on Hannity’s show is likely due more to the fact that Hannity reportedly has complete editorial control of his FNC program – and he can invite as a guest whoever he wants to. Unmentioned by Media Matters the fact is that the liberal sons of Rupert Murdoch remain in control positions overseeing or influencing the content of Fox News, and they are no fans of O’Reilly’s.
Another Deep State mouthpiece, CNN (with its added agenda of feeling threatened by a resurgence of its competitor FNC), had a rather lengthy article on the Hannity-O’Reilly show ready to go within an hour of its airing, “Bill O'Reilly appears on Fox News for first time since his ouster.”
Considering the source, the article, credited to Oliver Darcy @cnnmoney, could have been worse.
During the lengthy interview, O'Reilly and Hannity discussed a number of topics, including President Trump's war with the NFL, the supposed bias of the establishment media and O’Reilly's new “Killing England” book.
The two media heavyweights also took aim at liberal media watchdog groups, with O’Reilly saying he “should have” fought back more aggressively when such organizations targeted his advertisers.
The CNN article included some quotes from Hannity’s program and also reported that unnamed female sources at FNC were allegedly beside themselves at the prospect of the sexist ogre O’Reilly being allowed back on the premises of Fox News.
The fact that Fox News executives would permit O’Reilly to return to the network’s air and let him use it as a platform to sell books only months after firing him struck some observers – including people inside the network and at least one of the women who accused him of harassment – as peculiar.
“That’s how it works at the boy’s club,” Wendy Walsh, who accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment, told CNN on Tuesday. “That's how it works.”
Inside Fox News, some employees also raised eyebrows about the interview before it occurred.
“I question how serious Fox News considers the offenses for which he was fired if they are now giving him a platform to sell his book,” a senior Fox News employee told CNN. “Talk about mixed messages.”
“This idea of not only bringing him back on our air but to be actively promoting [his book] is totally outrageous,” echoed another employee. “What's the point [of firing him] if we’re going to basically be welcoming him back with open arms?”
One on-air personality who spoke with CNN referenced Fox News announcing on Tuesday that it had promoted several women as hosts. The person said O’Reilly’s appearance served as a “net negative” that clouded the otherwise positive news.
“On a day that should be about Fox celebrating female talent with Sandra Smith, Harris Faulkner and Dana Perino getting their own gigs, O’Reilly returning allows us to be talking about a period that is hopefully behind us,” the person told CNN.
On Hannity’s FNC program on Tuesday, the subject of the allegations that led to O’Reilly’s departure from Fox News did not come up. However, as they concluded their conversation, Hannity asked O’Reilly to come back, and O’Reilly said that he would. Chances are that we have not heard the last from Bill O’Reilly at Fox News. A transcript of Hannity’s September 26th program with O'Reilly is online here. Fox News has posted the video of O'Reilly's appearance in three segments here, here, and here. An independent user has uploaded a video of the entire Hannity-O’Reilly encounter which runs 24 minutes at YouTube here.
As a final note, O’Reilly’s latest non-fiction history book, Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence, written with Martin Dugard, as of this writing is the #1 best selling book of all books at Amazon. Published on September 19, it had achieved that ranking even before O’Reilly appeared with Hannity on September 26.