Door didn’t hit Bill O’Reilly on the way out (darn it)

Bill O’Reilly is out at FOX News. (I’d do a happy dance but that is not a pretty sight.)

Sadly, O’Reilly didn’t walk out of FOX News’ New York headquarters in disgrace. Instead, according to the Washington Post,

The host of “The O’Reilly Factor” got the news while awaiting a flight back to the U.S. from a vacation in Italy. His representatives said he was “resigned” to his demise, having monitored rapidly deteriorating negotiations over his exit over the past several days.

The timeline of events that led to O’Reilly’s dismissal was short — only about three weeks. But in reality the foundation for his ouster began to be laid last summer when former FOX News chairman Roger Ailes was given the boot. And it was for the same reason: a series of undeniable allegations relating to sexual harassment.

Of course, O’Reilly, who would have you believe never makes a mistake, refuses to accept the allegations; he maintains that the accusations against him are false, and he says he’s “tremendously disheartened” at his dismissal.

The tumult at FOX News has lasted about one year, and it might now be coming to an end. Consider that five high-profile people have left the network for various reasons. The departed include Ailes and O’Reilly, plus Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson and Greta Van Susteren.

But no Ailes and no O’Reilly means what for the network? One built the network and the other was its most popular program host. Politico tries to answer that question, noting

Fox News is clearly betting that it won’t matter, filling its nightly lineup with familiar faces – Tucker Carlson, Dana Perino, Jesse Watters.

It’s a risk, but analysts tend to believe the network is right: Fox News is now such a strong brand that neither Ailes nor O’Reilly are needed to keep it going. And while its audience is aging – the oldest in the geriatric world of cable news – the power of the Fox demographic was just demonstrated in last year’s elections.

Another reason it won’t matter: The angry white men who tune into FOX News are sure to continue doing so. Slate suggests that O’Reilly built his image in part on being the cultural warrior, and

A college professor would call America a fascist country, or a retailer would announce that it would greet customers with “happy holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” O’Reilly would rant and rave; he would call for people to be fired; he would bemoan that America was becoming less religious and less white.

You heard a lot of that on the campaign trail in 2016. That won’t go away.

But the man who delivered that nasty message can now return from Italy whenever he wants. Let’s hope he opts to stay a little longer.

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