On Wednesday afternoon, Fox News unleashed what could be the biggest bombshell of modern cable news television. After more than two decades of service, Bill O’Reilly, the host of famed “The O’Reilly Factor,” was fired from the network. Recent allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct ultimately upended O’Reilly’s phenomenal career.
The news comes as a crushing surprise to media insiders. For one thing, the O’Reilly Factor has been at the epicenter of multiple controversies, including prior sexual harassment claims. Yet each and every time, Fox News stood by their leading anchor. It’s easy to see why those decisions were made. For a countless number of years, the O’Reilly Factor was the number one cable news program. Second place wasn’t even close, and that was usually another Fox News broadcast.
According to the Los Angeles Times, reruns of the O’Reilly Factor bettered the live broadcasts of rival networks. A high profile example is CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” which draws about 1.4 million viewers on the initial broadcast. O’Reilly Factor reruns, on the other hand, average 1.65 million viewers, or an 18% discrepancy. That’s pretty sad, demonstrating quantifiably the true unpopularity of the liberal agenda.
So it’s more than a little odd that Fox News would jettison their prime asset. Apparently, the liberal agenda — manifested in particular by feminists — won out in a game of chicken with Fox. Rather than sticking to their guns as they had in the past, the suits calculated that the asset of the O’Reilly Factor no longer outweighed its liabilities.
I’m afraid that Fox News badly miscalculated their decision. No one else at the network has the star power of O’Reilly. He had the Midas touch that cannot be taught. And I don’t care how many “hot anchor chicks” they may throw at the camera — star power always usurps sex appeal.
It’s the one lesson that those advocating the liberal agenda have yet to learn. Even at Fox, O’Reilly handily beat out the ratings offered by anchors who were infinitely more attractive. Fox News essentially orbited around the O’Reilly Factor, not vice versa.
It’s a bloody shame that the feminists scared the Fox suits into making a catastrophic mistake. Without the O’Reilly Factor, we’re left with apologists and extremists of our binary political system. We know that CNN and MSNBC will only repeat the talking points of the liberal agenda. But we also know that the rest of the Fox News clan will resort to reactionary name-calling and partisan posturing.
The O’Reilly Factor was a breath of fresh air. The host had a conservative tilt, but he was willing more often than not to consider issues in their full context. Whether you agreed with him or not, you can appreciate the diligence that he put into his work. That’s the privilege — and responsibility — of freedom.
Unfortunately, on Wednesday, we lost a major contributor to that freedom.