Five replaces Carlson; Bolling replaces Five; and Watters replaces Bolling. Yesterday, FNC honcho Rupert Murdoch “caved”: Joined his boys James and Lachlan in dethroning the King of Cable Bill O’Reilly (statement)–while O’Reilly was on vacation. And, O’Reilly did not get the last word on his once eponymous show last night newly named simply The Factor.
Rather, The Factor fill-in host Dana Perino solemnly declared, “Finally, tonight, it is the end of an era here at the Fox News Channel….Bill O’Reilly is leaving this chair and this network after more than twenty years. Bill has been the undisputed king of cable news, and for good reason: He is an incredibly talented broadcaster who raised the bar for interviewers everywhere; he has also held his staff to exacting standards in his quest to put the best possible program on the air and they are great; and you his audience responded in record numbers making The Factor the number one cable news show for more than sixteen years.” Trying to soften the blow to O’Reilly’s fans further, Dana declared, “In a memo to the staff today, Rupert, James, and Lachlan Murdoch who run Fox News described Bill this way, [saying], “By ratings standards, Bill O’Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news. In fact, his success by any measure is indisputable. We wish him the very best.”
Even though the Murdochs recently re-signed their FNC flagship anchor and top revenue generator to an 18-million-per-year contract, they decided to jettison O’Reilly amid the continuing allegations of sexual harassment. According to the New York Times, Fox luminaries Rebecca Gomez (2011), Laurie Dhue (2016), and Juliet Huddy (2016) have received settlements: Furthermore, reportedly, erstwhile Outnumbered regular Andrea Tantaros‘s psychologist Michele Berdy said under oath that Andrea “complained to me about recurring unwanted advances from Bill O’Reilly.” To boot, the New York Daily News reported, “On the day before he [O’Reilly] was booted, a black colleague said a leering O’Reilly shamelessly ogled her cleavage and nicknamed her ‘Hot Chocolate.'”
Not amused, O’Reilly responded to his firing, saying, “It is tremendously disheartening that we [Fox News and O’Reilly] part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers.” [For full statement, link here.]
As to O’Reilly’s dedicated viewers, they will now have “a new evening and prime time lineup” according to Fox News. As of Monday (April 24), Tucker Carlson Tonight will replace the recently renamed O’Reilly Factor (to The Factor); The Five will follow with the usual cast of Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greg Gutfeld, Dana Perino, Juan Williams, and Bob Beckel with the addition of Jesse Watters to take Eric Bolling‘s middle chair (April 24); Bolling gets his own show in the old The Five slot at 5:00 p.m. ET (May 1).
Coaxing his own Tucker Carlson Tonight viewers to make the jump to the new time last night, Tucker concluded his show saying, “There is change coming to Fox News, the channel and to this program: Starting Monday, we are moving to 8 p.m. Eastern Time. You’ve made the journey with us from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.: We hope you’ll come along once more and join us an hour earlier.” Graciously, he aptly added, “We’ve got big shoes to fill: We’re going to do our best.”
Indeed, Tucker does have big shoes to fill: Whether O’Reilly devotees will give Tucker that chance remains to be known. And, to whether FNC fans cotton to James and Lachlan’s kinder, gentler Fox News is another issue altogether: Their father Rupert had the Midas touch with his “Mad Men” mentality. Going PC may be FNC’s folly: Alchemy in reverse.