In the last few weeks, reporters have begun to reluctantly accept a depressing axiom: a war against Bill O’Reilly is a war you can’t win.
In fact, you’ll almost certainly lose.
As reports over the last few weeks that ranged from Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly exaggerating (in some cases, downright lying) to physically threatening other reporters piled up, the credibility of the anchor hasn’t diminished in the eyes of his audience: just last week, the O’Reilly Factor’s viewership increased by 11% amidst the onslaught of accusations.
True to O’Reilly’s persona, the host did not once apologize for the inaccuracies and threats (which at one point, suggested that David Corn – the same reporter who exposed Romney’s 47% video and who first published the charges against O’Reilly on the Mother Jones magazine – should be placed in the “kill zone”) and instead of offering any sort of defense, went on a full-on offensive strike, often calling reporters insults that belonged in the 1990’s (“far-left guttersnipe”, “zealots”, “smear merchant”).
It should be noted that the charges against O’Reilly aren’t disputable: they were words that O’Reilly wrote and words that O’Reilly spoke himself, and as far as The Michael Report has verified the information, it did not seem to us as though they were taken out of context (intentionally or not).
In other words, the evidence against O’Reilly were solid and indisputable.
But, of course, that’s not what O’Reilly is interested in! O’Reilly is first a performer for his audience, then a journalist.
A journalist would’ve addressed those concerns.
A performer, on the other hand, would ignore the cold, hard facts for the chance to blast the opposition and fire up the fan base… which was exactly what O’Reilly did. And it worked.
However, there’s another factor at work here that made all of this possible: Fox News – and their audience.
Fox News’ audience is unlike that of other cable networks’ in that they see Fox News as their refuge – refuge from the onslaught of liberal propaganda, spewing Obama’s talking points 24/7.
When Mother Jones published those accusations, Fox News’ audience could see the fear they’ve had concocted in their minds play out in reality: the far-left zealots are attacking Bill O’Reilly, one of the very few people who are still telling the truth! In their minds, O’Reilly isn’t the accused – he’s the martyr who had sacrificed his reputation for the greater good of the country.
Fox News knows that kind of audience is indispensable. Whereas Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theories and ramblings cost Fox News their reputation, Bill O’Reilly’s pointed attacks continue to further the brand’s image as the underdog in a world filled with pro-Obama rhetoric. It is so successful that in fact, it has been reported that O’Reilly’s The Factor brings in $100 million in advertising revenues to Fox News’ war chest.
Perhaps the greatest indication that O’Reilly have won this war – and will never have to apologize for his blunders – is the fact that Fox News’ upper-echelons are fully in his support. Officially, this is the statement issued by Fox News when the New York Times asked them to comment on the allegations: “Fox News Chairman and C.E.O. Roger Ailes and all senior management are in full support of Bill O’Reilly.”
Behind the scenes, however, here’s the clearest indication yet that the war is already over… even before the liberal media thought it had begun: in Gabriel Sherman’s book on the founding of Fox News titled The Loudest Voice in the Room, he chronicled the 2004 episode whereby a Fox News associate producer named Andrea Mackris sued Fox News, accusing O’Reilly of having lurid phone sex with her (the details were quite… interesting).
Fox News founder Roger Ailes and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch were furious at O’Reilly for bringing public humiliation to the company, and ordered him to keep his mouth shut or risk losing his show. O’Reilly kept his mouth shut, and later settled out of court (consequently, employees at Fox News had to undergo workplace sexual harassment training – thanks Bill!). The event quickly ended two weeks later, and O’Reilly’s ratings went up by 30%.
This time around, not only did no one tell O’Reilly to shut up, the entire Fox News executive team also gave O’Reilly their implicit permission to fire at the mainstream media, pedal to the metal with their full support.
The war is over, and O’Reilly has won.
This is the new reality.