In the wake of the latest sex scandal to rock the Fox News world, the company is reportedly preparing to part ways with embattled prime time host, Bill O’Reilly.
In a breaking report for New York magazine, Gabriel Sherman says that sources close to the discussion tell him that Fox News is trying to figure out the best way to end their relationship with the longtime host. The executives at Fox News would like to announce O’Reilly’s departure BEFORE he returns from vacation on April 24th.
Wednesday morning, according to sources, executives are holding emergency meetings to discuss how they can sever the relationship with the country’s highest-rated cable-news host without causing collateral damage to the network. The board of Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, is scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the matter.
Sources briefed on the discussions say O’Reilly’s exit negotiations are moving quickly. Right now, a key issue on the table is whether he would be allowed to say good-bye to his audience, perhaps the most loyal in all of cable (O’Reilly’s ratings have ticked up during the sexual-harassment allegations). Fox executives are leaning against allowing him to have a sign-off, sources say.
Apparently, the big sticking point now is money. O’Reilly recently signed a long term $20 Million per year contract that the Murdock family would like to avoid paying off.
Questions also remain about who will fill O’Reilly’s considerable shoes? Tucker Carlson is the obvious answer, given that he’s proven he can succeed in the prime time slot. However, he’s become a stabilizing force in the 9 o’clock hour after the departure of Fox’s other megastar, Megyn Kelly. So the network might look elsewhere for an O’Reilly replacement.
The shift away from O’Reilly must be a worrisome one for Fox News because the acerbic host has built quite a loyal (and numerous) following in his time with the network. Fox can’t be sure that O’Reilly’s viewers will tune in for whoever they find to replace him.
Sherman is reporting that Tucker Carlson will move into the 8pm time slot and that The Five will shift from 5pm to 9pm, effective Monday.
Also, Fox has announced its 5-10pm ET lineup post-O’Reilly:
5pm – Beginning May 1, a new 1 hour program hosted by Eric Bolling (from April 24-28 Special Report will air from 5-7pm ET)
6pm – Special Report with Bret Baier
7pm – The Story with Martha McCallum as of May 1, she’ll continue hosting The First 100 Days through April 28.
8pm – Tucker
9pm – The Five
10pm — Hannity