With the liberal sons of Rupert Murdoch now firmly at the helm of what once was a conservative-leaning alternative to leftist cable news shows like CNN, MSNBC and the mainstream media news outlets, there is a very good chance Americans are witnessing the end of a significant era where FOX News ruled the ratings and liberal-run propaganda networks only dreamed of the kind of revenue they were pulling down.
It is difficult to exaggerate the significance of Fox News’ sacking of Bill O’Reilly.
Not only was he the single most dominant public figure in America’s vast conservative media environment, his removal signals the growing power of James and Lachlan Murdoch in the world’s most powerful media empire, their father Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.
O’Reilly was dismissed overnight following allegations of sexual harassment by at least six women. It has been reported that Lachlan’s wife Sarah Murdoch helped influence the decision. Last year the former Fox News creator, Roger Ailes, was sacked in similar circumstances, going on to advise Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
O’Reilly has been a towering figure in American politics and culture since Murdoch and Ailes began to build the conservative Fox News channel and its identity around him in 1996. His evening talk program, The O’Reilly Factor, was combative and trenchantly conservative, setting the tone for the entire channel, which soon came to dominate cable news and, in turn, the entire American news landscape. In January 2014, Fox News marked its 145th consecutive month as the No.1 rated cable news channel in America.
James Murdoch’s wife works for the Clinton Climate Initiative. She is an outspoken hater of President Trump on Twitter and much of her hate is directed at his refusal to accept that man-made climate
warming cooling change is settled science. Here are a few examples of the hate for Trump on Twitter:
Clean energy jobs for many Americans or dirty energy money for a few polluters- this shouldn't be a hard choice. https://t.co/pdX6CPEYJm
— Kathryn Murdoch (@KathrynAMurdoch) April 19, 2017
Enough of President Bannon. President Jarvanka preferable.
— Kathryn Murdoch (@KathrynAMurdoch) April 5, 2017
"An angry reflex in search of an idea" sums up a lot https://t.co/sof1ZB4paw
— Kathryn Murdoch (@KathrynAMurdoch) March 28, 2017
Murdoch’s support for Trump distinguishes him from some of his children, including James, who told more than one friend of his dismay that his father was backing the Trump candidacy. James’s wife, Kathryn, backed Hillary Clinton during the campaign and has been a vocal critic of the new president on Twitter. In September Kathryn tweeted: “A vote for Trump is a vote for climate catastrophe”, while on the night of the president’s stunning election victory she wrote: “I can’t believe this is happening. I am so ashamed.”
James and Kathryn are committed environmentalists: she is on the board of the Environmental Defense Fund, which a Fox News report recently labelled a “leftwing group”, while James wrote in The Washington Post in 2009 that “conservation-minded conservatives” were “missing in the heated partisanship of today’s politics”. – Financial Times
Bill O’Reilly spent a considerable amount of time on his top rated show debunking phony man-made climate-change. Hmmm…could there be a connection the #1 host on Fox News who had the ability to influence millions of people and his firing?
New York Magazine‘s Gabriel Sherman, who has broken a string of stories about the changing of the guard inside Fox, wrote that, as allegations mounted against O’Reilly, Rupert Murdoch wanted to stand by the host, while Lachlan and James wanted to sack him.
The Murdochs’ decision to dump O’Reilly shocked many Fox News staffers. Also last week, the feeling inside the company was that Rupert Murdoch would prevail over his son James, who lobbied to jettison the embattled host. It’s still unclear exactly how the tide turned. According to one source, Lachlan Murdoch’s wife helped convince her husband that O’Reilly needed to go, which moved Lachlan into James’s corner. The source added that senior executives at other divisions within the Murdoch empire have complained that if O’Reilly’s allegations had happened to anyone else at their companies, that person would be gone already.
Has it actually been proven that Bill O’Reilly is guilty or is America to believe that just because Rupert Murdoch’s liberal sons (and/or their wives) want O’Reilly gone that he is indeed guilty?
Hollywood Reporter – Last July, after Gretchen Carlson sued the Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox and Roger Ailes, the then-head of Fox News Channel, for sexual harassment, Rupert Murdoch told his sons, both Ailes enemies, that paying off Carlson without a fight would mean more lawsuits. Easy-money settlements always bring more claims. James and Lachlan Murdoch, however, were eager to get rid of their nemesis, and the most direct way to do that was to accept Carlson’s claims after a quickie investigation and then use a big payoff — $20 million — to end the dispute and calm the storm.
Nine months later, the chickens coming home to roost, Fox has continued to collect a string of look-alike claims against Ailes and against ratings giant Bill O’Reilly, with a firestorm of recent press attention on what The New York Times is calling the “O’Reilly revelations.” What has been revealed is not evidence nor an admission of guilt but details of payments settling complaints against O’Reilly — not a small distinction. You can assume maximal guilt, which the Times and other Fox haters do, or you can assume, as many lawyers do, that when there is money to be had, plaintiffs come out of the woodwork. (“Coming out of the woodwork” is a virtual term of art in big settlement tort cases).
Murdoch Senior is said to be saying, “I told you so.” James, CEO of 21st Century Fox, is blaming it on the Fox News culture and has hired Paul Weiss, the same law firm that performed a two-week investigation of Ailes, to probe O’Reilly (there is, too, a Department of Justice investigation of how settlement payments were made, which Rupert dismisses as DOJ liberal politics and which his sons see as indicating more Fox News dark arts). This is a reflection of greater family and company interests and conflicts. For 86-year-old Rupert, Fox News is a key part of his legacy, as well as the family company’s health: the most profitable news outlet ever ($1.5 billion in profits this year) and among the most influential. For James, 44, and Lachlan, 45, the hope is to reshape this legacy, to move Fox away from what they see as its retro, Trump-style views toward, well, something nicer (and to do this profitably, they hope, somehow).
It’s a particular sort of irony that Fox, which, to the delight of its audience, built itself on rejecting liberal assumptions, might now be brought down by such a signature liberal assumption: Where there are charges of sexual harassment, there is sexual harassment. It’s a kind of zeitgeist power play. After President Trump went out of his way to support O’Reilly on April 5, The New York Times, which left little doubt that it accepted the truth of the allegations, noted “the president has a particular rapport with Mr. O’Reilly, whose hectoring braggadocio and no-apologies nostalgia for a bygone American era mirror Mr. Trump’s own.”
This is a curious view considering Trump won the presidency, and O’Reilly is the highest-rated cable news host and, to boot, one of the best-selling authors in the country. So, more accurately, it may only be a bygone era for The New York Times and the liberal order that so furiously opposes and links Trump and Fox. But the cultural upper hand is a mighty one — and sexual harassment has become an issue so fraught, it largely precludes debate. Hence, advertisers are now fleeing O’Reilly — seeming to make a moral judgment, but, practically speaking, just avoiding controversy (few, if any, have left the network entirely).
Your narrative is your fate. It doesn’t matter if O’Reilly or Ailes did or didn’t do the things they are accused of — no trial has occurred, no evidence has been released, no investigators’ conclusions shared — their real guilt is that people believe they could have.
Confusing matters, the Murdoch sons also see O’Reilly and Ailes as part of a bygone era — their father’s. Pay no attention that it was precisely this sensibility that has been such a powerful audience draw at Fox. (Of note, to the lasting outrage and confusion of liberals, Trump, despite the bygone era suggested by his Billy Bush “pussygate” tape, was elected anyway.) The Murdoch sons, while in important ways financially supported by the profitable, culturally backward views at Fox, see their job as taking the company into a new era.
The sons’ plan was to make Fox the network of Megyn Kelly rather than of Ailes and O’Reilly. That plan foundered on widespread resentment at the network toward Kelly for her part in Ailes’ ouster and on the election of Trump. Suddenly, Fox’s “when America was great and men were men” appeal was even stronger.
Murdoch Senior has remained largely remote from this dispute, but he reportedly has been paying attention again. He is said to be worried that his sons are moving toward a radical break — “re-imagining Fox,” is what James is said to call it — and hastening the end of an era that, in television terms, so far has been more popular and unyielding than any cozier new one.