When news came out that Bill O’Reilly had settled sexual harassment lawsuits over a period of time, two things happened – some were outraged by the news and others questioned the validity of the suits. Either way, people chose to stop watching O’Reilly’s show, or to start.
Story. “The O’Reilly Factor” had been the most popular show in cable news for almost two decades. O’Reilly’s firing came after Fox News executives had just signed a multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract with him. They clearly knew about these lawsuits, as they were listed on them as well. Why the change? The faux outrage of the left, of course.
Ratings. It gets better though, because Fox News, for the first time on almost 15 years, has lost its position as number 1 in the ratings. From John Nolte at The Daily Wire:
For the first time in nearly 15 years, Fox News could be on the edge of losing its dominance in the cable news wars. On Monday the embattled network dropped to last place, behind both MSNBC and CNN in the primetime 25-54 age bracket, the one most coveted by advertisers. In total primetime viewers, Fox handily beat CNN but lost by a hair to MSNBC.
Why this matters. As Nolte points out in his article, this could straighten itself out over time, but it’s telling that O’Reilly’s audience made that big of a difference. Nolte goes on to point out something even more interesting:
Whatever you might think of O’Reilly, by firing him, Fox broke the First Rule of Scandals, which goes something like this… If you are a big corporation that relies heavily on public goodwill, you leave it up to the customers to render the verdict on a scandal, or you risk an existential crisis against your brand.
You see, if you don’t let the public render the verdict on a scandal, either way you risk a backlash. After 21 successful years hosting The Factor, combined with a steady stream of popular historical novels, O’Reilly had become an American institution with a loyal audience in the millions, an audience who not only made O’Reilly the King of Cable News, but stuck around to boost the ratings of the rest of the network’s primetime line-up.
Nolte also points out the obvious, that others who happen to be of the left-wing persuasion are still on the air even though they have proven to be liars and plagiarists. Then of course, there’s Bill Clinton, accused of rape and sexual assault by multiple women, yet the left still loves him.
The left likes to manufacture outrage all while supporting the very behavior they claim to be outraged over, as long as one of their own is doing it. Fox News is possibly going to learn a very hard lesson. One they will deserve.
Viewers of O’Reilly are fully aware of the manufactured outrage of the left, but apparently Fox News executives haven’t quite grasped it. Nor did the executives bother giving their consumers the choice.