Could Bill O’Reilly be coming back to network television? It certainly looks that way, as it has been reported that the former Fox anchor and political commentator is deep into negotiations with media giant Sinclair Broadcast Group.
An October 21st article in the New York Times reported that O’Reilly reached a $32 million settlement earlier this year with former Fox legal analyst Lis Wiehl over sexual harassment allegations. Despite this and other sexual harassment allegations that cost O’Reilly his longtime position as one of Fox’s greatest stars, Sinclair appears keen on bringing O’Reilly on board.
In regard to the recent article in the liberal Times, O’Reilly’s spokesman, Mark Fabiani, insisted the article was based on information that was “out of context, false, defamatory, and obviously designed to embarrass Bill O’Reilly and to keep him from competing in the marketplace.”
O’Reilly himself has claimed the Times article was nothing more than “lies and smears,” and was “politically and financially motivated.”
Well, of course! It is the New York Times, after all.
In regard to the O’Reilly – Sinclair negotiations, and unnamed source has stated that Sinclair’s executive chairman, Dave Smith, was put in contact with O’Reilly shortly after the former Fox anchor left that station in April. Sinclair has maintained official silence since that time on its intentions with the 68-year-old anchor.
Sinclair Broadcast Group is a media giant – it currently operates 173 televisions stations across the United States. If a pending acquisition of Chicago-based Tribune Broadcasting is allowed by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), Sinclair will operate over 220 stations across the country. Politically and philosophically, Sinclair leans decidedly to the right.
An interesting twist is that some of Tribune’s stations are also Fox affiliates. One can imagine that the folks at Fox may not be too thrilled with O’Reilly being viewed on any of its affiliates.
An unnamed source, familiar with the O’Reilly – Sinclair negotiations, said that “What you are going to see is a syndicated show, not a news channel. I know they’ve been talking about doing something in syndication and and something that could air on (Tribune’s flagship station) WGN… They want to do something anti-CNN, anti-MSNBC.”
Bill O’Reilly has legions of fans who would delight to see the pundit make a triumphant return to network television. Fox News, however, might not be so gleeful.