Speculation is percolating in the broadcast industry: What’s next for Bill O'Reilly, the former prime-time host at Fox News, who departed the No. 1 cable network amid charges of sexual harassment in the workplace? Observers don’t expect the veteran newsman to retreat. And they do have some advice.
“O'Reilly certainly seems armed for a battle,” writes Michael O’Connell, who covers television for the Hollywood Reporter, an industry publication. “He has retained ‘master of disaster’ crisis consultant Mark Fabiani to navigate his new reality. What they do next depends on how many other shoes drop. One thing seems very clear, though: No one is mistaking the end of O'Reilly’s Fox News era with retirement.”
Some suggest that Mr. O'Reilly should go the route of independent media maven Glenn Beck, who was a Fox News host for two years before establishing his own online network and production company six years ago. Former CNN President Jonathan Klein, who founded TAPP, a subscription video platform, supports this strategy. So does Jon Cody, CEO of TV4, another online-based media enterprise.
Eric Dezenhall, a crisis management consultant, does not expect a mea culpa from Mr. O'Reilly, noting that “outspoken, unapologetic clients often weather crises better than the quiet ones.”
In a statement on his dismissal from Fox News released earlier this week, Mr. O'Reilly said it was “tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today.” He did wish Fox News “the best,” however.
His attorney Marc Kasowitz took a stronger stand, saying Mr. O'Reilly was the victim of a “brutal campaign of character assassination” and “a smear campaign that is being orchestrated by far-left organizations.”
His client has yet to reveal his next move. But Mr. O'Reilly could be working up to it.
“Bill has got a mission. He loves the spotlight, and he’ll want to leverage the moment. His ardent fans are going to feel the abyss when he is gone, and that is a moment when Bill could strike,” suggests Mr. Klein.
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