WASHINGTON – After being forced out at the Fox News Channel following claims of sexual harassment, former cable news ratings king Bill O’Reilly is launching out on his own.
O’Reilly, who left Fox News in April, made the announcement during the first stop of the “The Spin Stops Here” tour in Long Island.
“I am starting my own operation,” he revealed over the weekend in his first public appearance since he was taken off the air by Fox. “We are going to do that.”
His website, BillOReilly.com, he explained, will beta test a half-hour newscast.
“We will go into a studio and here it will look like ‘The Factor.’ … It’s basically an experiment to see how many people are going to want this service,” he said.
He had been the subject of recruiting efforts by other networks that lean conservative after he left Fox and took with him the talent that made his “The O’Reilly Factor” the No. 1 rated show on cable news during its prime-time slot.
He said the program eventually “will compete directly with Fox News.”
“That’s coming and will be here before September in a robust form. But I suspect there will be another network maybe merging with us. There will be a network that rises up because the numbers for Fox are going down,” he said. “A bunch of people are looking to compete with Fox because there’s a perception” of decline.
In addition to O’Reilly’s departure, the network has weathered a whirlwind of brutal shakeups in the past year. Former chairman Roger Ailes died last month after stepping down during the Republican National Convention last summer amid accusations of widespread sexual harassment.
Former Fox News hosts Gretchen Carlson, Andrea Tantaros and Megyn Kelly, who left the network to work for NBC, claimed harassment. Ailes, a longtime political operative and media visionary, built Fox News with Rupert Murdoch beginning in 1996 and led the cable channel to ratings dominance.
Murdoch’s sons, who reportedly are much farther left in their politics, now run the network.
O’Reilly’s 30-minute pilot broadcast will be available on his website and resemble his former program “The O’Reilly Factor,” he said.
O’Reilly already has hired a production team, including a Fox News producer who resigned from the network.
“We are assembling a team of journalists and are considering a number of options as BillOReilly.com is quickly developing into a major enterprise,” O’Reilly told Mediaite.
O’Reilly’s ratings had never been higher than at the time he was canceled, and his tour has drawn capacity crowds.
Accompanied by his longtime “Factor” wing-man Dennis Miller, O’Reilly began the show by addressing his abrupt departure from Fox. He was ousted April 19 in the wake of a New York Times investigation that reported Fox had paid millions of dollars in settlements to six female staffers who had accused him of sexual harassment going back to 2005.
O’Reilly has denied the allegations. The same forces that led to his dismissal at Fox News, he insisted on Saturday, are working to obstruct and impeach President Trump.
In much the same spirit as Trump, O’Reilly is fighting back against what he characterized as a vicious smear campaign.
“[Fox is] a different network,” he said. “It happens. I’m not going to bad-mouth them. They had a shift in management that coincided with a very well thought-out and financed effort to destroy me. It worked – temporarily. It all had to do with President Trump. In the weeks to come, I’m going to lay all that out in a very public way.”
The media, the cable news ratings leader asserted, is waging war against Americans.
“It’s now almost impossible for me to analyze [Trump] fairly because he is being treated so unfairly. I know the same people who came after me are the same people after him. So I know this is the fraud being perpetuated on you, the American voter. The progressive far left will not accept the election,” he said. “It’s the media driving the hate.
“In the weeks to come, there will be a bunch of news stories that will explain what happened and why it happened,” O’Reilly told fans. “It’s pretty grisly. It’s pretty nasty. It has to do with far-left progressive organizations that are bent on destroying anybody with whom they disagree, including the president.”
O’Reilly blasted the media, calling out CNN specifically for exhaustively investigating unsubstantiated ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
“No matter what [Trump] does, they’re going to find a way to demonize him. It doesn’t matter. So that makes my job so much harder because I know what they’re doing. I know who these people are,” O’Reilly said of the media. “They don’t care about being fair or being accurate or being factual.”
When asked how to counter left-leaning media dominance and “the cabal that is out to get Fox,” O’Reilly pointed to Fox host Sean Hannity’s effectiveness in withstanding the recent barrage of attacks against him. Several advertisers recently abandoned Hannity over his coverage of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich, as rumors that he was fired lit up the Internet.
“[Sean] brought it to you guys and they prevailed on that. But is anybody doing anything about these people? No, because you don’t know who they are. But you will,” he promised. “That will come out.”
O’Reilly has been doing tours with conservative comedian Dennis Miller since 2011.
Miller warmed up the crowd with jokes before O’Reilly took the stage, praising Trump for “being more human than most presidents.”
“Do I think the election was hacked?” Miller asked. “I don’t give a s—. If it was, I’m glad they picked him.”
Miller then brought up former FBI Director James Comey, evoking boos.
“What do you make of this idiot Comey?” Miller said. “The guy speaks out of both sides of his a–.”
Fox News host Jesse Watters was scheduled to join the tour before Fox, apprehensive of its on-air talent appearing publicly with someone who had just been expelled, canceled the arrangement.
“Watters can’t be here tonight, I’m sorry,” O’Reilly told his fans, drawing loud jeers. “It’s not his fault. Fox didn’t want him to go.”
Prior to touring with Miller, O’Reilly toured with Glenn Beck. O’Reilly has also been frequent appearances on Beck’s radio show since his departure from Fox.
“It’s a good outlet for me to, you know, discuss things back and forth with Beck, who’s a good friend,” O’Reilly said. “We don’t agree on everything, but it’s very lively.”
Last month, Beck who worked with O’Reilly at Fox for a little more than two years until he left the network 2011, said he found the allegations against O’Reilly “hard to believe.”
“He had access to very beautiful women on our staff,” Beck said on air. “We never saw him utter a word that was even blue humor.”
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