Fox News' Sean Hannity and former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly

Fox News’ Sean Hannity and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly

WASHINGTON – Rumors that Fox News former “king of primetime” Bill O’Reilly could team up with longtime Fox News host Sean Hannity to launch a new conservative news media empire are lighting up social media.

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman claimed Sunday that the media heavyweights are considering joining forces with Sinclair Broadcast Group to lead the premier conservative-leaning news media platform in the post-Roger Ailes world.

O’Reilly, the Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sherman hadn’t returned WND’s requests for comment by the time of this report.

Sherman, an MSNBC contributor whom the Blaze reports is one of the most connected journalists covering Fox News, provided details about O’Reilly’s possible new endeavor on Joy Reid’s MSNBC show.

“My sources in and around Fox say that [Hannity] and Bill O’Reilly are potentially in talks to take their shows to Sinclair,” Sherman said on Reid’s Sunday morning show. “Bill O’Reilly has wanted to get back into the game.”

“Sinclair really wants to build the future of a conservative media empire, and poaching Fox’s biggest names would help them do that,” he explained. “This, again, is the groundwork for what I think will be the next conservative media platform in the post-Roger Ailes era.”

What do YOU think? Should Sean Hannity leave Fox News to join Bill O’Reilly in a new TV venture? Sound off in today’s WND poll!

Sherman reiterated his on-air comments on social media.

“As I reported this morning on @amjoyshow, Bill O’Reilly has talked Hannity about teaming up to go to Sinclair Broadcasting, sources say.”

Sherman said on Twitter that he’s “skeptical” of an O’Reilly-Hannity alliance, as the two reportedly have a contentious relationship.

Sherman said O’Reilly is also in negotiation with Newsmax, though he didn’t cite sources for the claim.

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Twitter users reacted with delight, skepticism and even ridicule concerning the wisdom of a possible O’Reilly-Hannity venture:

  • “He’ll NEVER get same audience penetration, pay or perch. Sinclair’s still backwater to FOX.” – Rick Maiman
  • “Sean Hannity and Bill O don’t have a close relationship. Sean is KING at FOX NOW and unlikely to make this move. Sean is awesome.” – Trumptastik
  • “That would be WON DER FUL!!! Can depend on OReilly and Hannity!!” – Basic A-Line
  • “I don’t know about teaming up but I think Sinclair would move heaven and earth to get O’Reilly because of his millions of faithful followers.” – Maria McGrath
  • “I was hoping they would go to Pluto.” – Tommy Burkhalter
  • “That’s a great idea since Fox News has turned to the left. More of their [hosts] are anti-Trumpers.” – Marybeth Luther-bach
  • “I sure hope so. They would do a great job, and I miss seeing O’Reilly. I still watch Hannity, both better tho.” – Mona Greer
  • “That will make a boycott a lot easier to organize. You can’t hide your right-[wing] propaganda with Grope & Dope on your air.” – pdxusr
  • “Great O’Reilly and Hannity a great team. Tell the folks the real news, not fake news. Kill MSM with ratings. MAGA.” – Scott Kaminsky
  • “See ya, Fox!!” – Robert Kahler
  • “If they steal Sean and Tucker and a few more, @FoxNews is finished forever.” – Gary Greene
  • “If Sean leaves Fox, I am thru with Fox News!” – Wanda Pickett

Fox News has weathered a whirlwind of brutal shakeups in the past year, in addition to O’Reilly’s departure.

Former chairman Roger Ailes, a longtime political operative and media visionary who built the network with Rupert Murdoch beginning in 1996, died in May. He resigned from Fox 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, made harassment claims.

Murdoch’s sons, who reportedly lean left in their politics, now run the network.

Since leaving Fox, O’Reilly has been co-hosting Glenn Beck’s radio show on Fridays and hosting a web podcast at BillOReilly.com. He also regularly weighs in on the issues of the day on social media.

Americans are turned off by mainstream media dishonesty, O’Reilly warned Monday.

“If you follow the TV news ratings, you know that millions of Americans have stopped watching. Despite all the controversy surrounding President Trump, the ratings for the network nightly news broadcasts are down significantly from 2016. Same thing for the morning programs. Younger viewers, in particular, are tuning out,” he wrote on Facebook. “On the cable news front, there is big change. Fox News no longer dominates. In fact, the Trump-hating MSNBC often beats FNC in prime time, something that never happened in the past. CNN’s audience remains small, despite the anti-Trump posture there.”

O’Reilly continued: “Americans seem to be tired of ideological spin unless they are political fanatics like many who watch the vitriol on MSNBC. Very few news programs are truly fair and accurate. Most simply cater to what they believe their audience wants to hear.”

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Like Ailes, O’Reilly was forced out at the Fox News Channel in April following claims of sexual harassment.

Despite efforts by other networks to recruit him after he left Fox, O’Reilly announced his plans to launch his own news operation in June, during the first stop of “The Spin Stops Here” tour in Long Island.

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. “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. A bunch of people are looking to compete with Fox because there’s a perception of decline.”

After two decades of dominating cable news rating, Fox News Channel is losing the ratings battle to MSNBC, as O’Reilly pointed out.

O’Reilly hosted the top show on cable news during the prime-time hour for more than two decades. Now, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is the clear leader in cable news.

Maddow’s viewership surpassed each of Fox News’ top three shows in the week of July 10-July 14, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” “Hannity” and “The Five,” according to AdWeek. The only time a Fox News host barely surpassed Maddow’s numbers was the night Hannity featured Donald Trump Jr. on his show.

MSNBC continued its domination last week, July 17-July 20. Maddow is dominating in overall ratings and in the 25-54 demographic.

It is unclear what has precipitated MSNBC’s ascendance, but CNN overwhelmingly has the lowest ratings of the top three major cable news networks.

Technology is transforming news consumption, O’Reilly warned, making traditional and overtly bias television network obsolete.

“The most important reason that traditional news consumption is in decline is the convenience of the machines,” O’Reilly said. “Right now, I am writing this on my iPhone and you are reading it on your device – at your convenience. News agencies have become predictable and slanted in many cases. There is no compelling reason to read or watch what they are putting out. Thus, a great communication change is happening in this country. For better or for worse.”

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