Despite Fox News’ tremendous popularity, all of the shake-ups at the network have put it in a place of real vulnerability. The executives at Fox News took a big gamble by removing former chairman Roger Ailes, the man whose vision for the network made it the success story that it is.
These executives just took what is arguably an even bigger risk by firing the network’s biggest star Bill O’Reilly. With the wildly popular O’Reilly gone, the business decision-makers at Fox News just got hit with some very harsh news.
Without O’Reilly, these executives are now looking at a ratings freefall and the potential that conservative viewers will abandon Fox News in favor of more up-to-date conservative news outlets, particularly those on the web.
Wrote New York Times writer Jim Rutenberg about O’Reilly’s viewers, “First there is Mr. O’Reilly’s own audience, which steadfastly stuck with him — and then some — as the revelations about sexual harassment first emerged in The New York Times. For as long as he has been ‘looking out for’ them — as he puts it — he has sworn to beat back the ‘secular progressive’ forces of political correctness.
He added, “His fans told interviewers they doubted the allegations against him, describing him as an ‘easy target’ for liberal groups and the same mainstream media he has made a career of lambasting.” Chris Ruddy, CEO of Fox News’ conservative rival Newsmax Media, agreed that Fox News is now in trouble. He said, “Generally, the Fox audience is not going to be happy the network fired him. They’re going to think it was unfair.” Do you think Fox News executives made a big mistake firing O’Reilly?