George Will on Fox News Shake-Up: ‘I Have a Feeling Mr. O’Reilly Is Replaceable’

Wednesday on CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” Washington Post columnist George Will reacted to the news of Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News Channel’s flagship program “The O’Reilly Factor,” would be parting ways with Fox News amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Will, who had a run-in with O’Reilly in November 2015 over some of the details in O’Reilly’s “Killing Reagan” book, said for Fox News to brand itself as something other than “a somewhat stale product” was contingent on moving beyond O’Reilly.

“It’s like being called you ugly by a frog,” Will said. “Mr. O’Reilly is, on air is reckless, coarse and bullying. Turns out off the air, he’s reckless, coarse and bullying. So there’s a kind of seamlessness here. I think Fox News has to decide what it wants to be and for whom it wants to be a news source. It seems as long as Bill O’Reilly is the face of Fox News, and let’s face it, he is, their ability to expand their brand and to diversify their audience and become something other than a somewhat stale product depends on moving beyond Bill O’Reilly.”

“Power Lunch” co-host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera asked how that squared with the fact the O’Reilly puts up the biggest numbers in cable news, to which Will said it was based more on brand loyalty than personalities.

“Well, the question is, are they loyal to Bill O’Reilly or are they loyal to the Fox brand itself?” Will replied. “When Megyn Kelly left, and they put Tucker Carlson in her slot, nothing happened. The ratings stayed strong, and the viewers were happy. I have a feeling that Mr. O’Reilly is replaceable. As Charles de Gaulle once said, the graveyards are full of indispensable men.”

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor


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