Thursday on Hugh Hewitt’s nationally syndicated radio show, “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd was asked how he would define embattled former Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly on the heels of his departure from Fox News.
Todd told host Hugh Hewitt that he didn’t view O’Reilly as a traditional conservative and was more an entertainer than the rest of his Fox News Channel colleagues.
Partial transcript as follows (courtesy HughHewitt.com):
HEWITT: Bill O’Reilly is gone. And I have been having an argument online today with our friend, Lachlan Markay at the Daily Beast, and Chris Cillizza. I have never considered Bill a conservative. I thought he was an entertainer, bombastic and loud, and there was a reason that President Obama would much rather be interviewed by Bill O’Reilly than Chuck Todd. He was never going to take you deep and focused. What do you, where do you put him on the spectrum of people who do what we do?
TODD: Look, I agree with you. He was not sort of a traditional conservative. He was, to me, he gave voice, what he did, he was the tone setter. He was sort of that anti-political correctness. That was, if he had a true north, that was it, right?
TODD: If there was some way he could do that story, and if he could do that every night, right, he would find a way to do some form of that every night. But what he was, was the you know, it’s like he was the opening act that brought the crowds, but he became almost more fun to watch than the concert itself, sometimes.
TODD: But he was the entertainer, probably more entertainer than any of the others, right? And anybody else in this ecosystem is, I mean, he said it in his own statement. I thought it was incredibly self-aware that he said informed and entertained. He used the word entertained.
TODD: No real journalist would use that.
HEWITT: Yeah, yeah.
TODD: Okay, and that’s fine. I admire the self-awareness at least by saying that. But, so but he set a tone, and I think so while he was never, you cannot take an issue and say Bill O’Reilly championed that issue beyond the war, the phony war on Christmas, right? That was like a fun, that was an entertainment thing for him. But you couldn’t say championed one issue or one cause or thing like that. But what was thought, what would the conservative media ecosystem be without him?
HEWITT: Well, he brought people to Fox. He built the mall, right? He built the mall, and the mall has Sean Hannity in it, who like me is a partisan.
HEWITT: But he was an anchor store in a mall, but he was not selling conservative goods. That’s what I’ve always said. I’ve got to ask you about, though, the other thing. And I’m, I don’t, allegations are allegations. There are a lot of them about it. I just point out I’ve been doing this since ’89. I’ve never had one allegation against me. And last time I was on your set, I’m sitting next to Tom Brokaw, who’s been doing this a lot longer than that, and there’s never been one allegation against him. You know, it is a business in which it’s possible to be professional and a gentleman without ever attracting these kinds of charges.
TODD: It is. And the fact of the matter is, look, here’s my understanding of what happened. The board of directors at 21st Century Fox said this is just bad for business. And I, the culture is bad for business.
TODD: Obviously, advertisers are speaking. What are you doing? You’re paying all this money. And look, you cannot help but connect O’Reilly to Ailes and say there had to be a culture of look the other way if the guy approving settlements was also accused. So you know, it really underscores this idea that this stuff happens when you create a culture of tolerance for it.
HEWITT: Yeah, workplace dynamic matters. I will say this as an NBC guy now, if they put Tucker Carlson in there, and they give Dana that hour, that’s stiff winds for us, because they’re both serious people and they’re smart. And that’s what we have to…
TODD: You know, I don’t want to get into the lineup. I have, let’s just say there’s a lot of people who have a lot of theories about, I will say this. I think there has never been more, if you enjoy watching the cable news prime time game, I would just say this. There’s never been more jump balls.
TODD: The big guy, the big guy on the block looks more vulnerable than ever. Golden State, they look like, you know, it’s like Golden State without Kevin Durant. It looks pretty beatable.
HEWITT: Wait a minute. You’re talking about the Cavaliers without LeBron, Chuck.
TODD: Oh, sorry. That’s right. I’m sorry.
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