Bill O’Reilly’s reign as the undisputed king of cable news could be coming to an end as pressure on the Murdoch family to decide what to do with the embattled host intensifies.
The Daily Intelligencer’s Gabe Sherman reports that three “sources with knowledge of the discussions” have said that the Murdochs are leaning toward dumping O’Reilly, who is currently on vacation — though no final decision has been made yet.
Sherman, who literally wrote the book on the inner-wokings of Fox News, claims James and Lachlan Murdoch want O’Reilly out, while their father, Rupert, is still holding out hope of keeping the top rated host.
According to the insiders, Lachlan was initially on his dad’s side, but is moving toward’s James’ direction in recent days.
“The three are fighting,” the insider said.
Sherman goes on to argue that “deciding O’Reilly’s fate is more complicated than the decision to oust Ailes last summer.”
O’Reilly has dominated cable news for 16 consecutive years and is considered the network’s marquee show. His exit could have detrimental effects on Fox News’ overall ratings. Another Fox News insider tells Sherman Rupert doesn’t want to fire O’Reilly because it would look like he was forced into it by the New York Times.
The paper first broke the news that Fox News and its top host paid $13 million to women claiming they were sexually harassed by O’Reilly.
The fact that O’Reilly has been hemorrhaging advertisers in recent weeks isn’t helping. One network insider told Sherman that Fox executives are “alarmed” by the the loss of ad-revenue.
The Murdochs are also worried about their $14 billion deal to takeover European pay-TV firm Sky, which is pending the approval of British regulators on May 16. Without the O’Reilly ick factor, the deal has a better chance of getting the green light.
Meanwhile, female Fox News employees are increasingly uneasy with the Murdochs for not doing enough to address the company’s culture of sexual harassment following Roger Ailes’ ouster, according to multiple reports.
One Fox female executive told Sherman on Monday that morale was “awful,” with some adding that employees wondering if budgets have been cut to accommodate sexual-harassment settlement payments in the tens of millions.
Fox News did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.