Glenn Beck could be the ally O'Reilly needs after ouster
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Bill O'Reilly is out of a job.

And worse for the 67-year-old former king of cable news, the opportunities on traditional broadcast or cable networks are not-so-surprisingly limited despite the instant big audience the host and author would bring to the outlet that signs him.

But there's one landing spot that suddenly looks like a real possibility: Glenn Beck's TheBlaze TV.

Beck and O'Reilly are friends going back to their time together at Fox News when they were the two biggest names on the network, before the latter's abrupt departure in 2011. Beck, like O'Reilly, was shown the door after advertisers fled and revenues dried up even as ratings stayed strong.

After Beck left the network, O'Reilly still had him back on as a guest on "The Factor" more than any other host.

How close are the two? Enough for O'Reilly to reach out to Beck on what had to be an emotional day upon being ousted from Fox News while returning from a trip to Italy.

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"I just got an email from Bill a little while ago that said he's on his way home — he's been on vacation; he's been in Italy — and so he's on his way home," Beck said on his Blaze show Wednesday.

 

“He had access to very beautiful women,” he added on his radio program. “We never saw him utter a word that was even blue humor. He was so buttoned up when he was around us, I find these charges hard to believe.”

The calculus of Beck eventually signing O'Reilly seems to add up: The Blaze is in need of a big name as his five-year-old television network continues to struggle, especially after benching viral conservative young firebrand Tomi Lahren.

And O'Reilly would likely be open to taking a sizable pay cut if it means having a conservative/populist platform to rise again instead of leaving on anything but his terms.

Per his statement yesterday following the 21st Century Fox announcement that he would not be returning to the network, the former host found it "tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims."

Additional boatloads of money may not mean much to O'Reilly at this point. His net worth is tagged at $85 million. His Fox severance will likely push that number past $100 million.

His books are always best-sellers and his publisher says they are sticking by him.

"Our plans have not changed,” a spokeswoman from publisher Henry Holt told TheWrap on Wednesday.

O'Reilly plans to release another "Killing" book in September.

If his demeanor of pushing back hard critics over the past 21 years is any indication, O'Reilly's focus at this point is getting back on the air and carrying on the only fight that matters to him: the culture war.

But O'Reilly's biggest challenge in being signed by one of the traditional networks is obviously personal baggage and the pall of additional allegations and lawsuits. That's the kind of baggage that scares away advertisers who prefer to avoid boycotts and public shaming on Twitter, led by groups like Media Matters who are invested in keeping O'Reilly off the air for good.

But The Blaze is a different ballgame insofar it is a private media outlet.

NBC/MSNBC, CNN, CBS and ABC are publicly owned by very large corporations, just as Fox News is owned by 21st Century Fox.

With corporations come shareholders. With shareholders come a board of directors. With both comes the possibility of being shamed by outside left-wing groups on social media when hiring someone with the perception O'Reilly now brings, fairly or unfairly, especially among female consumers. Optics matter.

Beck’s syndicated radio morning show is No. 3 in the country, only behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

But TheBlaze TV is struggling due to a lack of distribution through major cable companies such as Time Warner, Cablevision and Comcast.

A program featuring O'Reilly could be a game-changer in compelling the aforementioned cable companies in finally bringing TheBlaze TV on board its systems and bringing in tens of millions of additional eyeballs in the process.

In Beck's case, he appears to already be publicly courting O'Reilly by bashing Fox News and doubting its ability to survive without its "Factor" host.

"It's not going to go away right away, but you're seeing a significant weakening," Beck said of Fox News on his Wednesday program.

"Who's the big bad wolf that will stand in the door?"

Beck clearly smells an opportunity here. And an old friend who was the most-watched name in cable news for 15 years may be available at a relatively affordable discount.

Beck and O'Reilly need each other. And if the two align in what would most certainly be a mutually beneficial situation, it's a whole new ballgame in cable news.

 

Joe Concha is a media reporter for The Hill.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.