How Fox News factors life after O’Reilly

I know this is a minority opinion, but I kind of wish Fox News didn’t have to cut ties with its most-popular host, Bill O’Reilly.

Don’t get me wrong. If he did what people claim he did, he had to go. I get that. My problem is what the alleged “Fair and Balanced” news outlet will do in the aftermath. FNC has a history of lurching even further to the right when it makes personnel changes.

Consider:

  • When Alan Colmes left debate show “Hannity & Colmes,” the network didn’t even attempt to fill the opening and let Sean Hannity have the entire hour.
  • John Kasich was at least a moderate Republican, by all accounts. When he left, he was replaced by that insufferable and insincere hack Glenn Beck.
  • Greta Van Susteren seemed to have a level head on her shoulders. She left last year and was replaced by Tucker Carlson — once referred to as a “dick” by Jon Stewart for extreme right-wing punditry.
  • When Megyn Kelly left the network last year, presumably one of the victims in the sexual harrassment problems that bedeviled the network, Carlson was promoted to that spot. Carlson’s former slot went to an hourly nightcap that celebrated all things Donald Trump — a show called “The First 100 Days.”

While Fox News will take a ratings dent without “The O’Reilly Factor,” it will still pull better numbers than MSNBC and CNN.

I’m not going to argue that O’Reilly was 100 percent fair. That would be spin and I’d like this post to be a no-spin zone. His level of fairness is more for you to decide. What I do know from the times that I did catch a glimpse is that he at least made the attempt to get the other side of the story. Do you even get that attempt from Hannity? Did you get it from Beck? From anyone on MSNBC? Of course not.

So what’s FNC going to do? I would expect to see Carlson get O’Reilly’s spot. It also wouldn’t surprise me at all to see popular — and frankly, extremely hot — Internet conservative Tomi Lahren slide into the 9 p.m. slot that Carlson would vacate. (And yes, she is hot. So are Kimberly Guilfoyle, Ainsley Earhardt, Julie Banderas, Jenna Lee, Andrea Tantaros, Shannon Bream, etc. It’s not like they are coworkers.)

But I digress. In other words, Fox News will push further and further to the right.

This is not what people need when there’s a new president who has challenging decisions to make ahead with regards to Syria and North Korea, for instance. All political leaders need to be challenged on major decisions, but those counterpoints must be based on fact. Unfortunately, virtually everything you read about Trump is opinion. Emotion without the benefit of intellect, pro and con.

And I’ve been exhausted of slanted news in either direction for many years. You know one of the primary reasons that “fake news” has overwhelmed social media? It’s because traditional news outlets haven’t leveled with the audience. We don’t need another viewpoint. We need raw data.

We need people at least making the old-school journalistic attempt to get all sides of the story.

So yeah, if O’Reilly is a creepo, I kind of wish he kept that part of his personality to himself until he got home and looked at inappropriate websites like the rest of us.

If I ran Fox News

Maybe it’s just the old reporter in me, but the dismissal of Roger Ailes as the grand poobah of the Fox News Channel over allegations of sexual harassment impacts me more than either political party soirée this month. 

If I tried to give you a recap of you-know-who’s address to the nation from Cleveland last night, it would simply be another chord in a cacophony of noise. Such is the state of American political punditry — well-dressed people behaving as a mob with a machete in one hand and a thesaurus in the other. This is a slight clue to what I would do with FNC, but more on that later.

FNC sheds Ailes and his enormous jowl with its ratings on top of the cable news industry, but how much is that worth? When I want news, I punch in my favorite websites like most Americans. Stream a little bit. For breaking news, I’m not sure if FNC leads. CNN used to be the brand name whenever a major disaster or strife impacted the world. Who can forget Bernard Shaw broadcasting from Baghdad during the first Iraq War?

Anyway, maybe FNC — which, cough cough,  “leans right” — passed CNN on the world’s stage. No idea. It’s affiliated with Sky News in Europe. I have no idea how the newsrooms compare.

But what I do know is Ailes saw an audience that wasn’t being served — a conservative one — and filled accordingly. News outlets are famous for saying they take great pains to be neutral. Having worked in news, I took great effort to be neutral. Many Americans simply didn’t buy it and they’re right to be skeptical. 

So Ailes crafted a lineup that over the years became increasing conservative, and frankly the female correspondents were known more for sex appeal. You think anyone on the Internet is searching for pics of CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in a purple teddy? They’re not, but you can sure find Fox’s Kimberly Guilfoyle in a bikini without any trouble. Point being Amanpour is a talented reporter, and that matters a lot more to me than cup size.

Full disclosure: I am a conservative. I like it when liberals are taken to task. But you also have to brace for bad news because human behavior can undercut the most steadfast political beliefs. In other words, power corrupts the people you vote for.

Also, I’m not stupid. Fox isn’t “fair and balanced,” as its motto claims. It’s simply a right-wing counterweight to CNN and MSNBC. But that’s not good enough for us. An inept government is still fabulously successful at manipulating bad journalism. Bad journalism on the left leads to that awful nuke deal with Iran. Bad journalism on the right leads to the second Iraq War.

So changes would have to come to actually balances things out a bit. Nothing too massive, but enough of a shift that would piss off some of the hosts. Too bad.

The following people are untouchable, in my opinion: Bill O’Reilly, Neil Cavuto, Juan Williams, Shepard Smith and every female talent. And every liberal, for now.

Sean Hannity stays, but the show “Hannity” goes. That gets replaced by “Hannity & (insert liberal co-host here).” If Hannity doesn’t like it, the door is to the left. Alan Colmes had good chemistry with Hannity and that show had balance.

“The Five” stays but Eric Bolling gets cut in favor of liberal Bob Beckel, or any liberal who gets along with the other four. Four conservatives ganging up on one liberal doesn’t seem particularly fair.

“The O’Reilly Factor,” “Special Report” and Greta van Susteren’s shows all go untouched. When a host goes on vacation, a woman anchor takes over. Maybe two hosts to provide balance.

Everything else, everything, gets reinvested into the newsroom. I want stories and content. I want a flood of it. I want to limit punditry and increase data. Over time, every so-called “Fox News Contributor” gets evaluated. If all they contribute are opinions, they’re gone, unless they have inside connections such as a Newt Gingrich.

To some, it surely wouldn’t be enough. Everybody has personalities they love to hate, but drastic changes would lead to a ratings plunge. The idea is to slowly pull back on hard-core conservative punditry which is every bit as valid as the nightly MSNBC shrillfest.

It would also help the website add a ton of actual content, though, which might be the major hub for all of our news in less than a decade.