Trying to figure out Bill O’Reilly’s next TV home has turned into a cottage industry: Might the former linchpin of Fox News Channel’s primetime lineup move to Newsmax? A deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group? The conservative-leaning One America News Network?
The answer, as it turns out, is CNN – at least temporarily.
O’Reilly indicated during a streaming video-cast on his own BillOReilly.com Wednesday evening that he intends to visit the CNN weekend show hosted by Michael Smerconish after the publication of his next book, “Killing England,” slated to be released in September by Henry Holt.
A CNN spokeswoman who represents “Smerconish” said a date and time for an appearance have not yet been confirmed. A spokesman for O’Reilly could not be reached for immediate comment.
The appearance, if it were to take place. would be O’Reilly’s first on CNN, with which he competed for years while anchoring Fox News’ 8 p.m. slot. O’Reilly and Fox News Channel parted ways in April after advertisers defected from his long-running “O’Reilly Factor” in the wake of disclosures of financial settlements made to women after they levied charges of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior at O’Reilly, who has said he was targeted due to his fame.
Clearly, the popular host is eager to appear on video more regularly. O’Reilly unveiled his CNN intentions while in the midst of a first streaming video for his website. During the half-hour program, O’Reilly, clad in suit and tie, interviewed both Smerconish and columnist Ruben Navarrette via Skype, weighed in on the crisis swirling around North Korea, offered some thoughts about Brian Williams and NBC News, and answered letters from fans of his podcast.
O’Reilly has some work to do to match the look and feel of his old home. A Skype connection fizzled while Navarrette was speaking, and the absence of regular graphics was noticeable as the host read his viewer letters aloud. But O’Reilly also seemed looser than when he hosted his Fox News show. His interviews went longer than a typical segment on cable TV might allow, and he appeared to enjoy speaking more directly to his viewers.
The videos aren’t free. O’Reilly is running a subscription-based website, and his goal, as he explained to viewers Wednesday, was to get more people to pay for an annual subscription for his content. “This is designed to bring everybody into the premium membership fold, and spread the word,” O’Reilly told viewers. But the web shows are expected to be made available to a wider audience at some time after their initial broadcast.
The new program even has a few commercials. In the middle of the half hour, O’Reilly unveiled spots for his theater tour with comedian Dennis Miller, as well as his array of books. At the end of the program, he hawked High Bar Shirt Co., the manufacturer of the white dress shirt he wore on camera. He hoped viewers liked the format – and solicited feedback. “This is essentially what we are going to try and do – I think,” O’Reilly said. “Anything could happen.”