According to CNN, the average age of viewers of The O’Reilly Factor was 72. The average life expectancy for males in the US is 78, meaning the average O’Reilly viewer will die off about halfway through US president Donald Trump’s second term.
The network’s 21 years of conservative empire-building was largely helmed by Roger Ailes, until Ailes left under his own cloud last year. Ailes and O’Reilly were late in middle age when they started their long, strange trip into red-state living rooms across America on Rupert Murdoch’s cloud of dreams. Now they are 76 and 67, respectively, and gone from the payroll.
The sexual harassment accusations against O’Reilly then, were not truly damning. They were not what sent him to the glue factory. They were simply the catalyst for closing a deal long in the making.
And, according to Quartz, it turned out that a new deal for Fox News was more or less waiting in the wings. It may have been nothing more than coincidence, but after the Murdochs hired Tucker Carlson to follow O’Reilly’s 8pm show, his hour became a surprise hit. Indeed, Carlson began to outdraw Megyn Kelly, whom he had replaced only in November. This probably thrilled the Murdochs, who were offering Kelly $100 million to stay when she decamped for NBC. So not only did the Murdochs luck out in not having to pay up that kind of money for her, they found the perfect host-in-waiting to replace an old white man: a slightly less-old white man.