“I am sad that I am not on television anymore.”
With those words, Bill O’Reilly broke his silence on Monday evening, addressing listeners for the first time since he was ousted from Fox News amid revelations that he and the network paid millions of dollars to settle allegations of sexual harassment against him by multiple women.
After 20 years as the king of cable news, Mr. O’Reilly’s return to broadcasting came not on camera, but in a 19-minute recorded podcast on his personal website. At the outset, he acknowledged to his fans that this was “a completely different experience than what you’ve had in the past.”
“I was very surprised how it all turned out,” Mr. O’Reilly said of his forced exit last week from Fox News. “I can’t say a lot because there’s much stuff going on right now. But I can tell you that I’m very confident the truth will come out. And when it does — I don’t know if you’re going to be surprised, but I think you’re going to be shaken, as I am.”
Mr. O’Reilly said that he would record a current-events podcast on his subscription-based website, airing four nights a week, that he hoped would soon develop “into a genuine news program.” But he demurred on offering further details about his abrupt removal from the air.
“I can’t say any more because I just don’t want to influence the flow of the information, O.K.?” Mr. O’Reilly said. “I don’t want the media to take what I say and misconstrue it. You, as a loyal O’Reilly listener, have a right to know, down the lane, what exactly happened and we are working in that direction.”
The re-emergence of Mr. O’Reilly, who was vacationing in Italy when Fox decided to dismiss him last Wednesday, came an hour before his successor at 8 p.m., Tucker Carlson, made his on-air debut in the time slot.
In a direct address to viewers, Mr. Carlson called himself a devoted O’Reilly fan who “marveled at how prepared he was, how tough he was, and how crisply and directly he expressed his views.”
“What O’Reilly did was not easy,” Mr. Carlson said, just before the opening credits rolled. “He set a high bar. I’m going to do my best to meet it. Thanks for sticking with us.”
Mr. Carlson’s debut marked a crucial first test of Fox News’s hastily revamped prime-time lineup. The ensemble show “The Five” was moved from the afternoon to the 9 p.m. slot, featuring a new co-host, Jesse Watters, a former O’Reilly protégé.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Michael M. Grynbaum and Liam Stack