Bill O’Reilly has made clear he does not plan to be out of the television business for long. Since he and Fox News parted ways amid accusations of sexual harassment and an ad boycott driven by “far-left” groups, O’Reilly’s name has appeared in several reports about a “more conservative alternative to Fox News” in the works. On Sunday, a journalist with connections to network insiders reported that O’Reilly may be partnering with Sinclair Broadcast Group and another long-time Fox News star to “build the future of a conservative media empire.”
“My sources in and around Fox say that [Hannity] and Bill O’Reilly are potentially in talks to take their shows to Sinclair. Bill O’Reilly has wanted to get back into the game,” Sherman, an MSNBC contributor, said on Joy Reid’s Sunday morning show.
Sinclair Broadcast Group describes itself as “one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country,” which “owns and operates, programs or provides sales services to more television stations than anyone and has affiliations with all the major networks.” The network has a massive reach, including 81 markets, nearly 200 television stations, and over 500 channels.
Sinclair, said Sherman, wants to take the lead in conservative media, in part by “poaching” some of FNC’s stars.
“So Sinclair really wants to build the future of a conservative media empire and poaching Fox’s biggest names would help them do that,” Sherman told MSNBC. “This, again, is the groundwork for what I think will be the next conservative media platform in the post-Roger Ailes era.”
Following his appearance on Reid’s show, Sherman repeated his claim, but added that he’s “skeptical” that the two big Fox News stars would be willing to team up due to “a lot of bad blood from their time at Fox News.”
“As I reported this morning on @amjoyshow, Bill O’Reilly has talked [with] Hannity about teaming up to go to Sinclair Broadcasting, sources say,” he wrote. “I’m skeptical though of an O’Reilly-Hannity alliance because the two had a lot of bad blood from their time at Fox News.”
He also noted that O’Reilly is “also considering @newsmax TV as a possibly landing pad.”
After O’Reilly’s dramatic firing by Fox, rumors circulated that Hannity might also depart the network, but thus far his relationship with the channel appears to be solid and he continues to perform well, garnering some of the channel’s biggest ratings.
The Daily Wire reported in late April that insiders said meetings were taking place with a few major players about a “more conservative alternative” to the current leader in cable news:
Rumors about a new conservative network really revved up on Friday when Mediaite‘s Rachel Stockman reported that a “well-placed source close to the proposal” told the outlet that “serious discussions are underway to create an alternative conservative cable network on the belief that the Fox News Network is moving too far to the left.”
“The source, who is engaged in the talks, says a meeting is planned for today with two prominent high-powered television executives, some underperforming conservative networks and people who have an interest and the ability to fund a new network,” Stockman reported.
So who exactly are the “two prominent high-powered television executives”? That’s not yet clear, but Roger Ailes, the former CEO and chairman of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network who resigned in July 2016 amid sexual harassment allegations, was reportedly one of the key figures present at the meeting on Friday.