By now you’ve heard that Fox News has ended its relationship with its long-reigning, preeminent personality, Bill O’Reilly.
Nothing against O’Reilly, even though I’m not really a fan, but this is (potentially) great!
First off, let’s address the accusations of sexual harassment. Before I do, though, I just have to tell you that what you’re wearing, yeah, what you’ve got on right now as you’re reading this, makes you look absolutely sexy! And if you’re offended by that, tough. You don’t have to listen to it, but no law or clause of the Constitution protects you against being offended. When did we as a society stop defending ourselves and start turning to million-dollar lawsuits that really only make money for the lawyers?
Slap me across the face if I say something like that to you in person. And remember that, if you work for me, you are free to find another job and tell me what anatomically-impossible things I can do to myself as you walk out the door.
Should O’Reilly have mistreated Fox News staff? Absolutely not; that’s unbecoming behavior of anyone, and especially inappropriate if you’re the king of evening cable TV.
But if any allegations previously came to amicable settlements and if no officer of the court ever brought criminal charges, then this was a matter for Fox’s HR department and senior management, and not for the lousy New York Times.
Be offended, stand up for yourself, deal with it without trying to make a buck off the deal.
Of course, the legacy media–even that tawdry Times rag–will latch on to anything it can find in hopes of taking down the biggest media outlet that gives the astute public a less-biased source for information, news, and opinion. Ultimately, O’Reilly’s takedown is about nothing more than media bias and retribution. The New York Times saw an opportunity to exploit weak information and they seized it in hopes of silencing a conservative voice.
Which leads to why I think this may be great:
First off, bringing in Tucker Carlson–who can dismantle even the most obstinate liberal in an instant–will do more damage to the causes the Times holds dear than O’Reilly ever could have wrought. Right there, that power play on the part of Fox, means this salvo backfired immediately.
But here’s where it could get even worse for the crumbing legacy media:
Keep in mind that social media offers no safe harbor for conservative dialogue. Consider that Facebook and Twitter have attacked conservatives, have quashed stories of abuse against conservatives, and have promulgated fake news to the detriment of conservatives.
Keep in mind that the legacy media is in a frantic fight for relevancy, and is losing.
Keep in mind that the liberal grassroots are finding mostly infertile soil around the country as millions discover the ways the left has betrayed them.
And then note that Bill O’Reilly has a massive and loyal fan base and, much more importantly, a huge active subscriber base.
Just like Bill Clinton sycophants ignore the actual sex crimes he committed and covered up–and if you’re not willing to cede that point without a conviction, then let’s look to his impeachment for perjury over sex acts, which you cannot refute–O’Reilly’s fan base will easily overlook him making inappropriate comments. In fact, the allegations in this case are so weak that the report in the Times only vaguely cites five instances of “sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior.” (“He passed gas while I was taking to him, so I sued”?) His audience will brush this away as hearsay, similarly to how the left swept all of Clinton’s sexual assaults under the rug.
And here comes the opportunity for magic: To date, nobody has created an online network that fully surpasses the legacy media in accessibility. This is the place to start. Let’s call it “The Factor Network.”
O’Reilly needs other contributors, but he can set up revenue sharing on a new, online network that gives conservative voices a home. He can also exercise editorial control to ensure that his affiliates and other talent do not veer left (like Shep Smith tends to do). And he can activate enough subscribers today to negotiate deals on internet bandwidth usage for his network.
The content from O’Reilly and all of the talent that works with him must be available on the web, on mobile devices, and on TV. The web Factor Network requires a clean, organized, quick-loading site with navigation designed through real-world usability testing, not in a geek lab. Mobile devices require all the same Factor Network content, audio-only options, and pop-up reminders when a subscriber’s favorite broadcasts begin.
The magic comes with the TV access, though. This won’t work if O’Reilly and his contributors cannot reach their viewers through that 65-inch pane of glass visible from the dining room table. The Factor Network needs to land in the living room. For many, this could mean apps on Xbox, PlayStation, Roku, AppleTV, Chromecast, and home theater PCs. But many people do not have computers hooked up to their sets yet. And the solution to that is a $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W computer. The thing is barely larger than a stick of gum, comes with Wi-Fi and an HDMI port, and could plug right into the side of a flat panel TV. Spend an extra 16 cents on plastic to put a branded case around it, write some custom software to lock it down and secure it, and add an easy configuration page to the mobile app. Advertisers could handily sponsor enough of these devices to ensure every subscriber gets access to The Factor Network in the living room, or in every room of the house.
That would be the breakthrough needed to propel a new media network beyond the wildest dreams of the legacy media.
The network could sell advertising differently, decoupling advertisers from individual hosts while targeting ads more effectively, thus making more revenue for advertisers through more effective placement while simultaneously preventing advertisers from dropping out of a single host’s show. The network could reduce the visual clutter of its web and mobile apps by heavily curtailing advertising there in favor of commercials during video and audio broadcasts, thus making its web and mobile properties more appealing to the users and subscribers without harming revenue. Instead of the web being the primary medium, this network uses the web as a distribution channel for traditional televised media, with selected additional content and access to playback and archives.
The network could disrupt every model presently under experiment on the web of today. The network could take off. The network could nail shut the legacy media’s coffin.
The subscriber base is already there and would grow quickly. Advertisers would be foolish not to invest in that kind of access to their target markets. It just takes Bill O’Reilly surrounding himself with the right technical staff.
So goodbye, Bill O’Reilly. We don’t care if the door hits you on the way out or not; it’s what you do next that really interests us. Make “No Spin Zone” the only place to be.