To the surprise of no one, but the disappointment of all Reporters Who Cover Television, Michael Smerconish reported this morning that Bill O’Reilly will not be his CNN show guest on Saturday after all.
“Bill O’Reilly called me yesterday, and although complimentary toward me personally, regarding me as a straight shooter and so on and so forth, said that because of his history with [CNN], he just wasn’t comfortable in coming on, at least not at this time,” Smerconish said this morning on his SiriusXM radio program.
“There’s a lot of ground that I would have liked to have covered with him,” he added. “But that’s not going to happen. At least, not now.”
Two days earlier, and four days before he was supposed to appear on Smerconish’s Saturday show, CNN reported that O’Reilly “is tentatively slated to appear on CNN later this year,” which was maybe the first clue.
That throwaway line was part of a CNN report on O’Reilly’s Tuesday appearance on FNC’s Hannity. The guest gig was newsworthy, being O’Reilly’s first time on the network since getting the hook in April amid allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior, CNN reported.
In its report, the Jeff Zucker-run cable network said “the fact that Fox News executives would permit O’Reilly to return to the network’s air and let him use it as a platform to sell books only months after firing him struck some observers — including people inside the network and at least one of the women who accused him of harassment — as peculiar.” That woman, Wendy Walsh, was quoted as saying, “That’s how it works at the boys club.”
In its report, CNN also quoted someone it identified as a Fox News on-air personality who noted that O’Reilly’s Hannity visit came the same day FNC announced it had promoted several women as program hosts. “On a day that should be about Fox celebrating female talent with Sandra Smith, Harris Faulkner and Dana Perino getting their own gigs, O’Reilly returning allows us to be talking about a period that is hopefully behind us,” the unnamed person told CNN.
O’Reilly announced the CNN September booking in August, when Smerconish was a guest on his webcast. O’Reilly is out plugging his latest Killing book, Killing England, which was published this month. In addition to Sean Hannity’s show, he’s also appeared on NBC’s Today, for which NBC News took heat.