This reporting appears as one of several scoops featured in this week’s edition of Confider, the newsletter pulling back the curtain on the media. Subscribe here and send your questions, tips, and complaints here.
Viewers of fledgling cable-news outlet NewsNation may have noticed something peculiar over the past week: Bill O’Reilly is now a “NewsNation contributor,” as officially branded on-air by the network.
However—and quite bizarrely—a network spokesperson has insisted to Confider that the disgraced ex-Fox News star is not a paid contributor.
Months after Confider reported that Bill O’Reilly was in talks to join fledgling cable outlet NewsNation, the ratings-challenged network has quietly brought on the disgraced former Fox News star as a contributor, multiple sources familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast.
Earlier this month, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told us that Bill-O had finally inked a deal with the ratings-challenged network—months after Confider first reported he was in talks for such a gig.
When pressed for comment on Nov. 2, however, a NewsNation spokesperson insisted via email: “Bill O’Reilly is not a paid contributor to NewsNation.” When asked whether he has any contractual agreement with the network or its parent company Nexstar, the flack added: “He’s not being paid by any entity related to NewsNation or Nexstar to appear at any time. He’s a guest.”
Fast-forward to election night on Chris Cuomo’s primetime show, when both the host and an on-screen chyron introduced a prominently featured O’Reilly not as a guest but as a “NewsNation contributor.” O’Reilly also promoted his recent appearances via multiple tweets bizarrely appended with the hashtag “#ad.”
When asked for comment yet again on whether the alleged serial sexual harasser is now a paid contributor, the NewsNation flack shot back via email, “That is wrong. Nothing has changed…and thanks for watching!” The spokesperson added no further clarification. O’Reilly and his reps have returned exactly zero of Confider’s requests for comment.
NewsNation’s obfuscation is particularly strange considering the very public title they’ve bestowed upon O’Reilly and how often he’s recently appeared across the network (four Cuomo hits in just the past three weeks).
If you have any idea what the hell is going on, we’d love to hear from you here.
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O’Reilly was terminated from Fox News in 2017 amid a flood of sexual-harassment allegations, but has become an increasingly frequent guest on Cuomo’s new primetime NewsNation show. Cuomo, of course, was himself suspended and then fired by CNN for advising his brother, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, amid a sexual-harassment scandal—and after a sexual misconduct allegation had emerged against the CNN host as well.
O’Reilly had been in ongoing negotiations to join NewsNation as a contributor, as Confider reported in August. At that time, he had been making regular appearances on Dan Abrams’ nightly show, at one point grousing that he brought “millions and millions of viewers and billions of dollars” to Fox News during his decades-long run as cable news’ primetime king.
Prior to becoming a kinda-sorta “contributor” with NewsNation—which sources insisted includes a form of exclusivity, despite NewsNation’s claim that no deal exists—O’Reilly had also occasionally shown up on Newsmax, making six appearances on the Fox News wannabe channel since September.
But those appearances appear to be over, as sources noted how O’Reilly’s last Newsmax interview was on Oct. 19 with fellow disgraced Fox News host Eric Bolling. Since then, he has only appeared on NewsNation, with four such interviews on Cuomo’s show in the past three weeks. The first two hits, in which O’Reilly discussed John Fetterman’s debate performance and the attack on Paul Pelosi, were cross-promoted and discussed across NewsNation’s other programs.
On one of those broadcasts, Cuomo seemed to argue why it was necessary for O’Reilly to have a voice on the network. With an on-screen chyron blaring “Networks Like NewsNation Is Desperately Needed,” Cuomo—known for his “let’s get after it” catchphrase—argued that he “absolutely” needs to have “different opinions” on the show in order to “test” them.
“That’s why we talk,” the host exclaimed, noting that he and O’Reilly disagree on many issues.
Additionally, following O’Reilly’s most recent appearance, Cuomo took calls from viewers who praised him for featuring O’Reilly on his show—including a “radical liberal” who said she agreed with O’Reilly that “Dems aren’t listening to the people” and thanked Cuomo for “having him on.”
“You’ve gotta have the discussions. I’m glad the ideas resonate with you,” the NewsNation anchor excitedly responded.
The news that O’Reilly apparently has a new cable gig was not well-received by at least one of the alleged victims of his sexual harassment and misconduct. The lawyer for former Fox News producer Andrea Mackris, who broke her silence last year about his alleged harassment of her, blasted the move.
“Andrea's life is far from what she expected it to be before she met O'Reilly,” Michael J. Willemin, a partner at Wigdor Law, told The Daily Beast. “Even 20 years later, she lives with what he has done and continues to do to her.”
O’Reilly has some notable connections to NewsNation. Bill Shine, the former Fox News executive who was forced out of the network in 2017 for allegedly covering up former network chief Roger Ailes’ sexual harassment and briefly served as the Trump White House’s communications director, has been advising the network since before its official launch as a “fact-based and unbiased” cable-news competitor.
NewsNation, which started out in fall 2020 as a primetime block of news programs on WGN America, has struggled in the ratings since relaunching as a full-time news network in March 2021. In recent months, the network has hoped to juice viewership with the splashy hire of Cuomo along with what appears to be a pivot away from the “straight news” format the channel has promoted.
While NewsNation has experienced some improved ratings in his time slot since his debut, Cuomo’s show still regularly trails little-watched Newsmax, which itself is a distant fourth to the big three cable-news outlets. This has reportedly resulted in Cuomo meeting with NewsNation president Michael Corn to demand a new time slot in hopes of boosting his sagging numbers.
“Cuomo is getting nasty about the ratings and he’s starting to blame everyone but himself,” one source told The New York Post. “He’s blaming the network, staff that he personally hired, his lead-in, the promo department and even the press department!” (Cuomo and Abrams, meanwhile, took to the air this week to deny the report.)
The Post also reported that NewsNation recently fired a news correspondent who complained about the channel giving two hours of uninterrupted coverage to a Trump rally. Paul Gerke reportedly pressed Corn repeatedly on a conference call about the channel’s “mission,” wondering why the rally was aired without any analysis or corrections.
Corn, a former Good Morning America executive producer accused of sexually assaulting two ABC News staffers, “got pissed” and told Gerke “he could leave,” according to the Post. Gerke was terminated days later.
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