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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Local reactions mixed to Fox News firing of Bill O’Reilly

By Betsy Z. Russell and Jonathan Glover The Spokesman-Review

Fox News’ decision to fire longtime host Bill O’Reilly sent tremors through the world of cable news, as outlets speculated on what the move might mean for Fox’s future.

Locally, however, reactions were mixed.

Some said they rarely watched the show, which pulled in a nightly average viewership of 4 million. Others said they would miss his conservative views on politics and culture.

Radio host Mike Fitzsimmons of KXLY was among those who didn’t regularly tune in to O’Reilly’s show. . “I wasn’t a fan of his,” he said. “He seemed pretty bombastic to me.”

O’Reilly’s downfall was set in motion this month after an investigation by the New York Times found that Fox News had paid several women a total of $13 million dollars to settle sexual harassment allegations against the talk show host. “It wasn’t how he conducted his show,” Fitzsimmons said. “It was how he conducted himself.”

Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “I’d heard some allegations. I hope they’re not true. I’d hoped he was more honorable than that.”

There’s also speculation that his position at the top of the talk show ratings made him a target.

“He’s been No. 1 on cable, and when you’re a lead dog, you’re always a target,” Mendive said. “It is a loss for the media, as far as an alternative news source, anyway.”

Fitzsimmons said he thought it was unusual there were so many undisclosed settlements. “If you weren’t doing anything you didn’t have to apologize for, you wouldn’t make a settlement,” he said. “If you’re innocent, better to go to trial, then let somebody prove it or fail to prove.”

Hayden resident Duane Rasmussen said he hates to see O’Reilly go.

“I thought he was a good contributor,” he said. “But I know that there’s business realities that people have to deal with. I liked him. He was different from the others.”

Fitzsimmons said he wasn’t surprised that O’Reilly was fired.

“So many of his sponsors didn’t want to support his program anymore,” he said. “It suggests that they believed.”

Reporter Nina Culver contributed to this report.