Posted on | May 22, 2011 | 7 Comments
Among the many interesting tidbits in Gabriel Sherman’s gossipy 6,000-word article about Roger Ailes and Fox News:
Sean Hannity complained to [Fox News programming chief] Bill Shine about Beck. And it didn’t help matters that O’Reilly, who had become friends with Beck and can’t stand Hannity, scheduled Beck as a regular guest, a move that only annoyed Hannity further.
(Via Memeorandum.) That O’Reilly has always viewed Hannity as a rival is hardly a secret to people in the business.
As the network’s top primetime star, O’Reilly claims the right of first refusal on any big exclusive interviews: If you are a publicist who wants your client to appear on O’Reilly’s show, you’d better not schedule an interview with Hannity first, because that will be viewed as a betrayal of O’Reilly. And knowing themselves to have this power, O’Reilly’s producers do not hesitate to manipulate guests — hinting at the possibility of a “Factor” appearance, on a wait-and-see basis — to the frustration of these would-be guests and their P.R. people, who are left hanging on such hints.
However, to learn that O’Reilly was using Beck as a weapon to snub Hannity — and that Beck permitted himself to be used to those ends — adds something new to our understanding of the often-toxic behind-the-scenes rivalry among Fox’s primetime hosts.
BTW, I don’t doubt that people at Fox will dispute the accuracy of Sherman’s article, and they may dispute this particular item. However, the O’Reilly-Beck-Hannity angle matches what I already knew about the situation, so I’m willing to believe it is reasonably close to truth.