• 04.20.17

Goodbye, Bill: How Late Night Tackled O’Reilly’s Departure

Bill O’Reilly parted ways with Fox News yesterday. Here’s how Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, and Trevor Noah covered his exit on their shows last night.

Goodbye, Bill: How Late Night Tackled O’Reilly’s Departure

As of yesterday afternoon, Bill O’Reilly will no longer factor into Fox News’ programming schedule.


The embattled TV news personality has been fending off speculation of his ouster ever since the New York Times first broke the story that Fox News paid $13M in settlements over the years to keep O’Reilly’s alleged sexual harassment under wraps. (Because these cases were settled, Fast Company still has to use the word ‘alleged,’ despite NYT reporting that two of the lawsuits involved audiotaped harassment phone calls.) After mounting pressure from advertisers and activists, Fox News parted ways with the top-rated broadcaster yesterday, with angrily befuddled nincompoop Tucker Carlson taking his spot. Considering how many people O’Reilly managed to rile up over the years with his bombastically smug, shouty version of conservatism, clearly he was bound to get one hell of a going away party.

The late night talk show circuit did not disappoint.

Trevor Noah spent nearly ten minutes of the Daily Show dragging O’Reilly last night. Of course, all he really needed to do was play old clips and the dragging took care of itself. Scene after scene in which O’Reilly goes deep on the persecution of hetero Christian white men paint a picture of an insecure fearmonger, unfortunately trusted by millions. (Noah can’t resist dredging up the viral ‘do it live!’ video, in which O’Reilly fully loses his shit between takes.) Over the course of ten minutes, Noah makes a case for the inherent racism of the departed host’s overarching thesis, and how it may have helped fuel the rise of Donald Trump. Overall, O’Reilly has given his detractors so much to work with over the years, Noah barely had to mention the sexual harassment that led to his downfall.

As he is wont to do, Jimmy Kimmel took a more lighthearted tact. After briefly explaining the circumstances of O’Reilly’s departure, Kimmel revealed some exciting news about his replacement: it would be his sidekick, Guillermo Rodriguez. What follows is a clip of The Guillerm O’Factor, a show in which Rodriguez delivers the news with an O’Reilly-like flair. (“Why didn’t Tom Brady go to the White House? Is he gay?”) Kimmel’s writers couldn’t resist referencing the “Do it live!” clip either, though, because, really, who could?


TONIGHT: We at The Late Show are proud to issue a statement from Bill O'Reilly's biggest fan: conservative pundit Stephen Colbert.

Posted by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Finally, and most thrillingly, an event as momentous as the top conservative cable news screamer going down in flames brought on the return of his bizarro-world opposite: Stephen Colbert. Not the Stephen Colbert who can be seen every night now, laying into Donald Trump, but “Stephen Colbert” the Comedy Central character mostly based on O’Reilly. Last summer, when Roger Ailes was relieved of command at Fox News, also because of sexual harassment, Colbert brought out Ailes’ old foe Jon Stewart to celebrate. This time, however, Colbert simply brought his alter ego, and it was more than enough. The rising late night host nimbly slid back into his alter ego, chiding the audience for “failing” O’Reilly by not having his back. There’s a bit of whiplash in seeing the swift change in personas, now that audiences are used to the new Colbert, but it’s nothing compared to the whiplash O’Reilly is currently experiencing as the tide finally turns on him.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.