Besides, in the big picture, Fox News does not rely on O'Reilly to be profitable.
In fact, advertising losses, if any, are just one part of the financial picture for Fox. The bulk of revenue for cable networks come from cable and satellite providers that deliver the programs to viewers. And this money flows from long-term contracts, unaffected by momentary controversies.
But to media critics, the fact that O'Reilly has lost so many advertisers does not bode well for his future. Fox cares most about the bottom line. If O'Reilly proves to be too much of a liability, Fox will let him go. Former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes was pushed out after his sexual harassment scandals. It's unlikely O'Reilly will survive this.
“We know the Murdochs don’t care about racism or sexism. They care about the bottom line,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, a civil rights organization that has been involved in campaigns against Beck, Imus, Limbaugh and then-CNN anchor Lou Dobbs. “And they will care when Bill O’Reilly isn’t making as much money.”
Ultimately it comes down to the owners of Fox—the Murdoch family. Gabriel Sherman at New York Magazine has the inside information on what they're thinking.
Fox News co-president Bill Shine has been working hard to keep O’Reilly, sources said. But O’Reilly’s future is in the hands of the Murdochs. “It’s up to the family,” the senior Fox News staffer said. The Murdochs are presently divided over how to handle it. Two highly placed Fox News sources say 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch would like O’Reilly to be permanently taken off the air, while his father, Rupert, and older brother, Lachlan, are more inclined to keep him. (A spokesperson for the Murdochs declined to comment.)
That dynamic — James pushing for swift action, while Rupert resists — played out last summer in the Ailes scandal. James, of course, got his way with Ailes. With more than three dozen advertisers boycotting O’Reilly, Fox staffers speculate the same may happen to O’Reilly, perhaps as early as during his vacation. “The assumption is that he’ll exit in a non-embarrassing way,” one senior Fox News staffer told me.