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O'Reilly-George Will 'Civil War' at Fox News

Image: O'Reilly-George Will 'Civil War' at Fox News
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By    |   Monday, 09 Nov 2015 10:09 PM

The fight  between Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and contributor George Will is making public an internal war at Fox News Channel, Gabriel Sherman writes at New York Magazine's website. 

Will criticized O'Reilly's latest book, "Killing Reagan" in his Washington Post column on Thursday, saying it was full of "unsubstantiated assertions." Will disagreed with O'Reilly's contention that a bullet from the 1981 assassination attempt began a slow mental decline of President Ronald Reagan.

O'Reilly responded that night on his show, calling Will a "hack" and a "liar" and challenged him to come on his show the next night. Will did, and the two traded barbs.

"You’re something of an expert on willfully misleading people," Will said via remote from Washington, D.C. O'Reilly was at his desk in New York.

But it was O'Reilly's bringing up the name of a Fox executive that revealed Fox's internal workings, Sherman writes. O'Reilly held up a memo he said was from Mike Clemente, who runs the news division for which Will works, that supposedly said Will would not submit the column without first alerting O'Reilly. Will said he never made such a promise, and that Clemente must have misunderstood him.

"Fox News' hard news chief Mike Clemente, who you know, told us that you told him that you would call me before the column was published," O'Reilly said.

"It would not be the first time you got something wrong," Will shot back.

The feud is actually part of a larger power struggle within Fox, Sherman writes.

"On opposing sides of the fault line are Clemente, who oversees news (where Will works), and executive vice-president Bill Shine, who oversees prime-time shows (where O’Reilly works)," he writes. "Clemente and Shine are vying to replace [Fox News Chairman Roger] Ailes and are such bitter rivals that they barely speak, numerous Fox employees say."

According to Shine loyalists, Clemente never talked to Shine before Will published his column and they are angry that he didn't stop Will from writing the column that embarrassed the network's top star.

But Will's Fox contract, unlike others at the network, allows him editorial control over his longstanding column, and he doesn't have to get permission from Fox to write about Fox.

Clemente's camp responded to Sherman off the record, saying, "Almost everyone is on team George. Everyone is snickering and thinks it's a riot."

Someone else said O'Reilly's "Killing" books are seen as a joke at the network and that they are not researched as O'Reilly claims.

Ailes has not made his feelings known, but one person speaking anonymously told Sherman, "Roger is probably in the men’s room hoping this whole thing blows over."

Meanwhile, there are rumors inside Fox that Will plans another column on O'Reilly.

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The fight between Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and contributor George Will is making public an internal war at Fox News Channel, Gabriel Sherman writes at New York Magazine's website. Will criticized O'Reilly's latest book, Killing Reagan in his Washington Post column on...
bill oReilly, george will, fight, fox news
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2015-09-09
Monday, 09 Nov 2015 10:09 PM
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