For the first time since he was unexpectedly fired from Fox News Channel earlier this year, Bill O’Reilly returned to the cable news network Tuesday — and audiences responded in a huge way.
It felt like a flashback on Fox News Channel when O’Reilly looked into the camera and declared “the spin stops here.”
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Six months after leaving, O’Reilly returned as a guest on former colleague Sean Hannity’s show on Tuesday, and viewers were thrilled to have O’Reilly back… at least temporarily.
O’Reilly’s return helped create substantial buzz for the Fox News primetime shift that occurred this week — and his return is credited, in part, with Fox News’ return to the top of the cable news ratings this week.
Hannity has moved into the 9:00pm Eastern time slot, an hour earlier than previous. He’s now taking on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow directly.
Since O’Reilly’s departure, Maddow has earned the highest ratings in cable news over the past few months, but Hannity earned a clear victory on Monday night.
“The primetime 8 PM – 11 PM block, Fox News led cable news in both total viewers and the key 25-54 demographic. Over the primetime hours, FNC averaged 2.64 million viewers and 566,000 in the key demo. Meanwhile, MSNBC finished second in both categories — 2.21 million in total and 470,000 in the demo — and CNN settled for third place with 1.3 million total viewers and a 25-54 audience of 441,000,” Mediaite reported.
What did O’Reilly have to say about his departure?
“I’m fine,” O’Reilly said. “I’m teed off.”
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The two men traded complaints about how the mainstream media had treated them and President Donald Trump. They loudly backed Trump on his campaign against NFL players protesting police brutality by not standing for the national anthem.
O’Reilly said that the “alt-left” wanted to destroy Trump and everyone who voted for him.
They also targeted liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America, which advocated for an advertiser boycott of O’Reilly before Fox fired him, and is currently doing the same for Hannity.
O’Reilly praised Hannity for “fighting back” against the group, and said he should have done the same.
The former cable news king said he enjoyed taking the summer off and wasn’t sure of his future plans. He spent 20 years at Fox News, most of it as the most popular host on cable news.
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The Associated Press contributed to this article