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CJR: O’REILLY’S CLOUT HAD COMCAST HOST FIRED

August 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Implicitly raising questions about how Comcast might deal with its Fox News-bashing commentators on MSNBC if it takes over NBC Universal, the Columbia Journalism Review has disclosed that the eponymous host of a Comcast cable program, Backstage with Barry Nolan, was fired in 2008 after Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly wrote a "lawyerly letter" to Comcast chief Brian Roberts, stating: "It was puzzling to see a Comcast employee, Barry Nolan, use Comcast corporate assets to attack me and [Fox News Channel]." Nolan had protested a decision by the Boston/New England chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to present the organization’s Governors Award to O’Reilly and had distributed fliers at the awards affair filled with controversial quotes by O’Reilly as well as excerpts from the 2004 sexual harassment lawsuit that O’Reilly settled. Two days later, Nolan was suspended, and eight days later he was fired for engaging in "insubordinate actions," according to the CJR report. The CJR article concluded: "Cable providers (like Comcast) pay fees to networks (like Fox) to distribute content (like The O’Reilly Factor). … With tens of millions of dollars at stake, negotiations can be bruising affairs. Thus, it’s in the two Goliaths’ interest to keep relations harmonious. And in this case… [O’Reilly’s] message was clear: Hey, Comcast, don’t forget which side your bread is buttered on."