Remember when Fox News host Bill O’Reilly found himself in the midst of such objectionable controversy that he began losing advertisers? He then took a vacation, which was interpreted as being the end of him. Indirectly, it was. And so now Sean Hannity must be thinking twice about the situation he finds himself in, because it’s remarkably similar.
Hannity is losing key advertisers from his Fox News show in the midst of his Seth Rich meltdown, though not at the rate O’Reilly was bleeding advertisers. And Hannity is heading out on vacation right now, just as O’Reilly did. But considering that it’s Memorial Day weekend, Hannity is probably telling the truth when he says this was already scheduled. It’s still not good optics, however, and he’ll be coming back to a tenuous mess.
Cable news shows are built financially around a relative handful of big money tentpole advertisers, and if too many of them pull out of a particular show, it’s finished. Even if ratings remain high, the network will still find itself stuck selling off the show’s ad blocks on the cheap to second tier advertisers. At some point that hour block becomes more valuable to the network in the hands of some other host, even if the ratings aren’t quite as high, simply because ads can be sold for that host.
Sean Hannity does have two things going for him. For one thing, Fox News has had such an exodus of popular talent this year that it might be hesitant to part ways with yet another top host so quickly. The other is that if the public soon forgets about the Seth Rich controversy and stops hammering Hannity’s advertisers, they may quietly come back to him. But if he keeps bleeding like this, to the point that Fox News can’t profit from his show, his return from vacation may not last for long.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report