Bill O'Reilly probably won't ever make $18 million a year again, but Keith Olbermann warned the disgraced Fox News star will be back -- and probably reach an even bigger audience.
Olbermann has been warning against O'Reilly's "semi-fascist tone" since the late 1990s, and he blames the former Fox News anchor for laying the groundwork for the Trump presidency.
"It was and is my sincere belief that Bill O’Reilly was and is a danger to the democracy," Olbermann wrote in a column for Variety. "The same chest-thumping, thinly veiled attitude of white superiority, and the subtle undercurrent that if O’Reilly said it should be 1962 again then God Damn It, it was 1962 again, presaged his only public friend Trump’s election."
Olbermann said President Donald Trump clearly was influenced by his friend's political views.
"The more we see a president try to operate while his frontal lobe is melting and he’s struggling to remember exactly what he just saw on Fox, the more I’m convinced Trump’s worldview (or more accurately, his worldblink) is based on half-baked ideas O’Reilly threw out over free milkshakes they got in their free seats at Yankee Stadium," Olbermann wrote.
Speaking of Yankee Stadium, Olbermann recalled when O'Reilly tried to have his frequent critic's press credentials revoked at the ballpark in a fit of jealous anger, but never confronted him to face to face.
"O’Reilly and I have never actually spoken, but we’ve been in the same place at the same time at least twice, and each time he did the weirdest damn thing I’ve ever seen another adult do," Olbermann said.
He said O'Reilly maintained a 20-foot distance from him at all times, and never took his eyes off Olbermann -- to the point that others commented on the strange behavior.
"Don’t get me wrong," Olbermann wrote. "I wasn’t clamoring to meet him. But I was still kind of surprised when the ballplayers and actors I was chatting with kept saying, 'Why is Bill O’Reilly staring at us?' and then I would turn to see, only to catch the tail end of his not-so-subtle twisting away to look in the opposite direction."
Even though O'Reilly lost his Fox News program, Olbermann said he could actually find more viewers -- but less money -- by putting together online-only content as the former MSNBC and ESPN anchor currently does for GQ.
"If O’Reilly wants it, he can keep his platform," Olbermann said. "Keep it? What am I saying? If my experience is any guide he can grow it. How many people would watch an O’Reilly commentary — which is what those saccharin 'Talking Points Memos' are — every night, on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and some dedicated home-base site? The revenue streams are still fluid (sooner or later, they’ll work themselves out) but I can guarantee you his online audience would be a multiple of the one he had at Fox."