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Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV

Bill O'Reilly is back — on radio in 100 cities including Baltimore's WBAL

Bill O’Reilly, who was pushed out at Fox News in 2017 in the wake of multiple accusations of sexual harassment and reports of huge settlements paid to his alleged victims, is back in our media lives.

The former ratings leader of prime-time cable news launched a daily 15-minute program Monday on more than 100 stations, including WBAL-AM in Baltimore.

“Yes, we began today with the ‘Bill O’Reilly Update,’ which will air every weekday at 12:10 PM,” Cary Pahigian, president and general manager of WBAL-AM, wrote in an email response to The Sun Monday. “It’s a 15 minute program. They’ve launched with over 100 radio stations.”

The show is currently being carried in four of the nation’s 10 largest radio markets.

O’Reilly, who once ruled the roost in prime-time cable, seemed a little tentative in Monday’s broadcast as he started out reading headlines and short takes on the news.

But this is someone who lived at media ground zero in the culture wars for decades in prime time at Fox News, breathing media fire from the right. I expect he will be playing a political role again as the battle intensifies for the election of 2020.

At a time when American media are drowning in disinformation, lies and vitriol, I am not happy to see so mainstream a return for the partisan, polarizing O’Reilly who regularly told his viewers they cannot trust the mainstream media — they can only trust him.

He was preaching the gospel of fake news long before Donald Trump. Now he’s got a new platform on which to do it.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

twitter.com/davidzurawik

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